David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Jun. 27, 2019 4 min read

All this talk of debate parties is totally alien to me. This whole spectacle causes me nothing but dread and anxiety and if I must endure it, I want to do so locked in a room by myself. Is that just me?

I tuned in late, have seen 10 minutes, and am already annoyed.

Why do I keep hearing people talking in the background? Are you kidding me? Is this a high-school production?

60 seconds is so absurd. All we're doing is testing people on the very weird, very specific talent of performing in one-minute increments.

Hold on, Castro took a potshot at the filibuster, all the sudden I'm listening.

This coming climate question better be good -- there are at least a dozen climate journos who are on the hook to write think pieces about it.

Booker is dodging the filibuster question something fierce.

DeBlasio is UTTERLY BULLSHITTING about the filibuster. Sure, we'll go into Kentucky and convince people there to pressure him on judges. Lol.

Oh, thanks John, nobody else thought of getting things done. 🙄

Did not expect to say this, but Chuck Todd is asking a damn good question and asking strong follow-ups on it and the candidates are utterly flailing.


Well, the Miami question was a bit goofy, but also kind of uncomfortable, since an honest answer would be: No. No one can save Miami.

Until climate policy, governments never took measures that affected how people live.

There was a good question in there somewhere, Chuck, it's too bad you couldn't find it.

Oh jesus this is what Tim Ryan is doing with his climate question? A bunch of BS that echoes Fox talking points? Gimme a f'ing break.

Imagine looking around at this country and these politics and concluding that "trying harder to appeal to diner guy" is Dems' top need.

I hate to say it but I'm not sure Inslee really landed it on climate. The question was so peculiar and he kind of jumped around and the whole thing drifted past without making much of an impression. Of course, with this insane format, that's true of every topic.

When they talk about guns, they get worked up. When they talk about criminal justice, they get worked up. They have exchanges, they extend their time, they talk over each other. When it comes to climate, everyone - moderators & candidates - is kind of ... awkward & stilted.

That's not even a criticism, really. I'm not sure anyone in politics has figured out a way to talk about it that sounds authentic & personal.

It is bullshit that Americans don't talk about the president being a criminal over the kitchen table.

John Delaney's summary statement is a fusillade of vapid cliches.

That was much better from Inslee -- though he should have leavened the "save ourselves" stuff with a bit more of the "revive our economy and create jobs" stuff.

I can never remember why Gabbard is problematic. I swear I've looked it up like a dozen times and it just evaporates from my head. Aside from ... whatever that is, she seems pretty put-together and impressive.

Jeez, apparently it's like a half-dozen things.

I'll say this: when Warren says "I'll fight for you," I believe her. EVERY politician uses that line, and it usually just sounds like boilerplate, but she honestly seems like a boxer bouncing at the corner of the ring, waiting for the bell.

All right, everyone calm down, I will never again say an even mildly positive thing about Tulsi Gabbard! Yeesh.

Debate reaction from my in-house focus group of normal people (i.e., my wife): "it didn't change my mind about anything, but I guess Booker was pretty impressive."

The more I think about "can your plan save Miami?" the more irritated I get by it.

All right, that debate was a big nothingburger. To me, there was only one significant portion: both moderators pressed candidates on how they would deal with Mitch McConnell, and the answers were uniformly WEAK. Only Inslee said what needed to be said: nuke the f'ing filibuster.

Thing is, I think Todd was *trying* to ask a decently sophisticated climate policy question, namely, given the seeming unpopularity of carbon taxes, how do you raise revenue? There are good answers, but it's probably too complex for this venue & the delivery was botched anyway.

So what we got was questions that sounded like, "people don't like your so-called climate policies, what do you think of that?" That's a purely conservative frame, premised on the essential delusion that keeping things as they are now is a live option.

That, more than anything, is what VSPs like Todd don't get: disruption is inevitable. We get to choose the ratio -- disruptions wrought by climate change vs. disruptions wrought by aggressive climate policy -- but that's it. Placid maintenance of the status quo is not an option.

"Show of hands: who supports reforming transmission utility business models to encourage the use of dynamic line ratings?"

I think we all felt Eric Swalwell's absence tonight.

Final note on the debate: Jay Inslee not only had the right answer on climate & the filibuster, he was the only one who gave the right answer on the top national security threat to the US, namely one Donald John Trump.

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