Eclipsed: How November Democratic Debate was Overshadowed by the Impeachment Hearings

Facts and Takeaways

With Adam Schiff’s impeachment circus at full swing, the November Democratic debate was almost an afterthought of this crowded week. However, of all the debates, this may be the one that you want to check out on YouTube, because it was exciting. The kid gloves are coming off and the hypocrisy of the Democrat party was on full display as the moderators suppressed Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, while giving Elizabeth Warren the lion’s share of the time. Though Warren was given the most of any candidate, it is apparent that even the studio audience of the debate understands that she is not a viable candidate and that it is time to pass the flag to another candidate.

The elephant in the room that everyone refused to talk about at the debate was the senators who were on the stage and the impeachment inquiry. Schiff continues to whine about the president’s lawful request for assistance in an investigation into an American citizen who bragged about using his powers as vice president to intimidate a foreign prosecutor into ceasing an investigation into the company on which his son was a board member. Many people are unaware or are ignoring that Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar are required by Senate procedure to recuse themselves from the impeachment trial, as they have a direct conflict of interest.

Since all of these candidates are directly running against President Donald Trump, they cannot maintain an appearance of neutrality and thus may not participate in the trial. Also of note, Gabbard must vote present if a full impeachment vote is brought in the house for the same reason. While the “impeachment circus” is a political matter (which we should not be paying for), the trial in the Senate is a legal matter and the Chief Justice should prohibit any of the running senators from participating in the trial, as they currently have an interest and are outspoken against the President of the United States.

A Breakdown of the Candidates

Before we look at the candidates and how they did, there is also the question of the sexism on stage last night, not so much with the candidates (though that could be argued as well), but also in the press corps. All four of the moderators were women. Without any presence outside of the “key demographic” the Democrats need to win, were the Democrats voicing the opinion that they no longer need males, regardless of race, to secure a presidency. However, lets step away from this and look at the candidates:

10) Senator Elizabeth Warren (13:29)

Despite being given the lion’s share of the time, Warren is the loser of this debate. The moderators seemed to want her to win, but in the end her complete lack of understanding of math and economics was her undoing. Warren’s tax plan has ban lampooned by SNL, Democrats and Republicans alike. It just will not work. The Hirono, “you just are not smart enough to understand,” approach has fallen on deaf ears and Liz Warren is finally showing that she is not the woman to be president of the United States.

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Best Moment: The softball questions that were being lobbed at her by the moderators were desperation to at least get a ground ball Liz, but this was to no avail.

Weakest Moment: In the early exchange with Senator Booker, he looked like he knew what he was talking about, and Warren did not.

9) Mayor Pete Buttigieg (12:56)

Another one of the leaders that fell flat in last night’s debate, not because of his lack of understanding, but because of his lack of experience. After months of lukewarm support of the military from a veteran (though we don’t agree with you Mayor Pete, we thank you for your service), the only other person on the stage with active service took him to task. It was exposed that he had neither the electoral, the military, nor the business acumen to be the chief executive of the United States, and Mayor Pete should pack it up- the latest casualty in Gabbards war against hypocrisy in the Democrat party.

Best Moment: Mayor Pete had a strong opening monologue about the impeachment hearings, sticking almost perfectly to the Schiff line, this received a lot of support from the audience.

Worst Moment: Gabbard set her sights on him and blew him out of the water.

8) Senator Harris (11:31)

Kamala Harris had a weak outing, though she improved substantially since the last debate. She had a few hits and several misses on policy, healthcare, and economic issues. Shockingly, the only woman of color on the stage was shorted on women’s issues, and as a former prosecutor she was basically ignored on criminal justice issues. Senator Harris appeared to be better prepared for this debate, but the moderators seemed to have already written her off.

Best Moment: Her “Madam President” stump speech was done well. She or her speech writer actually did quite well on it, however we have heard it several times.

Worst Moment: Harris v. Gabbard II: Harris was looking for revenge at the debate, and she took her shot. Gabbard fired at Harris, and Harris’s reply showed that she now saw the “Gen X” congresswoman as a threat. However, when the moderator gave Gabbard the chance to respond (something they did not do with the Buttigieg exchange), Gabbard let her have it with both barrels. I would say Harris’s campaign is done, but it has already been finished for three months, so it is just beating a dead horse.

