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Donkey Dow: I got bored in Atlanta

Other than a Gabbard gutting, Mayor Pete emerged fairly unscathed

November 21, 2019

5:22 PM

21 November 2019

5:22 PM

The Donkey Dow is a round-up of the movers and shakers in the race to face up against Donald Trump. Here’s how the candidates and contenders fared over the last few days.

Cockburn is admittedly experiencing Democratic presidential debate fatigue. On the heels of last month’s debate, 10 presidential candidates re-hashed their platforms on Wednesday at Tyler Perry’s studio in Atlanta. Luckily for the viewers, this month’s debate was a narrow two hours in length. Cockburn provides a breakdown…


All things considered, Bernie Sanders was sharp during Wednesday’s debate. He managed to drop his classic ‘I wrote the damn bill’ line when discussing Medicare-for-all, and delivered a nice quip when Biden reflected on Kim Jong-un referring to Old Joe as a ‘rabid dog that needs to be beaten with a stick’. Bernie, with a masterful display of wit, interjected: ‘other than that, you like him’.


Rather than crack jokes, Tulsi Gabbard took aim at the ‘foreign policy establishment’, the ‘military industrial complex’, Hillary Clinton, and the ‘Bush-Clinton-Trump foreign policy doctrine of regime-change wars’. Later in the debate, Tulsi turned her foreign policy criticisms to fellow candidate Pete Buttigieg, who she criticized for entertaining the deployment of US armed forces to Mexico.  These heated comments draw attention to the congresswoman, which is necessary in crowded debates.

Depending on one’s bias, you could swap Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard in the ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers’ column. Cockburn will make no one happy by placing both candidates in the ‘Winners’ cohort. Tulsi smacked Mayor Pete about in the foreign policy exchange, but he also got in the MSNBC applause line in about how he would not have ‘sat down with a murderous dictator’ like Bashar al-Assad. The mayor of South Bend also evaded criticism for using a picture of Kenyan woman on a campaign site page detailing his targeted policies for African Americans. In a debate that could’ve gone worse, Cockburn counts this performance as a win.

Cockburn is having difficulty placing Elizabeth Warren after Wednesday’s debate. The Massachusetts senator spoke clearly but didn’t say anything memorable and avoided squabbles with the other candidates. But with her front-runner status, flying under the radar can be considered a victory on its own.


Joe Biden’s central debate strategy is to avoid gaffes, but the former vice president cannot help himself. To address the issues of sexual assault and violence against women, Biden said we must keep ‘punching at it and punching at it and punching at it’. Elsewhere in the debate, the former vice president claimed to have the backing of the ‘only African American woman that’s ever been elected to the United States senate’. When corrected by Kamala Harris, Biden responded: ‘I said the first!’. Not a good look, veep.

Cory Booker took a jab at Joe Biden over his stance on marijuana legalization, telling the former vice president that he ‘might’ve been high’ when he voiced opposition to legalizing the herb. While Cockburn enjoyed the banter, he was not impressed by Booker begging viewers for support to secure him a spot in the upcoming December debate and plugging his website in nearly every spin room interview after. Cockburn thinks it is best to lose with grace.

Kamala Harris performed well last night but she stepped back when provided an opportunity to criticize Mayor Pete for his website photo faux pas. Cockburn thinks Harris should follow Gabbard’s lead and hold the McKinsey alum to the fire.

Neither here nor there

Amy Klobuchar recycled a joke about raising money from ex-boyfriends and earned applause for saying abortion access should be protected by federal law. While she’s savvy with her remarks, she does appear a little nervous when talking (did anyone else see her shaking?). Cockburn — much more of a writer than a speaker — sympathizes with the Minnesota senator.

Tom Steyer has clearly been coached by campaign staff to stare directly into the camera when speaking. While Cockburn welcomes the eye contact, he is disturbed the billionaire candidate is wearing the same tartan tie from last month’s debate. Apparently, money cannot buy sense.

Andrew Yang earned significant applause for his limited comments. The tech entrepreneur spoke for the fewest minutes out of any candidate on Wednesday — roughly half of Elizabeth Warren’s total speaking time. What’s up with that, MSNBC?

You might remember candidate Marianne Williamson for her spiritual guidance in previous debates. Last night, she sensed an absence:

Recent entrant to the Democratic field, Deval Patrick, is having a sorry start to his campaign:

Cockburn thinks the former governor of Massachusetts might be in the running for the shortest presidential campaign of all time.

Another fresh face, Michael Bloomberg, is on track to declare a presidential run. Luckily for him, he can pay people to show up to his events.

Relegated to the sideline, Steve Bullock spent the evening fantasizing on Twitter:

Fellow candidate John Delaney outshone Bullock with an even more depressing rweet:

Julián Castro, pronouns ‘He/Him/Él’, live-tweeted the debate and got himself trending on Twitter. There are consolations to missing the debate, Cockburn supposes:

Skidding out

In a dropout update, Wayne Messam has exited the 2020 race. The Florida mayor, who failed to qualify for any of the Democratic debates, is bowing out. Cockburn wishes Mayor Messam a fruitful return to Miramar. So long, Wayne.

Got a tip for Cockburn? Email cockburn@spectator.us.

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