My contrarian, eccentric take on the Democratic debates

Do read the whole thing, that is my Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt of relevance:

My biggest impression is simply how much the dominant candidates agree in terms of basic values…

I don’t regard that as entirely healthy by any means, and I suspect most Democrats, especially of the relatively intellectual stripe, just don’t notice how much this stands out.  Now to move to a specific or two:

Finally, there is Marianne Williamson. When she first began to speak, I googled her, as I suspect did many other Americans. Her eccentric manner can be distracting, but I recommend instead focusing on her values. Her performance suggests that Democrats need to take a broader, deeper set of values into account: sometimes love and New Agey spiritual values, other times historical values. Her answer about making America the finest country for a child to grow up in was perhaps the best single moment of either debate, and that too stemmed from her understanding of values.

I don’t think she has much of a chance to win. But she is the external voice that the rest of the Democrats need to shake them out of their conformity. At first I thought it was crazy that she was included in the debates. In retrospect, I now see it as brilliant.

Kamala Harris and Marianne Williamson were the most memorable candidates on the stage, and they were also the two most in tune with the importance of values. The other candidates would do well to heed this lesson.

There is much more at the link, including some observations on some of the other candidates.


'I don’t regard that as entirely healthy by any means'

And so much less entertaining than watching Republicans giving up decades of seeming principles to fall in behind a man who is poised to make the nation's birthday all about himself - at taxpayer expense.

When I was a kid, we only had seven dwarves. Now, you have 20 or 23.

Trump 2020!

'Now, you have 20 or 23. '

I don't have any, since I have never - and will never - vote for a Democrat or a Republican.

Both parties are worthless, regardless of how many dwarves you think one or the other has.

Wake up Democrats. Your party has turned communist on you.

In a way, they are worse than communists. At least the communists, when they were not simply grabbing power and liquidating their enemies, focused on (ostensibly) improving the lot of their fellow citizens.

Peak partisan stupidity. Democrats are WORSE than totalitarian communists and their liquidations. Nothing crazy there.

No he’s right, the Democrats are worse than communists.

So it would be better if Joe Biden were literally Mao Tse Tung. Got it.

Well check my name. Obviously I think more like Trotsky but yes.

This is what the Democrats values are all about - Antifa thugs busting Andy Ngo's face!!!! Where are the Portland cops? Maybe it's ok now to maim or even kill conservatives. Are these the values they really embrace? The debates are all theater and virtue signalling - without the virtue.

Watch the assault!

I honestly don't know how people can get passed the theater. Not that Republican debates are rational but some of the excessive signaling at this debate was just embarrassing (speaking Spanish being the most obvious one). On top of that, the whole college loan lunacy is just such a huge turn off that I don't even want to try to listen to these people anymore. Say what you want about Trump, at least he is not that predictable.

I find myself embarrassed often, it is a debilitating condition. Some of the various tribes, 'Naked Capitalism' comes up, simply believe they can make up a philosophy in place of science. I watch about ten of those blogs. Then we have the talking point pundits, and it is simply like trying to deal with hysterics as they do not know the complete arguments that went behind the talking point. Then some groups of economists are nutty about going through a series of text messages with each other before any one can respond to a particular point. They all want to keep their talking points aligned, and it is noticeable. Some new pint or issue comes of with the economic tribe, and casual observers learn to count the three weeks it takes for them to come to a consensus so each can tell the same untruth.

And bring up busing! Of all the stupid things Kamala could have done. All she did was pull a 1963 talking point out and hit Biden on the head, forgetting to look up the nightmare that busing caused for Dems, losing election after election once they started it. Kamala did not experience that history, nor did her advisers, now at every stop the reporters will ask her: 'When will you start busing the kids'. Just stupid and too embarrassing to be a loyal opposition.

They are not a “loyal” opposition in any sense of the term.

Their enthusiasm for formal and government enforced racism is shameful.