7) Senator Bernie Sanders (11:47)

Wait, Bernie Sanders was there? This was the worst performance for Senator Sanders at any debate I have ever seen, and I am going back several years. Bernie was spouting his old rhetoric, but it just wasn’t hitting with the Atlanta crowd. While the “Bernie Bros” will keep him up in the polls, his campaign is circling the drain.

Best Moment(s): Sanders was dropping some pretty good jokes throughout the night. This made him appear approachable.

Worst Moment: The medicare for all, “I wrote the damn thing,” argument is something we have heard before, and at this point you are just screaming at the kids to get “off your lawn.”

6) Businessman Tom Steyer (8:24)

I never give Steyer much respect and last night neither did the moderators. Steyer stuck to the climate change issue, which is his wheelhouse. This gave him a passable performance and let him be the best of the worst.

Best Moment: He Stayed out of the crossfire last night and it may have helped him.

Worst Moment: Joe Biden threw him a bone. What is “quid pro Joe” going to ask him for in return? Another candidate giving you a life preserver is a sign that no one takes you seriously, and that it’s time to save some money and go back to your non-profit.

5) Senator Amy Klobuchar (10:58)

Klobuchar seems like a good candidate until they let her talk for more than a minute. Her buzz words are on point, she just loses it when she shows her lack of knowledge of the system.

Worst Moment 1: She said that she would make a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United. Presidents do not make amendments, senators do. If you want to do this, you can do it now.

Worst Moment 2: She said that all Americans should be able to vote at 18- they can already register at 18. The lack of constitutional knowledge underscores lack of credibility as a presidential candidate.

4) Swampmaster Joe Biden (12:48)

For having all his dirty laundry aired out in the impeachment hearing, “quid pro Joe” did pretty well. Other than sending out a “just walked off stage” email before the debate started, Biden did not have his gaffs and stuck to his script. It was a solid performance.

Best Moment: He was being “grandpa Joe” and helping out other candidates. This makes him look like the adult in the room and that he is not begging for a fight like Warren or Sanders.

Worst Moment: He comes off as Obama’s apprentice. You’re in your 70s Joe, time to claim your life accomplishments and quit living off the coattails of the most corrupt president in history.

Tie for 2: Andrew Yang (6:48)

Yang got his act together and he needs to work with Gabbard to call out MSNBC for shorting their time. Yang was clear and eloquent and the “torpedo question” from the moderators looking at his qualifications was deflected and used to make himself look like an exceptional candidate. Andrew Yang has grown up from the “free money” guy that he started the campaign as. Now he is the “free money” guy with policy suggestions that are backed by some research.

Best Moment: He deflected the torpedo. They wanted to sink Yang and he dodged it. Yang was strong last night.

Worst Moment: The childcare argument was the worst. Yang did not stand up well against the emotional arguments of some of the others on stage, and his logic fell on deaf ears in Atlanta.

Tie for 2: Senator Cory Booker (11:32)

Booker was the adult in the room last night and almost tied for number 1 on this list. His way of dismissing opponents without directly calling them idiots is heart warming. If Cory Booker was from the south, I could see him saying, “well bless your heart,” as he tore Elizabeth Warren’s arguments and misinformation apart. Booker was strong last night.

Best Moment: When he decimated Elizabeth Warren.

Better Moment: When he discussed urban housing, he showed that Harris’s red-line argument was outdated.

Ultimate Moment: Booker made it the whole debate without mentioning that he was vegan, an accomplishment never done by a vegan in history.

1) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (9:12)

Even getting shorted on time, Gabbard was the campaign destroyer. She made Harris look like a plaything in the first debate, undercut Warren in the third debate, and now she’s dropped a bomb on Mayor Pete that may derail his campaign. Gabbard stood up well to Harris’ counterattack and really led the night.

Best Moment: She destroyed Mayor Pete.

Worst Moment: She put the (D) by her name. I really think that she realizes that she is a woman without a party, and should be making a 3rd party run.

In the End

Overall, the debate was an example of how each candidate (with the exception of the top three) could “out liberal” each other. Listening to the entire debate, Rep. Swalwell’s contribution to the political discourse on his interview may have been more useful than anything that the candidates were saying on the stage last night. As much as I hate to say it, Bloomberg may be a “good” candidate for the party, with the exception of Yang, Gabbard, and Booker (three people whom the establishment seem to be determined to get out of the way.)

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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.