The Real B-List: How the “A-Listers” Fell Flat in the Second Democrat Debate

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The race for the White House is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It’s a marathon followed by an iron-man competition, an ultra-marathon, a Spartan race, and an all you can eat vegan buffet put on by the Democrat Party. With just under 24 months of campaigning, longer in some cases such as Elizabeth Warren who has been campaigning since 2014, we will likely have a book of embarrassing gaffes for the Democrat party before the 2020 election is over. Last night’s debate was an embarrassment to American politics, too many people on stage who believe that the rules do not apply to them created a cacophony of “free stuff” that they were falling over each other to give away.

In this article, I try to be as fair as possible looking at the merits of each candidate’s presentation. Who established themselves and who embarrassed themselves was the main take-away from last night. In my honest opinion, the first night was the better of the two. Even with the technical glitches, the candidates answered the questions that were put to them, something the “A-Listers” (With the exception of Hickenlooker, Yang, and Williamson) could not do. Overall, the stage was a melee and furthers the argument for a Lincoln Douglas style debate where the moderators simply ask a question and let two candidates go at it.

11. California Rep. Eric Swalwell (4:43 Minutes)

Swalwell is the worst of this list, but significantly better than Inslee, who did not deserve to be on the stage. Eric Swalwell is a gun control candidate, and that is his one trick for this one-trick pony. Last night, he had a break out night of sorts, showing that he can talk about other issues. The problem that he faced was that when he talked about other issues, he showed that he was as ignorant about those issues as he was about gun control. One of the biggest lies that he perpetrated was “if legal guns make people safer then America would be the safest nation on the planet.” States such as New Hampshire, Wyoming, Kentucky, and Idaho, with very open gun laws stand as some of the safest states in the nation. However, Swalwell was not alone in his world of “alternative facts” which make up the Democrat talking points.

Best Moment: When he called out Joe Biden. When Swalwell called on Biden in his own words to “Pass the Torch,” he blew open a big hole in the poll leaders’ impenetrable armor. A hole which Buttigieg and Harris waltzed right through. This was the most brilliant moment of his political career, and in true Socialist fashion, the other Democrats benefited from his hard work and prep. 

Worst Moment: When he was talking about gun control. Despite his “alternative facts” you can tell Swalwell cared about children dying to gun violence. While his prospects for fixing the problem are asinine, he appeared to be a candidate that was not in it just for himself.

10. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang (2:58 Minutes) 

Yang did not do bad. He is not number 10 on this list because he preformed poorly. He is number 10 because NBC and CNN did not let him debate. With less than one quarter of the time allotted for Joe Biden, Yang just did not receive a chance to make his case. His one shining moment, or moment that should have been shining, was when he was asked about his $1,000 give away. Because they had been ignoring him so much, he seemed shocked that he got the question.

Best Moment: Any of the moments where he actually talked about something other than his signature $1000 per person.

Worst Moment: He choked when asked about his signature issue.

9. Author Marian Williamson (4:58 Minutes)

When Marian Williamson first had a question asked of her (25 minutes into the debate), her answer was a resounding success. While I did not agree with her points, she spoke about the issues and tried to bring the debate back to the center. However, subsequent speeches were not as effective. She showed the “artist’s naivete” which is why celebrities are not good candidates. The choice of clothing was also bold, with the 1970’s styling which fit in with the message of “free love.”

Best Moment: When she called on people to stick to the issues, she showed that she did not want to be drawn into a mudslinging debate. She also had a great monologue about calling New Zealand and telling the Prime Minister that she was wrong; America is better, a little odd but entertaining.

Worst Moment: When she raised her Planeteer ring into the air and said she was going to use the “power of love” (which I believe Huey Lewis has trademarked) to solve the problems of this country.  

8. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (9:22 Minutes)

Michael Bennet was a mixed bag. As one of the few moderates on the stage, Bennet resonated with me in some oddly democratic way during the first half of the debate. Like several other candidates who felt their chances slipping in the second half, Bennet went full Democrat. Overall Bennet did not impress but he did not embarrass himself. It was an unremarkable performance, which may not hurt him in the polls.

Best Moment: He talks like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island which I suppose in some small way makes people think that he would be good at managing money.

Worst Moment: His choice to go on that three hour tour.

7. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (7:34 Minutes)

Weeks ago, I called for Kirsten Gillibrand to step down because of her irrationally insensitive “concentration camps” comment. That type of ignorance is shocking. While I stand by calling for her to step down from not only the race but also her Senate seat, she did do well at the debate last night. One of the few candidates who seemed to “play by the rules,” Gillibrand showed well but overall just does not have enough substance to overcome the pack.

