The so-called de­bates

The Saline Courier Weekend - - OPINION - GE­ORGE D. EL­LIS

The so-called de­bates Tues­day and Wed­nes­day nights were entertaini­ng to watch, but lack­ing in sub­stance. First, they were “so­called” be­cause they ac­tu­ally were not de­bates at all.

For sev­eral years, this for­mat has been used. They were, and are, joint news con­fer­ences in which reporters and com­men­ta­tors ask ques­tions of the can­di­dates. That’s not a de­bate.

Se­cond, they lacked sub­stance be­cause of nutty time re­stric­tions. For ex­am­ple, how would the can­di­date fix im­mi­gra­tion or health­care. The can­di­date is ex­pected to han­dle such weighty and com­pli­cated is­sues in 60 sec­onds. None of the can­di­dates can do that, and it is un­rea­son­able to ex­pect them to.

So with that crit­i­cism, there were some good take-aways:

•The clear win­ner on Tues­day night was El­iz­a­beth War­ren. She has a com­mand of com­pli­cated is­sues.

“I have a plan for that,” she of­ten says. War­ren has the abil­ity to roll an ex­pla­na­tion into plain English, unlike some of the other can­di­dates. She has a pop­ulist ap­peal, but she’s not mad at any­one.

She won’t make the ticket, but look for her (as I noted pre­vi­ously) in a cab­i­net po­si­tion — Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury, per­haps.

•Tues­day nights big­gest loser was Bernie San­ders.

It’s over for Bernie. The same old ar­gu­ments of the old left just won’t work any­more. Ev­ery­thing is rigged. Wall Street is full of crooks who rig the sys­tem.

San­ders fails to ac­knowl­edge that Wall Street is also full of gen­er­ous wealthy peo­ple who give mil­lions of dol­lars to char­i­ta­ble causes. San­ders ac­tu­ally thinks that we, as a peo­ple, will em­brace demo­cratic so­cial­ism if given a chance. Not go­ing to hap­pen. It should also be noted that San­ders isn’t even a Demo­crat. Other than the pres­i­den­tial pri­maries, San­ders has never — not one time — ever been on the bal­lot as a Demo­crat. As a can­di­date for Mayor of Burlington, Ver­mont, as a can­di­date for the U. S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and as a can­di­date for the U. S. Se­nate, he al­ways ran as ei­ther an in­de­pen­dent or as a so­cial­ist.

How he can be con­sid­ered a Demo­crat is beyond me.

•The Wed­nes­day night de­bate was a lit­tle more frisky.

Joe Bi­den was the tar­get whom every­one seemed to want to knock off, but it didn’t hap­pen. Bi­den han­dled him­self well, with dig­nity and deco­rum. His prob­lem arose when he at­tempted to re­vise his­tory.

He worked hard for the crime bill of 1994, but an un­in­tended con­se­quence was mas­sive in­car­cer­a­tions, par­tic­u­larly of African-amer­i­can young men, that we are liv­ing with to­day. He should sim­ply say, if we knew then what we know now, we would not have writ­ten the bill like we did.

•And speak­ing of re­vi­sion­ist his­tory, Ka­mala Har­ris took a huge hit. She was asked about the fact that while she was the D.A. in the Bay area and later At­tor­ney Gen­eral, some 1,500 Cal­i­for­ni­ans were sent to prison for long pe­ri­ods of time for the of­fense of smok­ing mar­i­juana.

And, when asked about that, and whether she ever used it her­self, she sim­ply laughed. It would have been far bet­ter to sim­ply state that times and at­ti­tudes re­gard­ing pot have rad­i­cally changed. If she had it to do over in 2019, she would not have pros­e­cuted those cases.

It was also pointed out that while Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral, she at­tempted to block the post-con­vic­tion un­cov­er­ing of new and ex­cul­pa­tory ev­i­dence re­gard­ing a de­fen­dant on death row.

But she has preached “all my life” that she’s op­posed to the death penalty. She tried to have it both ways and got caught.

•Fi­nally, it ap­pears that part of the con­ver­sa­tion is go­ing to be fo­cused on health­care. Bi­den and some oth­ers take the po­si­tion that Oba­macare can be im­proved, giv­ing much more flex­i­bil­ity and op­tions to Amer­i­cans.

War­ren and oth­ers are ar­gu­ing for Medi­care for all.

No one has yet been able to ar­tic­u­late a full ex­pla­na­tion of his or her po­si­tion, be­cause it can’t be done in 60 sec­onds. As things move on and the field thins down, that may not be as much of a prob­lem.

It will be in­ter­est­ing.

Ge­orge D. El­lis is a Ben­ton at­tor­ney. He can be con­tacted at gel­lis­in­ben­[email protected]

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