Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) had her best debate yet, defending a broadly popular center-left agenda and knocking the high-flying Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) back down to earth. On Medicare-for-all, she rebuffed Warren’s insistence on a plan unlikely to see the light of day. Klobuchar observed that “the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done. And we can get this public option done. And we can take on the pharmaceutical companies and bring down the prices.”

Later in the debate came this exchange after Warren claimed she was the only one not protecting billionaires from higher taxes:

KLOBUCHAR: [The wealth tax] could work. I am open to it. But I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires.
(LAUGHTER)
We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea. And when I look at this, I think about Donald Trump, the guy that after that tax bill passed went to Mar-a-Lago, got together with his cronies, and said, guess what, you guys all got a lot richer. That was the one time in his presidency he told the truth.
So we have different ways -- I would repeal significant portions of that tax bill that help the rich, including what he did with the corporate tax rate, including what he did on international taxation. You add it all up, you got a lot of money that, one, helps pay for that childcare, protects that dignity of work, makes sure we have decent retirement, and makes sure that our kids can go to good schools. . . .
It is not one idea that rules here.

It is time to beat down the notion that “bold” means radical or acceptable only to a slice of the electorate. That kind of bold is fine for grad students’ chatter, but it is now how to govern in a country as diverse and divided as ours. The arrogance in assuming one is the only sincere advocate for progressive ideas really needs to be staunched; Klobuchar did just that. “I think simply because you have different ideas doesn’t mean you’re fighting for regular people," she said, adding that “just because we have different ideas, and get to the same place in terms of beating Donald Trump and taking this on, we are in Ohio. We can win Ohio in the presidency, but only if we unite, if we unite around ideals and don’t go fighting against each other and instead take the fight to him.”

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Klobuchar preaches a centrist internationalist approach in foreign policy — excoriating President Trump for the Syria retreat, for pulling out of other international deals and for failing adequately to protect our election system from Russian interference.

She also scolded Beto O’Rourke for his gun confiscation idea. “When I’m president, I do want to bring in an assault weapon ban and I do want to put a limitation on magazines so what happened in Dayton, Ohio, will never happen again,” she said. “But let’s not mess this up with this fight.”

Asked about a friend with whom she did not agree on all policy issues she ended with a moving tribute to the late Sen. John McCain:

I miss him every day. I traveled all over the world with him. And he would sometimes, when we were seated with world leaders, and they would look away from me, he’d say, “Senator Klobuchar is the lead Democrat on this trip, and she will go next.”
And I still remember being there at his ranch. John and I went to visit him and Cindy when he was dying. And he pointed to some words in his book, because he could hardly talk. And the words says this: "There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself."
That’s what we’re doing right now. And while we have had major debates about policy, we have to remember that what unites us is so much bigger than what divides us. And we have to remember that our job is to not just change policy, but to change the tone in our politics, to look up from our phones, to look at each other, to start talking to each other. . . .

All in all, Klobuchar’s performance would have earned McCain’s respect — as well as that of many disaffected Republicans, independents and Democrats of all stripes. For an excellent debate, a reality check, an injection of common sense and responsible internationalism, we can say, well done, Sen. Klobuchar.

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