It’s January, it’s Iowa, and it’s an election year. You know what that means? Yes, it’s when everyone pretends to like ethanol, but why? It’s beginning to look a lot like caucus time! And there’s no caucus without a pre-caucus debate.
If you had better things to do than watch CNN for two and a half hours, never fear: The Federalist has collected the best tweets of the evening for your reading pleasure.
If you’ve watched the last six rounds, you knew what you were in for:
This is going to be ponderous.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 15, 2020
The introductions, at least, were brief. Only six candidates made the cut.
I’m a Texan of Irish decent, live in boondocks, am too proud of my truck, listen to country music and I’m less white than this. pic.twitter.com/JKnP5KXaT6— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) January 15, 2020
Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and … wait, who’s that in the plaid tie?
How is it possible that enough people out there are unironically voting for Tom Steyer that it got him on stage tonight.— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 15, 2020
Oh yeah, the billionaire coal mine owner who hates billionaires and coal. Anyway, on with the show. On to Tehran For the first time, the debate began with a question about foreign policy.
“Why are you best prepared to be Commander in Chief” is such a dumb question. It’s just an invitation to put out a live press release. These debates have all been like this, hence mostly useless.— Kyle Smith (@rkylesmith) January 15, 2020
Bernie and Joe talked about how the voted on the Iraq War, several decades ago.
*It’s okay I was wrong on the Iraq War because I was Obama’s VP* is literally Biden’s answer.— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) January 15, 2020
Biden went there early! pic.twitter.com/N7ljIdVObc— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) January 15, 2020
I guess I wonder how much voters care about the 2002 Iraq war vote in 2020— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) January 15, 2020
The others chimed in:
Klobuchar shakes with the conviction of a thousand holy spirits— Berny Belvedere (@bernybelvedere) January 15, 2020
Pete Buttigieg sounds like an automated customer service line. I scream OPERATOR at my TV whenever he comes on.— Local man (@BobbyBigWheel) January 15, 2020
Pete Buttigieg looks like a young version of the Smoking Man from The X-Files pic.twitter.com/Gy5Sr9hs3g— Justin T. (@condiricenbeans) January 13, 2020
Mayor Pete is what you get if you combine Burns and Smithers.— Nathaniel Friedman (@freedarko) January 15, 2020
Elizabeth Warren’s 3 military brothers should hang out with John Kasich’s mailman father.— Karol Markowicz (@karol) January 15, 2020
Notice Elizabeth Warren lumps in “climate” while talking about national defense.Interesting. #DemDebate — Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) January 15, 2020
WOLF BLITZER: Tom Steyer, why should voters you should be Commander in Chief of the largest military in the history of the world?TOM STEYER: I have traveled to many countries. — Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) January 15, 2020
Though on the question of America’s role in the Middle East, one strident voice was noticeably absent.
Man it would be great to see @TulsiGabbard up on the stage right now— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) January 15, 2020
Well, two voices, really
What this #DemDebate is missing:Mod: “Mr. Yang, how will you address not only Iran but also North Korea now with tensions so high?” Yang: “Well, one thing I think with regards to Iran that we need is, if we just give people $1000, uh, Iran will denuclearize itself & buy PS5s” — Tana MAOgeau ☭🌹🇬🇹 (@StealYoRedBull) January 15, 2020
Inevitably, the talk turned to the Vietnam War, which ended forty-five years ago.
We are about as close to the Vietnam war now, as voters were to World War 2… in the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. https://t.co/rE0c6emSMd— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) January 15, 2020
Nearly everything Biden says is a reference to the past.— Ryan D. Enos (@RyanDEnos) January 15, 2020
Bernie fell back on internationalism, of course.
“Our job is to rebuild the United Nations”— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) January 15, 2020
There was some hair-splitting by Warren and Klobuchar.