Their enthusiasm to put the interests of foreign citizens ahead of American citizens is shameful.

"...shameful ..."

And suicidal and delightful!

I can't stop laughing!

"Say what you want about Trump, at least he is not that predictable."

Does he love China and Huawei now? Or was that last week?

Ex Malo Bonum.

Out of the 2020 election, America may learn that 2020 voters want school choice, not long bus rides.

Kamal and Liz plan to bus kids across town.

I thought that a blunder since busing basically killed the new left last time. I can hardly wait for Kamala to send kids across town to chemical war zones where California cartels are delivering meth and opioids. I have hard time thinking anyone in middle America will vote for Kamala as they read about their kids getting high across town on California meth in a bus ordered by a Californian. That election will not happen.

I find that attack amazing, although the motive was obvious; they want to paint Biden as a racist. Biden is old and not very sharp, luckily so because this type of argument could lead to a re-litigating of the civil rights movement in practice.

I don't now if Harris could win the black vote if she campaigns on bussing their kids to better schools on the other side of town. Especially against Trump who wouldn't hesitate to jump into the fray offering a dismantling of the Democrat run school systems, without fear of the expected accusations of racism for wanting to improve the education of inner city black kids.

The end result is that Biden seems to have lost some of his shine, his numbers are down a bit. He seems to be trying to be the sane one in a lineup of lunatics, but that is a pretty high bar for him.

A Texas GOP strategist is encouraging people to donate a dollar to Williamson to keep her in the debates. Knowing the track record of GOP strategists I feel comfortable predicting that she will be the next president.

'A Texas GOP strategist is encouraging people to donate a dollar to Williamson to keep her in the debates.'

Seems like Prof. Cowen would be on board, seeing her inclusion in the debates as 'brilliant.'

She was entertainingly loopy, but it's like bringing Yoko on tour. You know it's not going to end well.

It was pretty sharp when she said "I'd better learn Spanish by 9 PM tomorrow."

Yes, the emergence of busing as a key campaign issue is surprising in many ways. First, is busing really re-emerging as a Dem "want"? This was the first I've heard of it. Second, I have a hard time believing that any Democratic candidate, including Kamala Harris, will actually aggressively pursue bringing busing back. Somehow, I don't think busing will resonate with the suburban swing voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that will determine the next president. On the other hand, how can Harris criticize Biden for opposing busing if Harris is not strongly advocating busing herself? So, the tact that Harris and others now seem to be taking is to say they support busing "as an option" "when necessary" but not present any concrete plans for it. Also, wasn't busing to maintain "racial balance" ruled unconstitutional in 2007? I believe Tyler used the word "dissimulate" to describe Republican politicians. I think we'll see a lot of dissimulation on busing in the next few weeks on the Democratic side.

For those too young to remember why busing was so unpopular, there are basically three ways to assign students to K-12 schools:

(1) Let parents send their kids to whatever schools they choose, including schools far away from their own neighborhoods if parents *want to*, a.k.a "school choice"

(2) Don't allow choice, but assign students to schools in their own neighborhoods, i.e., the most common system now

(3) Don't allow choice, but assign students to schools far away from their own neighborhoods --- sometimes hours away --- *even when parents are opposed* to achieve racial balance in enrollment. This third option is busing.

So, busing combines the features of both not having choice and not sending kids to schools in their own neighborhood.

Also, it seems ironic that the knock on Biden is that he's out of date, but Harris is the one trying to highlight 1970s busing policy as a campaign issue, and she is considered to have won points in doing so.

The Great Forgetting continues...

Indeed, many suburban voters are in the suburbs precisely because they or their parents fled urban school-district busing orders.

FWIW my childhood memory is that bussing was considered a necessary .. complication. I think today people are more likely to see the complication as a problem.

And if course I'm on record saying "equalize classroom funding" instead. Don't try to bus kids from Compton to Bel Air. Give Compton good schools.

