As Van Jones commented on CNN following the Fourth Democratic Debate, Elizabeth Warren proved she was mortal.
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Being the perceived new front runner meant that Senator Warren received new scrutiny on her positions from the other candidates, especially on Medicare for All and the Wealth Tax.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang arguably scored their best points of the night (and the debates) by aggressively pointing out the vagueness of how the Massachusetts Senator would pay for her Medicare for All proposals. Yang accurately pointed out that her wealth tax proposals had been tried in various European nations and abandoned.
While Warren consistently and passionately defended her positions, her inability during and after the debate to articulate if taxes were going to go up for the Middle Class to pay for her health care proposal created an opening for her primary opponents to question the viability of all her proposals.
As a result, Senator Klobuchar and Mayor Buttigieg made the most of this opportunity, ably presenting a Middle America vision of progressivism that they maintain is more palatable to the people in that region than Warrens. They also demonstrated, in their responses to Syria and the Middle East, that they would be strong on foreign and military affairs.
Vice President Biden, not getting the attention of the frontrunner at this debate, had his best evening, deflecting the age question by saying he has the wisdom and experience to take on the responsibilities of the Presidency on day one. He also gave effective responses to the Trump Impeachment Inquiry and Syria.
Observations on the other Candidates
Senator Bernie Sanders was an inspiration for standing there for three hours and passionately articulating his views two weeks after a heart attack.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, when given time, gave excellent responses, especially on inequality and the proliferation of billionaires.
Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Corey Booker, and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro had solid performances. Booker had the best closing statement of the evening. Harris had the best answer on putting the pharma owners in jail for fueling the opioid crisis. Castro had the best line saying Trump locked up children at the border but creating the situation where I.S.I.S. prisoners were now free to wreak havoc.
Former Representative Beto O’Rourke was mostly solid but he stumbled on the gun buyback question and that can be fatal to his chances.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard really showed through her responses and demeanor that she did not belong on the stage with the other 11 candidates.
That said, it is a shame that the DNC could not have found a way to include Senator Michael Bennet and Governor Steve Bullock in this debate. Both pragmatic progressives, they would have positively contributed to the discussions of the fourth debate.
The fourth debate may prove to be a turning point for several candidacies. It did show that Senator Warren needs to actually give more details on how she would pay for her programs. It showed that Andrew Yang has a different insight into the shaping of society to pay attention to. It also showed another brand of progressivism, a pragmatic approach offered by Senator Klobuchar and Mayor Buttigieg that the people may find equally inviting and less radical than the visions articulated by Senators Warren and Sanders.
Featured Image from Spin