August 01, 2019 - Thursday
Two Nights of Three-Ring Debates
Three years isn't a long time, but obviously it's long enough for Democrats to forget the radical activist they had in the White House. For a party running against Donald Trump, the candidates on last night's stage sure had a bizarre target: Barack Obama. In one of the more head-scratching moments of this campaign, the man who launched the government takeover of health care, used the men and women of our military as lab rats for his social experimentation, forced taxpayers to fund abortion, imposed a nationwide bathroom mandate, and launched a crusade of religious hostility in the public square, was ripped as some sort of right-of-center moderate. If that's the honest opinion of the new Democratic party heading into 2020, buckle up.
"Why do the Democrats want to run against Obama?" That was the question of the night from Politico, who, like most observers of Wednesday's event, couldn't believe the revisionist history of some candidates. "Mind-boggling," Jeb Bush's former communications director called it. "Nuts," weighed in Marco Rubio's old campaign manager. Others, like National Review's Jim Geraghty, knows the field wants to expose some weakness in Joe Biden, but the "weirdest aspect," he reflects, "was the suggestion that the Obama presidency was some sort of right-wing nightmare." It was a nightmare all right, but not because it resembled any scrap of moderation.
These men and women, on the other hand, seemed intent on showing Americans how much more deranged the party can get. In a three-hour duel of extremism, the candidates rolled out visions of everything from open borders and socialism to free abortions and impeachment. CNS News's Terry Jeffrey, who joined me to talk about the highlights from night one, could only shake his head.
"I think a rational person looking at American politics just eight years ago would've said that Joe Biden is on the American Left -- that he's really comfortable serving as vice president and Barack Obama, who is one of the best leftist presidents in this United States. Now, Joe Biden is anchoring your right wing of the Democratic party. And when you look at those polls right behind him, who's there? Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren... [two] flat-out socialists... And yes, when Bernie Sanders talks about the transformation of our country, he's talking about making us into a socialist country, taking away our economic freedom, and destroying what made us a prosperous country. Basically, it's an anti-American vision."
In both nights, viewers were taken on a wild ride of leftist policies -- including one of the topics that Heritage Action's polling proves is one of the strongest messaging points of this election: immigration. And yet, when the Democrats debate it, the question isn't how can we reform the system, but how can we completely dismantle what protects our borders? At one point, Elizabeth Warren repeated that she wants to decriminalize illegal border crossings. But, as Terry pointed out, it doesn't -- for more liberals -- end there. "If we say to people, 'We will not make it illegal to cross our southern border. And once you get here, we'll give you health care, and we'll let you have a job, and we'll not enforce our immigration laws...'" guess what? "We will no longer have a country."
That's just fine with President Trump's opponents, who don't just want to overrun America with lawbreakers -- they want to undermine our system of moral government. "In general," Terry pointed out, "our legal system is just. People understand that and obey the law, because in general, we're a moral and righteous people. [But] if we become a people who habitually break the law, we will not be a free country."
Of course, not all of our laws are just, as the stage-full of hopefuls did a fine job of proving. We allow legal abortion -- and both nights of candidates aren't content stopping there. To most voters' astonishment, every senator running for the nomination has openly supported legal infanticide. But last night, they also coalesced around a policy even Obama wouldn't support -- the end of the Hyde amendment.
While they bicker about the particulars of their health care plans, everyone agrees: unlimited, taxpayer-abortion should be a non-negotiable part. Even Joe Biden, the longest holdout on Hyde, caved earlier this year -- walking away from the U.S. mainstream and any common-sense credibility. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who touted her "health care for babies," (which, in her case, usually means abortion) all but mocked the former vice president for a position that almost 60 percent of America still supports. Does he finally regret his 40-year view, she asked? Biden fired back, "Everybody on this stage has been in the Congress and the Senate or House has voted for the Hyde amendment at some point. I support a woman's right to choose. I support it's a constitutional right. I've supported it, and I will continue to support it."
By the next round of debates, the field will have winnowed. But it's a sobering thought for America that no matter who survives, the Democrats are all in agreement that any number of unborn children should not.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.