Bel Air has better schools than Compton because the kids from Compton families don't go to the Bel Air schools, not because of funding. Parents pay a big premium to get into "good school districts" because that's the most effective way most families have to protect their kids from the kids who will disrupt the schools.

A striking example (2016 data) is the comparison of low funding, high result schools in Utah ($7000/student) vs. high funding low, result schools is say, DC ($19,100/student) . "Equalize funding" would require taking money from DC (and all the other primarily urban classrooms) and sending it to Utah.

My neighborhood elementary is rated 10/10 on the state assessment. Its majority minority, primarily immigrant families. It was that way when we bought the house, and I'd send my kid there in a heartbeat. Of course, the minority immigrant families are entirely professional class; doctors, engineers, etc. with intact 2 parent families and an intense focus on education for their kids.

Telling those parent their kids are going to be bussed into a school where a large fraction of the kids don't share that focus on education is a great way to ensure they will vote against you. I can hardly think of anything more likely to evoke a stronger response.

As a son of an L.A. City Schools teacher and administrator, I'll give you the answer I grew up with, at our dinner table:

Kids are kids.

The shocking thing is that 50 years later there are so many who refuse to believe it.

Or to value it, as an important truth.

Too bad you never outrgrew that silly dumbed-down platitude. The truth is that getting a good education is quite valuable and that the kinds of peers your kid has will influence the quality of education he/she receives. Parents know this at least implicitly, hence all the effort they put in to make sure their children attend "good" schools. It's your parents who were idiots.

My dad taught a tough school. There were certainly bad apples. This didn't change the fact that most kids were happy, and good.

Can you at least concede that there's a certain threshold above which the volume of bad apples begins to sabotage things for the good ones?

Did your dad send you to that same 'tough' school? Why or why not?

"As a son of an L.A. City Schools teacher and administrator, I'll give you the answer I grew up with, at our dinner table: Kids are kids."

Having spent all my formative years in the public school system, I'd say your answer is folksy but nuts.

Is that spending adjusted for cost-of-living though? Money goes much further in Utah than in Washington D.C. I imagine.

I always say "classroom spending," but that's not really available, let alone cost adjusted.

Transportation budgets, heating and cooling, maintenance budgets must vary widely. And of course if the "per student" spending includes new construction, comparisons are right out.

The link I offered does break out "instructional" spending and "support" spending.

But does it take into cost-of-living? I don't know if you can just compare $7000 spent in Utah to $12,000 spent in NYC or whatever. $7000 buys a hell of a lot more in Utah than in NYC or DC.

So it's simple -- NYC should bus kids to Utah

Look I don't know about bussing, I don't know what it is, I don't ride the bus. I am purely a maritime traveller. I just had a comment about methodology.

bussing was considered a necessary .. complication.

Necessary for what?

Redressing obvious inequality.

You say above that kids are kids, though. So why is it necessary to apportion them to different schools based on race? How does that rectify historical inequality?

He’s trolling, obviously.

He knows spending is higher in dysfunctional districts and lower in high performing suburban districts.

But by pretending to advocate for “equalize funding”, he can spew a vague platitude while appearing moderate, even though that would result in $$$ flowing from East LA to Bel-Air.

Meanwhile charters of course are bad, even though the constituency for them is the population he’s supposedly interested in helping.

And the orphan is school choice, which allows a poor family to send their kid to Bel-Air, or the local school, or the local charter.

That doesn’t shovel money into union hands and lets people choose though. Which is the ultimate evil.

I'm not sure he knows much of anything, really.

"He’s trolling, obviously.

He knows spending is higher in dysfunctional districts and lower in high performing suburban districts."

I was thinking the same thing. The HS in our local "Latino" community gets much more funding than neighboring high schools. Teacher pay is higher and the school attracts more teachers. There is even a special science program in conjunction with a local Univ. of CA. I know the professors that run the program. It is an embarrassment of riches. My kids school district has nothing remotely similar. It is a racist policy.

