- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2019


Last night’s Democratic debate saw an odd spectacle. A guy polling at 1 percent — former HUD Secretary Julian Castro — beating up on another guy — former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas — polling at 1 percent. You can hardly blame Mr. Castro for that strategy; should he knock out Mr. O’Rourke and grab his voters, his support will literally double! After that, only 22 more Democrats will need dispatching by Mr. Castro.

It’s often been remarked that there are simply too many Democrats running for president. This has always seemed true in the abstract, but the debate, televised by NBC News, only brought the problem into sharp relief. The crowded stage meant that the candidates had a hard time distinguishing themselves from one another. With the exception of a few show-of-hand questions, they weren’t even able to address the same questions. That means this was less a debate than a series of clipped monologues. Follow-ups were few and far between.

Even Chuck Todd, one of five moderators provided by NBC, delivered several monologues himself. According to the data gurus at FiveThirtyEight, Mr. Todd spoke the fourth-most amount of words of anybody in the debate — more than Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, for instance. And bear in mind that Mr. Todd was only on stage for the second half of the spectacle. One wonders whether he is now polling above former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland.

The Democratic National Committee imposed too light a standard for entry into the debates. It demanded that candidates only score at least 1 percent in three separate polls or have 65,000 individual donors to qualify. Those donations could be as low as $1. That meant that candidates as irrelevant as Mr. Delaney, Mr. Ryan and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio got to take the stage.

That was a boon to them — they boosted their national profiles — but hardly to voters. It’s important, after all, that Americans hear exactly what Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a “plan” for, given that she has at least a reasonable chance at winning the Democratic nomination and therefore the presidency. Who, exactly, benefits from hearing what Mr. Delaney would “do” as president? You might as well ask me what I would “do” as general manager of the New York Yankees. (Call up Clint Frazier, for one.)

Astonishingly, 10 more Democrats will take the stage tonight. Among them will be a few candidates worth listening to, given their electoral strength — former Vice President Joe R. Biden, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California. But they’ll also be joined by new age author Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. There are too many Democrats on the dance floor.

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