Debate Liveblog: Biden & Bernie, Sparring Partners




Bernie Sanders May not win the Democratic nomination, but he plays at least three roles between now and this summer.

First, he remains the primary proponent of policies that, when it comes to health care, have never been more timely.

Second, he is building a movement that may — perhaps not this year, though maybe — organize and invigorate the left, minorities, and the poor and working class — to challenge monied interests in this country and make politicians afraid to ignore their needs.

Third, as we see today: he is Joe Biden’s sparring partner.  He will not only preserve interest in the nomination contest, but he will sharpen Biden’s skills.  Biden improved greatly over the course of the Democratic debates, and that didn’t happen by accident.  It came from practice — from sparring.

On coronavirus, Biden is arguing that while we need in effect socialized medicine during this sort of emergency, but not otherwise.

Biden says we need to do what we did under Obama, during the Ebola crisis. Bernie is talking about how this is more significant than Ebola, which happened under Obama. Asked how we’ll punish China, Bernie says that we need to learn from them, work with them, and leave consequences for later.  He is concerned with fighting profiteering.

Biden says people care about immediate results, not a revolution. Bernie says, yeah, focus on results now, but also look at the larger context and figure out how to better serve people in the future.

I’m not sure that they’re disagreeing much, rather than answering different questions.

Question about bailouts: Bernie voted no in 2008 because making the banks whole without consequences was wrong.

Bernie says that bailouts should have come from the wealthy.  Zero-interest loans was a grant to the rich. Biden says “but the banks would have failed.”  He doesn’t address whether there were better ways to do it.

What about unauthorized immigrants?  Biden says that no one should be deported for visiting a doctor. Nor for reporting being battered.  Sanders gives a more detailed answer, with something like an “I wrote the damn bill!”

Biden doesn’t want a revolution, because he wants to “act now!”  Bernie points out that the system is rigged for the wealthy — a matter of power structure.  Need to take on Wall Street, Big Pharm, Big Oil, etc., at the same time.

Joe wants to federally fund elections. Hasn’t happened. Bernie says let’s get rid of PACs.  Joe says I have none and you have nine — and I can name them.” Bernie says “go ahead and do it”; Joe can’t.

“Everything needs to be on the table,” was what Joe said.  That included Social Security.  He denies that this was favoring cuts in Social Security.  Well, yes and no.  It was weakness that would have led to it.

Bankruptcy Bill, free college — Joe now likes them, but Bernie says that he was fighting these battles when they weren’t popular.

Biden gives a plausible answer on his support of the Bankruptcy bill.  I just don’t know whether it is true.

Lot’s of interesting argument about voting records omitted.

Joe says must come together to beat Trump.  Bernie agreed.  Kumbaya.

Bernie: must take on Big Oil.  Moderator: time for a commercial break!

Women’s issues time!  Bernie: I’ve got 100% voting record on choice; Joe doesn’t.  Joe flashes his grin.  Bernie lists many other good positions on various issues.  Bernie notes that Joe supported the Hyde amendment barring public spending on abortions.  Joe says it was inevitable, linked to must-pass bills.

Joe says he will pick a woman as running-mate.  Bernie says that he’s strongly inclined to choose a progressive woman, but won’t guarantee it.

Hey, Joe, what about those deportations?  Only felons.  2007 immigration bill — Bernie voted no, so did Obama.  Moderator: “so, open borders?”  No, just rational.

Hey, Joe — you’ve opposed sanctuary cities?  I think he shrugged.  Bernie gives anti-ICE raid answer.  Joe gives an ok anti-xenophobia answer.

Climate change: diseases?  Bernie — yeah, this is what scientists have been telling us.  Need to transform from fossil fuel.

Biden shows that he understands what climate change is about.  Moderator: is your plan ambitious enough to combat crisis, at $14TT less?

Bernie: nice, but not enough. Do we take on Big Oil?  Need to talk about this.  Biden: no subsidies, no drilling.  Paris Accord: 85% is overseas.  Bernie: Climate change is an existential crisis; Biden laughs.  Need dramatic bold action.

Scientists now say that they underestimated crisis, says Bernie.  Joe: I wrote the first climate change bill.  Bernie: need dramatic investment in wind and solar.  Need to retrofit buildings; move transit to electricity.

At the second break, Joe does sound good in the context of Trump — and, more importantly, reasonably sharp.  Bernie just looks quite a bit better.

Cuba — why do Cubans support Bernie?  Bernie: I’m against authoritarianism.  Biden: what about Obama’s opening with Cuba?  Joe: Bernie praised the Soviet Union.

Bernie says China did alleviate poverty; we can recognize that while opposing their faults.  Biden: we should not praise them, period.

What did Biden learn from vote for Iraq?  Not to trust Bush.  Bernie — I led efforts against UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Vulnerabilities: Biden? Bernie has been better with Latinos.  Why hard for you?

Bernie with African Americans?  We are winning ideological and generational struggles.  Need excitement to beat Trump.  Doubt you can do it.

Third break: coronavirus.  Closing on that?

Bernie: need to let people know that we’ll have enough tests, ventilators, etc.  Need to ask hard questions about inequalities of social structure.

Biden: start listening to scientists.  Ask how we beat it.  Make sure every paycheck met: don’t meet mortgage and rent payments.  Understand closing large gatherings, but what about drug stores?

And that’s it.

CNN postgame commenters are mostly Biden people; only the Latina recognized that Bernie was trying to push Biden to the left while pulling the worst of his punches — preparing, if need be, to help him beat Trump.  Biden gave Bernie the same commitment.

The fact-checking about Biden’s voting record will be interesting.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)