Friday, January 17, 2020

Tuesday’s Debate | Lefsetz Letter

You probably didn’t watch it.

That’s the story of the social media age, we’re all in our own cocoons, and we get the news via absorption as opposed to first hand.

The younger generation does not read the newspaper, certainly not the physical one, but the headlines do appear in their feeds, they get a facsimile of the news online.

As for oldsters?

Sure, they care, they vote the most, but except for a small coterie who live for the political game, most are hunkered down in their bunkers, deep into news that confirms their bias.

Furthermore, an incredible percentage of Democrats have ankled their Republican friends. When these righties start spouting the talking points the Dems feel their blood boil, and since you cannot convince someone to change their opinion in an argument, at best they’ll reevaluate later, it’s a personal stand to avoid interaction, and many do.

So we had a debate and few people watched. Tuesday night’s affair had the lowest ratings for a debate so far.

But it was one of the best. By only having six candidates on stage there was coherence, everybody got time to respond, to not only the questioners but their fellow candidates.

Let’s start with Tom Steyer. How he polled high enough to get in this debate flummoxes me. As for those who didn’t qualify, they’re done, toast. Marianne Williamson dropped out. Cory Booker punted. You may align with one of those excluded but still running, but it’s a lost cause. Like a record, they’ve peaked, and no one is willing to invest in them anymore, not prodigious amounts, they want to focus on the winners.

Which brings us to Amy Klobuchar. The Trust Me candidate. Yup, she’s from a red district, so she can beat the Orange Menace.

Only Minnesota is one of the most liberal states in the union. The rap is it’s cold, but if you want a social safety net, if you want a cosmopolitan center, if you want elbow room and outdoor activities, move to Minnesota. The people there know this, everybody else is afraid of the weather.

So intellectually, we get Klobuchar. But we just can’t get behind her emotionally. We agree she could do the job, she looks good on paper, it’s just that it’s hard to work up a passion about her.

Also, Amy’s debating in an old fashioned style. Quoting experiences about her dad and her father, these tropes no longer work, especially after Joe the Plumber. You look rehearsed, when we’re looking for spontaneity, humanity. Also, Amy was a bit off her game.


Smooth. Compared to the alta kachers on stage, he was a breath of fresh air, in that he was young, his memory was intact, he could turn on a dime, the only thing is he didn’t run his own city so well and he’s not believable, as in he’s made the tactical decision to run to the center and there’s little appeal for this. Yup, just like with the nation at large, Democrats are now tribal. Either you want drastic change or you want to keep what you’ve got and get rid of Trump. Pete falls somewhere in the middle, and that’s nowheresville.

Which brings us to Biden.

I wish you’d watched this debate, because if you had there’d be no chance in hell you’d vote for Joe. He could not get the words out, he got confused. And sure, he was always this way, but now it’s worse.

Joe gained a bit of steam at the end, but you wince when he starts to speak. Furthermore, you should read the opinion piece in the “Times,” from a reporter in Iowa. Joe was speaking at a college and students were leaving. Because they disagreed with his viewpoints? No, because he was so boring!

“I’m a Reporter in Iowa. Here’s What My State Is Looking For. We don’t care about Biden’s electability. We want excitement”

Robert Leonard, the author of the above article, has it right, when so many in New York and D.C. have it wrong. He’s on the ground, he interacts with voters. He’s living it. And the truth is candidates are not math, they’re people. Come on, ever have a crush on a beautiful person and after talking to them you have no desire to interact with them further? Yup, it’s about more than looks, it’s about personality, character. And we tend to adhere to those with rough edges, as opposed to those whose are smooth.

So Elizabeth Warren generates excitement. It’s just that she blew it by repeatedly avoiding that question about paying for Medicare in that old debate and instantly she looked like a typical, two-faced, double-talking politician. I was for her. I’d still vote for her. But, you’ve got to deliver when the mic is on, and she did not.

That’s another thing that was evidenced in this debate. Experience. Steyer didn’t have it, he’s still on the learning curve, of how to deliver in these circumstances.

And Elizabeth Warren is too.

No, the person with the most experience debating, who looked most comfortable on stage was…

Bernie Sanders.

Now Warren had the winning speech of the night, when she talked about the women on stage being the only ones who never lost an election. That resonated. But it was so deep in the debate that most people were not watching. You’ve got to kill in the first twenty minutes, after that it does not matter.

But if you did not watch and are paying attention to the scuttlebutt you’d think the debate was all about a war between Warren and Sanders over whether a woman can win. What he said, what she said.

But during the debate, that was handled graciously. Warren did not double-down on Bernie. She took the high road and triumphed.

But then she was petty after the debate and the blowback is now hurting her. Yup, that’s the story of this debate, how she wouldn’t shake Bernie’s hand and she accused him of lying.

Do we care?

Not really. It’s got nothing to do with running for President. And is there anybody paying attention who believes a woman cannot run and win? After Obama won twice and Hillary won the popular vote and a gay man polls high enough to be on stage?

But the truth is we’re coming to crunch time. It’s getting vicious. For not only the candidates, but their teams. Yup, if you’ve been canvassing forever, you want to win, you’ll almost say anything to succeed.