Klobuchar would pull troops out of Afghanistan except for some to do “counter-terrorism and training”.What does she think they are doing now? — Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) January 15, 2020
Biden calls Warren/CNN out on the combat troops thing, administrations usually just quibble over what combat means. I’m not sure saying you’d remove just combat troops means.— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 15, 2020
Biden wrote a kōan, I think?
Biden: We need to be the policeman of the world or else we’ll need to become the policeman of the world.— Damon Linker (@DamonLinker) January 15, 2020
On the authorization for war, all condemned Trump’s strike on Qasem Soleimani without congressional authorization. But some were for it before they were against it.
Did the same authorization that didn’t give Trump permission to do this in Iran give Biden and Obama and Clinton permission to turn Libya into a pile of rubble?— Matthew Walther (@matthewwalther) January 15, 2020
Biden is lying. Libya was not anchored in the 9/11 AUMF. It was based on Harold Koh’s nihilistic construction of the War Powers Resolution.— Luke Thompson (@ltthompso) January 15, 2020
It was a little surreal.
The mayor of the 4th largest city in Indiana is talking about nuclear proliferation.— Damon Linker (@DamonLinker) January 15, 2020
Bernie Hates NAFTER Next up was trade. They all hated USMCA. Some of them hated NAFTA. No one explained the difference.
First small divide between Warren and Sanders — on USMCA.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 15, 2020
Bernie going full MAGA on protectionism and the new NAFTA.— Mr Maitra (@MrMaitra) January 15, 2020
Moderator asks @BernieSanders: “Are you unwilling to compromise?”LOL! “No compromise” is Sanders’s stock in trade.#DemDebate — Jeff Jacoby (@Jeff_Jacoby) January 15, 2020
I’m learning from the #DemDebate candidates that trade deals are bad and trade wars are also bad. WHICH IS IT?— Salim Furth (@salimfurth) January 15, 2020
Because Warren is banking on Iowa, which wants it badly, and Bernie is betting on New Hampshire, which doesn’t care nearly as much as his progressive base cares about blocking commodities trade? https://t.co/hrbjOLSBTw— Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) January 15, 2020
Most candidates tried to sound protectionist while still attacking the protectionist in the White House. Not an easy task! Steyer sounded the strongest note for free trade.
Tom Steyer says on the first day of office he would remove the tariffs on China— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) January 15, 2020
Biden kind of winked at it.
If you think Biden’s trade talk sounds familiar that’s because its how the Obama admin sold TPPWhich means he still supports it — Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) January 15, 2020
Warren’s would have China pinky swear not to pollute too much before sending our jobs there. Progressive!
Warren has a completely unrealistic idea of how trade talks actually work.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 15, 2020
He Said, She Said They moved on to the fight CNN had wanted to start all night. Did Bernie really say that thing Warren said he said that one time?
FINALLY BERNIE VS WARREN FIGHT— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 15, 2020
MODERATOR: You’re saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a women could not win the election.SANDERS: That is correct. MODERATOR: Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election. WARREN: I disagreed. pic.twitter.com/8UUKONNaCY — Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) January 15, 2020
Asked about report he told Elizabeth Warren that a woman couldn’t win the 2020 election, Bernie Sanders denies ever saying it at all.#DemDebate— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) January 15, 2020
“this question…of whether a woman can win…has been raised…” – Elizabeth WarrenBECAUSE YOU RAISED IT #DemocraticDebate — Amanda Carey Elliott 💁♀️ (@AmandaCarey1) January 15, 2020
Holy shit. The CNN moderator just openly took Warren’s side, bailed her out, and saved her from having to back up her claims. One of the most biased moments I’ve ever seen in a debate. CNN is an absolute clown show. Amazing.— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) January 15, 2020
Warren spun the conversation into a women-can-do-anything moment, noting the extremely specific stat that she was the only candidate on stage who had beaten an incumbent Republican in the last thirty years. It was one of those “find endpoints that make this a unique event” things that sports announcers sometimes do. Bernie objected, noting that he had defeated a Republican incumbent, back in 1990. A surprisingly long discussion ensued about who long ago 1990 was.
