Christine Emba here with Round 22. As Marianne Williamson would like to say to all of Europe: “We’re baaaaaaaack!”
I won’t be, though, at least for a while. I’m taking the next two months off to work on a book project. The rankings are off next week for the Fourth, but thereafter, editorial writer and columnist (and millennial!) Molly Roberts will be taking my spot.
Copping the electrifying language of Eric Swalwell, the debates offered a pretty good argument for passing the torch. Self-identified torchbearer Joe Biden looked, well … old. Maybe it’s the millennial in me speaking, but his callbacks to his senatorial past made him seem ancient, not experienced. How was it possible he was already a senator when Kamala D. Harris was still a child on a school bus?! In an encounter with Harris over segregationists and busing, he refused to apologize and crumbled at the end: “My time is up, I’m sorry.” You said it, Joe, not me!
Bernie Sanders also showed if not his age, then the aging of his ideas. In 2016, shouting about big business and “rejecting the premises” of every question was exciting. This year? Sanders seems like a character actor playing himself. The uniqueness of his look onstage — rumpled suit, expansive gestures poor Biden found positively alarming — is what makes it seem so stale now.
Night No. 1 was a little tamer, and Elizabeth Warren was clearly the apex candidate on the stage. Her first answer set the tone for the night: bold plans and the courage and expertise to put them into place. Warren seemed well practiced, comfortable and eager to be there — electable, even? To the others: Stop pandering, por favor.
All that said, the real winner this week was Harris. She had a compassionate story to illustrate every policy question, and the crowd ate it up. But Harris also was bold enough to take on the Democratic favorite headlong, and she definitely came out ahead. She didn’t spend that much time detailing her policies (reversals have dogged her in the past), but we have plenty of debates to come.
— Christine Emba
|Position||Challenger||Change Over Last Ranking|
|1.||Kamala D. Harris||UP 4|
|3.||Joe Biden||DOWN 2|
|4.||Bernie Sanders||DOWN 1|
|5.||Pete Buttigieg||DOWN 1|
|7.||Julián Castro||UP 2|
|9.||Michael Bennet||UP 1|
|10.||Beto O’Rourke||DOWN 3|
|11.||John Delaney||UP 1|
|12.||Tim Ryan||UP 2|
|13. (TIE)||Bill de Blasio||RETURNS TO RANKING|
|13. (TIE)||Kirsten Gillibrand||DOWN 3|
|13. (TIE)||Marianne Williamson||ADDS TO RANKING|
Falls off ranking: John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang
Also receiving votes: Hickenlooper, Seth Moulton, Stacey Abrams, Jay Inslee
Last week’s ranking: Week 21 | 2020 contenders are going to fully air Biden out for this
Don’t forget to click on the yellow highlighted text above to expand the Ranking Committee’s annotations. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, harness some love, why don’t you?
Read more on the first debates: