A Debate for This Moment of Utterly Warranted Panic

Mar 16, 2020 · 633 comments
Jeff Burger (Ridgewood, NJ)
Am I the only one who thinks it's crazy how this primary season has unfolded? Biden does poorly in the initial primaries to the point where it's clear he'll have to drop out of the race if he doesn't win something. Then he wins South Carolina. Suddenly he's the frontrunner and that propels him to more wins on Super Tuesday and suddenly in a matter of days, no one else has a chance. If we'd had a national primary, I suspect things would have unfolded a bit differently.
Paul Raffeld (Austin Texas)
Want to resolve some of the market problems? Have Trump act like an adult, stop lying and be consistent: All the things Trump may never be able to do. The markets want consistency and some reliability. Trump keeps his chaos tactics going but in the present case, he will not be re-elected.
Neocynic (New York, NY)
Virus Schmirus! The extreme reactions to a pandemic illness that for the vast majority poses only a mild flu-like malady betray the extreme insecurity of the ruling classes as it loses control through sheer ineptitude to deal with the real problems of this world they caused. Failing at war with a real shortage of terrorists for diversion, they now have a better one: Lets blame the virus for all of our ills, especially the financial meltdown, and certainly not God forbid, the unending wars, the grotesque pollution, thewild and irresponsible "quantitative easing", i.e. the printing money like mad, of the federal reserve, to bail out their bank accounts.
Razorwire (USA)
Warranted panic? Per the CDC site today, since Jan. 21, 2020: Total cases: 3,487 Total deaths: 68 US population: 328.9 M people Look it up.
Illuminati Reptilian Overlord #14 (Space marauders hiding under polar ice)
This perspective doesn't help anything.
Barb (Santa Fe)
I guess that’s the whole point of this panic, isn’t it Frank? Why should people concern themselves with something Biden said years ago, when the NYTimes has 6-10 daily articles about how the end of the world is near? Why shouldn’t we put an end to the primaries when 7,000 people have died out of 7.8 billion and people are rushing to buy cleaners & toilet paper? Why can’t we stop all the debates, declare the winner, and move to crucify Trump over his handling of this apocalyptic disaster even when the swine flu killed 80x more people under Obama with nary a word from you? Why should we worry ourselves about the pending Barr and Durham report on the abuses of power that took place at the highest levels of the FBI, CIA and Executive Branch when we should all be locked in our homes, in the fetal position & hoping for our government officials to rescue us? And why should we question the acts of Democratic governors & mayors across this country to implement a form of martial law, restrict free movement and gathering of US citizens, purposely slow business transactions, decrease economic growth, and further the decline of the stock market when we know what’s playing out is exactly what Rahm Emanuel said: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”? So yes, I agree with you. Let’s pull all Americans together at this frightful juncture to see what it really is that’s pushing us apart.
Alice (Louisville KY)
“This is like a war, and in a war, you do whatever is needed to be done to take care of your people.” Vice President at the Debate Strong enough for ya?
DC (Houston)
Pull together, Joe and Bernie. Pull together, Americans. For the love of our nation, put the dark neo-fascist night of the last three years behind us.
Duncan Lennox (Canada)
"he (Biden)more than Sanders had an interest in floating above the details of issues and painting a larger, gauzier picture." Exactly. My concern is with a POTUS Biden , who will tie his shoes and make the decisions for him? Joe is way over the hill in active brain cells yet America has no option but to vote for him in order to expel the Trump-Kushner crime family & their abettors from ALL offices.
Winston Smith MOT (London)
Mr. Bruni, "A debate for this moment of utterly warranted panic" which Frank Bruni and every other member of the NYT collective has been flogging for 3-1/2 years in a vain attempt to tag the president as incompetent. This started when the Covid-19 virus was just a gleam in the eye of the Communist dictatorship, still percolating in the party weapons lab very suspiciously close to ground zero of the "outbreak" and the president was warding off other dire threats to life as we know it. WWIII, Russian collusion, the implosion of our ecomomy and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. It was garbage then and it's garbage now, one more fruitless attempt to wish the president into the cornfield of progressive fantasy while assuring the brainwashed base that Joe Biden has all his marbles and the NYT is actually relevant. Keep it up true believers, your adamant hectoring just confirms most people's belief that you are artificially constructed fake news and your biased narratives should be ignored.
clarity007 (tucson, AZ)
Frank here is a Las Vegas wager for your readers. An Over or Under bet as to whether COVID 19 (2020-201) deaths will be fewer or more than the H1N1 (2009-2010) American deaths of 13,000. In 2009 the Obama administration initiated an aggressive government response to the H1N1 outbreak. Despite good efforts 60,000,000 Americans were infected and 13,000 died. The Over bet is attractive since the Trump administration COVID 19 has none of the latent immunity the Obama H1N1 had in the elderly. 80% of the deaths were Americans under the age of 60. Buttressing the Over case is there were also H1N1 treatments. But the Under bet has some things going for it as well. A very aggressive domestic and international response plus the very real possibility that warmer weather (more sunshine) will significantly suppress the COVID 19 contagion. What will it be? Over or Under
Steve C. (Bend, OR)
I'm not sure what debate Mr. Bruni was watching, but the one I saw left no doubt in my my mind who the next president of the United States should be: Bernie Sanders. Not only did he make more sense than Biden, he made it with heart and grace. That's the debate I saw.
Papaya (Belmont)
In light of the virus, Bernie Sanders should concede now. The toll campaigning will take on two men in their 70s will hurt them physically in the run up to the general election. I don't want to see some Supreme Court decision that says we have to delay the election due to a pandemic. Concede Bernie so our election officials can start planning NOW.
don healy (sebring, fl)
I thought both could have focused more on what the Trump administration could and should have done in the past two months. Biden's announcement that he will choose a woman as running mate was smart. Now, how about something meaningful and dramatic when Trump comes calling to Congress to help Wall Street? Something like announcing a temporary federal unemployment benefit to people losing jobs. How about a bill giving every taxpayer (making less than 200k in '20) a credit for any decline in income from '19 to '20 with the amount able to be carried over to subsequent years?
Marty (Pacific Northwest)
"There was a life-threatening, nation-shuttering, wealth-decimating crisis at hand." Sure was, and it began June 16, 2015, with his descent of the golden escalator to an audience of paid "supporters." Upon which we were subjected to another year or more of nonstop but-her-emails (thanks, NYT!) and "flawed" and "unlikeable" [sic] and "coronation" and "her turn" (scare quotes in the original despite the phrase being one that neither she nor her supporters ever uttered), and "rigged" nomination process (never mind she won 4+ million more primary votes than he did). Four years later, despite -- oh, where to begin -- we have learned nothing. We bicker over votes or statements going back 4+ decades, hair-sniffing, the (factual) acknowledgment that one despot did deliver health care to his people, and the near-utterance of a perfectly valid term for non-citizens that ruffles the feathers of the hyperwoke, who are most certainly not among the non-citizens referred to. We are straining at gnats and swallowing whales while a despicable pathogen brings this country to its knees. There is also the coronavirus.
Amy (Brooklyn)
In my opinion, neither Binde nor Sanders showed much leadership. Their entire platform about the virus was to out do each other about how much they would give away.
Abby (DC)
If only there was a candidate that had experience handling a global crisis on Day 1 of the administration...
99percent (downtown)
81,000 cases in China with 67,000 (82%) of those recovered, leaving 14,000 sick and 3,200 dead in a country of 1.4 billion people. The USA has 1/4 the population, so we should expect 20,000 cases and 16,000 recoveries and 4,000 sick and 800 dead. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/china/ https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/16/world/coronavirus-covid-19-update-intl-hnk/index.html
Montreal Moe (Twixt Gog and Magog)
I do not know if there is any truth to the rumour that Trump offered Moderna money for rights to their vaccine but the fact that the rumour is plausible is a louder alarm than I ever want to hear. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/first-participant-us-coronavirus-vaccine-trial-moderna-dose
father lowell laurence (nyc)
What we got was "Grumpy Old Men, Part 3" but without Sophia Loren or Ann Margret. The evening cried out for Mayor Pete & Elizabeth Warren instead of these escapees from the "Cacoon " cast. The fact that this is what the Democrats is left with is as frightening as the Corona virus.
Butterfly (NYC)
@father lowell laurence You prefer Trump?
nzierler (New Hartford NY)
Watching this afternoon's briefing it was apparent that Trump still views Covid 19 through his own lens of worry not about the peril to us but about his political future. His viewing of this pandemic as a personal nuisance is detestably pathetic.
Independent Voter (Los Angeles)
"It's all a Democrat hoax!" - Trump and Fox News
Philip Cafaro (Fort Collins, CO)
Actually, Bernie's reminders about income inequality and lack of health care were even more pertinent now, with the corona virus. If Americans had shared the wealth more fairly over the past four decades, hundreds of millions of us would be in a better position to ride this out. If all Americans had health care, guaranteed, we would be in a better position to limit the virus' spread.
Wolf201 (Prescott, Arizona)
There was something bizarre about Sanders constantly pivoting back to his same old message at this particular time. We are in crisis, and yes health care is an issue and Biden acknowledges that, but we have to deal with what is happening right now.
Betsy (Maine)
I'm reading Erik Larson's new book about the Battle of Britain. We've been through worse than The Virus and prevailed. I no longer talk with anyone about Trump. The only issue now is removing him from office. Biden, Bernie. Either is fine with me.
Todd (San Fran)
In some way I feel the wind has gone out of Bernie's sails--as you say, it's hard to be aspirational when you're just trying to survive. Though Bernie was respectful, and did a great job to advance the conversation--it did not seem as if he was trying to tear Biden down. Here's hoping he'll bow out after the next few states, throw in hard behind Biden and help lead thoughtful Americans out of this mire.
DW99 (East Coast)
"And Biden was able to portray Sanders’s grander plans for transforming the American economy as luxuries unaffordable in the face of a scourge, as distractions from the emergency upon us. 'People are looking for results, not a revolution,' Biden said." Wrong *wrong* WRONG. What's the point of surviving the c-virus only to be driven into cardiac arrest at 40 under the weight of three gig-economy jobs? To die of a treatable cancer at 50 because the US's profit-driven illness-care system is allowed to proceed unchanged? To commit suicide at 60 because the work has dried up and the savings were never there, thanks to "Business as Usual" Biden and his support of banks and the credit-card industry? The pandemic *highlights* the need for systemic change. If we'd properly funded govt for the past 20 years, we'd have had a pandemic-response team in place. If we had M4A, we'd have fewer vulnerable citizens (such as homeless persons), and we'd have more hospital beds bc funds would go to facilities and physicians, not corporate fatcats -- and we'd also have more beds in rural America. And so on. Yes, Biden-as-usual will be somewhat of an improvement over djt, in that a truthful adult in the WH will help us mend alliances that djt has shredded. But that's of little use to the 100 million of us who have been destroyed by medical debt, by unscrupulous lenders, by unregulated financial industry -- the 100 million of us who want more than beans + rice 3x a day and constant anxiety.
DW99 (East Coast)
"And Biden was able to portray Sanders’s grander plans for transforming the American economy as luxuries unaffordable in the face of a scourge, as distractions from the emergency upon us. 'People are looking for results, not a revolution,' Biden said." Wrong *wrong* WRONG. What's the point of surviving the c-virus only to be driven into cardiac arrest at 40 under the weight of three gig-economy jobs? To die of a treatable cancer at 50 because the US's profit-driven illness-care system is allowed to proceed unchanged? To commit suicide at 60 because the work has dried up and the savings were never there, thanks to "Business as Usual" Biden and his support of banks and the credit-card industry? The pandemic *highlights* the need for systemic change. If we'd properly funded govt for the past 20 years, we'd have had a pandemic-response team in place. If we had M4A, we'd have fewer vulnerable citizens (such as homeless persons), and we'd have more hospital beds bc funds would go to facilities and physicians, not corporate fatcats -- and we'd also have more beds in rural America. And so on. Yes, Biden-as-usual will be somewhat of an improvement over djt, in that a truthful adult in the WH will help us mend alliances that djt has shredded. But that's of little use to the 100 million of us who have been destroyed by medical debt, by unscrupulous lenders, by unregulated financial industry -- the 100 million of us who want more than beans + rice 3x a day and constant anxiety.
DW99 (East Coast)
"And Biden was able to portray Sanders’s grander plans for transforming the American economy as luxuries unaffordable in the face of a scourge, as distractions from the emergency upon us. 'People are looking for results, not a revolution,' Biden said." Wrong *wrong* WRONG. What's the point of surviving the c-virus only to be driven into cardiac arrest at 40 under the weight of three gig-economy jobs? To die of a treatable cancer at 50 because the US's profit-driven illness-care system is allowed to proceed unchanged? To commit suicide at 60 because the work has dried up and the savings were never there, thanks to "Business as Usual" Biden and his support of banks and the credit-card industry? The pandemic *highlights* the need for systemic change. If we'd properly funded govt for the past 20 years, we'd have had a pandemic-response team in place. If we had M4A, we'd have fewer vulnerable citizens (such as homeless persons), and we'd have more hospital beds bc funds would go to facilities and physicians, not corporate fatcats -- and we'd also have more beds in rural America. And so on. Yes, Biden-as-usual will be somewhat of an improvement over djt, in that a truthful adult in the WH will help us mend alliances that djt has shredded. But that's of little use to the 100 million of us who have been destroyed by medical debt, by unscrupulous lenders, by unregulated financial industry -- the 100 million of us who want more than beans + rice 3x a day and constant anxiety.
Lisa (PA)
Doesn't this show the fundamental need for a strong national government? Doesn't this show the need for government period, and for the need to fund government, and for policies and regulations, in order to maintain a functioning society?
forgetaboutit (Ozark Mountains)
If the virus was victim-specific and only hit Trump and those who voted for him, that would make it all worthwhile. In fact, I'd volunteer if that might help make it so.
Mari (Left Coast)
Joe Biden, was excellent, calm and resolute. We will need his temperament when the disaster of Trump is gone.
Don (Excelsior, MN)
There will be many nose holders voting for Biden, including myself. I've voted for him twice in the past. He's nothing more than a run-of-the-mill politician. He lies, ducks issues, loves wall street, has a corporate soul, blames others, etc. He's a squishy republicrat. The best woman who could help him as VP would be Michelle Obama (as a wise person informed me). She could pick up with him where Obama left off. Between the two of them, the Obamas could make Biden real. Still and all, there are enough nose holders available to make him president, and others will have to try to make him President.
Marty (Pacific Northwest)
@Don Yes, Michelle. This may not be what she wants to do, but if we get beyond the current crisis and it appears the Orange Obscenity has a solid chance of extending his reign of error ... well, then, Barrack needs to sit her down and just say it: How often is a single individual presented with the opportunity to save her country and perhaps the world? President Obama, you are a very persuasive man. Think about it.
Don (Excelsior, MN)
@Marty Yes!
Marc (New York)
Let’s point out that we have The Deplorables and Senate Republicans to thank for this fine mess. Dangerous Donald didn’t start Covid-19 but his stupidity, incompetence and unmatched narcissism have led to a disaster that will probably lead to a global depression. I always figured Trump would end civilization in a nuclear war but not this. (I guess it could still happen.) And before I forget, let’s be sure to give a shoutout to soon-to-be ex-Senator Susan Collins for her certainty that Trump had learned any lessons.
Lawyermom (Washington DCt)
Much as I would prefer to move forward with a woman or another person of color in the White House, watching the two old white guys made me think they would make a good ticket. C’est la vie.
Doug Terry (Maryland, Washington DC metro)
Okay, so Biden is the nominee. As one columnist acknowledged recently, there's a problem. Once the covid-19 crisis has passed into history and, if Biden is in the White House, he desperately needs to adjust to the realities of trench warfare that the Republicans are waging not just on Democrats but on democracy and the very concept of cooperative compromise as a means of guiding a large, contentious nation. Biden's mindset about politics and government was formed in a different era and, like his mentor Obama, he has not moved forward, updated, sufficiently to the new realities. Coming out of the Newt Gingrich era of take down politics, Mitch McConnell and buddies have decided that America cannot, should not and will not be allowed to be governed by any degree of input from Democrats, anywhere, anytime, by any means. When Democrats have a handle on power, nihilism is the watch word. That's why McConnell is trying to stuff the federal judiciary with hard right judges: if you try anything, we will block you. He and they want a permanent rule that they cannot achieve at the ballot box. Combined with his own personal reserve and his hope that "the fever will break", Obama and his sidekick Biden played footies with Republicans who had their long knives out, 24/7. Is Biden, at 77, ready for that kind of warfare? Would be he a placeholder until someone younger and tougher takes over?
RuthanneI (Louisville, KY)
@Doug Terry. Let’s just retire McConnell & flip the Senate. It almost doesn’t matter who’s in the White House if the R’s control the Senate. I live in Kentucky - one of the poorest & least educated states. Over his 30 years in office, Mitch has done next to nothing to help raise up Kentuckians. Instead he cozies up to coal & pharmaceutical CEOs - his big donors - and builds on his legacy of stacking the courts with young, right wing judges. This time Mitch is more vulnerable than ever. Our best hope to beat him is Mike Broihier - retired Marine Lt. Colonel, former editor of a small town KY newspaper, educator & farmer. Mike is progressive, likable & forthright, with a broad & deep knowledge of Kentucky issues. He can out debate McConnell all day long. Andrew Yang’s team is running Mikes campaign & it is really taking off. Send money if you can. Fingers crossed.
Quiet Waiting (Texas)
I am not yet ready to write off Sanders' chances and I say that as someone who has not been particularly enthusiastic about him. The reality of a nation cocooning in preparation for a death toll that will run into the six figures and the stunning plunge in the stock markets and the consequent loss of wealth to pension funds and individuals may convince enough people that radical change really is necessary. After all, the possible loss of your life and the loss of a good portion of a pension based on stock market returns would be enough to shock anybody.
Tony (New York City)
I am exhausted from listening to the same old questions being asked to the candidates. The same old statements by the media critizing ethe candidates. We need to be focused on how we get out of this mess and listen to progressive ideas and the moderators needto truly understand the issues and stop giving us sound bit questions. I am tired of age reference ,I am tired of who said what forty years ago and want to know what are we going to do about health care with this virus. Mr. Biden is wrong not everyone is going to be covered and we are going to get huge medical bills and the public knows that. Even the NYT told us how the GOP refused to budge on the coverage issues so please don't lie to us anymore. We have had enough of lies We are going to vote blue no matter who, so lets just stop with these debates,
George (New York City)
Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. Period. Our Country is in the midst of an unparalelled pandemic and our President is dangerously unstable. Period. Bernie had his national debate, made his points and now he must stand down and support Joe Biden for the National good. Period. NYT should write an editorial calling for this action tomorrow. Period.
John Jones (Cherry Hill NJ)
BIDEN Has the clear advantage due to his years of experience at the helm with Obama. His time has come. Yes, he's imperfect. All humans are imperfect! What must happen next is for the Democrats to pull together to defeat the enemy. Trump has put a bulls eye on his back with his statement that he does not accept any responsibility for the problems the USA faces. Many of them exacerbated by Trump's incompetence, total lack of mastery of the facts and profound dishonesty and disdain for the truth. The Democrats won't get it all right. Nobody will get it all right. But the alternative is Trump, who states clearly that getting it right matters not at all to him. It is a clear, though unintentional admission of his profound failure as a leader and his huge failures as a person incapable of empathy or remorse. With no soul and no care for anyone else, Trump has always represented the greatest threat to the survival of our democracy. Now with the existential threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Trump's threat to the survival of the human species is greater than ever.
Erik (Westchester)
I suggest no audiences for future debates. Think Nixon Kennedy. And find a decent moderator that can put his or her political opinions aside. Tim Russert, where are you?
CGM (Tillamook, OR)
This country is so divided that I believe a Civil War would mark an improvement.
Beth (Colorado)
Your metaphor of the candidates treating hand sanitizer as holy water has special meaning in Colorado because the Denver Archdiocese has replaced holy water with hand santizer in cathedrals.
Ian MacFarlane (Philadelphia)
Trust Mr Biden asks Ms Klobuchar and she accepts.
MMcKaibab (Albuquerque, NM)
@Ian MacFarlane Can't happen. The LAST thing the party needs is two white moderates. That's a sure way to make sure a good portion of the youth vote and the progressives stay home. Biden's woman veep needs to be a woman of color and one who leans progressive.
James (Portland, OR)
As for the last sentence in this report, your paper exhibits its abject hypocrisy or complete blindness. How many times in this “debate” did the candidates fervently malign President Trump?? Is that pulling Americans together or pushing them apart? You’re helping to re-elect President Trump. Thank you.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
The Dems had entirely too many debates this season. Next time, cut waaaaayyyy back.
Jeffrey McCaffrey (Portland, OR)
Biden should offer Sanders a unique and powerful spot in his administration, Climate Change Czar. It’s not a token assignment it’s potentially the biggest opportunity in politics and the most critical issue for our country and the world. It should have a budget commensurate with the problem and a full department of government resources. Bernie shows a passion and commitment beyond Joe’s and the problem is too big for Biden to direct. I have no clue how it would work but we can’t just thank Sanders and send him back to the Senate when there is so much passion to harness.
Karen (Minneapolis)
While I don’t disagree with the major point made by this column, I found myself grimacing at the following statement: “But there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality, from the pandemic to corrupt pharmaceutical executives, from the pandemic to how many millionaires and billionaires have contributed to Biden’s campaign. The world has been transformed; the script remains the same.” It is willfully blind to suggest that income inequality, corrupt pharmaceutical executives, and millionaires and billionaires contributing to campaigns have nothing to do with how the pandemic will affect poor people in this country. These factors did not cause the pandemic, but they have certainly had a great deal to do with the condition in which the pandemic has found our country and many of its citizens and residents. Who is most likely to die? Who is most likely to suffer job loss, not receive appropriate medical care, not be able to “socially distance?” It is the people who have already been overlooked, disregarded, ignored, and exploited for decades who will suffer the direst consequences of our current situation. To suggest that Bernie Sanders’ introduction into the likely final Democratic debate of factors which so heedlessly, if not outright greedily and hatefully, cause ever-increasing misery for more than 100 million poor Americans is to egregiously ignore truths that deserve prominence in the coming election cycle
Mary Rose (Los Angeles, CA)
I'm wondering if we watched the same debate. I'm a Warren supporter who's disappointed that, out of such a broad field of candidates, we've ended up with Joe Biden. Of course I'll support him if necessary, if for no other reason than the Supreme Court, the environment, immigration, to name a few. I thought Bernie was unusually calm and commanding last night. And persuasive. I appreciated his point that he's consistently taken unpopular positions that have later been deemed the wiser decision. His vision for America's future seems much clearer and more ambitious than Biden's. But I guess with the coronavirus, the financial collapse, and the daily drama of middle-school conduct pouring forth from the White House, everyone just wants to get back to "normal." And that's Obama. Which is, apparently now, Biden. Oh well. It could be worse.
Michael Sorensen (New York, NY)
I have no confidence that the U.S. will do what is right during and after this pandemic. This country is structurally incapable and fundamentally unwilling to put people over money, and all people over just some. In the U.S., millions are uninsured or underinsured, people working multiple jobs can’t make rent, and workers making a few dollars an hour are told that if they miss a shift their hours will be cut. This is a society that responds to poverty with police, and to health care needs with jail. It may be true that viruses only see bodies, not class or immigration status, but there is no question that those who will bear the brunt of this pandemic will be the poorest and most marginalized. The fundamental inequality on which everything in this country is predicated will be exacerbated by this crisis in ways we cannot fathom.
JT - John Tucker (Ridgway, CO)
Bernie has no chance of winning. Remaining in the race helps Trump by diminishing Biden. Sanders is helping Trump. He is collecting money that could otherwise be used to support Dem candidates in the senate & house. Why? We've heard he thinks M4A is the way to go. Don't need to hear it again. Conceding the race would obviate the need for his fellow citizens and supporters to congregate at polling places and risk the spread of coronavirus. I see no purpose in asking voters to congregate for a lost cause except one man's vanity. Sanders would have conceded if he wanted to beat Trump more than he wants attention. I disagreed with his politics; his repitition of slogans that had no strategies for implementation. But I believed Sanders was dedicated to Americans and ideals of fairness more than to himself. I hope I was right. His actions continuing to oppose Hillary in 2016 either elected or helped elect Trump. Doing so again is unforgivable. Enough. Get out. Quit helping Trump. Quit harming the country.
texsun (usa)
In the world where attacks on Trump deflected by hoax and witch hunt, attacks on the press, deep state, Dems or Obama canned responses by the victim in chief. Tweet storms directed at targets to effect behavior change like the Fed employed to good effect. The virus response launched with denial and Democratic inspired efforts to take Trump down to quote Mulvaney. Climate denial works but no so with the virus. The health crisis presented a management character building opportunity. Instead of seizing embracing the moment Trump busy patting himself on the back for mythical achievements. His perfect best ever plan failed miserably. Indirectly he sank the stock market with erratic unnerving behavior. In over his head from the start the future cloudy at best as GDP goes negative; recession grips the country; bailouts for corporations ignore small business and individual suffering. No happy ending here.
REL (Sarasota, FL)
"Squaring off against Sanders was a preview of squaring off against Trump, not because Sanders and Trump are anything alike;..." Actually, in many ways, Sanders and Trump are very much alike. Identify an enemy, divide the population. Keep screaming how terrible 'your enemy' is in the hopes of lining up enough people to support your view. Sanders does have more of a moral center than Trump, but he is much more interested in doing his thing rather than what might be the right thing an an ever-changing world.
Rosemerrie (US)
Two rich and old white men - and each now striving to finish his 40-year unimpressive political career with the most coveted title. No thanks. I will pass. Neither one convinces me.
Nickli (Boston)
Well, not voting for either is a vote for Trump. It’s voters like you that will get Trump re-elected. Imagine what another 4 years with that complete and udder buffoon will do to this country. I hope you do the right thing in November.
Larry D (Brooklyn)
I’m white but not rich. Does that make you feel better?
Mark S (VA)
@Rosemerrie, I agree. I can’t vote for either one. They are both pushing their 80s and pandering gender and race politics in the most pathetic way. They are both trying to sound like 22-year old college students, but they are in fact showing lack of mental acuity. For example, Sanders kept referring to the present epidemic as the Ebola crisis; and Biden was really off target in nearly all answers.
MMcKaibab (Albuquerque, NM)
I'm sorry, Frank, but panic is *never* warranted. Panic is an emotional state in which the individual has lost the ability to, in any way, think or act either rationally or safely. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in various outdoor experiences, including some wilderness experiences, I've learned that panic is the thing that kills. It's the panicked person who runs blindly off a cliff, or further into a wilderness area making it impossible for others to rescue them. Just as important, panic puts others at risk. How many potential rescuers have lost their lives trying to rescue a panicked swimmer or hiker? A quick look at grocery shelves right now is just another example of how many are endangered by those who panic. I know those classic British signs from the worst of WWII have become comic cliches right now. However, they do express a fundamentally important reality, one I wish Americans could begin to learn: Keep calm and carry on.
LVG (Atlanta)
Biden looked presidential and in control; Bernie looked a grumpy uncle who is never satisfied unless he gets exactly what he wants.Compared to Trump and his enablers, I felt Biden knew what needed to be done. Best comment by Biden- we need action now and not a revolution in the future.
Paul (California)
Panic is a response to a crisis that has a high likelihood of creating a secondary crisis. We shouldn't panic, since that destroys our ability to function effectively and to stay focused on what will really make a difference. Panic leads to behavior like the hunter firing his gun in the dark night without aiming, hoping to hit a quacking duck flying somewhere. Unfocused, ineffectual, waste of amo. So just do something is not a helpful response. The response to Covid-19 may be different for people in certain areas, suburbs, cities, country. Taking a walk but keeping a social distance from all but family may be appropriate for many. Living in a cell and not leaving may be best for a few, but not all. So different circumstances require different behaviors and thinking. Panic won't help deal with reality. And some people won't respond to Covid-19 the same. SOme are buying toilet paper, some are buying guns, some are partially ready, thanks to planning and thinking ahead. So skip the panic. It creates more problems.
Joe Rockbottom (California)
It was great to be able to hear these two complete sentences before being interrupted. I wish the moderator was not so intent on "moving on." Such a refreshing change from listening to Trump try to get more than three words in a row out before his brain short circuits. The guy is nearly incoherent. Biden and Sanders showed what real adults sounds like.
Mike Z (Albany, CA)
Oh my, a civil and thoughtful conversation, with unobtrusive questioners, plenty of time for back and forth, no playing to the audience with the smirking one-liners and crosstalk, and a clear respect and even affection between the 2 remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination. I voted for Sanders on March 3rd, and believe his policies are the right ones for this country. However, I will surely vote for Joe Biden against Trump, and not reluctantly. His positions are to the left of any non-Sanders contender in the history of this country, and we get to a Green New Deal, universal health care, living minimum wage, free college, etc through Joe Biden. Last time, I voted with resignation for HRC, likening it to choosing Spam over Cyanide, when those are the only two choices on the menu. The Spray-tanned Cyanide remains on the menu for this election. I am pretty sure that all of us, Progressive, Center, even moderate Republican, sickened daily by the monstrously dishonest and disgusting Orange Cartoon currently occupying the White House, will gladly vote for the decent and empathic Joe come November.
Sari (NY)
How funny that the distractor in chief came on TV today only to repeat what many Mayors and Governors of their respective states have already said and put into place as far as curfews and shutting down altogether. Now if course he'll take the credit because he doesn't have an original idea in his head unless it serves his purpose.
William Johnson (Kaua’i)
All I saw in this debate was two very old men, one of whom will run against yet another old man. God help us all.
Larry D (Brooklyn)
You forgot to mention that all of them are WHITE! Come on, don’t pull your punches!
Alan R Brock (Richmond VA)
Biden needs to articulate how to take the fiddle out of our contemporary Nero's hands and restore some semblance of reality. That is step one. That is where we are.
Carol (Newburgh, NY)
I prefer Sanders to Biden. I would never vote for Biden. I would have preferred Bloomberg or Booker. I didn't like their positions on immigration but on everything else including abortion/women's rights, I agreed with them. I like Trump's position on immigration (don't want open borders) but not his position on abortion. I wish Biden would drop out so the Democrats could put up a better candidate. Now Biden is leaning left to appeal to the Progressives but he will lose Moderates, Independents and some Republicans who are tired of Trump. He is pandering to women, to Blacks, to Progressives...rather sickening.
REL (Sarasota, FL)
@Carol It's a shame you would vote for Trump. Bernie or Trump. How inconsistent.
Carol (Newburgh, NY)
@REL The two of them don't have anything in common but both are better than Biden. Biden should retire and head for the nearest nursing home.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
@Carol Don't vote for Biden and you will be voting for Trump. Think about who you want for the next four years.
Michael (San Diego)
Can’t say I’m crazy about either of those old men, but it was refreshing to hear two potential Presidents speak (mostly) in complete sentences.
REL (Sarasota, FL)
@Michael People weren't crazy about Pelosi as speaker because of her age. But it is her decades of experience and moral fiber that are pushing the nation in the right direction. Being ageist is discrimination.
FilmMD (New York)
Donald, if the nation is to survive this disaster, the first step must be your RESIGNATION NOW.
Nickli (Boston)
Oh please. If he’s shown us anything it’s that he has no moral character and doesn’t actually care about people. We have a better chance of seeing God himself today than to see Trump ever resign. All we can do is pray the virus gets rid of him.
Gary (San Francisco)
Biden was Presidential and reassuring that he had command of what needs to be done now. Bernie was like an attack animal. He should quit the race now and Trump should resign now. They ( Bernie and Trump) are both incapable leaders, Trump the more so, of course.
Joel H (MA)
Joe Biden and maybe you think he can bridge the bipartisan gap because he’s white, “knows us” per Clyburn, and a “son” per Strom Thurmond. Oh, yeah! and more than willing to sacrifice our values just to pass a bill and score. Compromising Joe brought us Mass Incarceration, Iraq War, Clarence Thomas, student debt exclusion from bankruptcy, credit card usury, etc. Maybe the Republicans will actually honor his Moderate nature (hybrid Republican-Democrat)? Remember that Trump is just a symptom of our disease and Biden is a bandaid. You have to fight for morality, real lasting and effective solutions, and an ethical democracy! All else is just Alka Seltzer. Oh! What a relief it is! For you. Except you’re leaving millions without affordable healthcare, low paying service jobs, societal disaffection, etc. Corporatists and appeasers are myopic with a short attention span and don’t want to be bothered much, so are jonesing for quick gratification. A more perfect union. Created equal. Right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Just don’t expect it, so keep on buying your private lottery ticket dreams.
Honor senior (Cumberland, Md.)
Cowards die many deaths, the brave, but one!
Larry D (Brooklyn)
Yeah, but that’s one too many!
Stephen (NYC)
Incredible that Trump calls the stock market crashes, "bouncing". I suppose the insurance companies can now call car crashes, "car bouncing". The economy is in free fall despite his holiness, Trump. Perhaps the so-called "evangelicals" will see this as a sign of the rapture, that they seem hell-bent on happening.
Suzanne (Rancho Bernardo CA)
@Stephen- yes, I wonder if they will call it a “Rupture” instead?
Misha (Berkeley, CA)
I realize this is an opinion piece, but for an opinion to mean anything, it needs to be informed. Please stop with the exclamations that the race is over. Biden has 45% of the delegates needed for the nomination, less than half. Sanders has 37%. Biden needs to win 49% of the remaining delegates while Sanders needs 56%. This hardly an insurmountable task for Sanders. In 2008 Clinton's lead over Obama was greater than this at this point in the race. I can't think of any competition that I might be in, where if these were still my odds of winning I'd just give up and throw in the towel. Sanders has been facing this sort of deceptive conclusion drawing for months. Please stop and let the people decide for themselves without this sort of deceitful rhetoric disguised as informed analysis.
Robert (Out west)
Try 538, or the various excellent analyses in the Times. It will be very difficult for Bernie to make up the diff, especially after he gets murderlized in Florida, Arizona and Georgia. The numbers just aren’t there fir him.
grennan (green bay)
Neither candidate has ever proposed more "radical" ideas than the ones in the Democratic platforms of the 1940s, the decade in which both were born. The platforms of 1940. 1944, and 1948 are surprisingly (or even shockingly) relevant for a lot of reasons, not just in calling for sick pay insurance and national health coverage. Millions of Trump's 2016 voters had parents who voted for FDR and Truman-- and those platforms. This is what they wanted for their children, and that's a really potent argument in favor of the so-called radical/'socialist' Democrats (either will be labeled that way by the GOP). In 1948 Truman carried Wisconsin, Ohio, and a lot of currently red states with this platform, which defies any Democrat to read it and not be stirred. Either candidate could tell voters in those states that their parents didn't think these were radical ideas . https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/1948-democratic-party-platform
Ole Fart (La,In, Ks, Id.,Ca.)
Bernie is the bittersweet figure here. A fierce old testament prophet speaking truth to power, his consistent message over the years, now overwhelmed by this pandemic. The rich, unaware of our middle class crisis get to dodge this disaster with another "republican lite" via Biden. Perhaps AOC in 2024. In the meantime we now have a runaway sociopathic party with its deranged leader threatening to ensure many Americans, especially infirm or elderly die from this pandemic. Now we see the fleshing out of "how bad it could get" from bright people back in 2016 when we were all shocked by the our surreal election outcome.
just Robert (North Carolina)
Last night's debate featured thoughtful sincere candidates who did not need to climb all over each other to be heard. But it was not the fact that were only two that made it so. It was the candidate's ultimate respect for each other despite their strong differences that made it so. Think back to the Trump/Clinton fiascoes of 2016 and Trump's total disregard for his opponent and you will know what I mean. Who ever moderates the Trump/Biden or Sanders debate will need the nerves and focus to control Trump's less than human impulses and not be cowed by his title of 'president'.
Mary Sweeney (Trumansburg NY)
Experts have been warning about pandemics for a long time and their warnings have gone mostly unheeded. Imagine how much more prepared we would be now if we had gone into this crisis with the policies Sanders has called for--Medicare for all, paid sick leave, and wages high enough to allow people to save for emergencies--already in place. We would still have a crisis to deal with, but several huge pieces of the problem would not exist, freeing us to focus on the remaining pieces of the problem. Right now we obviously have to focus on this emergency. But there is no reason to think that this will be the last pandemic we will face, and the fact is that we would be better prepared for next time with Sander's policies.
Maggie (Maine)
@Mary Sweeney Imagine if Trump hadn’t disbanded the Global Health Unit of the NSC. We may have been able to get ahead of this disaster, possibly even avert the worst of it. We are seeing what happens when money is placed above human life.
Ole Fart (La,In, Ks, Id.,Ca.)
Bernie is the bittersweet figure here. A fierce old testament prophet speaking truth to power, his consistent message over the years, now overwhelmed by this pandemic. The rich, unaware of our middle class crisis get to dodge this disaster with another "republican lite" via Biden. Perhaps AOC in 2024. In the meantime we now have a runaway sociopathic party with its deranged leader threatening to ensure many Americans, especially infirm or elderly die from this pandemic. Now we see the fleshing out of "how bad it could get" from bright people back in 2016 when we were all shocked by the our surreal election outcome.
Joseph Hanania (New York, NY)
I am all into politics and has found the Dem. race much more interesting than any TV drama. But... With all the small businesses shutting down in NYC, this amid too many already vacant storefronts. And with people at restaurants and mid-level businesses losing jobs left and right. And with hospitals soon to be overwhelmed, while many medical practitioners will have to figure out new ways to care for their children because schools have shut down...is it possible that we are not heading into a mild correction which may last a year or two or three, but a depression, with America closed down indefinitely? Most of us have heard or read what our grandparents did when the Roaring 20's abruptly ended in the Great Depression. The stories seemed so quaint - men selling apples or pencils on street corners because it was all they could do. Are we now headed to a similar place? And if so, can we unite behind an FDR like leader to turn the ship around and hobble our way out? Whomever the nominee is, we need to work together to help get him over the finish line - and then work together to also help our country and the world get over their finish line.
Vincent (Ct)
I am no economist but did not the Trump administration give corporations and the wealthy huge tax breaks? Much of that money went to stock dividends and buybacks. As the market collapses,all that money has gone up in smoke. It would have been nice if that money was around today to help weather the storm. It’s called save for a rainy day. He is running the economy as he ran his casinos and the Trump airlines and they are long gone into the bankruptcy heaven. Biden may not be the choice of many,but if he can stop the bleeding,the nation can start the road to recovery.
Emily (Fresno)
Some voters AND SOME JOURNALISTS should go back and read THE DETAILS of Biden's votes and thoughts that they now hold against him. For instance, on the Iraq War: "It would be a tragedy if we removed a tyrant in Iraq, only to leave chaos in its wake." "I do not believe this is a rush to war, I believe it's a march to peace and security."-- Biden Biden was the Senate Foreign Relations chairman and drafted a bipartisan resolution that would grant Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq, but was MORE RESTRICTIVE THAN THE WAR AUTHORIZATION THAT BUSH HAD SOUGHT. Biden's plan did not succeed ("I begged them to at least vote 'Biden-Lugar' out of committee, but they made it clear they wouldn't do it-- on principle. They wanted purity."-- Biden), Rep. Dick Gephardt struck a deal with the Bush administration which effectively torpedoed Biden's alternative proposal. Biden said on the floor of the Senate that a "strong" congressional vote would ultimately give the US a more forceful diplomatic position. "At each pivotal moment, Bush has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation, and I believe he will continue to do so. At least that is my fervent hope."-- Biden The current take on Biden-- short on history and details-- seems little better than mob mentality and should not be encouraged by any literate, knowledgeable journalist.
Elena S-c (boston)
Panic is simply never warranted and always counterproductive. The Times should not be encouraging people to feel that panic is "utterly warranted."
Michael (Brooklyn)
Maybe more people will understand voting as not only a right but a responsibility. Let’s hope for the next presidential election more people think of their country and the world instead of treating it like a joke.
It's Biden's experience in Obama's administration which makes me question him the most. He was there for the eight years of the Repubs resisting every single thing Obama tried to do - including proposals that had originally been started by Republicans (see, ACA) - and McConnell's unprecedented refusal to consider Obama's SCOTUS nomination and concluded what? That he would be the best guy to try to be bipartisan and "work with" his friends on the Republican side. If that's not a sign of dementia, I'm not sure what would be.
Joel H (MA)
@RMS Ha! Ha! Perfect!
Joel H (MA)
Maybe voting for him?! Doing the exact same thing repeatedly, but expecting different results?! Do we vote like we’re reaching into a grab bag?! “How’s all that hope and changey working out for you?”, Sarah Palin. Besides those good feelings of holding hands and singing Kumbaya, what did Obama actually deliver for Black people? Joe Biden!
Meg (AZ)
Trump just said things might resolve around July or August. Other nations have seen their transmission rate curves decline after only about 2 months - so I guess mid May of June is more accurate - considering my guess is as good or better than Trump's I'd say things will start getting back to normal near the beginning of summer and I bet kids will go back to school and make up the time then. Considering there may be a need for another shutdown next fall - it would be good it the kids could get back to school in the summer - but who knows? One thing we do know is that we will have a pretty good idea what the time frame will be in 6-8 weeks and if they can start antibody testing that would be a big help as well in establishing models.
David (Oak Lawn)
The president's selfishness at this time is the embodiment of his presidency: vain, careless of life, power-seeking, self-aggrandizing. It is emblematic of the worst of humanity. His administration cannot end soon enough. If it's going to be Biden, that's just fine with me. I want the person whom the Democrats nominate to stand the best chance to beat Trump. It appears that is Biden. The cynicism that has festered in our body politic must be defeated. People's lives depend on the Democrats winning big in November. We place our hopes in them.
Trump is now praising the wonderful job he doing and has done and accepts no responsibility for anything wrong ever in his 73 years he has been perfect. Of course most folks except his cult blinded by an emotional bond fed by Trumps tweets and FOX STATE TV can now see the problem with an ignorant lying carnival barker as president despite how amusing he may be. Lives are at risk never mind the stock market and his re-election ,putting your campaign manager Jared in charge of combatting the COVID 19 virus sends the wrong message. Nov cannot come sooner enough.
Cate (New Mexico)
Watching the debate it occurred to me that Bernie's insistence on speaking repeatedly about the reasons for inequality as relevant to this dire time--seemed inflexible. His press conference last week was strong, reassuring and "presidential"--I didn't see that same approach last night. My sense was that the Vermont Senator found it difficult to switch his focus away from this important notion of drastic need for change in this country to also take charge about the present dangers we're now experiencing as a nation. It was unsettling to me, quite frankly, that he just didn't seem able to let go of campaign-style talking points and go for the needed immediacy of grasping this current crisis. It seemed almost as though his "internal gears" were stuck. It was obvious that both men had a genuine long-time admiration for one another, and even affection--that was very moving to see, especially as it contrasts so sharply with Mr. Trump's loner, sour puss ineptness--I felt grateful to these two seasoned political figures for their generosity toward one another. But, even though I feel strongly that we need vital and deep changes to our national policies on climate change, the nature of our political life, and a host of other vital issues, I must concede that Mr. Biden did take the lead last night: he was strongly able to sense the slight empty spaces left to him by Senator Sanders--and he usually took them by showing political agility, strength, and farsightedness.
Meg (AZ)
"And wasn’t the most important takeaway that neither of the candidates dwells in the truth-free, information-barren, delusion-rich bubble surrounding our current president, whose irresponsibility is having epic consequences? " Seriously? Why do people keep mistaking Bernie's passion for honesty? Please go to Politifact and other fact check sites. Fact check the debate and Bernie's claims on Biden and SS and on the bank bailout in the last debate. Yes, Biden has been for a 15 dollar an hour min wage as well, for a long time. I find it very telling that Bernie wants people to go to a youtube video while Biden wants people to go to a reputable fact check site for the truth. Bernie might as well tell people to get their news form facebook because you can't trust the establishment or facts. Bernie's world of alternate facts is very Trump-like in nature and he has already been called out on more than one occasion for 'doctored' or more accurately videos that were edited to leave out important context to create misleading and false information.
JPS (Alberta Canada)
Mr. Bruni, please tell me when Panic is Utterly Warranted. When peoples' hair is on fire, they stop thinking. If your portfolio is falling, if your neighbor is coughing, or even if your ship is sinking, the worst thing to do is panic. Stay cool and use your heads.
CJT (Niagara Falls)
We are all doomed!
“People are looking for results, not a revolution,” Some of us-both.
irene (fairbanks)
@LFK And a few of us are hoping for Evolution.
Shamrock (Westfield)
I wish we could go back to “the troubled times” of the last three years. Who was the genius who coined that phrase?
Lycurgus (Edwardsville)
How could someone hate so much as to vote for a low life like Dumpty? Even against their own countrymen and women?
W in the Middle (NY State)
"...There was a life-threatening, nation-shuttering, wealth-decimating crisis at hand. Did Biden’s decades-old comments about Social Security or onetime support of the Hyde Amendment matter even an eighth as much? Did Sanders’s long-ago votes on gun control or kind words about Fidel Castro... For Michael Bloomberg, the – by far – most accomplished and experienced executive leader in the pack at one time... Stop-and-frisk apparently did... PS As of right now, the number of homicides Baltimore this year – about the same as the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the entire country… https://www.wmar2news.com/news/region/baltimore-city/one-person-killed-mta-bus-operator-shot-in-chest-in-overnight-shootings-in-baltimore Of course, the outlook for these two situations is far different… In less than a year, the COVID-19 outbreak will be pretty much in the past…
bill b (new york)
if you are not concerned or worried about Trump and the lies flowing non stop you aren't paying attention
rls (Oregon)
Sen. Sanders at the debate said - "The power structure in America, who has the power? I’ll tell you who has the power. It’s the people who contribute money. The billionaires who contribute money to political campaigns, who control the legislative agenda. Those people have the power." And 'those people' will tell President Biden what he can't do, what he can do, and the limits of what he can do. With Bernie - not so much.
Frans Verhagen (Chapel Hill, NC)
Corvid-19 is changing every thing which was emphasized by Sanders more than Biden. Sanders tries to come up with an answer while showing his leadership in many areas over the years. If he had brought up in his presentation about the Green New Deal the fact of FDR’s Reconstruction Finance corporation as his way of financing the New Deal programs, it might have helped him. There is a substantial literature about the credit-based financial system as opposed to the dominant debt-based financial system in the US financial and monetary history starting in Colonial Times and evolving into Greenbacks in the 1860s and the GI Bill in 1950s.
robin (california)
It is, IMO, essential for Bernie to withdraw. Why? Every bit of energy needs to be expended, not on deciding the candidate, but on building up strong campaigns for every Congressional seat, even the "impossible" ones. And - on detecting and fighting Facebook deception and manipulation. I have long said, jokingly, "impeach facebook." I do not have cable tv and use youtube to watch news programs such as PBS newshour. There's a LOT of serious housecleaning to do there, too. Stop draining resources, Bernie. Maybe you can put on a new hat and become the Czar of social media clean-up. Someone of high visibility needs to work on it every day between now and November -- and after.
sherm (lee ny)
" “People are looking for results, not a revolution,” Biden said." Not so sure about that. Put another way, to get adequate results, in term of quality of life for the less, and much less, well off , may require a Bernie type revolution. There maybe millions of families ending up with no income, no health insurance, meager savings, and bills, bills, bills, accumulated during the now deceased economic boom.Add to those the families and individuals that are already in that condition. Can the country get through this without massive wealth transfers from where there is a surplus to where there is a desperate need? Then there's global warming. I think Bernie is ahead of his time, and Joe is frozen in a glacier.
Schimsa (The Southeast)
I know it’s too late to call off the rest of the primaries and just go to convention without them. BUT, make sure Biden is under Federal Security coverage immediately.
Meg (AZ)
@Schimsa Yes I worry about all the unhinged people who bought into Bernie's phony vilification the Dem establishment. He likes to create villians to drum but support for his own agenda. There were death threats this year as well as 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/17/us/politics/bernie-sanders-supporters-nevada.html
TOM (Irvine, CA)
The Democratic nominee has no reason at all to debate trump. Whomever he turns out to be, from the outset he should declare that there is no purpose in debating someone who would lie at any opportunity and then focus on policy while campaigning and ignore the buffoon in the White House.
JFB (Alberta, Canada)
While I recognize that it must be highly-distressing to have an imbecile in charge of your country at this serious time I really would have expected a NYT editor to have eliminated the irresponsible phrase “Utterly Warranted Panic” from the headline of this piece. Does the NYT believe this to be in any way helpful or responsible?
Shamrock (Westfield)
The only prudent action is to postpone the general election until 2021. Anything less will result in unnecessary deaths.
Daniel Kauffman (Fairfax, VA)
The pandemic has changed something? I don’t think so. It seems some version of “This time is different” has been falsely claimed too often in the past and also in much worse situations than this, yet we simply do not learn.
John (Virginia)
@Daniel Kauffman The pandemic is shifting the focus in the US from politics to people. It reminds us that we need good, steady, reassuring leadership. I am glad that the best Democratic candidate for both scenarios is the same and looks to be the nominee for President.
Shamrock (Westfield)
@John Thank goodness we have a President who is not afraid of taking action. Not like the do nothing Obama when over 12,000 died.
