The second round of Democratic debates is finally over. This means two things: one, I will not watch a cable news channel until the next one. I mean, Jesus Christ, CNN. Two: roughly half of these people will not be with us for the next round of debates in September.
The first two rounds of debates allowed candidates to reach the qualifying threshold by either having 65,000 donors (with at least 200 from 20 different states) or by reaching 1 percent in three polls. For the next round of debates, it’s quite a bit harder: the polling threshold is now 2 percent in at least four different polls, and the donor threshold is now 130,000 donors with 400 coming from 20 different states. If that wasn’t enough of a hint to fuck off, candidates now have to meet both of those requirements, rather than just one. If that wasn’t enough of a hint to fuck off, the second debate in September is going to be on a Friday night.
As the New York Times reported today, just seven candidates have officially qualified for the third round of debates thus far: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Beyond that, former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julián Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang are on the cusp of qualifying. Beyond that, no one else is even really close; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, for example, needs a donation a minute to reach that threshold by the August 28 deadline, and still has to hit 2 percent in three more polls, according to the Times.
With any luck, this means that a lot of these people are going to start dropping like flies in the coming weeks. So I thought it’d be nice to send them off with a proper farewell: by lighting their campaigns on fire and pushing them out to sea.
Bennet’s sole purpose during both presidential debates appeared to be providing cover for Joe Biden, a man with whom he shares almost all of the same politics. More importantly, as my colleague Libby Watson pointed out, he sounds vaguely like a one-off character from a mid-nineties Simpson episode.
For a guy who whined so hard about not making the first debate, Steve Bullock’s performance in the second debate was goddamn atrocious. The man has the general demeanor of a character from I Think You Should Leave, no good ideas whatsoever, and somehow got lost in a weird debate with Elizabeth Warren in which he argued, unconvincingly, for not taking a preemptive nuclear strike off the table. The biggest question I had after this debate is not why this guy thinks he should be president, but how in the hell he got elected governor to any state whatsoever.
Beyond Sanders and Warren, de Blasio was pretty much the only candidate in this race who was running as an unabashed progressive, which could have worked if he hadn’t been in the spotlight for the last six years as the aggressively disliked mayor of the largest city in the country. The most important function he served was to give protesters a reason to highlight the fact that no one has faced consequences for Eric Garner’s death except for Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed it.
If I were in the Sanders or Warren campaign, I wouldn’t just want John Delaney to meet the threshold for the next several debates. I would want to bring John Delaney with me everywhere on the campaign trail, like a rabbit’s foot. A former healthcare executive who bought a seat in Congress with his tens of millions of dollars who also looks like the general manager of Kinko’s in Silver Spring? Perfect. Alas, it isn’t to be.
Gabbard absolutely destroyed Kamala Harris on her record as California attorney general last night, but otherwise, her role in the race was to basically serve the purpose that Mike Gravel was supposed to: that of a warrior for anti-imperialism. She wasn’t exactly the optimal choice to represent that view, anyway, and now she has a primary challenge waiting for her back in Hawaii to look forward to.
The first time I went through this list, I forgot about Gillibrand. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know. When this thing started, I was pretty sure Gillibrand would go much further, but sadly, she’s really taken the brunt end of the Al Franken Redemption Power Hour. It also doesn’t help that Gillibrand has so clearly been two completely different politicians over the course of her career, which caused her to walk right into a devastating own by, of all people, Joe Biden last night.
John Hickenlooper was supposed to be the “sensible centrist” candidate in the race that wasn’t named Joe Biden, and he took a backseat in both debates to Michael Bennet (his former chief of staff) and then John fucking Delaney. Also, most of his staff allegedly quit and told him to drop out. How sad is that?
Jay Inslee soared into our hearts with his dogged determination to get people to talk about climate change and also some old pictures of him that we found on Instagram. It’s legitimately sad that he won’t get into the top 10, because he’s talking about the biggest global issue any of us are going to face for the rest of our lives, but with any luck he’ll be an EPA administrator or Secretary of the Interior or something in a progressive administration.
Before running for president, Tim Ryan was best known for getting his ass handed to him not once, but twice, by Nancy Pelosi. He’s now best known for looking like that guy who was about to shit his pants whenever he was called on in the debates, and for telling Bernie not to yell. What a legacy.
At some point over the past two and a half years, a persistent thought I’ve had is that anyone I’ve ever met would be a better president than Donald Trump. Marianne Williamson tested that theory, and you know what? She didn’t do half bad, even if she was the crunchiest presidential candidate to ever live. Thank you, Marianne.
And now, “Thank You” by Dido.