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Cockburn Liberalism US Politics

Donkey Dow: Texas hold ’em

Which peripheral players stood out in Houston?

September 13, 2019

5:32 PM

13 September 2019

5:32 PM

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

Last night saw the first on-stage meeting between the geriatric squad of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren at Houston’s Democratic presidential debate. With Sen. Warren steadily asserting herself as Biden’s progressive foil, rising ahead of Sen. Sanders in some polls, most eyes were on the three elder candidates on Thursday night. While the three had their moments, Cockburn noted some shining points from peripheral players.


Former congressman Beto O’Rourke received the strongest applause of the night by promising a mass confiscation of firearms: ‘Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.’ With a polling average of 2.8 percent, O’Rourke needed a quotable moment. While extreme statements like this can seem desperate, O’Rourke is desperate for support and the sales from these t-shirts will breathe new life into his presidential campaign:

Andrew Yang, doing his best Oprah impression, promised to give a year of ‘Freedom Dividends’— also known as $12,000 — to 10 lucky recipients. Like O’Rourke, Yang needed a stand-out moment, and promising to dole out $120,000 will bring attention to his campaign. Sen. Kamala Harris may laugh at this proposal, but Cockburn, ever in need of ‘freedom’, hopes he’s among the recipients.

Cockburn also counts New York mayor Bill de Blasio as a winner from Thursday’s debate: the less people hear and see of Mayor de Blasio, the greater chance he has of stumbling into the nomination. As he noted in an interview on Friday, ‘There’s still time on the clock.’


Most people think Julián Castro looked bad after Thursday’s debate, and Cockburn agrees. In a particularly heated exchange over healthcare policy with Joe Biden, the former secretary of Housing and Development accused the frontrunner of being senile: ‘Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?’

Castro, who relies on his youth and charms, appeared derisive and will probably take a hit with older voters. Unfortunately for Julián, ridiculing the mental health of the former vice president is reserved for journalists.

Other losers include the long list of candidates who didn’t make the cut for Thursday’s debate. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan dropped a new album to compensate for his absence, but it doesn’t look like a hit:

tim ryan playlist texas

Spiritual guru Marianne Williamson also sat on the sidelines. Deprived of the spotlight, Williamson’s political energy could fizzle out. No wonder she’s feeling frustrated with the liberal establishment

Tulsi Gabbard, another presidential candidate who didn’t qualify for Thursday’s debate, pushed back on the DNC’s debate qualifications, but is lagging behind with a 1.3 percent polling average.

Quickly leaving the collective conscience are candidates Steve BullockMichael Bennet and John Delaney. With zero momentum or media coverage, Cockburn wonders if these moderate candidates can hold on until the October presidential debate.

Neither here nor there

Joe Biden started strong, staying on the offensive on healthcare policy with progressives Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but was rambling by the end of the three hour-long debate:

‘Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me — make sure you have the record player on at night, the phone. Make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background — will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.’

Here, Biden was responding to a question about the impact of slavery. Despite the rambling, Cockburn thinks Biden’s debate performance, without significant gaffes, will have little impact on his lead in the polls. And with his eye cleared up, he seems to be back to full form.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders performed well and maintained their status as Biden’s main contenders, specifically on the issue of healthcare, but both lacked a standout moment. Cockburn suggests they hand out money like shrewd businessman, Andrew Yang.

Cockburn suspects the campaign managers of Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris will be pleased with their candidate’s performances, but Cockburn doubts the debate will elevate their mid-tier polling numbers.

Oh, and Cockburn would be remiss to forget candidates Tom Steyer, Wayne Messam and Joe Sestak. They are neither here nor there, nor anywhere.

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

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