Got to side with Sanders: Election Day 1990 was within the last 30 years.— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) January 15, 2020
The staffer who wrote that canned Warren answer should have gone with 25 years. Big oops. https://t.co/iv5XV1Xn2p— Colin J. Smothers (@colinsmo) January 15, 2020
We are now closer to 2050 than we are to 1990 and I am shook https://t.co/mHyW2IVvnf— Gabby Orr (@GabbyOrr_) January 15, 2020
Surely there were better ways to make herself seem special, no? Warren is the only candidate on stage to beat a Republican incumbent in a state with a seacoast! Warren is the only candidate to beat a Republican who was, herself, a Republican until 1996! Warren is the only candidate to beat a Republican incumbent in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 3-to-1! Or here’s an even better one:
Warren should just point out that she has experience beating an incumbent Republican who happened to win his office only because he had the luck to run against a deeply unpopular woman and political grifter who radiated a belief that she was entitled to the office— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) January 15, 2020
Cradle to Grave Once the vagaries of the Gregorian calendar were sorted out, it was time for everyone’s favorite topic, yelling large numbers at each other. That’s right: it’s healthcare time. President Obama and a Democratic Congress passed a massive overhaul of the healthcare industry, but according to his six would-be successors, things are as bad as ever. Nothing in their answers had changed from the previous six debates.
I love healthcare policy, but this is healthcare segment is literally the same as every other debate. Can’t they ask other healthcare policy questions?— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) January 15, 2020
“Why do we keep having this conversation?” – Tom Steyer, winning me over.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 15, 2020
Sanders’s visible contempt at being asked How Much It Will Cost is always good, always gif-able— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 15, 2020
I’d love Warren to point out what statute lets her cut drug costs by fiat.— Brian Rosenwald (@brianros1) January 15, 2020
“I WILL LOWER THE PRICE OF STUFF” -Elizabeth Warren. Why didn’t any previous president think of this genius idea?— Kyle Smith (@rkylesmith) January 15, 2020
Steyer sounds like an idiot on health care.— Damon Linker (@DamonLinker) January 15, 2020
Good line by Mayor Pete about Medicare for all: Health plans shouldn’t just be valued by progressives based on how many trillions they cost or how many people they alienate. #DemocraticDebate— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) January 15, 2020
Klobuchar kept things a little interesting.
“This debate isn’t real.” – Amy Klobuchar.Thank you, Senator. — Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 15, 2020
What the hell is Klobuchar talking about. The story started in Vegas and ended with her dad getting married three times.— Karol Markowicz (@karol) January 15, 2020
Next up: childcare, and how the government can get you do do it the way they want (the answer is other people’s money).
Bernie: “Let me pick up on this child care thing” is the most Larry David thing he’s ever said. #DemDebate— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) January 15, 2020
Bernie calls them “moms and dads”Warren calls them “mommas and daddies.” MORTAL ENEMIES. FIGHT TO THE DEATH. — Daniel Strauss (@DanielStrauss4) January 15, 2020
Biden talked about the days when he was a poor single parent on a mere United States Senator’s salary.
Biden calls back to when US Senators made $42,000 a year.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 15, 2020
[coughs] $42k in 1972 is equivalent to $253,951 today— actioncookbook (@actioncookbook) January 15, 2020
(I mean, he had some serious tragedy in his life back then, but he wasn’t poor.) They all had some plans for your money. Vague plans, but big plans.
Find yourself someone who loves you like Elizabeth Warren loves talking about taking our money.— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) January 15, 2020
Closing “Thoughts” There was some talk about impeachment.
Klobuchar says that a president is a king if the Senate minority can’t call witnesses.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 15, 2020
Tom Steyer eyeballed an anxious nation.
please, i beg of you, stop staring directly into the camera pic.twitter.com/EcYcA29aEs— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) January 15, 2020
The masses yearned for release.
Finally, it was all over…or was it?
What did they say!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/4hBhUJNB3r— Karol Markowicz (@karol) January 15, 2020