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A not-so great debate

With the Presidential election a mere year and a half away, it appears it’s time to start thinning the herd of two dozen Democrat candidates.  Enter the NBC two-night debate.

Now, given that it’s the beginning of summer and the first debate for this election, NBC had low expectations for viewership.  However, according to Nielsen ratings, over 15 million viewers tuned in on Wednesday night and even more so on Thursday.  And that doesn’t include online viewing.

Of course, that’s hardly the record-breakers of the 2016 campaigns.  But then again, who could look away from the train wreck that was Donald Trump?

So why were so many Americans tuning in to this over-filled smorgasbord of liberal agendas?  One could say they wanted to see how the candidates answered the tough questions.

If that was the case, one would be disappointed.

Direct questions were rarely answered.  Instead, the candidates would pump out their campaign rhetoric on the topic in general.  For example, the moderators asked Cory Booker how his gun buy-back program worked.  He responded by talking about all the people who had been shot in the last week on his street.

We feel for you Cory.  Now, can you answer the question?

Kamala Harris was asked if Democrats need to explain how they will pay for all the new benefits they’re promising like free healthcare and cutting student debt.  Her choreography was fabulous.  Harris side-stepped the question, jumped back into the costs of the Republican tax credit and then pivoted to her own tax credit plan.

Others had little to say at all.  Andrew Yang later claimed that his mic was often turned off so he couldn’t be heard.  NBC responded saying, "At no point during the debate was any candidate's microphone turned off or muted.”

Absolutely true.  In fact, that night they even left the moderators’ microphones on long after they left the stage.

Fortunately during the second night, everyone spoke up.  And instead of attacking the President, they went after each other.  Or specifically, the always affable Joe Biden.

Kamala Harris’ experience as a prosecutor allowed her to herd the rowdy group like a headmistress, before slicing and dicing her opponents.

Even almost non-existent candidate Eric Swalwell managed to pry Biden’s foot out of his mouth to use his own words against him.  Apparently, the VP once told a crowd – which included Swalwell himself – that it was time to pass the torch to a new generation.  That was 32 years ago.

Pundits and political experts are already naming the debate winners.  But was there really a debate?  Sure, debate-adjacent arguments did pop up periodically.  Yet most of what was heard could have been switched out for the candidates’ YouTube campaign videos.

A debate should educate.  It should allow the candidates to compare the benefits and costs of voting for them.  This one didn’t.

Hopefully the next round will be smaller and more productive.  Otherwise, viewers may just as well tune in to another Big Bang Theory repeat.

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