Robert (Out west)
The bit about Obama? It is, of course, a fat lie. A ridiculous lie, in fact.
Ted (New England)
I tuned out! At this point, I don't care who voted for or against the 2008 bailout, who did or didn't enable the Bush wars, etc. The democrats (the two last standing) should stop bickering about the elections of 2016, 2012, 2008, and earlier.
Davide (San Francisco)
Bernie Sanders is a ideologue, and no functioning democracy needs one. He has been repeating the same speech for years, without ever bothering to elucidate the tiny budgetary details that are unfortunately necessary to implement his proposals in the real world. His idea of how to build a coalition to win the nomination, and then (but exactly how?) force his proposals through congress, failed miserably at the ballot box. He has lost more than 20% of the already minority vote he had in 2016. One can only imagine what his candidacy would have done to the Democratic House majority ... not to mention the Senate. The cherry of the pie is the now recurrent defense of dictatorships. First Fidel Castro, now Mao Zedong. One presided on a dictatorship that is still in place after more than 50 years. The other ditto, plus he is responsible for the death of ten of millions during two waves of "revolution" that pushed back China development by decades. Who's next on his list? Joseph Stalin? We need progressive legislators like Elizabeth Warren, not ideologues.
yulia (MO)
With all respect, Warren was not doing so well, despite not being ideologue. Isn't it Why she dropped out?
James (Portland, OR)
Elizabeth Warren is not an ideologue?? That’s a good one!
yvonnes (New York, NY)
@Davide He probably likes Xi Jianping, too, who is -- let us not forget -- the architect of the policy of threatening and silencing the doctors who tried to notify the world about the corona virus when it overwhelmed Wuhan. Where is Xi these days, anyway?
ann (los angeles)
Bernie's pivots to income inequality make sense when already today, the airlines are asking for a bailout. Meanwhile, restaurants and bars, ie a majority of American small businesses staffed by people reliant on tips, are getting bupkis. The same with individuals; only pundits and economists are talking about putting checks directly in people's hands. And the number I'm hearing - $1000 a family - is better than nothing, but it would not save people without savings or good credit from going under. The banks have a 0% interest rate guaranteed from the Fed - but what guarantees do we citizens have about what the banks will charge us? And what guarantees do we have that the profits from money they're lending back to us, which they have because they merely hold consumers' money, will also be given us as rewards by interest in our savings accounts? Or about mortgages being refinanced? To qualify Bernie's critiques of our system as "even necessary," is insulting. There are people in the lower oh, 80-90% who might feel differently and were watching the last opportunity for these strong critiques to be made on a nationally televised platform.
Just Thinkin’ (Texas)
Sure, this is a crisis and has to be responded to as best we can. But neither Biden nor Sanders are the president. Biden is not in any office and Sanders is in a minority position in a Senate controlled by McConnell. Neither can do what Trump and the Republican Senate needs to do. The House is doing its job. So what should Biden and Sanders talk about? Biden insists that all we need is to continue the Obama administration, with some new programs added, of course. Sanders correctly points out, as he has been doing for decades, that we are paralyzed by an interrelated set of institutions, policies, and habits that have allowed the wealthy to control the levers of government, the rules of employment, the health care system, and even the approach to global warming. If we expect different results we have to do things differently. If anything, our current crisis teaches us how undemocratic, how cruel, and how incompetent our system has developed, and how much change we need. If Biden is the anointed one, then we all have to start educating him that a fallback to policies Obama was fighting to change is not the way forward. Elizabeth Warren was able to teach him about bankruptcies. Sanders, with the help of informed journalists and supportive citizens, can add a lot to the mix with his ideas about health care, the environment, inequality, and how our government should work. Listen to Sanders' ideas, and stop counting his years on the earth or his decibel level.
JayK (CT)
I am not concerned in the least about a one on one debate between Trump and Biden. Trump can't out debate a doorknob, and he's not going to be able to get away with the stuff he pulled on Hillary with Joe. Joe might not be the most "coherent" guy at times, but Trump is never coherent, and Joe will not be afraid to call him out on his lies. That's why I wanted Joe to emerge as the nominee from the start, because I always believed he was the best equipped to go to to toe with Trump. In the world of politics "before Trump", Joe probably would not have been able to prevail, but we are living in a different reality now.
Stuart (New Orleans)
"a two-person face-off, of the kind bound to occur in a general election" LOL Donald Trump is not bound to anything. What seemed to be damning six months ago (Mueller? Ukraine?), was not. By November, we probably will be mourning our dead and reopening our businesses, markets will be rebounding, and guess who will try to take credit? I give less than even odds that Individual-1 will agree to a debate, even if the moderators would be Hannity and Rush. And 40 percent of America—as well as a possible Electoral majority—will be okay with that.
Mercury S (San Francisco)
“That’s what I did, while you watched.” — Biden, soon to be President Biden. At this point, Bernie is giving his supporters false hope while still taking their money. It’s time for him to go.
KEF (Lake Oswego, OR)
Advice to Joe, vs Trump: Ignore him, do not engage him. Interject an occasional "You Lie". Ignore him - let moderators control him. Ask "Are you done?" - then pivot to what you want to say. Ignore him. If he talks over you - stop talking. Ignore him.
GRW (Melbourne, Australia)
Really good work Frank. I don't quite agree, you know, but thank you, a good, fair read.
Zoli (Santa Barbara CA)
"Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to" issues deeply underlying the rot in our society. Yes, the pandemic is forefront, but this will pass, however long it takes, and the rot will return and who will address is forecefully enough? Wake up America.
Jrb (Midwest)
And you can't tell people not to panic while writing click-bait titles such as this one. Good grief.
Nolan (Portland, OR)
Enough with the articles that keep saying this primary is over. Bernie hasn't lost yet, and I hope that most people saw what I saw last night: a candidate offering too little too late on the most important existential crises facing us today, and a candidate who is prepared with progressive policy agendas and an unmitigated enthusiasm for pursuing them.
John (Virginia)
@Nolan The primary will be effectively over late tomorrow night. Biden is ready to move on to round two and win in November.
Allison (Sausalito, Calif)
Future debates should always be two people max. Or three. It makes sense to be able to let people speak for a length of time instead of fighting for seconds!
CO Smith (St. George, UT)
A perfect and earth-shattering miracle could have happened last night. Biden and Sanders coming together and announcing that they are a united team with the democratic ticket being them running together for president and vice president together. Putting egos aside, and do what is best for the country; fight covid-19 and oust trump.
Psst (overhere)
@CO Smith I’d rather see Biden/Klobuchar with Biden agreeing to one term. We don’t need two too old to be potus on the same ticket.
Drusilla Hawke (Kennesaw, Georgia)
@Psst It would be a huge mistake for Mr. Biden to commit to one term, for he would automatically be a lame-duck president if he were to get elected. THAT we don’t need at a time when the new president has to be at peak strength.
AMLH (North Carolina)
This debate was the better for having no audience. The energy in the room came exclusively from the candidates, without the partisan distractions of an audience. With the focus solely on the two candidates, their characteristics came more clearly into view. I hope that the Presidential debates will have the same, no audience format. Trump's whole shtick (and, yes, it is schtick) relies on distraction; he is a performer who needs an audience. We need the clarity of a stark comparison of the two candidates debating the issues facing our country. Trump suffers whenever there is clarity.
Bob Laughlin (Denver)
Getting rid of the audience is a good first step towards redirecting our elections from the circuses they have become to a substantial explanation candidates should have on the solutions to the Nation's problems. Now if we could just exchange the moderators from TV and print stars for scientists, statesmen, plumbers, and others who are not interested in scoring their own points. There is only one thing our politics should be focused on at this time and that is the elimination of the enemies of our Nation and our democracy who reside in the White House and the Senate. While Democrats debate and t rump hides his head in the sand McConnell is writing to judges around the Nation asking them to resign early so he can appoint even more fascists to the courts. Will American voters respond? Maybe, if all the endangered institutions in our Nation rise to the challenge. And that includes the Press.
Michael Michaels (Miami Florida)
I don't know if we watched the same debate. Sanders was petulant, pedantic, humorless, petty and angry. in other words he was his usual self. Watching Biden i felt like i did the first time my young son rode a bike without training wheels. Rooting for him while hoping he did not hurt himself. While both of these guys should have been attacking Trump, Bernie forced error after error on Biden. Joe missed many opportunities to hit back harder than he did. Neither candidate demonstrated that they have what it takes to win points in a debate against the Reality TV President. I wish i shared your positive take on this. Thanks.
Zeke27 (New York)
I'm glad that the States are finally Uniting behind a democratic nominee. We've had three years of trump division and rancor preceded by 6 years of republican division and rancor. No mas! Time to take back the Senate, the presidency and our court system.
Matt (San Francisco)
Biden isn’t perfect; we know that. He made some mistakes in past votes- we know that. He grew a lot as Obama’s VP and that counts for a lot. He’s a million times better than Trump. So quit looking for perfect and quit harping on blemishes. We need to defeat Trump and that’s what matters.
Jerry (New York)
Republicans need to be crushed in November!
Sam Th (London)
This is the debate format which should be adopted from now on, virus impact notwithstanding. No need in a national debate for statements likely to get the audience to cheer, this is not a Colbert show.
Concerned Mother (New York Newyork)
Can the Democrats just cancel the idea of a debate between Biden and Trump? That would be a good idea.
Sam Kanter (NYC)
I think the Democratic nominee should refuse to debate Trump on the grounds that he is incapable of a rational discourse and will resort to childish bullying and name-calling.
Tom Debley (Oakland, CA)
At this point, I could care less about political debates. I've made up my mind: I will vote for anybody but Trump. To me, we face a pandemic and our flailing and failing federal government has left us on our own, kids. Its response is the worst I have seen in my 75 years to any epidemic or pandemic. We need to pull together without the federal politicians to do what we can to combat COVID-19. For my part, I am tuning out the federal politicians and relying on my state and local trained and highly skilled public health leaders for what actions I can take. Federal politicians, meanwhile, should shut up and get out of the way of the CDC's and the NIH's infectious disease experts and let them do their jobs.
Ted (NY)
While Biden might have been “calm and resolute,” he essentially promised “same all”. With a pandemic in progress and all businesses closed, we don’t know how the Federal government will reply to the subsistence of working Americans. The glaring truth the Coronavirus has moved to the surface is that what we need is a full system recalibration. The country got caught up with its pants down because the value system of greed and more greed has eliminated our system of checks and balances, and decimated manufacturing. The Iraqi war, the Clinton elimination of Glass -Steigall got us the 2008 Great Recession, from which the country hasn’t fully recovered. And, now Coronavirus. Trump must be removed, but VP Biden has to offer more creative policies and not include in his Administration any more brilliant meritocrats. Shouldn't we learn from the past?
Pangolin (Arizona)
I seriously doubt there will be a debate between the two eventual nominees. Trump is clearly not mentally up to it and his handlers will be at pains not to expose the depth of his deterioration. A man who cannot be trusted to read accurately from a teleprompter or hold an actual press conference with questions is not going to show up well in a debate with a well-prepared candidate (and I have a feeling Biden's new campaign manager is drilling him mercilessly on his responses). Chances are he'd wander off stage halfway through.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Pangolin Wander off offstage? Priceless. That I'd love to see. Muttering something about the debate being rigged. LOL Bring it on.
James (Portland, OR)
Joe is your wanderer. Look at his ridiculous attempt at a virtual Town Hall. Democrats are scared to death of the thought of Biden having to debate Trump. Clear to see the excuse machine is already cranking up. Who knows, it might work. But it might backfire.
Timotheos (Phoenix)
Oh, so Sanders’ focusing on injustice, inequality, and lack of healthcare is just a script – that should be cast aside because there’s a pandemic?
Betsy Blosser (San Mateo, CA)
Please put this sentence in the "love of language" section of your newsletter. You got Biden exactly! With only one opponent sharing two full hours and a whole lot of talking to do, could he communicate his thoughts sharply enough, make his points with sufficient force and keep his sentences from running out of gas on a road to nowhere?
Pomeister (San Diego)
If America’s wealth can fall apart in a matter of days and weeks then it is clearly not wealth worth having or striving for. Capture that please NYT.
Sam Kanter (NYC)
Bernie’s using the coronavirus as a means to explain the systemic problems with the country was a poor choice. The virus doesn’t know about oligarchies, income inequality, or our corrupt political system. Right now people are just worried about getting sick and going broke in the next few weeks. Other than that, he spoke truth to Biden’s milk toast blathering - but the times calls for a “safe” candidate so he will most likely be our next president, and everyone will relieved to get rid of this nightmare of an administration.
William Perrigo (U.S. Citizen) (Germany)
Biden said his VP choice would surly be a woman. Fine. It’s a vote getter, but his real future VP was an elbow away.
heyomania (pa)
The Scoop Kick up your heels as the Dow takes a plunge No minor sell-off – it soon will expunge All the yearnings for profits, all now wiped clean, Wiped from your statements, now good times are lean; Let’s have a party to celebrate loss To remind us the game will end in dross; But upside for us is to watch the distress Plenty of wailing at the Godawful mess With coughs, aches and pains, lung function reduced, Time for last writes and a last will produced Finals all finished, and you laid to rest I’ll review the estate, scoop up the best.
feef (Windham CT)
Good piece, Frank.
Tony (New York City)
I don't find these debates to be very helpful. However it was interesting to listen to just two candidates talking vs the number of individuals who have been on the stage in the past. We know the positions of the two candidates. Biden pandering to women and minorities was just parroting what the campaign had told him to say. nothing new. Some of us are voting blue to get rid of the madman in the white house period. At this point Bernie stated that we all needed health care, talked about it for decades. Now we are faced with an overwhelming crisis that could of been avoided decades ago. Our rich fellow GOP citizens could of done the right thing but money is all they care about. However GOP greed is the blood that runs thru this countries veins. Still waiting for the drug companies to say that they wont be price gouging but those statements will never be said. Health Care in America is all about making profits at the expense of the American citizens. Billions just isn't enough.
Bashh (Philadelphia, Pa.)
@Tony Trump’s attempt to obtain the German company working on a corona virus vaccine makes the guy sitting on thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer look like really small potatoes. It is difficult to believe, given the record of the Trump administration, that this attempted acquisition was was for altruistic reasons.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Bashh It wasn't altruistic. Nothing that Trump does ever is.
The Pessimistic Shrink (Henderson, NV)
It's going to be difficult to remain in a chronic state of panic for weeks, months or years. One gets exhausted and wants to have a normal life. I see Biden as the long-haul guy and Bernie as the crisis interventionist. I'm already tired of his panic mode -- about everything.
Gerry (St. Petersburg Florida)
Fortunately for Biden, many of the questions did not allow Bernie to focus on the differences between the two of them. Like him or not, Joe Biden is the man of the moment. He may not be the one we like the best, but he is the one we need the most.
Kristine Montamat (Arlington, VA)
“The world has been transformed; the script remains the same.” Yes, the world has been transformed, by a virus. Anybody but Trump gets my vote. America is a conservative country, and it’s in the name: “conservatives” really really hate change. Change is hard. And to want to return to “normal” after loss or dislocation is entirely human. But the normal contemporary way of life is what plunged us into this crisis. After the crash, rehabilitation. Yes, Joe: people may want “results not revolution,” but what we *need* will be revolutionary.
fred (Brooklyn)
Much more dangerous things are being routinely ignored like simple air pollution, which is responsible for more than 6 million deaths per year. Add in the other multitudes of carcinogens we ingest -- and coronavirus begins to look like -- well -- another virus. We are jumping on this one because it is so easy to imagine, although right now it is as invisible as air pollution, with a death total like sepsis from paper cuts. Will we finally wake up?
Rich (Chicago)
Panic? But Democrat politicians have been telling us for several weeks that there is no emergency and that Trump’s cautionary actions are unnecessary. The Democrat House certainly took their time to pass the first funding bill that Trump asked for to fight the virus. If there were an emergency, why did it take Democrats over three weeks to finally get their job done.
Gretchen (Maryland)
@Rich you’re joking, right? Or plain delusional, as no Dems have said there is no emergency. Stop with the garbage. It’s been Republicans, like Nunes, who have said “go out to dinner.” And the president’s suggestion for a payroll tax was rebuffed by both parties, because it would not have been useful. Enough.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Rich ...Has the Republican Senate passed anything?
Susan (San Antonio)
What on earth are you talking about?
Kevin S (Santa Fe)
People ARE looking for a revolution...by the time a new President is elected we won't be in crisis mode anymore. Let me repeat: BY THE TIME A NEW PRESIDENT IS ELECTED WE WON'T BE IN A CRISIS ANYMORE. I don't care that Biden wants to "pay for everything" related to the COVID-19(which is vague and brings me no hope of any costs being covered anyways). I care that we create a system that gives HEALTHCARE TO EVERYONE EQUALLY, and that is able to handle these times of crisis without resorting to drastic bailouts of profit-hoarding companies and false promises of "covering all the costs"(where do I send my bills, Joe?). This pandemic is exposing so many cracks in our society, and you sit there and tell us Biden is a worthwhile candidate? He is the textbook definition of status-quo, and just look at how well that is working for us. The people want a revolution; the media and the DNC propping up Joe Biden isn't going to work forever. I'm EMBARRASSED by the short-sightedness of this article, and you should be too.
Palmer (Va)
@Kevin S I missed the part where you provided us your medical training CV. You have an opinion, sir. And that's all it is. Your are not a doctor, you do not work for the CDC.
Robert (Out west)
Actually, the point to notice is that we are very unlikely to have a vaccine by November, and may very well not have effective therapies. In fact the way trump’s going, we may not even have full testing. Then we get to the knock-on effects from all this, which the majority of Democrats would rather have dopey old Joe handling. And by the way, real sorry that Frank Bruni has the temerity to disagree with ya. Want to know why I voted Biden? Re-read your own insulting post.
gene (fl)
The enemy we know. Trump got us out of Afghanistan. Biden voted to get us in Iraq . He was on video years earlier saying we would need to take out Saddam. Trump lies but Biden does also. Progressives look at Biden as glad hander that will stab you in the back the second you vote him in.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@gene ...."Trump lies but Biden does also.'.... Some people acknowledge their mistakes and some people never do.
B Sharp (Cincinnati)
What a difference two weeks made. Biden looked lean and trim, ozing with a lot of self confidence and looked Presidential. While Sanders was trying to hold on to the last branch for support and was on attack mode repeating the same things over and over again that Joe Biden voted for Iraq war. While Joe flashed a smile and could have said a lot about Sanders past but only talked about Bernie`s passing the gun ammendments. In the end, Sanders started having a lot of facial manerisms while Joe smiled. VP Joe Biden was back to the days He debated Paul Ryan. Tomorrow I am going to vote for Joe Biden our next President !
PaulB67 (South Of North Carolina)
Sorry if this comment is off-topic, but why does everyone seem to think Trump will agree to debate Biden (or Bernie)? From Trump's standpoint, and if he's truthful with himself, he can only suffer by comparison with either man, both of them with more policy experience than the President has in his tiny little finger. If he does agree to debate, and performs his usual bully-boy schtick, voters might conclude that he's even more unfit than they thought to deserve a second term. I can almost hear the excuse now: Trump cannot take the time to prepare for debates because he is too busy protecting America from China, Iran, migrants and deep state provocateurs.
James (Portland, OR)
@Paul. Several of your fellow commenter comrades are spinning rationales for Biden to refuse to debate Trump. The real reason, of course, is fright about Biden having a cognitive/verbal gaffe fest. As is now often said, “we’ll see what happens!”.
RLW (Chicago)
Now that Biden showed that he can do well in a one to one debate, will Donald Trump get cold feet and refuse to debate Biden when he becomes the Democrats de facto candidate this summer?
bernielegacy (usa)
There is less chance that Bernie will win the nomination than people will contract coronavirus tomorrow at the primaries and some will die. A statesman would quit now to reduce the unnecessary risk
Maura (Tioga, NY)
The New York Times once again blithely and openly displays its pro-corporate, antidemocratic bias. Clearly it's hellbent on getting another corporate Dem in power to further its own corporate interests. Hence: ""becomes a summons to send Biden into the general election in the strongest shape imaginable" and "[Biden] more than Sanders had an interest in floating above the details" and "Sunday was likely the valediction to Sanders's bid" and "[Sanders] defended himself against Biden's attacks." and "There was something strained and strange about Sanders's repeated pivots..." and "Biden repeatedly ...intimate knowledge...center of crucial national decisions" and "Biden smartly understood..." "threw in some major news..." "...to alter the current trajectory of the Democratic contest." and "Biden provided a mostl reassuring answer to perhaps the biggest question..." and "Biden mostly came across as calm and resolute."
Ann (Baltimore, MD)
@Maura This is an editorial; by its very nature, it takes a certain position. The NYT didn't force a whole lot of Democratic voters to vote for Biden. People made those decisions - many with difficulty - after taking stock of how best to defeat Trump. The notes of paranoia and conspiracy in comments such as these win no converts, and soothe only those already in the fold. And there ain't enough of them to prevail.
Suburban Cowboy (Dallas)
Bernie did acquit himself well in terms of making points for the American people where Joe would take the easy centrist road which is partially the reason we are where we are today had not Bernie turned the screws.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Suburban Cowboy ...."the easy centrist road"....I would have said the possible centerist road. Do you think it is important to unite the country? It might be possible from the center; not so much from the far left.
Jim (Carmel NY)
Not quite what Reagan said, circa 1980: When you elect me and help my party enact legislation designed to eliminate our current Welfare State, you will realize in retrospect that I was 100% correct when I stated unequivocally that "Government(I helped create) is the Problem."
Michael (Evanston, IL)
“You can’t tell Americans to pull together at this frightful juncture if you’re pushing them apart. The Democrats seem to get that.” But Frank, Democrats don’t get that. With the embrace of Biden they push progressives away – because they offer progressives nothing. “Nice guy” doesn’t resonate with progressives. Timidity doesn’t resonate in the face of challenges that require nothing less than boldness. And how will nice-guy Biden stand up in debate against the “truth-free, information-barren, delusion-rich bubble” Trump who takes no prisoners, who claims: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all"? The Democrats want what the Democrats want: moderation and the illusion of hope and tranquility. They want to whistle past the graveyard. And they want the progressive vote, but don’t want to have to give up anything in return. That’s not “pulling together.” There is no place in the Democratic Party for progressives who are always being asked to compromise their values. Sanders (and Warren) have opened the door to real progressive ideas and inserted them into the conversation in an unprecedented way – a way that the rest of the developed world already has engaged with. When the dust settles, it will be time for progressives to look beyond the moderation-mired Democratic Party to alternative political parties, alternative voices that are willing to listen to progressives. There will be no pulling together except in Democratic illusions.
Robert (Out west)
Speaking of illusions.... By the way, did you vote? In 2010? In 2012? In 2014, 2016, 2018? How about this year, when St. Bernie’s getting whupped BECAUSE YOU GUYS POSTURE BUT YOU DON’T SHOW UP?
Michael (Evanston, IL)
@Robert Did you read my comment - or are you just demanding my vote? I said "after the dust settles" I will look elsewhere. I will gag and vote for Biden - not in the sense of any illusion of Democratic unity that Bruni is grasping at - but as an anti-Trump vote. I began voting in the 1970's and haven't missed one election. I've been active in campaigns and registered voters. But I'm getting tired of being asked to be the one to compromise. "Posturing" is a Democratic staple - talking "progressive" ideas but then running the other way. The party has abandoned the middle class, climbed into bed with Wall Street, and let the Republicans walk all over them for decades. That's what I call "getting whupped."
Robert (Out west)
Oh, i read your comment, all right. It consisted of pretty much every silly shibboleth and insult that’s come flying from the devotees of St. Bernie, and I’m tired of it. Not least because you said zippo-bang (and track down THAT phrase, and don’t try and pull progressive rank on me again) about voting for Biden even grudgingly: you jumped up and down on him, and then issued the typical chest-thumping threats about the Glorious Future. Know what the most progressive legislation of the last twenty years or so has been? 1. S-Chip. 2. Obamacare. 3. The Paris Accords. 4. Creation of the CFPB. 5. PEPFAR. 6. The national energy plan.... Shall I go on? None are the products of St. Bernie. One’s from Dubya. All relied on the Dreaded Nancy Pelosi and the Evil Joe. All are as progressive as anything FDR or Lyndon Johnson or Edward Kennedy ever got done. So posturing I said, and posturing i meant. I am way past sick of the Purity Police, and the whole, “I’d rather have an Immaculate Plan that’s going nowhere than a healthy kid,” movement.
Gretchen (Maryland)
What are the odds, truly, of the current president agreeing to debate during the election season? Too much risk of his not being able to control the situation, particularly if no audience is allowed, similar to this debate?