The mouse is lying.

How much have 'the poor, immigrants, Americans without health insurance and victims of gun violence' benefitted from effects of progressive policies over the last couple of decades?

Astute observations on Marianne Williamson, but your take on Kamala Harris seems conventional to a fault. Her much-noted attack on Biden was contrived and strident (to say nothing of dishonest), and speaks more to Biden's weakness (he seemed utterly ill-prepared in the debate) than to Harris' strengths. Harris ultimately knocking out Biden before going on to win the nomination is the story the media wants. But Trump would have steamrolled her in that exchange. She simply doesn't have Hillary's grit, intelligence and tenacity, and has positioned herself as a far-left candidate. What does Kamala value except her own ambition?

How is she going to pay for Medicare for all – including all illegal aliens – after that middle-class tax cut?

The only one who came across as a steady hand at the wheel was Tulsi Gabbard, but I'm not sure she fully grasps the existential threat posed by China.

I'm not sure I grasp the existential threat posed by China either. That's pretty belligerent talk. China is a strategic competitor and also our manufacturing division, which makes it possible for some people who have to live on $40,000 a year to do so decently.

Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg are the only candidates whose brain waves can be detected using ordinary means.

The existential threat to the country is the crazy Democrats riding into power on a wave of illegal voters.

It's not only crazy democrats.

Establishment Republicans are equal disasters. How would McCain and Romney (the shite he posts on FB, his MA socialist health boondoggle) have been different from Obama, the Clintons, and the Bushes?

Which is why I voted for Trump - swing away and slash and burn, because nobody in this proverbial China shop (npi) is worth a damn.


It might be said that Mitt Romney is shaping up to be the GOP version of the Dems’ Jimmy Carter, at least if we go by his most recent pronouncements in Trump.

More like Gerald Ford, the bland normal one sent in to clean up after the amoral nutjob of the same party. Maybe Romney would pardon Trump too.

How is she going to pay for Medicare for all – including all illegal aliens – after that middle-class tax cut?

Of course that would be easy but no one talk about how.
1. Make medicare only pay healthcare that shows a significant cost effective net benefit.
2. Raise Medicare deductibles for top 20% by income.
3. Squeeze providers.

"How much have 'the poor, immigrants, Americans without health insurance and victims of gun violence' benefitted from effects of progressive policies over the last couple of decades?"

Everyone who collected Medicare or Social Security in that time.

As always, "we like *our* socialism" is a weird attack.

Re. Biden-Harris, so Warren wins. Which is fine because she is smart, honest, and sane.

And with a Republican Senate she just gives you the saner gridlock many of you claim to love.

Or do you think Republicans will lose the Senate?

Warren wins? Are you willing to put some money on this? I'll give you 10-1 odds.

I mean that she wins that scuffle. I have no idea what happens between now and the nomination.

That's fair, I mis-read what you said. Sorry.

Harris is "honest injun"! Lol!

Re. Biden-Harris, so Warren wins. Which is fine because she is smart, honest, and sane.

Warren seems very driven and tough but not honest. Too ambitious to be honest. She might Govern well like the talented, tough, driven but not honest Bill Clinton.

" She might Govern well like the talented, tough, driven but not honest Bill Clinton."

That seems kind of absurd. Clinton came across as a nice, smart guy who was competitive but willing to work with others. Warren might be smart, but she isn't nice and doesn't show any charm or willingness to reach across the aisle.

Willie Brown liked her! 😘

Values? Pols have values? I think a study once found they are borderline or actual psychopaths.

Ray, Tyler assumed that Dem pols were honest about their values (and competent to pursue them?). Tyler believes he's an expert on Public Choice but I bet Gordon is laughing at his expertise and Jim's grieving the failure.