Best Moment: When she was the adult in the room and followed the timing rules, showing, maybe, that she cares about the rule of law.

Worst Moment: Ranting on Medicare for all and the border crisis. This made her look like she built her campaign on 15 minutes of CNN stock footage.  

6. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (11:21 Minutes)

“Mayor Pete” was like Tim Ryan with class last night. While Tim Ryan stated outright that they were going to “make industrial America agree with them,” Mayor Pete couched his disdain for traditional Americans in a critique of Christianity.

Best Moment: Mayor Pete is a good speaker. When Swalwell tried to get Biden to pass the torch, Mayor Pete was there to try to grab it.

Worst Moment: When he got into arguments, Mayor Pete is a speaker not a debater and waffled when challenged. 

5. Former Governor John Hickenlooper (5:08 Minutes)

Another candidate who got robbed for time, John Hickenlooper, did not get a fair shake to speak. Largely this is because he came out for being a moderate Democrat, something that the NBC crowd would not allow. Gov. Hickenlooper is popular because he is a moderate and they cannot allow a moderate to challenge the Socialist agenda.

Best Moment: When he said that we are not Socialists, working with Gillibrand as the only two on stage to defend Capitalism.

Worst Moment: His failure to interject. The moderators picked favorites. We know this. He needed to be more assertive. 

4. Sen. Bernie Sanders (10:58 Minutes) 

The Bernie Bros should be happy with the time their idol got last night. Sanders was center stage and got a lot of time. Unfortunately, the college rally voice does not bode well in prime time debates. Sanders came across as crotchety and uninspired. We have heard the same broken record from Socialists for the last 70 years, “if we do it right it will work.” Bernie Sanders did well because the moderators chose him and gave him a lot of time.

Best Moment: When he was directly challenged. Sanders is a debater and knows what he is doing. Mentioning him in a response is silly as it gives him more time.

Worst Moments: He looked like an old man who is telling kids to get off his lawn. All Buttigieg and Swalwell needed were hats with propellers on them and it would look like an episode of little rascals. 

3. Former Vice President Joe Biden (13:19 Minutes)

In a debate where commercials and the moderators received 40 minutes of the time, Joe Biden’s 13 minutes was 1/6th of the whole speaking time. This is a massive advantage which was four times the amount of time that Andrew Yang had. This was Biden’s biggest advantage. This was countered by the fact that the moderators and everyone on stage was attacking the old man, with accusations coming from the left and right. Joe Biden stood up to it because he had to defend Obama for four years, so he was ready for it.

Best Moment: When he stomped Swalwell on the “pass the torch” comment. Swalwell should have won that point, but Biden sidestepped the issue and laid the smack down on the young whippersnapper. 

Worst Moment:

Moderator: What would be the first thing you do if you have beaten Trump and win the White House?

Joe Biden: I will beat Trump.

This ranks up there with Castro giving trans females free abortions as the dumbest statement of the debates.

Bonus Worst Moment: When Biden accused Trump of being affiliated with racists and segregationists, when in fact Biden had been in the news all week about being affiliated with racists and segregationists. 

2. Senator Kamala Harris (12:16 Minutes)

The obvious NBC favorite of the pack. Harris showed that she is not afraid to be a conformist when she followed the Democrat Party script and attacked Joe Biden on racial issues. But old “grope and change” Joe Biden is just so “grandpaesque” that her attacks just bounced of that Scranton Smile. She herself was the target of limited attacks which she dealt with well.

Best Moment: When she defended her record as a prosecutor in San Francisco. She did, by most accounts a good job till she ran for Senate, so this was her strong suit and she delivered.

Worst Moment: Being herself. She is just a genuinely unlikable person. On the issues she stuck to Democrat talking points, but overall she was just flat.

1. Cory Booker and Tulsi Gabbard (0 Minutes)

The two winners of the first debate were the winners of the second debate. They did not have to weather any attacks and their performances the night before overshadowed the “A-List” if they do not get a seat at the big kid’s table next time it is a damn shame.

Overall, last night’s debate was a joke. Once again it was several commercials for ultra-Liberalism, not a real debate. We need a bracket format Lincoln/Douglas style debate between the field where the viewer’s choose who wins each round. Let the people pick what they want to hear, not the moderators.

Author Profile

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
Dr. Christopher Smithmyer is a writer for NRN, the Vice President of International Affairs at Brav Online Conflict Management, and an Adjunct Professor of MBA Business at Doane University. He is also part of the founding team at BlackWalletLTD, one of the leaders in stable coin 2.0 ecosystem maintenance. Dr. Smithmyer’s focus is international business and finance, along with reviews of board games, weapons platforms, and survival items.