OKC (Southwest)
I think Joe Biden made a successful case that if he were in the Oval Office as this crisis were unfolding, things might be turning out very differently. He would have been an infinitely more proactive leader, and would have made it a priority to keep American lives safe. Sanders, on his answers regarding the pandemic, did not seem equipped or prepared to handle the reins. We need a President who is ready to be Commander in Chief on day one.
Sean (OR, USA)
Why does America pretend its presidents spend their time traveling the world debating other world leaders? What does a debate really tell us about candidates? Are debating skills important in a leader? I would much rather see each candidate deliver a speech for a few minutes. Where are the orators? Is oration even something people still care about? Let's be clear, debates are for broadcasters.
David (California)
Time to support the most likely Democratic nominee, Biden. Time for Bernie to support the Democrats as he promised to do! Bernie is only helping Trump now.
Adam (Baltimore)
@David wrong. The general election is eight months down the road and it wouldn’t be right to allow Biden to coast to the nomination before he even has a pledged delegate majority. Bernie is in the race to challenge Biden on the issues and hold him to account.
Sharon (NYC)
@David Bernie is supporting Joe by making sure policies that contribute to the welfare of the American citizens are kept in the forefront. Joe has not always been on our side, more likely he has been on the side of corporate welfare. Bernie is not helping Trump. Bernie is helping Joe to help the America.
Mimi (Baltimore and Manhattan)
@Adam Wrong. We need to get on with the general election against Trump. Bernie's talking points are getting tiresome - last night's debate was repetition of everything we've heard him say for nearly five years. Nothing has changed for him. Even with the coronavirus and Trump's failures Sanders is stuck in a rut reciting the same thing over and over again. No questions are answered with anything pertinent - instead he segues to another policy prescriptive of his. We don't need to hear any more. Let him stay in the Senate - and if we throw out McConnell and the GOP majority - let him convince his fellow Senators to come up with laws that put in place his revolution.
Jerry in NH (Hopkinton, NH)
Sanders needs to drop out soon and tell, not urge, his supporters in no uncertain terms to vote for Biden. He's had two good attempts at the nomination and has come up short. But has also awakened the democratic party to important issues. Now its time to stop thinking only about himself and start working to defeat Trump.
stan continople (brooklyn)
@Jerry in NH The only person he apparently hasn't awakened is Joe Biden, who has written off Bernie's millions of supporters as a bunch of young whippersnappers. Whatever passionate exhortations Sanders makes to his followers in terms of voting for Biden, they will likely fall on deaf ears, because Biden has proven deaf to them. Don't blame Bernie for the - very predictable - outcome.
Mimi (Baltimore and Manhattan)
@stan continople When did Biden ever say they were a bunch of young whippersnapper? Never. Sanders MUST be responsible for making his followers see how important it is to vote for Biden unlike 2016 when according to a large survey by the Cooperative Congressional Election Study found that 12 percent of Sanders voters ultimately backed Trump. Others did not vote at all or voted for Jill Stein. That's what cost Hillary the electoral college.
Ben (Colorado)
@stan continople If they don't support Biden I really don't care about their causes or predicted outcomes. If they enable a Trump win - whatever hellscape we end up in, will be one where they will rightfully be scorned and they and we will deserve our fate.
stuart (glen arbor, mi)
This statement is 180 degrees wrong, camera obscura and the world turned upside down all itn one: "But there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality, from the pandemic to corrupt pharmaceutical executives, from the pandemic to how many millionaires and billionaires have contributed to Biden’s campaign. The world has been transformed; the script remains the same." The world has not been transformed; this is the steady secular change we have been seeing and avoiding for years in our "exceptional" manner. Bernie's so-called script might better be described as 93 theses nailed to the Wittenberg church door, which you might recall set off a revolution. We must have and will have that revolution. Frank, you and your campadres in the Times bubble are in the bloody way.
Robert (Out west)
Could you play that on a kazoo?
runaway (somewhere in the desert)
"Utterly warranted panic?" Quarantine your column, Frank. Reprehensible use of the language. At a time when clear, responsible informed thinking is needed, you justify the worst possible response. Take a cue from the business world and shut it down for the duration.
Robert (Out west)
I’d say that Bernie labored under three basic handicaps. 1. We’re getting just about all the deep, radical changes in our lives that anybody sane can swallow right now. And ALL Bernie’s proposals are for deep, radical changes. Not a good time for the Revolution, unless we can somehow bring Prince back with them. 2. It’s not that Bernie’s wrong—about the basic unfairness of current capitalism, of course he’s right. But it is that Bernie reduces everything to the economic base, as befits old-line Marxist theory. He CAN’T do more than pivot back to that on anything that says no, it’s not all pure economics....which is a big chunk of why he’s done so poorly with African-Americans. 3. And emotionally. The “consoler in chief,” jazz makes me want to hurl, as I am not five years old. But the very fact that these two guys basically got along plays to Biden’s strengths: the much-mocked “I cna reach across the aisle.” Plus, there’s just something colder about Bernie: the more he claims he feels for people, the less believable the claims become. So weirdly, “come the times, comes the man.” This is just not Bernie’s time. It’s not a reflection on his worth, his work, or his argument...it’s just what it is.
Kevinlarson (Ottawa Canada)
Sanders boxed his ears in the debate and yet another Times columnist wilfully distorts the outcome to favour Biden. Outrageous!
@Kevinlarson... Apparently America does not... especially at this time... want the economic chaos of a new untried radical and revolutionary form of government. If Biden can be Henry Fonda to Trump's Broderick Crawford... I think that he can win. And that is simply what is most important to the Democratic party... and a majority of Americans.
Kevinlarson (Ottawa Canada)
@TOBY No Americans prefer the economic chaos that is part and parcel of predatory crony capitalism. What Bernie is proposing is standard fair in every advanced civilized nation. Nothing radical except to Americans.
Dennis (Oregon)
Good debate. Both candidates looked good at times and chastened at other times. I can see how Bernie appeals to young people. But I feel Biden is the best one for this moment--he has the most knowledge and experience to restore our democracy, rebuild our institutions, and rebuild our foreign alliances. And, after four years of Trump's angry tirades, attacking nearly everyone who treads on his immense ego, we could use a little kindness and empathy in the oval office.
Robert (Seattle)
Thank you so much to these folks who are keeping our spirits up and guiding us through these thickets: Frank Bruni, Nicholas Kristof, Michelle Goldberg, Margaret Renkl, Charles Blow and the others. We are not panicking here in Seattle but we are taking extreme measures, in the full knowledge that it might be too little too late. Thanks to what's his name. Frankly, I am frightened. There have been one or more diagnosed cases in every community with which our family is associated. Very few people have been tested yet. You can do the math. The numbers here are likely to explode. Italy, which has a pretty god medical system, is the best model for what could happen here. They also did too little too late, like what's his name. As for last night, both of these candidates are decent men who want the best for the country. The voters, having recognized the strengths and shortcomings of both of them, have made their decision. The emphasis now from both candidates and their supporters should be on unity and compromise. I would have liked to see more of that last night. I am unsettled by some of the comments here by self-identified Sanders supporters, who, of course, might or not be real Sanders supporters. Yesterday one such comment said Sanders supporters should intentionally try to infect the supporters of Biden and Trump.
Palmer (Va)
As our economy tanks, due in no small part to donald's "hoax" meme and relentless foot dragging, one wonders how soon before he and his coterie of talking heads on f'x "news" start pushing the lie that this is ALL the Democratic Party's Fault? Perhaps he can have is wonder-kid(inlaw) Jared draft another speech (he can again crowdsources his "facts" that he gives to donnald for his next Prime Time Address.
gene (fl)
The entire Times staff gave Biden 9/10 or 8/10 for who won the debates last night. Biden lied on national TV over and over on his career goal to cut Social Security Medicare and Medicaid. Sanders had him by the scruff of his neck like a child with his hand in the cookie jar with Joe crying I didn't do it over and over. But the Corporate propaganda outlet for the Democrat party says he won hands down. Biden is on video over and over proudly standing at the Senate lectern saying how he tried four times to cut Social Security Medicare and Medicaid. Dont believe what the man has told you with his own mouth repeatedly at your own peril.
Butterfly (NYC)
@gene Oh please. Do you still retain the opinions you've had over the years?
Bill Camarda (Ramsey, NJ)
I'll be shocked if Trump ever mounts a debate stage again. He'll find an excuse; he's already working on that. Biden will have to beat Trump, Putin, Falwell, Parscale et al without the help or hindrance of a live in-person face-off. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/12/trump-is-already-claiming-2020-debates-rigged-against-him
Oldgus (Frisco, TX)
Biden and Sander's seemed detached from Trump's lack of credibility and administration's ineffectiveness on the coronavirus. This was what should have been hammered home. My fear: might this be Trump's "Reichstag fire"?
Maurício Luz (Brazil)
Oh, Mr. Bruni... I love your articles when you´re not dealing with your candidate of choice. So much more balanced and full of interesting insights. When elections are the subject though, you're biased to the point of being funny. How have your opinions on Biden changed for the better once he became the only one left to face Bernie. Hesitation also became calm. Is he resolute or does he simply "looks like resolute"? There's a difference, you know. Incoherence became selective retelling. Anyway, elections will pass and I'll keep reading your collumn.
Liz C (Portland, Oregon)
“I suspect many Democrats tuned into this debate...” I was counting on the NYT to let me watch the debate and read reporters comments (as was possible for the previous debates), but couldn’t find any video on the NYT’s site. Not having access to television, I missed the debate. Is it possible to watch it online?
Barking Doggerel (America)
Well, I blew that one. I thought the headline was "Utterly Unwarranted." The panic addled my brain.
KC (Seattle)
Yes, to you can watch it on YouTube.
Joe Rosenberg (NYC)
Frank, why exactly do you not call Biden’s “selective retellings” & “lavish sugarcoatings” what they were: lies that should call into question his fitness to lead this country. Could it be that you are willing to overlook lies from the candidate you favor and those same types of lies would be fatal to a candidate you disagree with? Just asking.
Dave rideout (Jersey Shore)
Market tanks below 10000 Bernie is in
Pro Bonobo (Los Angeles)
Mr. Bruni: Here's how the Times headlined your Op-Ed piece today: A Debate for This Moment of Utterly Warranted Panic I'll assume those words are yours and not some editor's. That is a completely irresponsible thing to write, akin to yelling "Fire" in a theatre. If you think that's a good use of your column-inches, resign your position. Remember FDR's words...you know some history, don't you?
Frank O (texas)
First, yes, we're in trouble, as is the rest of the world, but no, there is never a time for panic. Second, Covid-19 is the greatest threat these days, but all the other issues that Sanders raised haven't gone away. They still matter.
Bocheball (New York City)
why do we not have TESTING CENTERS IN EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD? the first step is knowing who has the virus and who doesn't is it not? Look at S.Korea as the model-they had thousands of tests every day. Why are we not doing the same?
Thrill is Gone (Columbus)
I actually liked this debate without the hooplas and clapping or moderators having to babysit. I'd like to see all debates in the future be audience free.
Neal (Arizona)
No, Mr. Bruni, this is not a time of "totally warranted panic". We face a serious public health issue that must be met by rational, scientifically based, measures. Screaming about deep state conspiracies, evil foreigners bringing disease across our border, and hoarding toilet paper will do exactly nothing except make things worse. Trump lying about google websites and trying to strong arm German firms to grab their research to justify his false vaccine claims is criminal behavior, not leadership. For the Times to proclaim that panic is needed plays to worst in us all.
UKT (Midwest)
Wouldn't it be nice if most Americans paid attention and sometimes became panicked because of issues other than their 401(k)'s sinking like a rock.
Alexander (Boston)
Let this virus interruption be a lesson to Americans. We are supposed to be a society with a national identity and not a bunch of individuals selfishly seeking our own without regard to the wider good!
Brains McGee (Kitsap County, WA)
Mr. Bruni, please write an article on what is next. How do we pick up the pieces?
ttrumbo (Fayetteville, Ark.)
'People are not looking for a revolution'. Huh. Well, maybe we should be. The record inequality, the climate crisis, this virus which is laying bare our great inequity of condition. Where to now? We elected (due to our lazy citizen ways of acceptance of undemocratic electoral college) the boy who cries wolf. Yes, the liar-in-chief, promoted by the right-wing, Republicans, Christians, evangelicals. The liar continues his ways through a pandemic. He's cost us precious times and lives. We put him there. What is democracy, equality, humanity, community? What is the true appetite of greed and selfish motivation? And, how truly 'good' are we? I volunteer at a day center for the homeless and poor. We're starting to curtail some services due to the virus. Curtailing services to those most in need. So, if you ask me, don't bail-out the rich, the markets, the plutocracy; grow-up and make a better, more humane and equal nation. Now.
David J (NJ)
In our complacent conveniency littered brain Bernie shocks us with his outspokenness. I remember the first time he said that trump is a pathological liar and a fraud, my ears perked up. He said that? Great, we were all thinking that and no candidate had yet to step forward with that accusation most Americans were thinking. And that was early on in the campaign. I really hope he is on Biden’s team of rivals, and prods him, a thorn in his side a prickly pear in his back pocket. Complacency thrown out.
Jack Sonville (Florida)
Given the virus and its impacts, both human and financial, beating the incompetent, megalomaniac Trump is even more important than ever. Bernie has run a principled race but now it is time to step aside and let Biden take center stage, pick a fantastic running mate and get on with the business of reinstalling fact and science-based reason in the White House.
Grant (Boston)
In yet another Democrat debate debacle, right out of Dante’s Inferno, feral eyed Biden and arms akimbo Sanders brandished every weapon in their arsenals of contempt for capitalism in America. Armed with false promises, this pathetic pandering of pandemic panic is but the opening act to their newest version of Pandora's Box and the pandemonium they hope to orchestrate. Plagued by limited intellect and a propensity to lie, two Democrat deceivers are set to deliver a draconian dream designed to destroy. Biden, often channeling a parallel universe and Sanders on standby with Marx and Lenin, bumped elbows and unloaded their discord to take up the mantle as one in their megalomania quest for societal fragmentation, division, and destruction. Unable to utter one positive word about the country they campaign to lead, these charlatans jump from one chaotic and contrived atmosphere of contagion to the next imagined environmental cataclysm without a wheezened breath taken. Be careful what you wish for academia as your hallowed halls now shuttered soon gather mothballs of decay.
Palmer (Va)
@Grant Your overblown hyperbole is unwarranted, sir. It seems you'd rather burn down the entire house, simply because YOU don't think our economy can be changed in a positive way. It is the short sighed that constitute the problem to moving forward. Through out history, things move forward at a pace, sometimes quicker, sometimes slower. But ever forward. Your condescending comparison of the debate to Dante's Inferno? Over the top foolishness provided in weary prose.
Rick Moar (Bend, Or)
@Grant You might have a future in writing short stories to the Fox universe. Sadly, very few will have the reading and comprehension skills to understand what you are trying to convey.
Blackmamba (Il)
There is no American economic political answer solution to the COVID-19 aka novel coronavirus biological evolutionary fit pandemic determimation to be fruitful and multiply among it's animal hosts including one of three closely related African primate apes- bonobo, chimpanzees and human. Without regard to gender, color aka race, ethnicity, national origin, faith. education, economics and politics. Biden and Sanders have no power to calm nor confront the current crisis.
Ralph (Philadelphia, PA)
What a good little boy you are, Nr. Bruni, in servicing the totally mediocre and Born-Again Progressive Mr. Biden. American voters have an insatiable hunger for mediocrity, and they will probably get it this fall: Trump vs. Biden.
Cal Prof (Berkeley, USA)
When the long view of history is turned on the (hopefully brief) Trump Phenomenon two Democratic figures may loom large: Pelosi, who used her savvy in commanding the resources of the one institution that was left to counter Trump (aftercare 2018), and Biden, who (I hope) will be the face of the November headline in the New York Post: “Country to Trump: You’re Fired!!!”
Steven (Earth)
Did anyone watch this debate. It was two very only (confused) white men debating issues in a very unconvincing manner. If this is the best the democrat party can do then Trumps presidency is under no threat. Apart form being incoherent and weak even if one of these guys could by some act of God beat Trump they would only survive one term. They both look frail and old. For the love of humanity please find a candidate they is realistic as neither of these geriatric fools is suitable to be president of the USA.
Carol (Newburgh, NY)
The debate was boring. All they seemed to talk about for the first hour was coronavirus. I turned it off. Today I read that Biden will choose a woman as V.P. and a black woman for the supreme court. He is playing the "identity politics" game which I hate. It's sexist and racist. Why would he choose someone based on sex, race or ethnicity, etc.? The person chosen should be the most qualified. Biden is pandering which is nauseating.
Robert (Seattle)
@Carol "The debate was boring. ... He is playing the 'identity politics' game which I hate. It's sexist and racist." I know. Is he or isn't he entertaining? That's what we need in a president. Moreover, up is down. And wrong is right.
skm (coventry, ny)
So, Biden puts up a woman for VP. Trump may do the same. And then we have it again, trophy women being used as pawns to win an election. It's Barbie all over again. Elect lots of women. Don't use them for effect.
AO (Oregon)
Yes!!! A woman at in the VP spot is actually no prize. Nothing new. No big deal. It has been tried and failed. Miserably. Hopefully third time is the charm but it is no grand move forward for women and promising it seems a grand move backward to me. But.... vote blue no matter who!
Quadriped (NY, NY)
Biden is a purely establishment politician, warmonger, regime changer, corrupt, dishonest and vacuous. He is a politician of the horde that has the USA in the current disastrous position. His family and he are grifters. His son, brother dishonest to a degree unimaginable. Biden voted for war, denied abortion rights, never met a regime change he didn't like. Yes, he is not Trump; that is his only qualification. Bernie Sanders is a man who will provide the real change we need and want. Terrible that Bernie is not the loved candidate he should be and deserves. The democratic party is simply as dumb and deluded as the party of Trump.
Jackson (Southern California)
The lack of a live audience was the best thing about last night’s debate. Hopefully, that feature will continue once we get down to Trump v. the Democrat’s nominee. Trump thrives on a raucous, booing, cheering crowd. It’s absence will reveal him for what he is—dull, ignorant, monotone, boring.
W (Edward)
The virus has changed everything..... except the refusal of columnists like Mr Bruni and many others in the media to admit that Biden continues to lie about his record of supporting the Iraq War, the bankruptcy bill, his treatment of Anita Hill, and his enthusiastic calls to cut Social Security. I thought we wanted a president who does not lie?
Daniel (Switzerland)
Getting rid of the denier in chief is key. The Democrats should unite and make it happen now.
Thomas Penn in Seattle (Seattle)
Joe Biden-Michelle Obama. That's the ticket! Oh, and no need for a debate audience or Anderson Cooper playing MC with the hoopla and pre-game visuals. This is sedate and informing.
laolaohu (oregon)
The problem with Biden is that he would only apply Bandaids while what the country needs is a cure. I'm not convinced that Bernie is the cure, but at least he recognizes that a cure is necessary.
Joyboy (Connecticut)
"The two Democrats’ criticisms of each other, which grew heated at times, seemed almost immaterial next to what needed to be said — and sometimes was — about the denier in chief, Donald Trump." This is what disappointed me the most. On the second or third question, the moderator invited Biden to enumerate the ways in which Trump has failed this crisis. This was the question of the moment. Republican and Democrat alike were watching this debate, searching for authority and reassurance. One cannot imagine a more receptive audience. Biden could have listed an entire chronology: institutionally, the disbanding of the Global Health Security and Biodefense at the NSC and Global Health Security Agenda under Obama/Biden. Then, Trump's impulse to deflect and play down the virus in the early days. Then, Trump's prime-time address that set off the panic on Thursday when people finally realized that they had entrusted their safety to an idiot and his sycophants. Biden should have memorized a solid indictment for this question that he knew was coming. Instead, he mumbled something about WHO test kits and then switched topics. Doesn't it often seem like defeat gets snatched from the jaws of victory in every Democratic campaign?
LC (San Francisco)
@Joyboy Yes, You said it in your third paragraph! -Very frustrated by this missed opportunity Biden was given to set things straight. He needs to get much better at addressing Trump's lies and distortions.
Gerry (St. Petersburg Florida)
@Joyboy - the Republicans play as a team. They are even willing to team up behind Trump, the worst quarterback in the history of team leadership. They are willing to twist and warp election maps - so badly that here in Florida, the state supreme court rejected the new map in a lawsuit. The Democrats and other liberals think about themselves at the cost of the team. Ted Kennedy ruined Jimmy Carter's re-election chances. Ralph Nader ruined it for Al Gore. Hillary ruined it for herself - she was not a team player. I'm sure there are other examples. Now we have Bernie, who is a genuine person on the whole, attempting to ruin it for Joe Biden, perhaps without realizing it. This is how it sometimes happens. They won't get out of each other's way, or even their own way.
Alexander Harrison (Wilton Manors, Fla.)
@Joyboy :Biden's heart is not in it, and that is evident, and Trump's characterization of Biden as "tired"was the "mot juste."He might have forgotten all those power points which you mentioned, and just could not be bothered to have learned them in advance. To organize a "debate" between 2 bought and paid for veteran politicians, and who r both near the end of the rainbow appears "loufoque!"If you are worth hundred of millions of dollars--Biden I hear charges tens of thousands per speech--all this must seem so unimportant.ABH supports Trump because he is our vox populi who speaks in our vernacular when no one else is, and many of us are well educated,have "l'esprit d'analyse,"and have read Descartes's "Premieres Meditations"in the idiom of Rabelais cover to cover.You should not make superficial, sweeping generalizations, and your reluctance to give your name is understandable.Never know when someone might show up on your doorstep and demand explanations!
M.B. (New Mexico)
"Biden was plenty repetitive and occasionally misspoke, but it was nothing to bolster team Trump’s gross caricature of him as a barely animated corpse." Also, remember, facts and such quaint artifacts of times gone by DO NOT MATTER to Trump or Republicans. Whatever happened in the debate doesn't matter, Republicans already have their scripts printed. I just hope Biden and his team realize this and find a way to cut through the fog produced by the industrial lie machine spun up at Fox News and other corners of the right-wing fever swamp.
Just Ben (Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico)
Does/would Joe Biden have the strength of character, mental acuity, and ability to command respect that will/would get us through this crisis with the least harm possible? Or is it just that he's not as bad as Bernie Sanders, never mind you-know-who?
Quoth The Raven (Northern Michigan)
Both Sanders and Biden missed a golden opportunity to call out Trump in stark terms that everyone could understand. That is that when the going gets tough, Trump gets going, to one of his resorts to play another in his endless rounds of golf. They neglected to point out that when the most intractable problems of the world, like the coronavirus, reach Trump's desk, he is nowhere to be found, having turned responsibility over to his entirely unqualified son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as if it were a simple problem like Middle East peace. They neglected to point out Trump bathes in the adulation of his Vice President, Charles-in-Charge-like Mike Pence, who takes vapid sycophancy to an entirely new level of inappropriate excess. Thank goodness that Trump allowed his daughter, Ivanka, to pose in front of the Taj Mahal and in the exotic UAE. That's exactly the kind of reassuring snapshot that Americans, and the world, need. Of course not. It's time for Biden and Sanders to take off the gloves, and go for the jugular with Trump. It's time for them to paint an incontrovertibly clear picture of Trump's incompetence, disinterest, and irresponsible, Katzenjammer Kid-like family cartoon show that he has foisted upon the country. It's not political. It's a matter of life and death. Trump doesn't seem to care, and it's eminently clear that he isn't up to the task, experientially, emotionally or at all. It's time for Americans to come to grips with it. There's no debate about any of it.
Milton Lewis (Hamilton Ontario)
The real question is what kind of country will Biden take over when he ousts Trump in November? The downward curve is steep but should stabilize by mid-summer. If there is any silver lining in this horrible health and financial catastrophe it will be the purging of Trump and everything that he represents. But what a price to pay!
WesternMass (Western Massachusetts)
One thing that struck me about the debate was the attention wasted on things that happened 20 or 30 years ago in very different times. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and people are scared and getting no leadership from the Clown Car that is Washington DC these days. Nobody cares about 20 years ago anymore. People change with the times and Biden and Sanders have, too. People want to know what the candidates believe today, what they are going to do today and tomorrow to try to get us out of this horrid mess.
Harper (Wisconsin)
Bruni wrote: "But there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality". He writes as if the pandemic and income inequality are unrelated, and that's totally untrue. A lack of guaranteed paid sick leave means that sick workers will go to work, and spread the virus to the rest of us. A lack of affordable health care means that many people will put off getting care, again spreading the virus to more people. There's a lot more about it in this article from Bruni's own paper: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/world/europe/coronavirus-inequality.html If we had already done everything that Bernie wants--provided universal health care, reduced income inequality, etc.--we would be in a much better position to handle this disaster.
PJM (La Grande, OR)
Yep, I see Biden securing the nomination and beating Trump in the election. Then, after 4 more years when the calamity of Trump has faded and the oligarchs have further cemented their hold on the society in the US, we deal yet again with a rabid right-wing reformer.
Mike Iker (California)
It is finally time. The Democrats can, at last, end the dysfunctional debates and destructive name calling caused by a too large field and an American fixation with scoring politics like boxing. There were dozens of Democratic hopefuls who would have been vastly superior to the vain, arrogant liar who proves every day that he is incapable of being our president or even acting like it. So let’s finish the Tuesday primaries and hope that Bernie embraces Joe and Joe embraces Bernie’s better ideas. And then let’s get to work - together - to defeat what every Democratic candidate agrees is the most dangerous president in our nation’s history. Trump is proving every day that he is a colossal failure and fraud. It’s tragic that Americans will suffer and some will die proving that point. It will take decades to repair the damage that he has done, with the active support of craven GOP politicians, to the very foundation of our Constitutional republic. It’s another tragedy that many of us won’t see the day when Trump is gone and the rebuilding can begin.
Joseph Loconte (Washington, DC)
By any rational, historical standard, panic is certainly not warranted, Mr. Bruni. But the nearly pathological hatred of Trump, the vacuous, hyper-partisan and hysterical media, the impulse of the secular left to catastrophize, the rejection of the moral ballast of traditional religious beliefs--it is all combining to transform a manageable virus into a zombie apocalypse. Great Britain is opting for what appears to be a more sane and measured approach, protecting its most vulnerable populations while allowing its least vulnerable to develop an immunity to the virus. Try stepping out of your intellectually gated community for a moment, and you might experience a spasm of moral clarity.
Glenn S. (Ft. Lauderdale)
That Univision moderator did absolutely no favors to either of them by boxing them in with the immigration questions. Biden ended up saying he is not going to deport any illegal immigrant unless they committed a "felony". Even the moderator looked stunned. And they both said they will not use law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants. That is contrary to every public poll there is. That's what cost the Democrats in 2016. I thought they would learn. I guess not.
Douglas Lloyd MD (Austin. TX)
The Biden and Sanders wings of the party will come together, because the only option is Trump. One would have expected he would have calmed down by now, but news reports from a meeting at Mir a Lago over the last few days tell of Trump making a $ 1.0 Billion offer for a hi tech German pharmaceutical house working on a vaccine. I am willing to bet that the money will come from our national treasure. Better check the fine printing. I don't believe that it is to benefit any country and wlll cost Americans big bucks.
Glenn S. (Ft. Lauderdale)
every debate should be without a live audience. No yelling and shouting. You get to understand the candidates answer without the crowd interrupting. There is absolutely no reason to have a live audience at any debate.
Roland Berger (Magog, Québec, Canada)
Biden said that the what happened with the coronavirus proves once for all time that Health Care for All in a very, very dangerous idea. No arguments. Cheap shot.
Jane S (New Mexico)
I can remember a time when a running mate was chosen by ability not gender
Suburban Cowboy (Dallas)
Running mates are chosen for geographic, electoral politics. Except in the case of Geo W, where Cheney was chosen to be the co-president.
Charles Focht (Lost in America)
As a Bernie supporter, my two main observations about this debate were 1) Biden held up well over two hours and should put to rest the suspicion that he is senile and mentally unequipped for the job, and 2) the questions posed by the panel were now more focused on America's problems instead of trivial goading of candidates to attack each other, purely to create a spectacle. Perhaps this was due in part to not having a live audience, much to our relief.
N (Texas)
@Charles Focht Agree, except Biden did once accidentally refer to the outbreak as "SARS".....did anyone else catch that?
Lorrie (Anderson, CA)
@Charles Focht My main take away on the Biden vs Sanders debate was that neither one zeroed in on the failings of Trump: his decisions, his rally behavior and inciting of violence, his lies, his lack of empathy, his incompetent administration, high turn over of staff, bullying, his tweets, his disrespect of our judiciary, his racism and more. I find it shocking that neither Biden or Sanders took the opportunity on live TV to expose Trump. My concern re the direction of our country under Trump, has grown exponentially upon reading "On Tyranny." If only Trump's base were inclined or able to read.
safeashouses (Columbus, OH)
@N The virus going around is SARS: SARS-CoV-2.
Cliff (CT)
A Sanders supporter since 2016, who will vote for Bernie in the CT Primary and vote for Biden in November. I think it was a good debate. I hope that Biden takes the time to rest and mull over his past positions, debate, performances, and responding to criticisms. Then he needs to come to resolution on how he will present himself against Trump. I think he would be wise to give credit to Bernie on opening his eyes and altering his positions on some issue. Giving credit, along with Bernie urging his people to show up, may give Biden the push he needs. Biden needs to be pushed by his own campaign on how he will respond to attacks agains his son. I think he should somehow make a case for supporting 2nd amendment. I have to say Sanders stance change on 2nd amendment tempered my support and I think sunk him in Super Tuesday.
DO5 (Minneapolis)
The nation is like an out of control train speeding towards a downed bridge. Engineer Trump jumped off the train as it passed a golf course to save himself and get in a round. Biden and Sanders have reassured the passengers either of them can save them all from disaster. Will one of them be able to get their hands on the controls before it’s too late? Too bad this isn’t just an old black and white Saturday matinee some of us boomers watched as kids.
grennan (green bay)
@DO5 ...matinee Or one of those paperback political thrillers picked up at an airport bookstore and left on the plane.
Lucy Cooke (California)
@DO5 America is like an out of control train speeding towards that bridge, representing infrastructure that the warmongering, Wall Street supporting, status quo protecting Republican and Democratic Establishment never saw as profitable enough to invest in... They never bothered to invest in health care for all, either. This pandemic is going to showcase the insanity of our healthcare systems, and make medicare for all look like the sane alternative. In 2017, the United States spent about $3.5 trillion, or 18 percent of GDP, on health expenditures – more than twice the average among developed countries, and the US routinely gets worse outcomes. That 18 percent of GDP can be rejiggered to pay for medicare for all. " Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017). The entire system could be funded with less financial outlay than is incurred by employers and households paying for health-care premiums combined with existing government allocations." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673619330193 The transition to medicare for all would be complicated, but the US used to be able to do the complicated and the difficult. President Sanders could do it!
Bach (Grand Rapids, MI)
This race is over with before the debate got started. Dems can’t actually govern without winning the Senate. Bernie is a long shot to help flip the Senate because his angry old man, you cheated me in 2016 to a party nomination for which I’m not even a member, has grown thin. Bernie has absolutely no political coattails as a result of his I-VT cantankerous. What will Joe DO? What has Bernie DONE? This election should be more than changing channels from the Apprentice to Curb Your Enthusiasm. Vote Biden for change that can actually happen.
Fran B. (Kent, CT)
Bernie Sanders demonstrated that he would rather repeat his stale, scathing charges against Joe Biden than recognize that the world is in a pandemic crisis and doesn't need his revolution to stir up more anxieties. It's all about context. Does anyone recall the FDR sequence/programs to alleviate the Depression? 3 Rs: Relief, Recovery, Reform. FDR didn't dwell on the missteps of the 1920s or the policies of Herbert Hoover. Biden is NOT for cutting social security NOW. That recognition of a problem was back in the deficit panic days, when liberals were suggesting pop the income cap on ss taxes and raising the retirement age. Same deal with criminal justice reform. Research now shows that leaded gas, paint, and water pipes seriously affected the brain development of children in dense inner cities, along with cheap crack/cocaine explosion. Petty crime is often the only business available to those with no alternatives. With reductions in lead poisoning, crime has greatly diminished. Biden has had 8 years of administrative experience nationally and globally. He's not merely a peer Senator to Bernie, who brags a lot about what should have been done, but he hasn't accomplished much by carping from outside the Democratic Party.
Aubrey (NYC)
One thing they both failed to do was to explain more about how the Trump response to CV has been reckless, unthought-out, and failing. For instance: Announcing that Google had 1700 people working on a testing website, only to have Google back off from that wild overstatement (false hope to Americans). Cancelling travel from Europe without informing Europe and without clarity, causing immediate harm to European carriers, chaos at the airports, US citizens getting gouged for 5K or 20K to get home in a hurry even though they didn't quite have to. Causing all that confusion at the airport, with thousands standing cheek to cheek in hallways for 10 hours waiting to be screened, without using resources like the National Guard to at least space out the lines and help travelers keep a safe distance. Biden did say he would have experts on a team doing daily briefings. He could have gone further to say for every action we will also try to mitigate the consequences or at least plan for them - that's called leadership. Sanders just changed the topic to his own longer term concerns - valid but not specific. So they both missed a moment. To Sanders heckling Biden on his past record, I bet a lot of that went over voters heads: that votes are taken in context. For me, Sanders' consistency has also meant that he stood alone and did not know how to join others in Congress in the search for consensus - his greatest weakness.
Gary Steele (Antioch)
I believe Sanders and Biden are actually good friends. Have you noticed there have been few, if any, attacks on persons between them? All business. Living proof that people who vehemently disagree can still be friends.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
True. I have a MAGA friend who is wavering now. Every single thing I have predicted to him about the CV has turned out to be right. Which makes me feel worse not better because I know where this is going if we don’t make changes fast. It might already be too late. Exponential growth, folks.
Jenna (Boston, MA)
IMO, what would have been a bold and productive move would have been for Sanders to say he is getting out of the race and uniting the democratic party behind Biden. They could then have focused the rest of the "debate" time on how they would be uniting the democratic party with the first order of business being to defeat trump. The country is not in any mood to listen to the "infighting" amongst democratic candidates who are fighting for the same cause. Frank Bruni's piece is spot on!
Robert (Out west)
Yep. Yes, it would have. Be a statesman, Bernie. Drop the ego, do what’s right. Sorry, folks, but he’s NOT gonna be the nominee, and he’s NOT gonna help things right now by staying in. I think he knows it, too, and is running to keep oressing Biden to the Left.
beaujames (Portland Oregon)
I agree with your last paragraph. Biden and Sanders agreed that the most important step to moving forward is to replace the incumbent on 20 January 2021. I know of no Biden supporter who disagrees with that--every one of them who I know will vote for Sanders if he is the nominee, even as they worry that there are undecideds in the country who would be swayed by the Russian-GOP disinformation machine. Alas, I estimate that over 25% of Sanders supporters will sit out the election. It is but a small consolation that bringing in one undecided cancels out two abstainers. This could be close, and now is the not the time to demand an imaginary perfection.
Rick Moar (Bend, Or)
I thought it was a great preemptive move to signify a female VP. It took the wind out of the sails when reality show Trump plays a last-minute game announcing Nikki Haley as his 2020 pick.
Mark (Iowa)
I am afraid so many in this country will be shocked when Trump wins again. Same factors are in play as 2016. The country has not run off the rails contrary to what some will have you believe. None of the policy changes have destroyed us. Opposing ideologies is what makes this republic work, at least that is what its based on.
Richard Phelps (Flagstaff, AZ)
I hope Sanders's ego is not so large that he is unable to realize the need, very soon, to drop out of the race and give his complete support to Joe Biden. The longer he puts that off now, the more he helps Trump win re-election.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
Both Biden and Sanders are in a high risk group. Maybe he shouldn’t drop out just yet. If the unthinkable happens and we still have another nominee in the race, it’ll be a lot less disruptive than having to do the primaries over in a rush during a pandemic because the candidate died.
I worry about the general election. Voter turnout could be abysmal if the coronavirus is still around in November, which favors Republicans. Every effort should be made to make mail-in voting easily available nationwide, though it's obvious that Republican lawmakers will fight it all the way.
Rita Rousseau (Chicago)
@CHE Maybe they won't resist. The elderly tend to vote Republican.
KevBob (Novato, CA)
@CHE I've been saying this to friends for the last couple of weeks-most people in California are surprised when I tell them that there are still many states where you can't vote by mail!!
kladinvt (Duxbury, Vermont)
Back when there were 23 candidates to chose between, did anyone honestly image Biden as their first, second or even third choice as the nominee?
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@kladinvt I know plenty of people who have been supporting Biden from the beginning.
cbarber (San Pedro)
Do you think the world is going to change over this current pandemic Mr. Bruni? Did it change after the Spanish Flu of 1918- 1920, or the aids or polio virus epidemic's. No, the sky didn't fall in, and Sanders remarks about income equality will not change either. Economic inequality remained during Obama's watch, as it is now under Trump's. Biden will not change the status quo . Meet the new boss same as the old boss.
susan mc (santa fe nm)
dems will have a functioning cabinet made up of the best and brightest, not the blighted bunch we currently have. they need to shore up our institutions not tear them down, not now anyway. of course you could argue that since trump and his cronies have half way rid us of competence and good governance all we need to do is push and it will all fall down. but does anyone have an idea what that will look like, other than wishful thinking? there are variables that we don't think about in our passion for change.
John (Upstate NY)
The "big news" about picking a woman VP running mate just reinforces the whole notion of identity politics which is such a weakness for the Democratic Party. Under normal circumstances, I would hardly care who the VP might be, and I sense that way too much is made of hazy concepts about "balancing the ticket." But now, in a world where the actuarial realities are so much more real, I think we really need to consider the VP pick as a genuinely possible President. I don't want that person selected for the wrong reason, and telling me that you won't select a man tells me that you have arbitrarily ruled out many who just might be better choices.
WesternMass (Western Massachusetts)
Don’t think for one minute that Biden doesn’t already know who he is going to select as his VP. That decision has already been made and he already knew it was going to be a woman when he stepped on the debate stage. He used the decision to grab some front page for himself - not a bad ploy when you consider how hampered their campaigning is by our current circumstances. But he already knows. And my money is on Harris or Klobuchar.
Mari (Left Coast)
@John, you clearly do not get it.
ted (Albuquerque, NM)
Why oh why do folks (including Frank Bruni) insist on seeing this as a horserace, still? Two front rank politicians had the chance to debate ideas and issues almost for the first time. The United States is so steeped in competition, and I add, aggressive competition, that we are unable to discuss important issues and come to an evolved plan about the most important basic decisions of daily life. Healthcare first and foremost. Bernie is playing that old 33 1/3 rpm for a reason: the problem has not been solved by a long shot. I'm an old guy -- slow to bounce back from blows, but I am still reeling from McConnell's "nothing with Obama's name on it." That's no way to run a country. It just gets worse.
Audrey (Aurora, IL)
I don't know why people think the Coronavirus increase Biden's chances. Biden will not get any media attention and is forced to look like an armchair coach for the next months while Trump is very much the person in charge giving updates almost daily. Looking at China this crisis will be largely over by the election, so Trump will come out of this looking victorious and presidential. This is the war bonus that will get Trump re-elected.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
That depends greatly on what happens here in the next two months. If we end up like Italy, I doubt that is going to help Trump.
Rita Rousseau (Chicago)
@Audrey Trump digs his political grave deeper every time he goes on TV.
Lee (Southwest)
@Audrey Looking presidential? HOW?
nzierler (New Hartford NY)
In last night's debate Biden succeeded in rising from a sputtering candidate set back on his heels to a confident, articulate one who is clearly superior to Sanders and Trump in addressing crises. I love Bernie's passion and genuine caring for the needy but his far left ideology doesn't cut it when it comes to addressing a crisis.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
He’s not far left. His policies are akin to FDR’s, another man who did a pretty good job of leading in a crisis.
Glenn S. (Ft. Lauderdale)
I'm an Independent so I don't have a favorite but Biden flat out lied about cuts to Social Security. He should have explained why. I guess lying doesn't matter anymore thanks to Trump.
Mari (Left Coast)
@Glen, did you actually look it up? Because Biden didn’t support cuts to Social Security. But...I assure you that Trump is determined to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Tim (Chicago)
I'm sad we can't do better as a party than Biden, with his bizarre tales of "Corn Pop" and the like. But I was also sad we couldn't do better than Hillary, and that didn't stop me from voting for the candidate most likely to beat Trump in 2016 either. For better or worse, it's where we're at. Even if the better option is imperfect at best, and lacking vision, compromised by corporate influence, or senile at worst -- he'll be surrounded by good advisers. The other option, meanwhile, ignores science and asks for price quotes on alligators for a theoretical national moat. It's really not a tough decision.
Liz (Chicago, IL)
By November, the health crisis will be largely over whereas the economic fallout will likely not be. Both the President and the media move on to the next drama and crisis very quickly, that's just reality in 2020. The Coronavirus has changed everything for now, but that's not necessarily the case in November. The credit of any positive effects of legislation written and passed by the House, as well as actions by Mayors and Governors will go nearly 100% to Trump as people just think of Trump as "the government" in this crisis. He might come out of this exposed, but another realistic possibility is that he looks presidential and victorious at the end of this. Biden seems a bit more coherent now, but his baggage and repetitive "first, second" answers to every question are still very much there. Moreover, he can't get any traction as long as this crisis is ongoing whereas Trump is everywhere. I'm not optimistic.
Don F (Frankfurt Germany)
What "unwarranted panic"? If individuals are panicking, then it is not because of the virus itself, but because of the effects of the absolutely necessary measures to ensure that all posiible is done so that the epidemic becomes manageable. In that sense, the panic is warranted. There have been countless warnings over the last decade that our antibiotics will have to be recreated to deal with new diseases. That we should be "caught out" by a newer version of an already known Viral threat (SARS) is pitiful. The writing has been on the wall long enough. Too many of our political and business leaders have simply gone ahead as if "it will all work out somehow" instead of using the examples and the time available to put together realistic, sustainable contingency plans for events that were bound to happen and have now taken place. We are all to blame for this situation, but a higher proportion of blame lies with incompetent politicans and greedy business leaders. The 737-Max is for me a symptom of the same "viral" infection we suffer from.
Concerned (Brookline, MA)
“Emily, Emily,...He said it was warranted, not unwarranted. Warranted” “Oh, warranted. That’s very different. Never mind”
les izmore (portland)
please re-read what he wrote: "suited this moment of utterly warranted panic."
Michael (CA)
The title of the column calls the panic warranted, not unwarranted.
Robert Mills (Long Beach, Ca)
Sure they differed in their ideas, though not a lot. But they agreed that their job was to support EVERY person in the US and become a leading ally within the rest of the world. True public servants!
Kelly (New Jersey)
This past Friday I was on a call with 40 or so small business owners from across the country. The anxiety and raw emotion some were feeling was palpable. This health emergency, real and dangerous as it is, is cutting through the small business sector like a scythe through ripe wheat. It is as if small businesses across the country were already infected and this version is indiscriminate as to which small enterprise it will prove fatal for. Our members are doing everything they can to protect their employees, their customers and their families. It would be reassuring to us if our leaders spent a little more time highlighting how we as a country will recognize the reality we face. With no access to unemployment benefits and scant savings, with no ongoing means of making our lease or mortgage payments or income to put food on our tables, we need some sense that the precariousness of our situation is understood. Neither candidate spent enough time articulating what can be done to save the small business community from the disaster we are already up to our necks in.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
I have two jobs. One is for a small business, the other is a gig job related to travel, which has already tanked. Neither can be done from home. I get a grand total of one paid day off every 6 months, and I cannot carry unused ones over until the next year. I live paycheck to paycheck. So I expect to be in dire financial straits in about 3 weeks. I see nothing getting done that is going to help that. You wanna crash the economy? You want the virus to spread? Don’t do anything to help people like me. Because there are millions of us and if we all lose our income that’s going to crater consumer spending. If we have no income, we will be forced to work when sick, spreading the virus more. I have serious doubts that the billionaire in charge understands the problem.
Lee (Southwest)
An intrinsically decent guy who promises a woman VP and is eons closer to reality than Trump: what's not to like? We are in several modes of free-fall, and Biden is anchored in experience, basic humanity, family, and public service. I have supported him all along, but now I'm really grabbing on, because the last thing he is, is unpredictable. Turtles and decency all the way down.
AO (Oregon)
The very very best, wisest, decent and well experienced candidate should be selected for the VP spot, especially considering the age of our candidate (either one) and the mess that indecency and inexperience have brought us. It needs to be someone with whom the president can have a dependably trusting relationship. This may be a female and it may not be a female. I find it insulting to women that accolades are given when the woman spot is guaranteed. Isn’t it possible that the beat person for the job might be a woman? But now, well, it seems it has to be given to a woman because if we just pick the best candidate we might not please these identity politics folks. It looks silly and weak on the candidates’ part. But anyway, vote blue, no matter who.
MsHoney (Madrid, Spain)
I am very opposed to identity-based selection in most instances. But the VP choice is always identity-based. The best person to succeed the head of the ticket is not a big consideration. Ticket-balancing, pulling in voters to whom the head of the ticket may not appeal, is the name of the game. Geography matters, strong polling on key issues matters, age matters, ideological leanings matter. Why shouldn’t gender and race matter? They are just two more factors in finding a winning combination, a combination that appeals to the broadest spectrum of voters. At this point the head of the ticket is certain to be an elderly white male from the East coast with a long-service in government. There are many competent females who could balance that ticket as well as being a worthy successor if necessary. Let’s nominate one!
AO (Oregon)
You have a point. I get ticket balancing and all. It’s been going on forever I guess. I just have the ridiculous dream that a first decision of our soon-to-be Democratic nominee would demonstrate their concern for the welfare of the country over politics. Wouldn’t that be a dream? The welfare of the citizenry put first. Having a well qualified decent person there for an 80 year old president. We don’t know what form cognitive decline will be taking in three years. It’s a big deal. Of course, picking the best person may mean a woman and it may not. But no, politics comes first. Pick a woman. Make em happy. Yuck. In the scheme of things though, this is just ridiculously unimportant. Stay well everybody.
Chris Rasmussen (Highland Park, New Jersey)
Frank Bruni mistakenly writes as though the coronavirus pandemic is somehow entirely separate from our healthcare system, the influence of pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and economic inequality. But, of course, the world doesn't work that way. Diseases, whether they be the potato blight of the 1840s, the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, or the coronavirus, don't occur in a vacuum, but in actual societies. The spread of a disease, our susceptibility to it, our response to it, and our ability to survive it are all shaped by the society in which we live.
John Jabo (Georgia)
Panic is not a strategy, warranted or unwarranted. Leaders, in the media and politics, rise to the occasion when crises explode upon the scene.
Michael Kennedy (Portland, Oregon)
What came across had nothing to do with winners and losers of this debate. What I saw last night was an event that has been sorely missed in America for a long time. I saw two well informed, passionate, and strong people argue like adults. They disagreed, but they also respected each other. They didn't snipe, glare, insult or dismiss one another. They both showed leadership and concern for America. Who won last night? The America of honesty, decency, and inclusion. The America that can pull together and do its best to move forward. The America of Trump, FOX News, and childish chicken-littles - a product of fiction - lost to reason, reality, and courage. The Trump era, whether they know it or not, ended last night.
Chris (SW PA)
I love when the rich east coasters panic. The poor will live like they always have. No need to panic for them. Their lives have hardly changed. The only reason things are shutting down is so the poor know the wealthy are frightened. Unfortunately this will be used by the government to remove freedoms and further disadvantage the poor. It's always the solution to real threats. Load more responsibility on the poor and protect the corporations.
Glenn S. (Ft. Lauderdale)
I'll say this. Every debate should be without a live audience. The candidates didn't have to try an answer to get the most oohs and awwws from the audience. There was no yelling and screaming. There is absolutely no reason to have live audiences at any debate. Trump wouldn't be President if that was the case in 2016 either.
Steve (Seattle)
Last night's debate is how a debate should be, focused and without the distraction of an audience and playing to one. One thing was very evident, both of these men love their country and treasure our democracy and its traditions. It was not about them but us. Donald your days are numbered, you're fired!
Pat Choate (Tucson, Arizona)
Biden’s solid performance virtually guarantees that Trump will find an excuse not to debate him this Fall. As always, Trump will find some reason that the rules are unfair. Trump knows that he has made so many mistakes and is so vulnerable that he cannot defend himself against a competent political debater such as Biden.
Michael (San Diego)
I’m curious of Biden’s approach and the supposed assumption that taking it directly to Sanders. I was waiting, in vain, for Joe to plainly say, at some point, the following: Bernie, I respect your views, and your unflinching UNwillingness to get aboard major pieces of legislation that represented months of negotiation and significant compromise. But your ideological purity is simply out of step with way in which our great but flawed process of legislating works. It’s rarely all or nothing. It’s compromise, both when your in the majority and when you’re not. Your ideological stance on the issues makes for a great pulpit of ideological purity, but by the same token, never really accomplished anything. I’m here to results.