Yes, I snorted my morning coffee at "I do not doubt that the values expressed are sincere and represent the actual priorities of the candidates." For 'actual priorities of the candidates' I would write instead 'current tactics and branding strategies of the campaign teams'. There was a Saturday Night Live parody of Hillary from 2016 where Kate McKinnon's Clinton introduced herself by saying, "I think you're really going to like the Hillary Clinton my team and I have created for this debate. " And it's not as though Hillary was more inauthentic than the current crop of candidates, just worse at hiding it.

Tyler is a fool

Voters might be ready for values.

According to NBC News correspondent Richard Engel, who reported via Twitter on Sunday, a top North Korean defector believes that the current North Korean dictator’s attraction to Trump is based on his perception that Trump is not a “moral” person.

The top one? Must be reliable and insightful then. I didn't know there is a hierarchy of Korean defectors.

Of course. Totalitarian communism is a rigid system. There is an org chart.

I think he meant the values that they have chosen to present to the voters. I would not assume he meant that they really hold them.

On the other hand Harris's position on busing is a perfect example of what you said she has zero intention of bringing back busing. She is simply using it to bash Biden it will go no further unless Biden manages to trap her with it, which I doubt will happen.

Not really contrarian or eccentric Tyler. Chapo Trap House has been big into supporting Marianne Williamson for a while now and they’ve even interviewed her.
It’s clear that Bernie has a tremendous effect on the party since 2016 and most of the other candidates are simply trying to scramble to pretend their a Bernie-clone. The Spanish speaking thing is just another demonstration of how much the Democratic Party is dominated by consultants and most Democrat politicians are simply empty shells who do what their marketing-minded consultant tell them to do.

Chapo just goofs on Williamson. They are Bernie through and through, but they think, if elected, Bernie will be stymied anyway.

Pretty sure the business model depends on being able to throw bombs from outside the ring. It's a good business model, in the tradition of American capitalism.

Yeah they are pro-Bernie but they did interview Williamson, which is why Tyler is late to the game and not very contrarian sounding. Tyler should listen to these guys more, although I understand that their style is exactly the kind of thing he finds unpalatable. They might be just bomb-throwers but I hear better commentary from them then I see coming from Tyler and his silly prattling on about politicians and values.


We need a new, whole-person politics of love that stems not just from the head but from the heart, not just from intellectual understanding but from a genuine affection for one another.
I interpret this as: Pay attention to a persons general situation and speak to that, and thing that can help personally. start there and we will avoid dumping some foul, expensive bureaucracy, suddenlty on that persons head, mike hitting them with a $500 Obamacare tax, or suddenly rates on lending rise, in cycle time, while the pundits tells us the problem was solved. Most of all, tell the truth and if you lose the election, your are better for it, attending to elected office on a lie is bad for the mental health.

i feel bad for Americans...another year and a half of this?...can't you enjoy summer first?

Most people aren't paying attention, and for many of those who are, it's entertainment. It's just another sports league.

What are you talking about? It's hilarious!😂🤣

"...they were also the two most in tune with the importance of values. The other candidates would do well to heed this lesson."

If values actually mattered Trump would not be President.

"Values matter for government" is as empty as Milton Friedman's "Money matters for the economy".

“If values actually mattered Trump would not be President.”

Trump is only president because values matter. He gives the impression, especially via his spelling and use of Twitter, of being his own man. And there were many who perceived his values to include the nation itself: America!, the entity he proposes to make great again. Contrast the values of Hillary, which were?

All that matters are the values he defends. Looking for virtuous politicians is a fools errand.

Another out-of-tune message was when Tulsi Gabbard attempted to direct attention to war, nuclear weapons and foreign policy. Those issues also have gone nowhere, except as a possible means of attacking Trump.

So the general public and Democrat voters are unconcerned about the US military's activity all over the planet? If this is really the case then the country has a more serious problem than most realize. Apparently people have not only forgotten about busing, they've also no memory of Viet Nam or Kent State.