So right after this debate was over, I went online to see what was being said.

Didn’t look like the debate I watched.

Proving how powerful the media is.

It’s not only Fox News. If you’ve got a substantial audience, you can sway public sentiment. So those not truly paying attention are not gonna get the real story, but a filtered one from someone with an interest in the game.

Now they batted health care around once more. Which was a complete waste of time. And Klobuchar even said this. That Medicare For All isn’t gonna pass right away anyway.

And Bernie gave an overall take too. That what it came down to was defeating Trump. That most of the details of the debate were irrelevant. And, he said he would support any of the candidates on stage who became the nominee. Which is contrary to what happened in 2016. Bernie seemed enthusiastic when he said this, irrelevant of the truth.

And the truth is Bernie is winning, and will probably win the nomination and the election and become our next President.

Whoa! Hold your horses there baby!

The pundits talking about McGovern? No one was passionate about McGovern, he was just a reasonable guy against the war in Vietnam. Sure, we were gonna support him, vote for him, but we didn’t really care about him. We cared about Eugene McCarthy, who pushed the envelope when no one else would, in 1968. Hubert Humphrey was a pretty good guy, but the wrong guy for the times. People wanted to be passionate, they wanted change.

Just like today.

So proving that you can’t predict the future, even though I just did, Bernie is more reasonable, even stronger since he had his heart attack.

Health issues used to doom you. But with a President who has had multiple divorces, never mind affairs, who got a scalp reduction and wears makeup…all the stuff that used to kill your candidacy no longer does, no matter how much the other side might harp on it.

But Bernie does look like he needs hearing aids. He kept putting his hand to his ear to hear. Now Klobuchar, even further away from the questioners, did this once too, but if Bernie needs to hear better, he should turn hearing aids into a good thing, Reagan did.

So if you take the temperature of the press, you have noticed that every paper has recently done a major article on Bernie Sanders saying he just might win the nomination. Nobody in these papers thinks this is a good thing, a lot of them believe he’d ruin the country, and they wouldn’t vote for him, but…

The younger people will.

That’s another canard, that young people won’t vote. It’s a new dawn folks. Young people have the most at stake, can you say “climate change”? They came out in 2018 and they’ll come out even more in 2020, if they’re passionate about the candidate.

I was talking to a rock star yesterday, a hero of the millennials, and he said his fans, the people he knows…if Elizabeth or Bernie are not nominated they’re gonna stay home, not even bother to vote.

This is what happened in 2016. This is one of the reasons Hillary lost. A lot of these people stayed home or voted for Jill Stein.

They’re not gonna now, if they believe there’s a chance of real change.

Now we’re gonna get a much clearer picture in a few weeks, when the vote begins. But let’s say Bernie Sanders wins…

Is he gonna take your house back? Not allow you to make seven figures? As for Medicare For All, I point you to another “New York Times” opinion piece:

“How the Health Insurance Industry (and I) Invented the ‘Choice’ Taking Point. It was always misleading. Now Democrats are repeating it”

Wendell Potter was part of the disinformation campaign. He was VP of corporate communications at Cigna. He knows of what he speaks. That’s right, the big companies spin to their advantage. Purdue Pharma said oxycontin was not addictive. The tobacco companies hid the perils of smoking. Oil companies hid climate change research. They didn’t want to sacrifice. And instinctively you know this. That the man is not on your side.

And Bernie Sanders is standing up to the man.

Bernie’s never wavered. Warren lost further credibility when she said she’d delay implementation of Medicare For All. Once you cave to the crowd, once you say what’s expedient as opposed to what’s in your heart, you’re history.

As for extreme positions… Just look at our President. Middle of the road didn’t defeat him!

But you’re afraid of change.

But there’s a huge number of Americans who are dying for it, some of them literally. Sure, the economy is humming, but not for many folks, who may be working but are underpaid.

It is not business as usual. The old rules no longer apply. And Trump has intensified the importance of the election. There’s so much at stake, climate change, abortion, Supreme Court appointees, war… People are scared and they want to take action and all the talking heads can do is cite nearly fifty year old history. As if we’re doomed, because nothing ever changes.

As for Bloomberg, he knows he’s done. How do we know? Because he’s already hedging his bets, he’s already pledged to spend all that money on the nominee’s campaign even if it isn’t him.

Now as we get closer to Election Day, we will end up with just two candidates. People are familiar with Trump, but whomever the Democrats nominate will get the benefit of the spotlight. And when the light shines on Bernie they’re gonna see someone who is confident in his positions, who does not waver.

You talk about history hurting him. But that’s just history, it’s not today, and the truth is we’ve all changed, we’re all fallible and we want hope.

What did James Carville say?


And that’s exactly what Sanders is talking about. Do you have an economic future, can you pay your bills?

And what was Obama’s slogan?


Biden’s not offering any hope. Neither is Buttigieg. And Klobuchar’s flame is flickering.

But Warren and Sanders are all about hope.

Get ready. The impossible is gonna happen. Get on the train early.

No one thought that a black man could win.

But he did.

We want someone to believe in, to get behind. That’s the story of today, everybody’s doing what’s expedient, you can only believe in yourself, but now…


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