David Von Drehle here, with Round 47. As far as I know, no one called me a liar on national TV this week, so I guess we can get down to business.
With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching, this was the week candidates began shifting into Black Friday mode. As in: There’s only one 75-inch QLED smart TV for $69 inside this store; who wants it most? Doors opening … now.
Elizabeth Warren wants it. You could tell by the lasers shooting from her eyes as she strode across the Tuesday night debate stage to rumble with Bernie Sanders. Earlier, she had artfully hung the “loser” label on Sanders and the other men onstage with her. Then she focused those lasers on Sanders and said, in a room full of microphones, “I think you called me a liar on national TV.”
Sanders wore the stunned expression you might see on the face of a child who was sure no one would notice the last cookie was gone. Because he had, in fact, doubled down on his flat denial that he ever said a woman can’t beat Donald Trump. Which, as Warren now repeated, was tantamount to calling her a liar on national TV.
Will this become the political equivalent of mutually assured destruction as Warren’s sisterhood of “she persisted” collides with the Bernie Bros? Or will one of these senators emerge from the time-out of the Senate impeachment trial with an advantage?
The pundits are mulling. Sanders won't find a way to blame greedy corporations for his head-on collision with Warren, thus advancing Warren's goal of locking up the left, or maybe, maybe the Warren offensive simply solidifies Bernie's base for the long haul of a grinding slog to the convention. But should a pin have been put in the Bernie bubble, one Andrew Yang is the likeliest landing place for Sanders’s quixotic band.
Meanwhile, what about the centrist lane? Amid the kerfuffle, did Joe Biden manage to survive another perilous encounter with the English language? Did anyone notice that Pete Buttigieg’s word-count-to-substance ratio is way out of whack? Is Amy Klobuchar, like Broadway’s Evan Hansen, just waving through a window? Finally, what percentage of the American economy is now billionaires running for president?
Oh, and one more thing: In two weeks’ time — the round right before the Iowa caucuses — we’ll reveal your power ranking. For all of you who’ve been itching for nearly a year to tell us we’ve got it all wrong, now’s your shot. Fill out the form below to show us how it’s done.
— David Von Drehle
Rank ’Em Yourselves
Don’t forget to click on the chart’s yellow highlighted text to see the rest of the Ranking Committee’s annotations.
|Position||Challenger||Change Over Last Ranking|
|3.||Elizabeth Warren||UP 1|
|4.||Pete Buttigieg||DOWN 1|
Falls off ranking: Cory Booker
Last week’s ranking: Round 46 | Here’s what 2020 candidates’ New Year’s resolutions should be
From the Annotations
The former vice president is like the hated lawn mower of my youth: eventually starting, eventually getting the job done, but never without sputtering and dying a few times, requiring priming and pushing and endless maneuvering to keep its wheels in something of a pattern.
Hugh Hewitt, on Joe Biden
Well, at least she became the story again.
Molly Roberts, on Elizabeth Warren
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, you keep mulling, too. Your punditry will be on display before you know it.
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