Winners And Losers From The March 15 Democratic Debate And The Coronavirus

WINNERS: 

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders: Both gave assured, confident performances that will convince their respective bases that they won without really changing the balance of the race very much

Joe Biden: Largely avoided being called out for his lies about never being willing to cut Social Security or his attempt to smear pro-Bernie groups like the Sunrise Movement as dark money super PACs, which definitely didn’t hurt

Bernie Sanders: Called out Biden’s history on abortion and Social Security in ways that hopefully won’t make the Democratic Party leadership excommunicate him, which at this point is kind of all you can ask for

Donald Trump: Yes, he’s absolutely bungling the USA’s coronavirus response, but at least he didn’t spend all of this past Sunday hanging out and shaking hands with anti-Congressional protesters just days after traveling abroad with an entourage 13 members of which have now tested positive for the virus, causing previously staunch supporters to say that he should be evaluated to see if he’s sane enough to be president or forcibly removed without trial, so he can take comfort in substantially outperforming his Brazilian counterpart

The novel coronavirus: By doing away with a live debate audience, did more to improve the quality of America’s political discourse than years of platitudes about reaching across the aisle ever could

The American economy: Forget the fact that thousands of Americans are likely to die and hundreds of thousands have already lost their jobs. Forget, even, that the major market indices have fallen by almost a third in less than a month, even as the effects of this pandemic are only starting to be felt.  The Dow is up 5.2 percent today, baby!!!! The recovery is back on track!! 🎶 Celebrate good times, c’mon 🎶

Anybody who managed to vote in Arizona, Florida, or Illinois today: Your voice may never again have such an outsized role in our democracy unless you someday become a billionaire

Mitt Romney: Has been America’s most popular Senator for the past 24 hours, and all it took was him being misquoted as supporting a $1000/month universal basic income for all Americans when in fact he’s only advocating for a one-time payout of $1000

That One McSweeney’s Piece That’s Like “Winners And Losers From The Recent Nuclear Holocaust“: Enjoying a golden hour of newfound relevance

LOSERS:

The Democratic Establishment: There’s a flawed way of thinking that I believe pervades the more moderate and neoliberal set that makes up the majority of the Democratic Party power structure, a love for clever, targeted technocratic solutions that are too complex to champion and often too narrowly focused to help all the people they could, and I think this is how we get Kamala Harris proposing “up to” $500/month for “working families” to help them deal with this crisis, which would probably be better in the long term than Mitt Romney’s “give every American adult $1000” proposal, but which also a) seems to exclude exactly the people who most need help right now, i.e. those out of work and not making money b) actually only gives up to $250/month per person, which is an even worse look c) jeez, the conditions and exclusions are so significant that you have to draw attention to them in the first 280 characters you get to talk about it? Too much of the party likes to think that they’re cleverer than the other guys, and it leads to them constantly losing the message game. Is there a catchy term for this? Like “Incremental Progress Brain”, but not that? Let’s coin one, folks

Joe Biden: Comfortably leads the polls and probably didn’t see any significant change to his standing as a result of the debate, meaning it’s becoming more likely that he’ll soon have to reckon with whether he actually wanted any of this, at his age, after all the grief he’s lived through in the past few years

Bernie Sanders: hey is it just me or is he not actually all that great at making the case for Medicare For All. Like he still can’t give a coherent answer on how it’ll cost less than the current system (even though it likely would!) and he keeps starting his arguments with a default line about how 87 million Americans are currently un- or underinsured, which isn’t viscerally compelling on its own in the way that, say, Biden’s story about his friends having to communicate with their mother through the window of her nursing home because of infection risk is. I and many other people believe the moral and economic case for Medicare for All is self-evident, but I’m not sure that somebody who doesn’t already think that will be brought around by how Bernie argues for it

Donald Trump, Jr.: His dad may be comfortably outperforming Jair Bolsonaro in terms of coronavirus response, but his eldest boy has been thoroughly outdone in the Garbage Son Sweepstakes. Ol’ Junebug’s philandering and conspiracy-mongering can’t hold so much as a candle to Flávio Bolsonaro, who is currently under fire for allegedly laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars with the help of a now-dead ex-police officer who turned fugitive after being charged with running a vigilante militia, complete with hired hitmen, in Rio de Janeiro, I’m not making any of this up, I swear, you think we have it bad here, well, it could always be worse elsewhere, and that elsewhere is Brazil

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