Curt Barnes (NYC)
Still, I will be surprised if Trump agrees to debate the Democratic candidate, not because of the Democrat but because Trump will face tough questions from the moderators themselves, questions he is afraid of. Unlike his "helicopter" pressers or the coronavirus shows from which he feels free to exit early, his feet could be held to the fire unless he either produces a proper answer or fades into incoherence. He will most likely insist of a Fox News-led event or nothing. Biden would (or should) reject a Fox format; hence no debate.
Glenn S. (Ft. Lauderdale)
Certainly with no live audience.
JayCasey (Tokyo)
It was a good debate all and all. But there is no need for panic - I disagree with you there. Biden is right - we'll get through it if we keep our heads and pay attention to science. Say no to panic.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
It’s hard not to panic when your income has vanished & your government does not seem to get the fact that you cannot live on nothing indefinitely
Joseph M (Sacramento)
You can tell who owns lots of stock or has a business with supply chain issues because they tell everyone about 'unwarranted panic'.
KenThe Vibe (A)
Mr Bruni’s observation that Biden’s debate performance vs Sanders bodes well for his ability to square off against Trump supposes that Trump will agree to debate the Democratic nominee. Why would he? Trump gets massive adoring audiences for his solo shows slavishly carried by FOX. A real debate can only hurt him.
Bonnie (Mass.)
@KenThe Vibe Who would vote for a scaredy cat faux president who is too chicken to debate? There is nothing Trump can say or do to change the clear evidence of his vast narcissism, ignorance, and incompetence that has been on display daily, and continues now.
Mike (Republic Of Texas)
"There was a life-threatening, nation-shuttering, wealth-decimating crisis at hand." 75 years ago, we fought a war on two fronts, as far from America as could be had. Now, our country and the rest of the world, has come to a halt, from a virus, modestly more dangerous than a cold. A specific segment, elderly and/or health impaired, face a risk of death. The rest will have a pneumonia type of experience and others will have a low or no reaction. For this, we have brought the world to a stop. This virus did what no other man made institution has been able to do. So tell me, how did we win World War II?
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
For one thing, this virus does still kill some younger people. And even if it wasn’t the case, those older people are our loved ones. They absolutely matter & we need these restrictions to keep them safe.
climate refugee (Hot Springs AR)
@Mike You're out of touch at best. You're letting wishful thinking blind you to what's happening. A relatively small portion of the population was overseas fighting those wars. This crisis affects everyone, promises to strain our profit-based "healthcare" system to the breaking point and has consequences that will touch everyone. No comparison to the past wars.
magicisnotreal (earth)
@Mike Because republicans weren't actively trying to destroy the nation. That is how. They have very carefully destroyed every single government agency they can think of which might provide protection in advance for the people from any harm. They want the rest of us to live in the third world while they use our money to live in the first.
RC (Washington Heights)
"But there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality..." There is nothing "strange" about connecting the dots from the spread of a pandemic to income / wealth inequality in the U.S., to contrasting a national healthcare system (that would mitigate the damage we're sure to sustain) with our current capitalist, i.e. profit-motivated system. We can defeat Trump in November (assuming he doesn't cancel the election) but Biden's "let's heal" message is a non-starter for Americans who believe Trump is already healing our country from the scourge of immigration, regulation and political correctness. Joe Biden will attract none of these folks. Bernie's message, on the other hand can have a wide appeal. Sanders is demanding real change, a substantial rebalancing of our economy that returns (at least some) power to labor, to the workers who live paycheck to paycheck, who can't afford to miss a day's work let alone a prolonged quarantine. His plans prioritize average workers because they've borne the brunt of the destruction that neo-liberal policies, championed by both parties for the last forty years, have wrought. We have a chance to finally quit this course. Refuse to elect the same kind of leader yet again. Support Bernie Sanders for POTUS!
climate refugee (Hot Springs AR)
@RC What are Bernie's actual legislative accomplishments? He's been in the Senate for years. What legislation has he actually moved forward? What coalitions has he formed? What opportunities has he actually created through his time in government? I haven't gotten an answer to this question after posing it multiple times on many forums. Old man yells at the sky is not what we need. Real progress is painful and incremental and depends on acceptance of your starting point.
Smilodon7 (Missouri)
Ah, yes, the argument if we just do everything incrementally it’s all going to work out. It took 40 years for things to get this bad. I don’t have 40 years for it to get fixed!! We’ve heard time and time again how we must wait, wait, wait, be patient, while the billionaires take everything. We are SICK of waiting. We have repeatedly been promised change but nothing ever happens, our lives only get worse.
LIChef (East Coast)
And yet, we must wonder whether Bernie’s advocacy of such “luxuries” as an effective and efficient national health system and paid sick leave are exactly what we needed right now in this age of coronavirus. As he pointed out, our patchwork private-public health services have been insufficient and, lo and behold, government has had to take over in this crisis. Looks like socialism is perfectly fine when our lives depend on it.
EAK (Cary, NC)
I had a dream that Bernie and Joe would join together to talk about change and compromise. This country is like a huge tanker that can’t turn on a dime. So, let’s do the best we can in an unprecedented situation, get rid of the monster. No one has all the answers.
Prof (Pennsylvania)
That his presidency is only possibly destroyed ought to make you shudder. Even if his presidency were definitively destroyed, that only an unprecedented disaster could destroy it exposes the weaknesses of US political institutions that ought routinely to have prevented it from happening in the first place. The stress test was failed three years ago.
ASPruyn (California - Somewhere Left Of Center)
An absolutely smashing last paragraph. Lovely use of simple words to highlight the real problem we, as Americans, face.
magicisnotreal (earth)
Moderate means, Government by and for the people. That leaves out Biden, Trump and everyone but Sanders and Warren. The Hyde Amendment mention here made an old memory of some bible quote come to me. Something about "You will know them by their actions.". It is a way of addressing how one should deal with dishonest & dissembling rhetoric. IDK how it goes without being mentioned or pointed out for so long. The religious folks (GOP) whom have been aggressively dishonest and dishonorable in their efforts to impose their religion on us by law, who fully and joyfully support Trump, seem to me to be showing us who they are and have been for a very long time. Why doesn't all that dishonesty, lying, dissembling get reported as the proof of their lies that it is?
pedro (northville NY)
I didn't hear either debater say how their health care policy is confirmed by the success of Italy's state-run Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), which provides universal coverage to citizens and residents, with public healthcare largely free of charge. Oh, wait....
yulia (MO)
They could also discuss the S. Korea that became a single payer system in 2004, and although has more cases of corona virus than the US, mortality from the virus is much lower.
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
You didn't hear that because it has nothing to do with Italy's Covid-19 crisis.
Brian Thomas (Home)
@ Pedro Gotta love that line of reasoning. A worldwide Pandemic means Universal Healthcare “Does Not Work” .... But wait .... we’ve got the virus here and it’s spreading....
David Roy (Fort Collins, Colorado)
Trump believes in the power of money - period. He has lied and cheated to get whatever he has (he won't share that information), to the detriment of many others. He was always unfit to be President - it would have been a stretch for him to be elected dog-catcher, if we lived in a world without Russians and Fox News.. Now, the tides of history turn their unsentimental screws into him. Trump is the parasite who needs a host to survive - he has burrowed into the Republican Party, killing it, so that he can be adored, so that he can hear the applause, of those who revel in his darkness, taken over by him. The majority of us (and yes, we who not for Trump are the majority), will be left to clean up a mess of epic proportions, made to give homage to a man not worthy of a second glance.
Cynical (Knoxville, TN)
Neither of them reminded us of trumpy's incompetence. It's this incompetence from the very beginning that's led us down to here with the covid-9 panic. Repeating that he's a liar over and over again doesn't do much. Every one knows that, particularly the trumpians. It's what they admire in him. It's the incompetence, stupid.
climate refugee (Hot Springs AR)
@Cynical Trump reminds us of his incompetence daily....
Susan Fitzwater (Ambler, PA)
Oh gosh, Mr. Bruni. How I hate debates. Sorry to say that. We all remember (not first hand, of course) the celebrated Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. I DO remember personally the debates between Nixon and Kennedy, back in 1960. (Sixty years ago--time flies.) AND Carter versus Reagan back in 1980. (Time, even then, was busy flying on.) And so on. But Mr. Bruni. Any number of people can get on a stage--even with the cameras running and millions upon millions glued to their TV sets-- --and perform well. Mire their opponent in his (or her) own contradictions and ineptitudes. Score debating points. Rouse their hearers to fever pitch with some last-minute show of eloquence and insight. I'm not saying those things don't matter. Oh no. BUT-- "--the buck stops here." How's the guy (or woman) gonna do when he (or she) is sitting alone in the oval office? Preparing to sign--or veto--some crucial bit of legislation. Considering how to react--or not react--to some fresh outrage perpetrated by Mr. Putin. Or Mr. Xi. Or Mr. Jung-un. Or how-- --you get my point. Even Donald J. Trump--morally, intellectually destitute as he is--could score SOME debating poinits. But as a President, as a leader. . . .. I rest my case.
Alan MacDonald (Wells, Maine)
Emperor Trump boastfully, narcissically, and sociopathically bragged that he was instituting a “National Emergency” and informed the ‘little people’ that “those are two big words”. This insane, and wannabe Emperor of not just America, but he thinks “Emperor of the World” — has actually outdone Hitler, who only quietly passed the “Enablement Acts” — which were the two big words that led to that virtual Emperor of the Nazi Empire starting, what I refer to as the “Second World War of Empires”. You can’t say that Emperor Trump doesn’t talk-big, and think-big, but as the German people learned about those two big words, “Enablement Acts” — they led to hundreds of millions of deaths, the destruction of multiple countries, and as the late great Jewish intellectual, Hannah Arendt, warned her own German people, and all people who allow a cancer of Empire to grow in their ‘body politic’: “Empire abroad entails tyranny at home” — to which this faux-Emperor Trump is adding wholesale looting for the “Masters of the Universe” Empire, which Disguised Global Crony Capitalist Empire he was installed, as a puppet to deliver on a golden platter.
Philippe Egalité (New Haven)
When confronted with any aspect of his previous record, all Biden could do was tell lie after repeated lie. His entire previous record, with the exception of *finally* helping to shepherd in Gay Marriage (albeit via diarrhea of the mouth), is a conservative one. Not only this, very telling is the nature of his lies. “*I* made the Iran deal”; “*I* negotiated the Paris Accord” - uhm, no you didn’t, you might have had a chair in the room, but we all know that VPs - especially ones that tend to go off half-cocked - are basically ribbon cutters and position holders. This, in contrast, to Sen. Senators, who talks correctly about what *WE* must do *now* to prevent a global catastrophe within a decade. Biden has no real plan for this - he’s just doing what the “Corporate Bros” who run him have told him to say. He’s running somewhat as a centrist, but he’ll run rightward immediately - what woman is he going to include on his platform as a token diversity candidate - Nikki Haley?
Armo (San Francisco)
Keeping a screaming, booing, cheering audience out was the best thing to happen to that (last) debate. It reminded me of a much more civil time in our short history. Enough of reality shows and a reality show president.
CKA (Cleveland, OH)
@Armo I agree; I don't think they should have any audience in the future. I would also say that Biden (if nominated) should refuse to debate Trump. His campaign should say that it's not necessary because Trump does not really debate issues and lies so much that to debate him would be a disservice to all potential voters. The Reps can scream that Biden's afraid of Trump but let's be honest, there is really no benefit to Joe debating Trump. Instead, he should keep making speeches as if he is already the President and point out what he would do differently than Trump in our present situation.
@Armo Indeed, It allowed for a more free flow of info and a much more calmer informal discussion. I would suggest this be part of the debate format in the future. Not that the networks and cable will do this. They want ratings....a shame
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Armo It reminded me of the Kennedy-Nixon debate so many years ago. Everyone was civil, polite, professional and conducted themselves in a presidential manner.
Ralph Averill (New Preston, Ct)
On behalf of Joe Biden, let me say to Bernie Sanders what Biden may yet say to him in some form at some point. "Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for bringing to light issues that need to be addressed. You have done a great service to our nation. I look forward to your sponsoring legislation in the Senate to promote the causes you espouse. I will do all I can to support such legislation, and, if it reaches my desk in the Oval Office, in any form, I will gladly sign it."
NotACorporateShill (America)
@Ralph Averill he can say it but I assume it's being said for election purposes and put it the circular file along with Change you can believe in.
Mimi (Baltimore and Manhattan)
@EJ Dems taking over the Senate is far more likely with Biden at the top of the ticket. Biden campaigned for dozens of candidates for the House in 2018 - moderates who flipped Republican seats and gave the House to Nancy Pelosi. So I'm optimistic about the Senate.
Number23 (New York)
@Ralph Averill It's not Bernie Sanders who Biden will need to convince, it's his supporters. And that sort of lip service will repel them. And, Biden has already said that if congress passed a bill for medicare for all he would NOT sign it.
gratis (Colorado)
I'll say there is panic, especially in government. Colorado just OK'd purchases of equipment and increases in medical techs that the State Hospital has been asking for a couple years. A sure sign of the apocalypse.
RBW (traveling the world)
I really admire Bernie and he's absolutely right about many things - way too many things, unfortunately. But to me, last night Bernie came off as an arm-waving, bad posture, tedious crank - almost a Nixon of the left. And with poor judgement, too, as his unnecessary and counter-productive to his own cause remarks ant attitudes about Cuba and other dictatorships have shown. (Just because something is true doesn't mean it's smart to say it, as most children learn along the way.) Joe, too, has said lots of stupid stuff, some of which has been exaggerated or flat false. But last night he came off as the sort of person who could - and should - be our president, especially in times like these. Neither of these men are even close to perfect. But the best choice going forward is clear as voters have begun to show.
Painter33 (Delaware)
This may well be the last debate that we’ll see for another four years - there is little chance Trump will deign to debate Biden. He, Trump, will lie and wriggle and ultimately say he just doesn’t have to debate. He either knows that he cannot speak about his not-so great leadership that’s come clearly into focus (Coronavirus) or his weak policies to fight it, or he’s so outrageously delusional that he believes he is “king”. But mostly, his ego, narcissism, and other neuroses tell him he can simply stay away.
mouseone (Portland Maine)
@Painter33 . . .oooh. . .I hadn't thought about 45 refusing to debate. You lifted my mood. Thanks for that!
Don Jones (Swarthmore, PA)
Joe Biden missed a chance to respond to the question about Latino voters. Instead of outlining his broad support from everybody else, he coould have reached out to: conservative latinos, people of faith, dreamers, recent immigarnts and thiose who want to immigrate, etc. and remind them all tyhat they have no friends in the current administration.
stu freeman (brooklyn)
It's clear to me that Donald Trump, as a statesman and commander in chief, isn't fit to wash Bernie Sanders' socks. And I'm supporting Joe Biden.
TommyP (Minneapolis)
You don’t have to wonder if Biden knows the meaning of “responsibility.” When Trump was asked about it in his Friday rose garden press conference, he recoiled, assuming it means “blame.” No, it means accepting the job of being in charge for better or worse. Harry Truman said being made president when FDR died felt like a load of hay had just fallen on him. That is what Trump should feel. The buck really does stop with him whether he likes it or not.
Objectively Subjective (Utopia’s Shadow)
Frank, Biden’s support of cuts to Social Security and Medicare aren’t “decades old.” Obama proposed exactly those cuts as part of that nutty “Grand Bargain” he pursued with Republicans. According to Biden, Biden was in on everything in the Obama administration. Except these cuts? Sure...
mouseone (Portland Maine)
@Objectively Subjective . . .if the GOP hadn't been the party of NO! the Obama administration wouldn't have had to negotiate so closely to get even one single thing done. People forget how many obstacles 44 had to overcome with the party of No. Let's hope McConnell and his cronies are toast.
Doug (Port Ludlow, WA)
This is a fine analysis of what I saw last night.
RedDog (Denver CO)
Bernie won the debate because he deals in solutions, not symptoms. Here are two examples from last night. Let’s take the coronavirus. Joe agrees with Bernie that the government must pay for the testing and the treatment for all those affected. But what happens once the pandemic subsides? Joe goes back to our corrupt, costly healthcare system – adding to the cost with a public option. Bernie realizes that Medicare for All not only fights the pandemic but will keep us much healthier in the future. (The Lancet recently reported that it would save us $450B and 68,000 lives a year.) Or let’s consider the climate crisis. The Arctic News is a blog by climate scientists for climate scientists. Yesterday they published an article that showed that we have passed the 2 degree Celsius tipping point. This is a half degree higher than the Paris Accords temperature ceiling. The article goes on to show that we are on an exponential curve that could quickly lead to the end of human life on earth. We are on an ever-shrinking timeline. Bernie understands this. Joe does not. Bernie is fighting for our survival. Joe is puttering around the edges. Lancet Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/02/20/lancet-medicare-for-all-study/ Arctic News Article: https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/03/2c-crossed.html
Eric Cosh (Phoenix, Arizona)
Only one thing truly matters about last night; did Joe survive? I turned on the debate for less than 5 minutes. Why? It really didn’t matter to me. Joe Biden is the nominee and the only thing that could change that is a major medical or physiological blunder that would turn everyone off. What about Bernie? He’s not going to change; Period! Again, that doesn’t bother me. Bernie is going to be Bernie. What does bother me is what about his followers? It’s not going to be enough for Bernie to just say at sometime in the future, “I throw my support to Joe and I’m encouraging all of my followers to do the same!” That’s not going to happen, at least for his followers. The penalty for that political stupidity is another 4 years of Trump! After Tuesday, barring a tremendous turnaround by Sanders, Bernie should drop out of the race and go full in for Joe. Maybe given enough time to really campaign for Biden, some of his followers will come on board. How to do that? Biden should immediately hire as many Bernie supporters that they can to work to defeat Trump.
Christy (WA)
I wonder how all those conservative judges appointed by Trump -- or rather Mitch McConnell and the Federalist Society -- will benefit our nation in a pandemic? Maybe Mitch and Trump's other Senate enablers should have paid attention to Trump's failings in other aspects of governance, like getting rid of the epidemiologist task force at the NSC and funding cuts at the CDC and NIH? Maybe they should now consider Article 25? Or are they waiting for a million Americans to die?
Ann O. Dyne (Unglaciated Indiana)
OK, Biden then. Bernie for Attorney General and we'll see justice done right.
John (Virginia)
It’s time to unite and get Biden in office. There is no time like the present to show that we need competent, proven leadership in the White House.
one percenter (ct)
Bernie, has socialized medicine helped Italy during this crisis?. Biden, you have the chutzpah of, well, nothing. Stop the criticism of our President. We are lucky to have him in charge right now. Ok, so he exaggerates a little. He stopped flights in from China. He ain't so bad.
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
Thanks for contributing the details of your imagined reality to this conversation.
arjay (Wisconsin)
@one percenter Hope you and yours stay healthy. You prob have a pretty good chance, given that delusional bubble you are walking around in.
raymond jolicoeur (mexico)
So Biden was o.k.He survived. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Let´s see what happens when he faces the great bully. One word is gonna come up continuously: Hunter, Hunter, Hunter...
Tom Hayden (Minnesota)
All in all the Covid19 virus crisis pales in comparison to the slower-but-certain (and MUCH larger) crisis looming with global warming. I consider this a test run. Note trump’s response to global warming is almost identical to his response to the virus: denial, willful ignorance, ineptitude, lies and finger pointing.
Gary (Fort Lauderdale)
I guess it's time to bet on who will be the VP. I hope the three who shared the stage are big favorites. While names from Georgia and Florida have been floated, I think Kamala Harris, Amy Klobucher and Elizabeth Warren have all been tested and to some degree vetted by being on the trail. I'm leaning toward Harris and Klobucher because I think they are more aligned with Joe Biden. Please remember the Sarah Palin debacle. Please. While there are probably jazzier ladies on the horizon, and tempting ideas from Georgia and Florida are there any more qualified than the ones I've mentioned,
Liesa C. (Birmingham,AL)
Biden's soothing decency and vast experience will be a sharp contrast to Trump's nasty, arrogant ignorance. I predict an exhausted and traumatized electorate will rush to Biden for comfort and hope. IN the best case scenario, this translates down the ticket such that he will have a democratic house and senate and we can get traction on a Green New Deal to lift us out of the Trump/Corona recession and into a hopeful future. VoteBlueNoMatterWho2020
KC (Seattle)
Very difficult times are coming for the United States. Many are going to die, be impoverished, and otherwise have their lives irrevocably altered for the worse. It's going to be so much worse than it had to be--all because an evil little man took advantage of our differences, used them against us, and thereby enriched and aggrandized himself and his fellow ghouls. By the time this plague is over, Trump will have rivers of American blood on his hands. Never forget what the GOP and Trump have visited upon us and vote like your life depends on it--because it does.
Jim Pickett (Glenmont NY)
Every American is now asking themselves how they will get through this. I think the next thing is for Bernie to join forces with all the other candidates and get behind Biden. Let's face it. He will steer the ship out of the turbulent waters with the help of a large number of talented people. It won't be perfect. It will likely include some missteps as these are really uncharted waters we are in. But after the coast is clear, I think Biden will step aside, ride off into the sunset and let Stacy or Kamala take over. Which will drive Conservatives absolutely crazy. Not just a Black president. A Black Woman president. That will make the coronavirus look like a hangnail to conservatives. White men having to take a back, back seat. And you will have Trump to thank for that. And you thought you could work around him.
yulia (MO)
I am not sure about Biden. He seems to be prone to make significant mistakes as voting for Iraq war, or siding with the credit companies.
Mitchell myrin (Bridgehampton)
My few takeaways from last night are simple. Biden did not implode, and that was very good for him. Sanders won the debate when he went after Biden‘s record. The pandering to women announcing a female vice president, and a black woman for the Supreme Court,Was the ultimate pandering and distasteful.
D. Erickson (Port Angeles, Wa)
Or honest. Bernie acted like he hadn’t even thought about it. And the, “there are progressive women out there,” statement? Gee, thanks Bernie—talk about pandering.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
A complete waste of time and effort. I told you so: it’s Joe. Now more than ever. We need someone who will actually listen to the experts, follow their Advice, and implement the best known practices to combat the Pandemic. The best thing that could happen in fighting this: Trump Resigns. Otherwise, the Governors and Local Officials are the warriors. Trump and His Regime are not only useless, they are hindering progress. Who could have possibly guessed ? NOVEMBER.
Professor Ben Smith (New York)
Biden tried to hide behind the Virus. He has no ideas to fix America and if he should win I would dread 4 years of him as president. Sanders is the man for the people. Too bad there are not enough honest people in this country to vote for Sanders. Biden has a terrible track record and it comes to haunt him every time he speaks. He cant hide behind Obama forever. I voted twice for Obama and I didnt find him a great president. He helped wall street get richer. Biden is no leader and we will waste 4 years with him. Sad
Kevin (Austin)
I found the debate FAR more informative without an audience clapping and hooting.
Jo (Maryland)
I doubt Trump will engage in ANY debates.
Lon Newman (Park Falls, WI)
Almost everyone is disparaging President Trump's sincere efforts to unite the country: he is worsening climate change, giving huge tax cuts to the rich and powerful, pardoning his cronies, obstructing justice, mishandling a global pandemic, and showing his complete lack of understanding or empathy. He does these things loudly, brazenly, repeatedly with racist, sexist, and homophobic undertones every day. If we can't unite against that,nothing can save us.
ps (12020)
I am still for Bernie. I think he is much sharper. If only the stupid democrats had gone all in for him. He needed the support of some of the other candidates who could be cabinet members, as well as some other prominent establishment figures, such as for instance the NYT editorial board. But thank you, Bill de Blasio for your endorsement. Bernie has run the entire democratic campaign both in this election and the last, and this is the thanks he gets. We do not need Biden, who is a vacillating, compromising, wishy-washy, half-baked, sentimental and sad old fellow who is here only thanks to the adulation of Obama by black Americans, backed by a couple of billionaires and James Clyburn. Wise up, people.
Stephen (Fort Lauderdale)
@ps "Stupid Democrats." Great way to try to change hearts & minds.
Deutschmann (Midwest)
“You can’t tell Americans to pull together at this frightful juncture if you’re pushing them apart. The Democrats seem to get that.” Except for the thousands of Bernie Bros and never-Bidens and other sore losers who would rather burn down the country than stray from their selfish orthodoxies.
yulia (MO)
Isn't it Biden's job to bring everybody together including Bernie's Bros? Of he can not do it, he should not run.
The Poet McTeagle (California)
"But there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality," Something strange about this statement considering the NYT also has an article called "As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread" https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/world/europe/coronavirus-inequality.html?
Marge Keller (Midwest)
It looked like a slam dunk for Biden and a bye-bye Bernie debate. I never imagined "March Madness" could ever be redefined by something like the coronavirus.
