Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Rep. and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) says he doesn’t expect Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to impeachment to last much longer. “That’ll change. I think more and more members are going to decide that the role of Congress right now, the proper role, is impeachment.”

Engel himself announced his support for impeachment only days ago. He is among the highest ranking members of the Democratic caucus to do so. He faces two primary challengers, each of whom is focusing on his comparatively hawkish foreign policy stances.

Earlier this week we brought you this must-read report on Donna Arduin, the itinerant grim reaper of state budgets who has for more than twenty years been going from state to state when a new Republican governor comes into power cutting state spending down to the bone and making way for tax cuts for the wealthy. Now she’s at work in Alaska for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the state’s new governor. And here’s a story about cuts of roughly 40% of the state contribution to the University of Alaska system ($130 million). The jobs of some 1,300 academic are, reportedly, at risk.

Let me share a few more thoughts on last night’s debate. It was a bit jagged. Biden’s closer was cringey. But there’s a more salient point about the whole thing put together, and here I include both debates combined. There is a small but highly vocal minority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who see Barack Obama’s presidency as a failure. I don’t mean simply that he screwed up or wasn’t a good leader but more specifically that the policy premises and political strategies of his presidency were simply and fundamentally wrong. I have a friend/acquaintance. Over the years he’s drifted far away from my take on politics and that of many mainstream or middle of the road Democrats. He repeatedly presses the point to me that Obama’s presidency was a disaster and that Democrats can’t fix things, either substantively or politically, until they recognize that fact.

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That was a bit of a shaky close for Joe Biden. I don’t know how else to put it. You don’t get a lot of leeway on that kind of thing when your in your mid-70s. I don’t know if that matters or not. Because on balance I thought he had a pretty good debate. He was much more focused and aggressive than he was in the first debate. He got hit from all sides but he hit back and often effectively. In the first debate he just didn’t seem to be expecting or prepared to defend himself or his record – which is a bit bizarre as a frontrunner heading into his first campaign debate.

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When I was a little kid my dad would take the TV out of the closet to watch the big heavyweight prize fights. If they went fifteen rounds they’d get so tired at the end that the boxers would sort of be hanging on each other to rest. That feels like about where this debate got to around 10 PM.

Harris seems to have lost the thread. De Blasio, much as I love him, is getting ridiculous. Biden is having a good night for what he needs to accomplish. Booker is consistently strong in these debates. Really strong. Like operating on a different level strong a lot of the time. But he just can’t seem to get traction. That surprises me a bit.

10:12 PM: This exchange with Gillibrand is maybe the first time when Biden, even briefly, has given a nod to “okay, that wasn’t great but that was a long time ago.” It seemed instinctive and he didn’t stay with it long.

9:59 PM: Dana Bash’s questions are really right from the center-right DC consensus. Consistently.

9:48 PM: There are a bunch of really impressive candidates up on this stage, many of whom haven’t gotten any traction.

9:16 PM: Biden’s basically wearing Barack Obama as a coat.

A lot of clatter in the first hour. What stands out to me most is that Biden is much more focused, much more aggressive. But he’s really not trying to compete within the conversations that are driving this campaign – not on immigration, not on health care. He’s focused on the general election campaign and that electorate. Harris seems a bit unused to being attacked from multiple sides at once. Booker is strong as usual.

9:05 PM: Biden definitely more forthright and focused than in the first debate. But he’s not really trying to compete on most of the debates that are animating this campaign. He’s focused on a general election campaign.

8:55 PM: Whatever you think of the specifics here, as I said last night, this question of whether or not unauthorized crossings constitute a civil or criminal offense is a pretty small part of the overall immigration question. It’s specific relevance is tied to Trump because he is using it as a tool to separate families.

8:43 PM: This back and forth over private insurance is a good example of why it’s a deep disservice to voters that the four top candidates aren’t up on the stage together. It creates two debates where the debate on this central issue is just really distorted.

8:40 PM: As you know, I think the Sanders-style Medicare for All plan is a real liability in a general election. But this is a Democratic debate. And the moderators really aren’t pressing at all on questions like how many people does your plan cover, how does it contain costs? Ending private insurance is a big issue. But it’s hardly the only issue, to put it mildly.

8:34 PM: Seeing a lot of people saying Harris seemed wobbly. Not sure I see it that way.

8:18 PM: Not to snark but man, Bennet has a really, really soporific affect.

8:14 PM: Wow, De Blasio here to kick some wealthy person ass.

8:00 PM: Okay, let’s do this.

From TPM Reader SS

I’ve had similar thoughts as yours about the electoral danger of Warren’s embrace of Medicare for All. As a state-level healthcare reporter in the 1990s, I saw at close range the enormous political power of that industry. The beast will not go gently into that good night if Warren shows any possibility of winning the Democratic nomination. At the same time, I mostly agree with Warren’s policy direction and admire her political courage in taking such an unequivocal stance.

This gets me to reflect on my assumptions about electability. People win office all the time who advocate unpopular policy stances. Some even get elected – and reelected – despite considerable personal baggage. What then separates the winners from the losers?

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