There is effectively no anti-war movement in the country any more. It collapsed in 2003 when it failed to stop the Iraq War but there were at least large anti-war protests in 2002. Since then its taken by both parties as a matter-of-course that the US military will be engaged globally and congress should stay out of it. This is the position of both parties and has been for years.

For many of his supporters, part of Trump's outsider appeal was the possibility that he would not buy into the Washington consensus that war is always the answer. Certainly, as compared to Clinton, he was the peace candidate.

There is an anti-war sentiment but no anti-war movement. There's a good chunk of the electorate who are tired of the endless wars but you won't see protests like in 2002 against say a drift to war with Iran or intervention in Venezula. The elites of both parties are generally jingoistic and supportive of continuous military intervention around the globe. Therefore you won't hear divergent opinions of US foreign policy debated in the media or amongst most elite "thought-leaders".

If we go to war with Iran you will see protests at least as large as 2002-3

Depends what he theocrats do.

George Bush also said lots of sage stuff about the perils of nation-building in 2000. He was a uniter, not a divider, you see.

Holding my breath on Trump's foreign policy for now.

The Democratic Party has always been the war party, today and yesteryear; they simply don't advertise it. The protests in 2003 had nothing to do with anti-war, it's simply the DNC utilizing populaism to rail against the President because they lost; just like today and immigration.

Both debates were a repackaging of 60/70s themes. Trump is much more modern in his ideas than any of the democratic candidates except Yang. I can't believe anyone under 55 would vote for them.

Right. It's "modern" and not medieval to take your kids to meet the opposing ruler.

On Twitter @prchovanec had a good joke:

The solution to the North Korea nuclear stalemate is now clear.
Ivanka must marry Kim Jong-un in a globally televised ceremony at the DMZ.
Sorry Jared. Sorry Ri Sol-ju.
It's for the greater good.

Yang and Gabbard are the only ones living in this century. Everyone else is fighting last century's battles.

I remember a survey a few years ago that wound insiders and elites (a category Tyler falls into) rate values and character as for more important than the average voter.


Being "one-of-us" is very important for elites. That's why they rate "character" highly. That's why you seldom see people in Washington suffer any substantial career setbacks even due to bad or disastrous decisions - as long as these people are seen to have the "right values". That's why you hear things like "he was wrong - but for the right reasons" or "he was correct - but for the wrong reasons" to excuse bad decisions. If you're part of the club with the "right values" you can always be forgiven, if you're not you must always be derided.

I think you're trying to turn things inside out.

Maybe anyone, born in any station in America, can read, learn some stuff, and develop a personal philosophy of the more abstract kind.

And then you call them "elite" because they did the work? Because they respect the work?

Oh no, let's not listen to anyone who has thought about things.

Prof. Cowen makes clear with nearly every post that he does not wish to be cancelled.

Ask Not for Whom the Blog Tolls, It Tolls for Thee

Her answer about making America the finest country for a child to grow up in was perhaps the best single moment of either debate, and that too stemmed from her understanding of values.

She has one child, born out of wedlock when she was nearly forty. She was married once; she abandoned that husband after less than a year.

There seems to be an inverse relationship between how often children are invoked, however vaguely, as a priority in political speech, and the actual sacrifices people make on behalf of their children's welfare (if they elected to have children), in this culture.

Maybe it's like Santa Claus and Christmas. Maybe a constant refrain that "it's just for children" while reciting what is never more than a variation on a list of promises of government bounty, come the time when we all live on Big Rock Candy Mountain, makes it seem less crass.

So this Caning guy has a problem with people who abandon spouses and have sex out of wedlock? He must hate Trump.

Democrat values? Somebody should ask Andy Ngo about those.

Democrat politicians and the Democrat press all cheered on the terrorists who attacked the Trump inauguration. The willingness to enlist terrorist organizations in support of their campaigns tells you all that you need to know about Democrat values.

"The Antifa thugs who attacked Quillette editor and photojournalist Andy Ngo in Portland yesterday did not quite manage to crack his skull. But they did manage to induce a brain hemorrhage that required Ngo’s overnight hospitalization."