Kathy Lollock (Santa Rosa, CA)
If only all debates can be audience free. No distractions, no hyperbole, no emoting, no one-sentence zingers. Just the facts, sir, just the facts. We had before us yesterday evening two seasoned politicians who have each weathered the good times and the bad ones too. They each have made mistakes or misjudgments along the way. How can they not after years and years of public service in the glaring DC spotlight? It’s okay with me because here’s the crux, the difference between them and this failure of a man called Trump...PUBLIC SERVICE. Biden and Sanders both want the best for you and me and our millions of American neighbors. Of this there is no doubt. For me, I need a calmer pace to resurrect our waning democracy. I look for progress, of course. But not a revolution, not now for sure.
petey tonei (Ma)
Our cleaning lady is in tears. She is angry she thinks this is all a big fuss no one is sick and why should they shut down everything. We are reasoning with her and she finally gets it...we think. She is angry that the ladies in her cleaning crew have to eat and survive and if her clients cancel out on her, how is she going to pay them! They live pay check to pay check. We explained to her shutting down schools offices churches is all aimed at stalling the virus. Thank goodness we have Masshealth in our state, she buys health coverage for her ladies. Listening to her we realized fox news has downplayed the danger of the virus to such an extent people like her are actually mad that state officials are shutting down things. We are assuring her this is where the government can step in and step up so her crew of cleaning ladies don’t starve and should they fall sick, they will get the help. Bernie is right, he is an angel on earth, to you he might sound repetitive but you have to step into the world of inequality to feel what it looks like in their shoes.
Stephen Csiszar (Carthage NC)
@petey tonei Some repetition is actually helpful for remembering. Look what the gop mindless repetition has gotten us in the past 40 years. Right where we are now.
Marcia (Texas)
@petey tonei And you could "step up" too and pay your cleaning lady more these few weeks until we are over the hump. We are all doing our part to help each other.
petey tonei (Ma)
@Marcia yup we will do that we told her we can buy her masks and gloves so she can reassure her clients they are immaculately professional. And of course we will help food wise as well.
Bob Krantz (SW Colorado)
Sorry, but panic is never warranted, at least for adults who want to take constructive actions in times of crisis. On the other hand, promoting panic does have benefits for those who want to use emotion to sway public opinion for political gain (and for media appeal).
Jazzie (Canada)
I agree that the number one priority has to be defeating Donald Trump. But - what has happened to America that this is not self- evident? I still sense a note of concern that there is yet the possibility that a man who has been a disaster to both your country and the world still has a chance at re-election. If we think it is bad now - well, the future would be truly Apocalyptic.
William Case (United States)
During Sunday’s debate, Joe Biden accused Republicans of lying when they say he favors open borders. But he also said: “Number two, the first 100 days of my administration, no one will be deported at all. From that point on, the only deportations that will take place are commissions of felonies in the United States of America.”  How could this be described as anything other than an open border policy? It means that no one who steps onto U.S. territory could be removed unless they commit a felony. This means anyone who sets foot on U.S. soil could not be required to leave unless they are arrested and convicted of a felony. This would apply not just to illegal border crossers but any of the 76.9 million tourists who come to the United States each year.
Rea Tarr (Malone, NY)
@William Case We don't deport tourists. Not even those who don't understand the meaning of the word.
William Case (United States)
@Rea Tarr When Biden says deportations, he means not one will be forced to leave. We force tourists who overstay their visas to go home. If they refuser to leave voluntarily, we arrest and deport them.
SMS (Rhinebeck, NY)
I look forward to a Biden election in eight months, his assuming the office of the presidency in ten months. We have no idea where we--the country--and the world will be by then. No idea. Even so, it's the waiting, waiting, waiting that gets me down.
American Abroad (Iceland)
Biden gave me the reassurance and comforting and presidental tone I seek in these troubled times Lucky for Biden that his exaggerations and occasional outright fibs, which, in normal times, might have been showstopper headlines, pale against Trump's minute to minute pathological and outright loony lies. In fact, they might ironically further boost Biden's lead, assuring voters he's mastering the art of the spin that he'll need in his fight against Trump.
StuartM (-)
If, and it remains an "if", Trump ultimately shows up for the one-on-one presidential debates Biden could be in a semi-coma and still have a better grasp of facts and statistics and policy than the rambling incumbent who can barely string two coherent words together - even the big ones. Trump's go-to position will be to insult, smear and demean, he'll be trashing Obama and use Hunter Biden like he used Bill Clinton against Hillary. Joe's achilles heel is remaining calm under fire, especially when his family is dragged back through the muck. In the light that of that has happened of late, and is sure to develop in the meantime - if he can keep his cool the choice for November will be clear.
Robert Scull (Cary, NC)
Two points: 1. It is too early to tell if the American health care system will outperform the European health care systems in its management of the coronavirus health crises. The facts are not in yet. 2. In foreign policy it is always a mistake to underestimate potential enemies. Acknowledging the successes of those enemies is wise. Underestimating enemies because it is politically correct is at best foolish...at worst calculated McCarthyism. A good example of this time-tested error is underestimating the Communist Chinese in the trade deals. Bernie Sanders did not underestimate the Communist Chinese. Almost everyone else did.
Nora (United States)
A very apt skill that Frank and the majority of NYT's columnists possess. No matter how well Bernie does or how sincere Bernie is,there is always the snide remark or 2 or 3. Kind words about Fidel Castro? Obama was much more positive and forceful about Cuba's educational and healthcare system in 2016. I get it.The majority of the columnists are neoliberals. I do think the majority of them may want to hang out with some working and middle class folks to understand what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck,worry about their children's college education,paying for health insurance,let alone a health emergency,saving for retirement.
JABarry (Maryland)
The president has been devoted to "pushing [Americans] apart." Unlike Democrats, Trump does not comprehend that in a national crises Americans want to pull together. But there is much more than the fact that Trump doesn't get it. Trump's only talent is to praise himself, attack others, scapegoat others, denigrate others -- he is master of the art of divisiveness and self-aggrandizement; he is artless when it comes to bringing the people together, to healing an ailing and fearful nation. As Biden moves closer to cinching the Democratic nomination we worry about Sanders' followers (will they unite with Biden supporters to save America?), but we have no fear of a Biden - Trump debate. Since Trump is a bag of foul wind with no command of facts or the truth, it is inconceivable that he will ever appear on a debate stage with Biden. He will find excuses which will always blame Biden or someone or something for why he can never debate Biden. So don't, as in past elections, look for debates leading up to the general election. Trump is frightened of Biden. He will avoid debates and use other means to attack, blame and denigrate Biden. That's just who Trump is - a divider, not a uniter.
Essex County (MA)
My take: 1. Biden keeps America from falling further into the abyss 2. Bernie keeps America moving forward Given our current state of affairs, one must come before two.
yulia (MO)
But wouldn't it just keep America permanently on the edge of abyss, as it happened in 2016?
magicisnotreal (earth)
@Essex County Maybe you somehow don't know that Biden is pushing for the abyss? He and his fellow coward fake democrats are what got us here by going along instead of fighting back.
Essex County (MA)
@magicisnotreal You are right. The democrats (perhaps with the exception of Pelosi and company) have not served us well. I guess when it comes to defeating Trump I am quite risk averse.
Andy (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Joe Biden could have sneezed on the moderator and Frank Bruni would still call him a winner. We know who writes your paychecks Bruni. You can spare us the insult to our collective intelligence. Neither candidate changed their stump speech. Biden is the "I know Obama" candidate. Sanders is the perpetual "millionaires and billionaires" critic. What changed? Old people are terrified about their stock portfolios. They therefore flock to Biden. That was true before pandemic. The only difference is a tanking economy gives Biden a remote chance of actually winning. Young voters are once again told to wait their turn while the planet burns. We should note pandemic is a climate related event. The IPCC repeatedly reported a warming climate means new and more dangerous infectious disease. And yet, Democrats are still dead set on incrementalism as if 401ks are more important. Better than denial but not by much. That's like saying a missing arm is better than a missing leg. If nothing else, pandemic has shed a very garish light on everything wrong with our economic system. From healthcare to daycare, we are seeing the underlying vulnerabilities which make our society so fragile to shock. Vulnerabilities which Biden helped create and the Democrats still support. Sanders certainly isn't the perfect messenger. However, he's got a point. There is something wrong with America that needs changing. Democrats are running for a safety blanket instead.
Robert Scull (Cary, NC)
Two points: 1. It is too early to tell if the American health care system will outperform the European health care systems in its management of the coronavirus health crises. The facts are not in yet. 2. In foreign policy it is always a mistake to underestimate potential enemies. Acknowledging the successes of those enemies is wise. Underestimating enemies because it is politically correct is at best foolish...at worst calculated McCarthyism. A good example of this time-tested error is underestimating the Communist Chinese in the trade deals. Bernie Sanders did not underestimate the Communist Chinese. Almost everyone else did.
John (Madison, Wisconsin)
I hope Bernie stays in the race for a while - at least until the Wisconsin primary election on April 7. A two person race will draw more democrats to the polls which could help dem-aligned Judy Karovksy get elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court currently suffers from a 5-2 conservative- liberal split. Karovsky's opponent, Dan Kelly is a staunch conservative, a graduate of Pat Roberston's Regent University and a member of the Federalist Society. Wisconsin's right-wing (former) governor Scott Walker appointed Kelly to fill a vacancy on the court. Kelly had previously defended the extremely gerrymandered voting district maps cooked up by the Republican legislature in federal court. He also does not believe in any kind of formal recusal rules for justices on the court. F, ronemt elect a
Clayton Marlow (Exeter, NH)
One wants to make cuts to Social Security. One wants to expand it One has a history of making bad decisions when under pressure. One has a history of being on target when under pressure. One is going to prioritize corporatocracy and wall street over people One is going to expose corruption and push for a government that represents the people. One is republican lite One is an FDR democrat. FDR said The only thing to fear is fear itself. The American people are going to vote out of fear. Again.
NY Times Fan (Saratoga Springs, NY)
Of the two, Bernie Sanders would clearly make the best president. His mind is quite sharp and he is articulate unlike Biden who struggles with memory and coherent speech. Bernie's revolutionary ideas are exactly what the US economy and the global climate changes are demanding. In every way, Bernie would be the best president. Except for electability. Bernie insists on calling himself a "Democratic Socialist". That alone makes him unelectable in America. Too bad for Americans that they are so stuck in the past and many hardly even know the difference between Communism, Socialism and Democratic Socialism. Bernie COULD help them (and himself) out by calling himself a "Social Democrat" but he refuses to do so. This rigidity makes him unelectable. And even if Bernie could be elected (because so many people revile Trump) he would not be able to bring along enough Senators and Representatives to enable him to enact his grand plans. Too bad for America! So Joe Biden it is, I'm afraid. He's a good-hearted, decent person with a wealth of experience. He will be surrounded by lots of great people who will help him get the job done. But it won't be big solutions for big problems. Biden solves one enormous problem: the viciousness of the racist, immoral, incompetent Trump regime. Perhaps he can the GOP out of government as well.
David Gifford (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware)
Sanders tried to tie “Medicare for all” to being better prepared to fight Coronavirus. Does he not know most of Europe is on a this type of system. Little it has done for them. Better insurance is not going to stop a virus. Biden seem to understand this. It is better leadership that will help in such a crisis.
Jay Orchard (Miami Beach)
In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, yesterday’s debate was the equivalent of arguing about the appropriate arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic.
Barking Doggerel (America)
A reasonable take on the debate. But the assertion that we are experiencing unwarranted panic was never explicated. The "panic" seems warranted, although we should restrain our behavior. I'm worried about my children, grandchildren, neighbors and the world. My modest retirement is going from "modest" to "marginal." We have a dangerous fool in the White House, surrounded by mean-spirited sycophants. What's not to panic about?
Gerard (PA)
There is a constant desire for Sanders to change his message; his consistency is seen as intransigence; his certainty as hubris. Why is it so hard to conceive that he might simply be right?
Brad Blumenstock (St. Louis)
Why is it so hard for Bernie and his followers to understand that a strict focus on ideological purity on his part, were he the nominee, would very likely result in four more years for our current Liar-in-Chief?
akp3 (Asheville, NC)
Down-ballot is HUGE in this election, and Joe brings SO MUCH MORE to that. Bernie ... go back to the Senate and work hard for your issues. You will have great influence, particularly if the Democrats flip the Senate.
BSR (Bronx, NY)
We must harness our fears about both the pandemic and our off the rails president. AAA. Action Absorbs Anxiety. We will wash our hands, not touch our face, keep six feet away from others and GO to the polls and defeat the Republicans in November.
William (Minnesota)
Political debates and deliberations that don't address Trump's lethal lies and evasions in this crisis, with ideas about how to contain his malevolent influence, are secondary to the nation's highest priority. Come on Biden and Sanders! Aim your fire at Trump, not at each other. Then voters will decide who can best beat Trump.
Welcome to Hard Times (Truth or Consequences, New Mexico)
As a Bernie Bro, I am more than a little chagrined that Bernie treated, at times, the debate as a sporting contest: "You, Joe, did wrong in the past, and I did the opposite, so I'm a better choice." Not a good look during a pandemic. I don't care which person does the right thing today, just that somebody needs to do it. Dissing the other chap to score points is childish and counterproductive. We have problems. Let's solve them together, not try to push, shove, kick, scream, and elbow our way to the top of the pile for some vain reason. I will vote, ultimately, for Joe's platform; check out his website. If he really tries diligently to enact his stated policies, we will make great progress in 2021 and beyond.
Stephen (Fort Lauderdale)
@Welcome to Hard Times Thank you for showing that not all Bernie Bros are sanctimonious jerks. Hope your position becomes the norm.
Welcome to Hard Times (Truth or Consequences, New Mexico)
@Stephen Thanks. We are panicking, some of us, because we know a new Bernie is not in the offing, the effect will be that tens of thousands will suffer and die due to lack of universal healthcare. But maybe Joe can do something; I'm pulling for him: lives depend on it.
Bill Devlin (Bradenton, Fla)
Again too many lame questions from the CNN moderators; first off, what was the point of finding out or even asking what each would do about COVID 19 if either were POTUS right now? COVID 19 mishandling is Trump's to own and eliminating the department that was created to lead in the event of an epidemic was his to own; which he will not. A better question would have been to discover "how, as POTUS, will you provide the infrastructure and leadership needed to battle future epidemics"? Bernie sounds like the broken record that he has become and as Mr. Bruni states he just pivots on each issue to his "eat the rich" agenda. Biden held his own and Bernie appeared unable to advance much of anything or even how he would put wheels on his agenda. I do not want to watch another Biden/ Sanders debate; hopefully we won't need to.
Metis (Illinois)
a "totally warranted panic" - no. Closing restaurants, schools and telling people "stay home" - what about people who don't know how to cook (a lot), don't have the money for more than a day or two of food, or the homeless? The NYT addressed the overcrowded prisons and the virus, now what about the homeless? Ok, everyone stay home - & watch the garbage build up. Before this too many people did not have enough money for more than paycheck to paycheck and now the bottom has fallen out. All the candidates have sound bytes of truth, but none of them seem to have a real plan that encompasses everyone. Perhaps "preferred providers" of medical supplies, like China, will never happen again, perhaps the supply chains of food and goods will be rethought, but for now we have to make sure communities take care of everyone in their community. Trump, Sanders, Biden - hoping there's a semblance of sanity by the time of elections. We are past ideas, we need rational actions that take into account everyone and the reality of our worker society.
MDH (Michigan)
I suggest that the Democratic nominee, whether it is Biden or Sanders, refuse to debate Trump. Trump should not be given several platforms during the fall to lie and spread falsehoods in a format in which those lies and falsehoods cannot be anticipated or rebutted. The Democratic nominee will, of course, be accused of being "afraid" to debate Trump. But this may also be viewed as a means of bringing some truth to a presidential campaign that promises to be as ugly as any campaign in history.
Don (NY)
The best thing Sanders can do, at this point, with no obvious path to the nomination, is immediately to suspend his campaign to prevent people en masse from going to the polls tomorrow and surely- and this is a guarantee- have people spread this virus even more. Senator Sanders, if you’re reading this, accept that you won’t win, and show the country your leadership by taking this pandemic seriously and remove the risk for both your supporters and Biden’s.
gratis (Colorado)
Disagree that panic is warranted. Agree with FDR. Take precautions. Control what you can control. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. But none of that is "warranted panic". I deplore that what the only thing going viral faster than the illness is the culture of panic.
Hugh Massengill (Eugene Oregon)
So what is it about the Democratic Party that it today has many people who can be trusted to step into the White House and do a credible job, compared to the Republican Party which has...Mitt Romney? I think it is because they value government as a cooperative action. Republicans just think government gets in the way. But government is complicated, like being a pilot or being an expert in quantum mechanics. You cannot just walk in, say you are a billionaire, and do a good job. The plane would crash, and as far as faking it regarding understand physics, not possible. Hugh
mjs79 (Minneapolis)
@Hugh Massengill Agree- when you look across the country at state and local officials who are stepping up and getting the job done along with meeting with the media to provide accurate information, encouragement, and support, more often than not they are Democrats. They have a deep bench.
susan mc (santa fe nm)
@Hugh Massengill really all you need to do is look at the cabinet in a trump administration and understand that the democrats will choose a better team with their eyes closed. and we know that republicans are so blinded by their agenda to turn america back to the 50's, to gut women's health care, to soil the judiciary with reactionary judges and to despoil our finest institutions, that they are incapable of leading anyone other than their base.
@Hugh Massengill Exactly. But Americans think that if you have a lot of money, (a) You must be very smart and (b) You worked very hard to earn that money. Usually, both are false. This is why we get TV celebrities, actors, talk radio personalities etc, as leaders. These people have the charisma that people with knowledge and experience lack.
Laurence Bachmann (New York)
Some of the criticisms Bruni makes regarding Sanders' position in a pandemic crisis are unfair. True, Sanders can't claim Biden's experience but what does political expertise matter in a crisis such as this? An intelligent, humane president would step aside and 1) follow the advice of health care professionals 2) implement their advice while providing financial relief to citizens and businesses 3) pronounce reassuring bromides to keep folks calm. That's the job. Any smart, compassionate politician can do it. The problem is not Biden's or Sanders' "qualifications", it is the president we have now is neither intelligent nor compassionate. Whoever replaces him will be a vast improvement. When this "social distancing" crisis is over we will return to the nation's enormous problems of income inequality, inadequate health care and climate change. Let's stay focused on who is best for the next 2, 4, or 6 years. Not months.
Number23 (New York)
Nice summary of debate and analysis. I must admit that it was a little frustrating to me, and I'm sure Sanders, to listen to Biden make the claim that action on wealth inequality and medical coverage was something that needed to be done now not in the future. Two moderate democratic administrations over the past forty years have advanced, not corrected, the disparate flow of wealth. The idea that a Biden administration would provide any relieve, let along immediate, is laughable. Sanders also missed a chance to seize on Biden's comment that we have to take care of the coronavirus situation now and worry about addressing long-standing problems later. Many citizens, Sanders should have responded, face a crisis/emergency every day. It shouldn't take a pandemic for the the government to take action.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Number23 Your comments on Biden and Bernie are the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The ONLY issue concerning us is GETTING RID OF TRUMP. Especially now. Nothing else matters and can be worried about much later on.
Laurence Bachmann (New York)
@Butterfly You're allowed to have your own priorities. You don't get to tell the rest of the world what theirs must be. Also, we can hear you WITHOUT THE SHOUTING.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Laurence Bachmann I'm flattered. I didn't know I had the power to tell everyone what their priorities are. The sane and intelligent people agree with me about GETTING RID OF TRUMP. Trump is a threat to us all. Whether you agree or not.
Paul Shindler (NH)
The run against Trump will be a nasty war - because of Trump. Hopefully, the basic decency and solidness of Biden will win out. Sanders gets credit for bringing long overdue issues front and center - most importantly single payer health care. It is now becoming, not if, but when - which is exactly right. Biden saying he will pick a woman running mate most certainly must mean Elizabeth Warren - which is a superb choice.
Hugh Massengill (Eugene Oregon)
@Paul Shindler Isn't her Senate seat open to be given to a Republican if she leaves? If that is true, though I would love to wake up day after the election and see her in the White House, not gaining the Senate would be disastrous. Hugh
Stephen (Fort Lauderdale)
@Hugh Massengill I believe Massachusetts law requires a special election within 3 months to replace a senator.
Laurence Bachmann (New York)
@Paul Shindler He'll never pick her: he's said unequivocally that the philosophies must align--that means a moderate like Klobuchar or even more likely Harris. Plus her Senate seat would go Republican for four years--a Republican governor would appoint the replacement.
WDG (Madison, Ct)
It's quite possible that a pastrami on rye could beat Trump in November (if the election is actually allowed to be held). So Democrats should be weighing which candidate will better serve Americans post Trump. Bernie hasn't put a price tag on Medicare For All, but neither candidate has projected the cost of keeping businesses and workers afloat during this coronavirus crisis. The proposed $50 billion stimulus amounts to less than one day of GDP. Multiply this by how many days regular business will be on hold. And each time a new covid-19 victim is identified, the shutdown will continue. We could be looking at a year or more before things get back to normal. So our so-called "national debt" might almost double from $23 trillion to $40 trillion or so IN ONE YEAR. Point is, if expanding the "debt" this much is actually the responsible thing to do, then what is Joe getting so bent out of shape about? Worrying about the price tag for Bernie's Medicare For All plan is peanuts by comparison.
Scott Franklin (Arizona State University)
If a tree fell in a forest, where nobody was around, did it make a sound? I mean really...I am excited for anyone we nominate, but what did we learn from last night's fireside chat? The question: who was acting like presidential and who was acting like they want to be president? That's my barometer for voting preference: who is there right now and who is ready to trounce the impeached one.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Scott Franklin Easy. Biden acts Presidential. Bernie hangs on.
LTJ (Utah)
I believe if one came at this debate looking for our next leader and not already convinced, it was extremely useful. Facing a unique crisis today, Sanders was basically unable to deal in specifics and constantly pivoted to his talking points about structural inequality. Sanders actually seems excited that COVID is an opportunity to promote his “revolution,” while Biden was speaking about what specifics he would undertake. I did not view Sanders as “authentic.” Instead, he seems incapable of adjusting to new realities, a frightening prospect for a leader, and was unprepared for questions and comments such as why Italy is triaging the elderly, or even commenting about naming a female VP. Sanders’ stubborn defense of dictators shows an inflexible, perhaps too elderly mind. Biden also did not look remarkably agile, but listening to him I got the sense he actually cares about people instead of making a point, and I believe he would be able to put together teams of talent that Sanders could not. Finally, Sanders does not seem to think through his views beyond his rhetoric - the answer Biden gave about the 2008 bailout was perfect. At that time, destroying the banks would have crippled our economy and thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Today, when we need all hands on deck, Sanders blithely proclaims the scientists and MDs who work in industry as “crooks,” and when we need to bolster our economy, accuses every business exec as dishonest. Biden in a walk-off.
John (Virginia)
Hopes that somehow the Corona Virus is an opportunity to turn around Sanders’ fortunes in the primary are misguided. Biden is still the likely nominee and our best chance to remove Trump and change congress. It’s time to keep an eye on the prize and that’s a win in November.
Charles Michener (Gates Mills, OH)
Biden was presidential and positive - calm, open to learning and listening. Bernie was, as usual, alarmist and negative about how awful things are. Biden understands the kind of leadership the country needs in an unprecedented crisis. Sanders, with his eye on "revolution," does not.
John (Cactose)
@Charles Michener The "revolution" is 90% twitter talk and nothing more. Sanders support has actually diminished, not increased. The greatest trick his campaign and his supporter pulled over the last year was pretending that they actually represented the "will of the people". The reality is that Sanders and his supporters remain a fringe movement, nothing more.
michael cullen (berlin germany)
Bernie has great goals -- health insurance, student loans, etc., but no realistic way to achieve them. Someday, perhaps in 30 years or so, they will be the law, but right now, getting rid of Trump is the only mantra we can subscribe to. Bernie would do the US and the world a great service if he bowed out under the understanding that Biden would sign legislation in Bernie's direction. And Bernie has to promise, as well as possible, to not hold his young and passionate voters to him and let them first campaign for Biden and then go and and vote for him. There is a hall for great Senators who never became President, and, if Bernie can throw his weight behind Biden, he'll be welcome next to the likes of Fulbright, Humphrey and Moynihan.
John (Cactose)
Biden put the nail in the M4A coffin last night, when he correctly pointed out that Italy's universal care system is faring no better than our own in the current crisis. Biden may give ground on other Progressive ideas, but he's savvy enough to know that M4A is neither practical, necessary or most importantly, a winning argument in the 2020 election. While Bernie comes across as a broken record, Biden shows off his political chops by navigating through challenge rather than trying to foolishly plow ahead, as Sanders so often does. Biden 2020.
