Ten candidates took the stage tonight for the fifth Democratic 2020 presidential primary debate, which just happened to have been scheduled at the worst possible time for everyone involved. The day’s marathon televised impeachment hearings, which had begun twelve hours earlier, were just wrapping up. Everyone was exhausted before the debate even began. Yet it had to go on anyway, and go on it did. There was a clear winner.
No, the winner wasn’t Joe Biden, who appeared to forget that Kamala Harris is a Senator, even though she was standing a few feet from him. It wasn’t Elizabeth Warren, though she had a good night. It wasn’t Pete Buttigieg or Kamala Harris, though they both did well – particularly when it came to fending off dishonest attacks from she who won’t be named (rhymes with “Gulsi Tabbard”).
Tonight’s debate winner was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – and not just because “President Pelosi” had been trending on Twitter earlier in the day. Various candidates on the debate stage took turns trying to align themselves with Pelosi, and why not? She’s in the process of dismantling Donald Trump, just as the eventual Democratic nominee will be expected to do in the general election.
There’s also another reason the debate winner was Nancy Pelosi. With impeachment hearings still approaching their climax, and the unresolved question still being pushed to the forefront of whether Donald Trump will even make it to the election, the public just isn’t ready to settle down and listen to a multi-hour policy debate among 2020 candidates. That’ll change, sometime between now and the Iowa caucus. But for now, Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful person in this country and everyone knows it. It’s why tonight’s candidates tried to align themselves with her.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report