Marianne Williamson: Just because she is barely sane does not mean that she can't make a valid point, BUT I think it was crazy to put her in the debate but not the Governor if Montana!

Same with Buttigieg he is the mayor of city that seen a rise in violent crime while he has been mayor. He is failing at job 1, it might not be under his control but still the Governor of Montana seems a much better choice.

That's why you cannot do these things mechanically you need some human judgement.

The 20 candidates may have been in sync with their values, but they are out of sync with the values of most democrats not to mention most Americans. Pushing identity politics, open borders and socialism shows they learned nothing from 2016. As many have noted, the winner in these debates was Trump.

When do enviroDems begin taking Sen. Harris apart for reminding us how much the policy of school bussing contributed in its day to the challenges we begin to face today courtesy of the advent of Technogenic Climate Change?

Many of those fun public school bus rides lasted for hours each way. Those "solutions" were imposed using annual 185-day school calendars for decades. Many if not most of those reliable busses burned diesel fuel.

When do enviroDems begin attacking Sen. Harris for citing a policy that surely contributed to the Technogenic Climate Change that today's children will be dealing with throughout their entire lives? What does Sen. Harris have against the health of our planet's atmosphere?

Crackpots on the left, crackpots on the right, crackpots all over. One couldn't help but notice that while the crackpot President was awarding the Medal of Freedom to the crackpot Arthur Laffer the crackpot Democratic candidates were babbling nonsense to a national television audience. I suppose it's to be expected that a crackpot New Age guru would be the best of this bunch after the crackpot offensive reality television star con man who can't read was the best of the bunch of crackpot candidates put forward by the Republicans in 2016. How low can we go?

Well said. They are a sad bunch indeed.

Kamala Harris is a quick witted prosecutor so she’ll excel at memorizing a few points and then attack like a vicious dog. Liz Warren is the most intelligent of the lot, but she’s thoroughly dislikable and is tone deaf to boot (as the posing as a native showed). We have a noob mayor from a small city and then a serious but utterly untested veteran. And in previous primaries, Biden would be an afterthought. As indeed he was. Now he’s a front runner?

I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

Old Joe looks like he's going through dementia or recently had a stroke.

That said, the attack by Harris regarding Biden's past position on busing is misleading and doesn't tell the whole story. White kids were bused to black schools 45 minutes away, and the same for black kids being bused to majority schools an equal or longer distance. What was the result? Did school performance increase for these bused kids because having black kids in school next to white kids works? An emphatic NO. That social experiment was a complete failure.

I find it fascinating that an economist’s commentary on the debates talks vaguely about values he imagines were honestly expressed, but does not discuss the economic consequences of policies supported by most of the candidates: the abolition of the health insurance industry; the offer of taxpayer-funded “free” healthcare to anyone who manages to enter country without ID; the promise of “free” college and the cancellation of student-debt. Many of these proposals appear to benefit primarily the academic elite. Think of Warren’s solution to gun violence: Research!

It's perfect - free sh*t paid for by Trumpsters!

Isn't it odd that campaigns and debates go on for years but do not reveal whether we would hire a candidate to walk our dog or house watch or babysit. No disclosure of drinking habits, drug use, temperament with staff, respect for others.
So many, like Professor Cowen, assume words are an actual indication of truth? Using only the two debates, who would you trust to house sit your children and pets for a weekend? Without personal references, some background checks, a credit report. Would you prefer a five minute off the record talk with a staffer you know or camera talk?

I would go even further and suggest that honest disclosures from staffers would end more than one candidate's career.

I’ll echo what someone said above, Mayor Pete and Congressperson Tulsi Gabbard are the only ones I’d trust to walk the dog, or house sit, or babysit. Although I could see Joe Biden going to the park with the dog and amiably shooting the breeze with the other dog owners while chucking the ball for the dog. Bernie would rant too much — “what part of fetch don’t you understand!?” — and Warren’s hectoring tone alone would straight up freak any normal dog out.

