Winners and Losers From The Second 2020 Democratic Debates

These are the two debates that took place on July 30 and 31, 2019, to be clear. So, technically, the third and fourth Democratic debates. 


Donald Trump: Every pundit was saying that Trump would benefit from all this Democratic squabbling, so it must be true. Never mind the example of the Republican debates four years ago, which gave the right hours of free airtime to lob unanswered attacks against Hillary Clinton and shape the narrative of the entire campaign

Audience protestors: Their chants of “[inaudible yelling]!” and “[indecipherable] deportations!” will live long in the memory

Marianne Williamson: Off the bat, I want to apologize for previously joking about how Marianne Williamson sounds like a trance music voiceover.

Bernie Sanders: After a weirdly muted showing in the first debate, finally looked deep inside himself and rediscovered the anger at the system burning within

Marianne Williamson: I had my doubts about her background and her manner of speaking—at least partly fueled by sexism—but she’s surprised me with legitimately good ideas and debate answers.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Made a great case for being included in a debate at some point

Marianne Williamson: And let’s be honest—we’re currently being governed by a game show host. What’s keeping a self-help author from becoming President? If she has good ideas and worthwhile things to say, she deserves to have them considered independent of her occasionally strange way of speaking.

Bill de Blasio: There’s a phrase in Portuguese, morrer abraçado, which literally just means “die embraced”, i.e., die in each other’s arms, but, you know, it’s just way more evocative in Portuguese—anyway, my point is that the New York City mayor seems intent on ensuring he and Joe Biden do this

Marianne Williamson: In fact, let’s not mince words here. She was fantastic on Tuesday night. She owned the second half of the debate, with outstanding answers on the Flint water crisis, racial reparations, and student loan debt, and she capped it off with a delightful evisceration of all the candidates on stage who seemed more intent on criticizing their fellow Democrats for having ideas than taking on President Trump or offering ideas of their own.

Elizabeth Warren: Excelled in her second-straight debate, which is sure to help her make massive inroads into Joe Biden’s lead, perhaps by as much as two whole percentage points

Marianne Williamson: And let’s face it, in terms of policy and rhetoric, she has some excellent stuff. Her position on, and explanation for, reparations is absolutely fantastic, the sort of important and well-elucidated message that a large cohort of people could coalesce around.

Beto O’Rourke: Was flat and soporific onstage once again, but he’s somehow already qualified for the September debates, so I guess he’s a Winner

Marianne Williamson: But let’s not get carried away. For all her charisma and her provocative, inspiring answers on some topics, she’s also deeply, deeply flawed in other ways, and has said some truly awful things on topics like healthcare.

Jay Inslee: I’m sure he’ll appreciate the spotlight however he can get it, but it must sting a little to know that for all his urgent and necessary messaging about climate change and intersectionality, it was the bomb-ass glasses he wore on Wednesday night that finally got this incurably horny country to notice him

Marianne Williamson: But does that necessarily matter so much? Pretty much everybody in the race has at least one deep flaw that can and will be ripped apart. And it’s not like our current President was dragged down by his many, many problems. Indeed, his background was somewhat similar to Williamson’s: public figure with no prior political experience, but possessing a strange yet undeniable charisma, a provocative take on race that appealed to the party base, and a willingness to call out the cowardice of others in their party.

Julián Castro: Frankly, he needs to stop with this whole “dropping in one line of Spanish across the whole debate” thing. It’s not enough. Forget Inslee and his glasses. America is desperate for a suave, Spanish-speaking gentleman to sweep it off its feet with sexy words it doesn’t quite understand. At the next debate, he just needs to look directly into the camera, drop his voice a fifth, and give this country what it so desperately wants

Marianne Williamson: Look, we just have to accept that she’s going to be our next President, okay?



Kamala Harris: After the first debate, where she sliced Joe Biden in half with the giant sword from Berserk, doing anything less was always going to be a disappointment

Cory Booker: I mean, he did really quite well on Wednesday night, but he was like the last person I remembered to include in this, which says a lot

Tulsi Gabbard: It’s funny how some of these people claim that they’ll be fighters when they’re President and then back away from any opportunities to actually display some boldness or grit, but it’s flat-out hilarious when Tulsi Gabbard dances around saying “Donald Trump isn’t a patriot” while also buying airtime during the debate for a commercial about how patriotic she is for serving in the armed forces

Steve Bullock: I swear, this guy was grown in a vat by some centrist think tank in order to create their ideal presidential candidate, which probably would have turned out better if everyone else didn’t find every characteristic valued by his creators to be incredibly loathsome

Andrew Yang: Openly courted the growing “it’s already too late to stop climate change, we’re all doomed” vote, perhaps an unwise move given that 20-somethings already form his base of support

John Delaney: In the face of insurmountable odds, managed to make me somehow hate him even more than I did before

Pete Buttigieg: Gave incredibly well-spoken answers pretty much every time he was called upon, which makes it such a shame that he doesn’t seem to really believe anything he says

Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan: To borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton and put it to better use, there’s a group of candidates I’m just calling “the basket of forgettables”. Case in point: I’ve written like a thousand words on why Tim Ryan’s candidacy makes no sense, and even I totally forgot Tim Ryan existed for like an hour while writing this entry

Joe Biden: Huh, it’s almost like he doesn’t have a great record and isn’t actually a good enough politician to defend it convincingly


Image courtesy of the wonderful caricaturist DonkeyHotey

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