After tonight, a two-horse race?

John captured in six pithy observations about tonight’s Democratic debate what it probably would have taken me 600 words to express. So I’ll try to find 600 different words.

Like John, I didn’t make it to the end. I had to stop after two hours. I’ve got the thing on tape, so if I read about any significant occurrences in the final hour, I’ll check them out.

I turned on the debate wondering whether, with John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, and Tim Ryan absent, there would be anyone on the stage who, if elected president, ought not be resisted in something like the way left-liberals are resisting President Trump. I’m still wondering. What’s clear is that the majority of those on stage tonight ought to be so resisted.

As for the debate, what struck was the relative absence of clash. It didn’t start out that way. George Stephanopoulos triggered a robust debate over health insurance. I thought Joe Biden came out of it pretty well.

It was mostly smooth sailing for Biden after that (at least during the first two hours). Biden did manage, though, to say that no one should be in jail for a non-violent crime. This should make Biden the favorite of white collar criminals everywhere.

Biden stumbled badly just before I tuned out. Asked whether it was a mistake for him to have orchestrated the pullout from Iraq in the early Obama years (considering that it led to the rise of ISIS), Biden rambled big time.

Most of his answer consisted of an incoherent attempt to defend himself from charges that he lied (or at least erred) in claiming that he opposed the Iraq war immediately after it began in 2003. I discussed Biden’s lack of truthfulness on that subject here.

Biden’s answer was a head scratcher, as was his decision to open up the subject of his posture on the Iraq war at its inception in response to a question about a decision he made many years later.

Bernie Sanders pounced, pointing out that he unequivocally opposed the Iraq war from the moment it was first suggested. Fortunately for Biden, the moderators moved on quickly to another subject.

Biden’s rambling made me wonder whether I should stay tuned. He seemed to be fading, and I thought a third hour might be too much for him.

It would have been too much for me too, however.

Based on what I saw tonight, it’s a two-horse race for the nomination, notwithstanding decent performances by several of the no-hopers — e.g. Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke, whom everyone praised (a sure sign that he’s a no-hoper).

I agree with John that Kamala Harris has very little hope of winning. She wasn’t at all compelling tonight, though she did flash an okay sense of humor, at least by the standards of this field. I kind of like her strange laugh.

Bernie Sanders came across as John describes him — an elderly raving maniac. My conservative cousin (formerly) from New York tells me that when he was growing up in Brooklyn there was a commie on every street corner very much like Sanders (but probably with a better sense of humor). What a commentary on the Democratic Party that Sanders will likely run third (currently, you can make a case that he’s running second) in these sweepstakes.

The race, almost surely, is between Biden and Warren. Biden, though his bizarre answer on Iraq could have gotten him into trouble, came through the first two hours tonight in good shape, I think.

Warren was her usual polished, assured, articulate self. She has her script down. Corporate America is the cause of everything that ails the country. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

Warren is a better candidate than I expected her to be. After Sanders’s raving performance tonight, she should pull away from the lefty crank before long.

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