Would you want Trump walking your dog or baby sitting? Bill Clinton? What the hell does that have to do with anything?

Entrust the country to a person we know very little about but not our children or house or pets. Yes, I would hire Trump or Pence not the Clintons and I would get personal recommendations before hiring any other candidate.

The weakness of the democratic/republic form in a populous country. Very few people have a personal knowledge of those running for elective office, even at the lower levels of government. So PR and marketing people push candidates just as they do salad dressing and automobiles. Glimmers of personality may peak through from time to time but aspirants for office are basically playing a role, auditioning for a big role, one that leads to incredible wealth, see Clinton Inc. and Obama LLC.

After listening, I thought they are running for President of Mexico rather than the US.

They are indeed! Whoever the Dem candidate is that person will win Mexifornia easily. Free stuff and open borders? What's not to like?

Kamala Harris is finally showing that she is her dad's daughter, retired Stanford econ prof, Donald J. Harris, with whom she has some differences, although with Eric Trump and alt-right loonies attacking her for not being "black enough" because Don is from Jamaica and descended from slaveowners, I suspect they will make peace soon, if they have not already done so.

Anyway, as somebody who knows Don quite well, her successful take down of Biden exhibited some of his characteristics, which I think also contributed to her largely successful career as a prosecutor. She has his considerable brains. She also shows meticulous preparation and care. Don is super meticulous and always prepared almost to an anal degree, as well as always being impeccably dressed. Others might be able to survive a debate with Trump, but she looks like the only one who can actually nail him to the wall in one.

One issue simply not discussed but where there is in fact a potential wide gap among these candidates is trade. Bernie has been bragging about being more protectionist than Trump, and Warren also has a history of supporting protectionism she has not disavowed, although she has not been bragging about it like Bernie. Also, the protectionist AFL-CIO remains important for the Dems, and while he is going nowhere, I think Tim Ryan is also pretty protectionist.

But it looks like attacking Trump's trade wars is going to be a winning issue in many states, and a Dem candidate unable to do this will fall flat and not be in good in the WH if they get there either. Harris from export-oriented California looks more likely to be able to play that card, although some others might be able to as well.

BTW, to all of you above going on about Harris pushing busing, ain't gonna happen. This was strictly for doing in Biden, whose defense of state's rights and local control is what is really going to hurt him with all those African American women who have been supporting him so solidly due to loyalty to Obama and belief he can beat Trump. They are now moving in large numbers to Harris. That is the most important outcome of Harris damaging Biden in the debate, although he is far from down and out.

I find the notion that we elect our leaders based on who landed the best zinger to be throroghly depressing.

But that said, her and Trump debating would be a weirdly perfect sequeal to Clinton-Trump.

I do not think Harris-Trump would look all that much like Clinton-Trump. Clinton had a lot more vulnerabilities than Harris due to her past bad behaviors, with Bernie already having highlighted those. Maybe we shall find out a bunch of dirt on Harris not yet public, but I also think Harris is more tenacious and ultimately tougher than Clinton. She will not let Trump get off the hook as easily as Clinton did.

In order to win the party's nomination, the candidates are trying to win the median voter in the Democratic primary electorate. So we should expect significant overlap in values, preferences, and policy proposals.

Values are important. But so is governing competency--i.e., the ability to manage the massive and massively complex executive branch. Voters don't care about that, though. So candidates don't have it or talk about it.

What values are you talking about anyway, where did you expect to see disagreement?

Williamson' statement was a platitude, not a value.

Another out-of-tune message was when Tulsi Gabbard attempted to direct attention to war, nuclear weapons and foreign policy. Those issues also have gone nowhere,...

This is a remarkable observation when one considers how much of our blood and treasure is tied up in overseas endless wars. Americans used to prioritize this so much more at the ballot box

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