Bernie “I do know it, I wrote the damn bill” Sanders, coming off as more vigorous and passionate in Tuesday’s CNN debate than in NBC’s June debate, didn’t look or act as relatively ancient as he in fact is at 77.
The Vermont senator and declared socialist will be 79 when the general election campaign begins next year.
Ronald Reagan was 69 when he won his first term as president.
Mr. Sanders is the eldest by far in the current, soon-to-shrink, 20-candidate field of Democrats.
Big plus for him.
But Mr. Sanders still lacks even the de minimus warmth considered requisite for a guy running for village councilman, let alone for a major-party presidential nomination.
He never once looked at Anderson Cooper in an interview after the debate, let alone smiled at him. Or at anyone.
Yes, Mr. Sanders is a fierce and righteous didactician.
That’s not enough to beat the far less personality-handicapped Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 70; Sen. Kamala D. Harris, 54; or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, 76.
Never mind that for now.
Frowning Bernie got the greatest closing-remarks applause, with Ms. Warren, the vigorous senior senator from Massachusetts, a close second.
As in the June NBC debate, the woman President Trump used to deride as Pocahontas was at least as knowledgeable and passionate as Mr. Sanders.
She was able to convey the impression that she deeply and warmly believes in what she says and says what she believes.
“Our biggest problem in Washington is corruption,” she stormed at one point. “It is giant corporations that have taken our government and that are holding it by the throat. And we need to have the courage to fight back against that. And until we’re ready to do that, it’s just more of the same. Well, I’m ready to get in this fight. I’m ready to win this fight.”
And, mirabile dictu (as they used to say when Rome was Roma), she smiles. Her eyes sparkle with enthusiasm when she talks about corporate greed and wringing greedy capitalists’ necks.
Something else. She looks at the people she’s talking to. Again, warmly.
The debate closing remarks of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg were, for his target audience, excellent intellectually and structurally. His Maltese name (don’t pretend you’ve already got this covered) is pronounced “Boot-edge-edge,” according to his campaign T-shirts. But I hear him say it as “Buddha-judge.”
Whatever you call him, he has that certain something when it comes to connecting with an audience. He exudes braininess. Of a leftist bent.
If he catches fire, look for the possibility that a campaign strategist for some competitor, benefitting from outsourcing that leaves no fingerprints, will indirectly remind selected Democratic primary-voting audiences of the mayor’s self-acknowledged homosexuality and the problem it would pose for Democratic victory hopes in a general election.
Like many Republicans, Democrats like to think they long ago thoroughly erased from their ranks any lingering discomfort with homosexuals.
Thinking it’s so doesn’t necessarily make it so.
It’s the second of the CNN debates (on Wednesday) that includes the two other top contenders for the 2020 nomination — Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.
Mr. Biden’s got that invaluable name recognition and, yes, somewhat zany likability, especially among women of African descent. And he can fill the air with a faint, lingering scent of moderation.
Former California Attorney General Harris is of mixed race — mother from India, father from Jamaica — and runs appealingly for some voters as a woman of color who generally shuns white baiting.
She and Mr. Biden make Wednesday THE night.
It could spell the unofficial end of his candidacy.
The former vice president cannot afford — and probably will not deliver — another stumbling, lackluster debate performance like last month’s. That performance was the product of overconfidence, a modest intellect, that pleasantly, zanily unpredictable personality and what is an advanced age (77 next Nov. 20) for an Oval Office nomination chaser, rivaling Mr. Sanders’.
When Chief Justice Warren Burger swore in Ronald Reagan, the latter was 64 days short of 70 and would later have his own memory problems.
So if Mr. Biden stumbles again, it could be Ms. Harris’ night.
Whose nomination aspirations will the two-day debate ultimately promote the most?
Hold on tight, Mr. Trump, because I’m betting Ms. Warren or Ms. Harris.
Does either of the two exceptionally intelligent women have the agenda and personality to defeat The Donald next year?
Only the real Trumpster himself can do that.
No more bromancing the likes of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the crown prince in Riyadh but more disciplined tweeting — and it’s four more years for (pretty) sure.
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