Moses Khaet (Georgia)
@John Our health care system has yet to be tested. Many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip.
Cariad (Asheville)
@John Two points: Italy has more hospital beds per capita than the US, and we are at least 10 days behind Italy in exponential growth. Testing wasn't limited to those with insurance, so Italy also had more confirmed cases per capita - you can't measure what you will not acknowledge exists. See how confident you remain in the US performance if we are unfortunate enough to follow the same disease progression.
John (Virginia)
@John In fact Spain and France are doing no better than the US.
Markymark (San Francisco)
I'm not looking for 'healing' if Biden is elected. I'm looking for a president who will spend the next four year ensuring that republicans never control anything ever again - at the local, state, and federal level. I want to see a new Attorney General prosecute every single republican who has broken the law during Trump's reign of terror.
John (Cactose)
@Markymark Get real. None of this is going to happen, nor should it be a priority in a Biden presidency. Taking on the Republicans head-on is exactly the kind of mistake that Sanders would have made had he won. The intelligent thing to do is find and engage with the moderates, use the bully pulpit to marshal popular support, and find common ground to achieve actual lasting change. You may not believe that's possible, but the very fact that Biden is going to win this thing proves that many more people believe it is.
eksmom (Denver)
@John Your recommendation would be fine if there were any moderates in the Republican party.
John (Cactose)
@eksmom Don't confuse solidarity within the Republican party for a homogeneous hive mentality. Republicans tend to vote together when ideological extremes are thrust together. Outside of that, there is a clear record of certain Senators and Representatives breaking ranks on key votes. Either way, the fact remains that there are more moderates (both liberal and conservative) in this country than those in the ideological extremes.
John LeBaron (MA)
I follow politics closely, through thick and thin. Although I regret it, 45 minutes into last night's "debate" rendered it utterly unviewable. My wife and I turned off the TV before turning in. What should have been a serious and somber conversation about the national exigency in face of an immediate crisis and a countrywide imperative thereafter descended into a food fight between two schoolboys. The food was well past its sell-by date. What a profoundly depressing pass for a country in desperate need of sober, thoughtful guidance! We found none of this tonight. That tonight's event devolved into such a circus was not primarily the fault of the moderators. After all they are not fifth grade recess monitors.
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
I didn't even remember that the debate was happening. Doesn't matter though. I'll vote for either Biden or Sanders, whichever one is the candidate in November, if I make it to November, that is. I'm almost 70, so in the in-danger age bracket, though my general health is good. We can't really count on the future now, can we? But, assuming we're past this crisis and some kind of normalcy is restored by fall, I hope to do my tiny part to kick all the Trumps to the curb, where they belong.
Ann Wong (Durham, PA)
Bernie did not learn the lessons of 2016. How can he expect to win the nomination of the Democratic party when he is a Democrat only at election time??? He doesn't put in the work for the party, campaigning and fundraising for down-ballot candidates. So why should Democrats and the Democratic party support him? If Sanders had formed his own party to run in 2016, he would have built an organization to support his ideas, and he would've challenged the Democratic party to become more progressive in order to compete.
Linus (CA)
Senator Sanders should now drop out and work his progressive causes through the candidacy of Joe Biden. Let us focus on healing the nation and getting rid of the virus, hate, and divisions dogging this exceptional county.
Some of yesterday’s debate felt gratuitous, particularly picking apart one another’s prior votes and words. What counts is what each potential president would do in the present and future. The most informative segments were about coronavirus. Each man showed that there are things we can do in the present to ensure that we have a future.
JT - John Tucker (Ridgway, CO)
Sanders promotes his voting record but not his legislative accomplishments. He has few. His legislative career is a lesson in how the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. His presidency would likely have been the same. He made no bad vote on a trade deal, but made no trade deals. He made no gains to better immigration policy because the legislation was imperfect. Would he similarly fail on climate change? Health care? He does not work well with others. FDR had 70 Dem senators vs. 26 Republicans in 1935. Biden will be lucky to have 51 Dem senators. A Sanders candidacy would have risked Pelosi losing the House majority. A populist demagogue shouting "We need a revolution!" is more exciting than a slogan of "Incremental change!" But that's what works in a Republic. I would have voted for Sanders against Trump. I think his oft repeated goals rally Republicans and can only be obtained incrementally. I know the exigencies of poverty, racism, climate change. I don't want righteous indignation or moral superiority in support of legislation that will not pass. I want to see them addressed. All Dems know health care is broken, the poor & middle class abandoned, the environment and Republic at risk. Get out of the race and do not aid Trump/McConnell in what is now a vanity tour. Conceed today and avoid risking citizens' health in the primaries. Quit taking money for a lost campaign that could otherwise support Dems in senate and House races. Enough!
Matt (Crouch)
@JT - John Tucker incremental change has failed, at least economically - where it really matters. We have incrementally gutted the labor movement, chipped away at environmental protections, permitted the increase of essentials like health care , education, and housing to the point of becoming crippling; and adjusted tax policy to favor the creation of ultra-wealthy elites who can spend infinite dark money to craft laws of their design to benefit themselves. "Moderate" has shifted, such that FDR's policies seem like a revolution to us now. I want to see the real issues addressed also - but they have NOT been in any 'moderate' administration, and I do not believe they ever will.
OKC (Southwest)
@JT - John Tucker A fantastic assessment of Sanders' many weaknesses. As a former supporter of his, I think Sanders is acute at recognizing and speaking on the many failings that have roiled American society. However, he has repeatedly failed to put forward an actionable plan. At some point, rhetoric needs to translate to policy to consensus to action. During the debate, Sanders had a whole lot of rhetoric, but very little insight into how to actually, actually, actually improve the lives of Americans. His attempts to address the Coronavirus crisis were vague and wanting, not reassuring in the least. Biden is exactly the leader we need to steer this ship on course and begin implementing the kind of progressive, practical policies that will actually make a difference in our lives.
WalterZ (Ames, IA)
If Biden's evasions, inconsistencies and episodes of flawed judgment were correctly identified by Sanders why did that get a pass by the moderators? If Sanders raised fair, even necessary questions about whether, on issues like climate change, Biden’s proposals were more timid than the stakes demanded, why was Joe allowed to float above the details to paint a gauzier picture? Why is it strange for Sanders to repeatedly pivot from the pandemic to income inequality, to corrupt pharmaceutical executives, and to how many billionaires have contributed to Biden’s campaign? The connections are significant with regard to the severity and COMPLEXITY of the situation we find ourselves in with this pandemic. Biden's selective retellings and lavish sugarcoating of votes and comments he’s made in the past should not only alter the current trajectory of the Democratic contest but cause thinking people to take a hard look at who he really is. To state openly that the biggest question about Biden in this debate was whether he could keep his sentences from running out of gas on a road to nowhere exposes something that has mostly been understated among the MSM. Finally, if people are looking for results, Sanders made powerful cogent arguments for a smarter healthcare system, clean energy, affordable education, and other policies that are not reckless in the least but aspirational and necessary.
It was oddly comforting to hear the candidates discuss the coronavirus pandemic - not because they trivialized it, like Trump does, but because they understood the magnitude of what this health crisis means. It was a reminder that there are responsible leaders waiting in the wings.
Now that the race is down to Joe and Bernie, Joe is polling consistently above 50% in most or all national and state polls. It is obvious, who will be the nominee. However, the vitriole about Joe by Sanders supporters just continues to amaze and frustrate. Many of them are willing to make the same mistake they made in 2016. The objective is to win the election not lose it. Our party sometimes works deliberately to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. Read your history sometimes it does repeat itself...I know....I worked hard for both McCarthy and McGovern.
Lefthalfbach (Philadelphia)
Bernie has Fought-The-Proverbial-Good Fight but the numbers are clear. The gap in delegates is going to widen state-by-state going forward. He can leave the field with his head held high-but Wednesday morning will be the time for him to do that.
Wanda (Kentucky)
Bernie cares about his ideas, and he has a point that a crisis is an opportunity to prepare for the next crisis. Biden was unfair--and the press and Republicans--for trying to paint Sanders as a lover of authoritarian regimes. Yes, we can be glad that Cuba educated children and offered health care and still be appalled at human rights abuses. But politics has never been about nuance. And Sanders, I think, wanted to make the correction and at the same time, is enough of a politician to know why Biden was doing it. But I think both of them care not just about their egos and ideas, but about other people. And that sets them worlds apart from the current occupant of the White House, whose trumpet of me, me, me sounds especially hollow now.
just Robert (North Carolina)
Biden was on his game last night, responsive and on point. But if I had one criticism it would be that he might have taken a moment longer to reassure Sanders voters that he understands their concerns and his candidacy takes their desires seriously. It is a time for unity not only for the nation but the democratic party as well.
@just Robert "But if I had one criticism it would be that he might have taken a moment longer to reassure Sanders voters that he understands their concerns and his candidacy takes their desires seriously." Yeah, except he doesn't understand our concerns and has LITERALLY said that he has no empathy for us.....
Richard Winkler (Miller Place, New York)
Bernie and his supporters believe that his unwavering support of democratic socialistic policies makes him consistent and credible. While I appreciate his dedication, the reason he was able to find so many inconsistencies in Joe's 40 year political career is that Joe is a politician--and that's not intended to be a pejorative. Over 40 years, attitudes change. So do priorities and even beliefs. Joe was an effective legislator and vide-president. He developed relationships. He compromised. He took some risks. That's politics and I'm looking forward to having a politician back in the White House.
John (Virginia)
@Richard Winkler Exactly. Biden got stuff done while Sanders was unwavering and has little to actually show for all his time in congress.
Stephen Hyland (Florida)
@Richard — Biden should have pushed back on Bernie’s leadership question by asking him to point to actual accomplishments in the Senate and to how Bernie managed to pull together other Senators to pass the legislation he proposes. Bernie talks a great game but how many times has he gotten the ball across the goal line? Bernie’s correct - we need a real leader, but it ain’t Sanders. That’s why I voted early in Florida for Joe. And Joe knows Trump blows!
@Richard Winkler "He developed relationships. He compromised. He took some risks. That's politics and I'm looking forward to having a politician back in the White House." Risks like the Iraq War!? I'm sorry, but the fact that ANYONE who openly supported the Iraq War can get even a single Democratic vote, let alone have the success Biden has had in the primaries, shoes me, categorically, that I am not a Democrat. I came to the party only in 2015 to vote for Bernie. When Bernie exits the stage I will be exiting with him. I'm not alone.
Chris Rasmussen (Highland Park, New Jersey)
Frank Bruni writes that, "there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality, from the pandemic to corrupt pharmaceutical executives, from the pandemic to how many millionaires and billionaires have contributed to Biden’s campaign." I don't find it strained or strange at all. To me, the pandemic offers a visceral reminder that we need to create an economy, healthcare system, and government that serve every American. I will be relieved if Joe Biden ousts Donald Trump in November, but I will do not expect President Biden will seriously tackle economic inequality, our too-expensive healthcare system, or our broken and corrupt campaign finance laws. We face momentous, interconnected problems that require bold solutions, not a continuation of Democratic Party centrism.
Stephen Hyland (Florida)
@Chris - but “bold solutions” are useless if you can’t get elected or, once elected, can’t get your bold solutions passed in Congress. LBJ, despite his failures regarding Vietnam, was an effective progressive who first demonstrated his effectiveness during his years in the Senate. Sanders has never demonstrated the leadership in the Senate he loudly declared we needed. As a candidate, he would be another McGovern or Stevenson. As a President, he would be another Carter — a decent but ineffective man.
Doug Keller (Virginia)
"...there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality..." Sanders bases his appeal on describing the problems. His 'solutions' are painted only in broad strokes, with crucial details missing or relegated to promissory notes. When pressed on how he would actually bring about the changes in time for it to make an immediate difference, he reverts to describing the problem. In the same terms that we have been hearing for years now. He in no way transformed from gadfly to effective leader. And he pushed his case by attacking choices (which he allowed were pragmatic) made by Biden decades ago — playing a game of gotcha that amounted to a non sequitur at this stage in the game. Different times, different circumstances, different necessities. That is why the debate got him nowhere.
Greg (Under the oaks, NH)
Doug Thanks for your eloquent recap. Agreed, Biden has much work to do to reassure Sanders' supporters that he'll engage and lead as they wish on climate and health.
Doug Keller (Virginia)
@Greg Thanks -- with Sanders' constant refrain, "Why can't we have -- health care etc. -- that other developed countries have," that question must be explored in order to come up with actual, achievable steps toward those goals, rather than treating it as a rhetorical question with which to bludgeon all other contenders. Why can't/don't we have those things? What are the actual obstacles -- in specific detail (not just blaming 'billionaires' and corrupt influences) -- so that they can be addressed? What are the actual factors in American society that resist steps in those directions— especially the ones that CAN be changed, starting now (and how)? The biggest obstacle is for progressives to treat any form of incrementalism or pragmatic measures as a sin and betrayal of 'the cause.' As long as the question "Why can't we" is treated as a rhetorical tool to excite Sanders' followers and to dismiss Biden, we get nowhere. Biden indeed needs to reassure Sanders' supporters (and everyone in the Party and the US) that he'll engage and lead on climate and health — and will be effective in doing so if he does it more directly and honestly by identifying the obstacles that must be overcome. Starting with 'how to pay for it' — which is something he is already doing, and Sanders simply is not. And Sanders supporters need to accept, in the face of reality (i.e. the answers to the question Sanders constantly asks) that it won't happen the 'Sanders' way' of "revolution."
Hiram levy (New Hope pa)
@Greg I think it is clear that the Democrats (led by Biden) have to build a campaign that does not depend on the Bernie Democrats. Many of them are a lost cause. It is the Bernie way or the highway for them.
Steven Weiss (Graz)
Health care, for all, or for some, was the dominant issue of this campaign, and now we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic. There is not doubt that universal health care, in whatever form, would be infinitely more helpful in saving lives during a pandemic that anything remotely similar to the US health care system. Biden's poke at Italy, was an extremely dishonest and misleading caricariture of the mayhem that is unfolding there. Europe's pandemic hotspot, with upwards of 250 mortalities daily, is not caused by an inadequate health system, private or public. We are talking about northern Italy, with high quality universal health care, and hospitals that are as good or better than most in the US. No system can handle an exponential explosion of critically ill, and I have deep fears that this will unfold in many localities in the US. Just a week or two of delay, and there is no way to catch up, the beds are simply not there. Each country is fumbling with their errors in reaction time and qualitative decisions to slow the spread or prepare for worst case scenarios, and I do sincerely hope that the US someone miraculously avoids another Milan, but I would not count on it. If it does, it will be based on luck, some fast and hard governmental decisions, and a whole lot of collective solidarity among its citizens, and not the structure of its health care system.
John (Virginia)
@Steven Weiss The US has a strong healthcare system. America’s major challenge is how we fund our healthcare, not how well our system functions.
Mary Sampson (Colorado)
I disagree. We do not have as many doctors or hospital beds per capita as other developed countries. Our system is disjointed & makes cooperation almost impossible.
John (Virginia)
@Mary Sampson The US system could potentially be far superior at a time like this. What we need is healthy infected people using telemedicine as is becoming widely available in the US. It’s best to keep people who don’t need hospitalization out of hospitals to slow down the spread of disease.
Hamilton Lagrange (Saxonville, MA)
Medicare for All, income inequality, and other issues are worthy of a debate on public policy, but right now we are in the early stages of a major public health crisis. We have two good candidates to choose from. Last night, one was focused on the problem right now while the other was focused on his policy playbook.
Bernie is a one-trick pony. This became increasingly clear during the debate. Biden, for all his (numerous) flaws, has much more to offer - or more accurately, much more of what we need right now. The revolution, while important, can wait.
Matt (Crouch)
@JB what luxury, and privilege, to be able to say that. A revolution in health care cannot wait for the uninsured with crippling disease, or young folks starting out with crippling student debt; but more importantly, it cannot wait for us to halt climate change and restore biodiversity right NOW.
John (Virginia)
What America needs is a leader that can bring Americans together and get the most out of the institutions we have, not someone who denigrates our system and divides us. This is why Biden is the answer we need.
Carol (North Carolina)
Bernie has been a force in the Democratic Party because he diagnoses our problems really well. And for this we should be grateful. The issue, of course, is that he really isn’t a leader. He’s an antagonist. And we need a leader—one who can unite, comfort, hire well, compromise (yes!) to get meaningful legislation passed. We are not Canada. We are not Europe. Do I wish we had Medicare for all? Sure, but we won’t because we are who we are as a nation. Corporate interests are part of our national fabric and we should regulate heavily and tax appropriately but quit trying to make corporate America the enemy. Joe understands that being an American president requires a balancing act between idealism and pragmatism that many young people find morally repugnant but which is absolutely necessary to our functioning as a democracy. Accept the messiness. It’s what really makes America great.
Andrew Hidas (Durham, North Carolina)
@Carol: Exactly right, thank you. Seems almost everyone I know expresses some variant of, "I agree with a good part of what Bernie says, but..." It's the "but" that makes all the difference, and explains Democratic voters' late, en masse break to Biden.
SRF (New York)
@Carol Corporate interests are part of Canada and Europe as well, but unlike us, they DO regulate heavily and tax appropriately. That's the difference that Sanders has been advocating.
ando arike (Brooklyn, NY)
@Carol For 40 years, Joe Biden has been a servant of corporate interests -- "part of our national fabric." He is part of the problem -- the dramatic shift away from the ideals and policies of FDR's New Deal to a government that serves the corporate oligarchy and throws the working class under the bus. This is not about a "balancing act between idealism and pragmatism," but about "Which side are you on?" Are you on the side of the One Percent or the vast majority? The Billionaire Class or the working class?
P Toro (Boston)
I agree that for many Democrats, we tuned in with fingers crossed that Joe Biden would hold his own clearly and without muddle. I think that he succeeded on that score. I was disappointed that discussion about the virus did not discuss enough of Trump's failures in this regard in the apparent total lack of pandemic preparedness on a national level and the dissolution of the Pandemic Response team. We can look to Korea for that- they knew it would come and they were ready for it when it did. We more than have the talent and capacity to do that; where was our federal government? This should be the straw that breaks the camel's back... a phrase that Biden might be apt to use.
Stephen Hyland (Florida)
@Toro - Trump’s failures, missteps and outright lies regarding the pandemic (among other things) are very clear to all but his most ardent supporters and his advisers and cheerleaders on Fox News. The time to go after Trump and remind voters of his failures and his grifting will be during the general election and this will be the best time to also remind voters of the Republicans who enabled him. Last night was about who was the best leadership of the Democrats.
P Toro (Boston)
@Stephen Hyland Thank you, Stephen, you are correct. And I'm sure it will come out. I'm just so anxious for us to move through the crisis and on to defeating Trump!
Anthony (Western Kansas)
The president will never get it and only a few members of the GOP get it. They remain in power through fear, not togetherness that creates a better country.
Bailey T. Dog (Hills of Forest, Queens)
Sanders has to step up, recognize that he will not be the candidate, and then go full blast getting his people to the polls to vote out every Republican everywhere. The price will be substantial Sanders input to the planks of the platform. It is only if we Democrats hold the White House, the Senate, and the House that ANY reconstruction can occur.
Tim Kane (Mesa, Arizona)
@Bailey T. Dog Yeah, that really worked last time. Progressives warned Dems about Hillary. They nominated her anyway. She lost. Then they blamed progressives for the loss. Once again Progressives are warning the Dems. Once again they are keen to nominate Hillary 2.0. When Biden loses, once again, Dems will blame Progressives. You can't do the bidding of <1% and expect to get a majority vote where it counts (in the rust belt).
Matt (Crouch)
@Bailey T. Dog no way. This is 2016 all over again, and it failed then. Sanders should not endorse biden unless biden agrees to implement medicare for all, a wealth tax, reform of the tax code, and a sane approach to climate change including a carbon tax, at MINIMUM. That is how he can serve american citizens best - Holding biden's feet to the fire. His supporters are his leverage to get a better future for all of us.
Bob81+3 (Reston, Va.)
Late last night, walking through a grocery store to pick up a few things, food items on the shelves in some cases were empty but there was a large abundance of food still available. Moving over to the paper section was another story, shelf after shelf empty. The fear of the coronavirus understandable as it is, causing panic to hoard, will be nothing compared to the devastation the climate change has the potential to cause in the future. Rest assured there will be devastation when food supplies are greatly affected and in short supply. The coronavirus will in time abate, even at tremendous costs, nothing will come close when climate change peaks, the return to anything close to normalcy could take centuries.
Carol Colitti Levine (CPW)
These two guys were debating their Senate votes from 30 years ago. This is what we're left with? Way to go, Dems.
John (Virginia)
@Carol Colitti Levine Sanders record is that of opposing progress. He has passed very little legislation and usually only serves to stand in the way of the incremental changes that we need. It’s not a time now to let one’s own personal ideology stand in the way of positive change. That’s why Biden is the best choice.
statusk (Indianapolis)
And remember We still need to flip the Senate and get rid of McCOnnell A huge priority to moving the country forward This means eliminating the filibuster for all legislation if the GOP CONTINUES THEIR OBSTRUCTION Biden gives us our best chance to do that
blgreenie (Lawrenceville NJ)
"You can’t tell Americans to pull together at this frightful juncture if you’re pushing them apart." That, for me, is the most important sentence in this piece. Trump does not know how to pull people together other than stirring hate to unite those for whom hate appeals. We do not presently have a national leader to pull us together. We must do it ourselves to support the battle against the corona virus and cooperate with the efforts of our state and local leaders.
John (Virginia)
@blgreenie This is why Biden is the best choice. He is hands down the best man to unify Americans when we need it the most.
raytekos (NYC)
No audience was also my takeaway. Its not a reality show. The at home-TV audience could more easily focus on their words not their landing of punches to audience cheers. Of course only 2 on the stage also makes a difference. I hope that the networks rethink how they present these important public moments.
SRF (New York)
Unmentioned in this article, or others I've read this morning, is that Sanders emphasized leadership as a key distinction between himself and Biden, pointing out that the ups and downs in Biden's record reflect his tendency to go with the flow and follow along. Sanders, by contrast, stood firm in support of protecting Social Security and voted against the Iraq war instead of following the crowd. In other words, Sanders has vision and is a real leader. But he's not one to attack. I think he went easy on Biden in the debate. It's true that Biden did not do anything embarrassing, and he is miles beyond Trump. He may be proof that nice guys can win.
John (Virginia)
@SRF Sanders is an opposition figure, not a leader. He has affected very little change and authored very little legislation that has passed during his long tenure in congress. A leader can unify America to face the threat of pandemic that we are now going through. Sanders as President would cause panic, anxiety, and division instead of assuring Americans. Biden is the man we need to bring out the best in Americans.
SRF (New York)
@John Sanders' ideas were adopted by all of the Democratic candidates to one degree or another. He has changed the conversation, putting universal health care and free education on the table, and rightly pointing the dominance of corporate money in our society and democracy. He championed these ideas when no one else was doing it, and the movement he founded earned such widespread support that he came close to being the Democratic nominee twice, even though he is not himself a Democrat in the card-carrying sense. THAT is leadership. Biden may well be more of a unifier, and I will certainly support him.
Sharon (Texas)
We needed a revolution from FDR to address the Great Depression and his call for drastic change to help stop it from happening again. In a pandemic with no universal health care or adequate job and wage protections, we need a revolution right now. And we need drastic, not incremental, steps to protect our planet to help prevent future pandemics. Mr. Sanders is what America needs right now. P.S. As a woman, I too, cringed at Biden's sudden, pandering announcement that he will pick a female running mate. At least, I suppose, he didn't say he had "binders full of women."
@Sharon FDR was a pragmatic liberal who was willing to try anything to address two of the worst crises in US history. He wasn't a revolutionary.
Conrad Noel (Washington, DC)
Precisely because FDR was willing to try anything to save the country from the economic catastrophe that had befallen it, he launched what amounted to revolutionary change. Is Biden willing to try anything to save the country from the multiple catastrophes that threaten the country and the world? I earnestly hope so. That would be true pragmatism.
S.P. (MA)
@NA — You don't get smarmyness that good except from a practiced professional. Sanders is no revolutionary. And his accomplishment transforming the Democratic Party's agenda was a product of pragmatic politics of the highest order.
Leonie (Middletown, Pennsylvania)
So you didn't see the knife go in, Frank? (E tu Brute on the Ides of March no less). After the debate David Chalian of CNN said it is not at all clear how the Democratic convention will go. Dana Milbank has written of Bernie: he is now a spoiler. Jake Tapper appeared to give Bernie a very long leash and the World Vision moderator skewered Biden on his lack of support from Hispanics. Only Dana Bash appeared to moderate the debate impartially. My take is that Tapper is more interested in ratings than in defeating Trump. An ongoing fight helps the ratings.
Greg (Under the oaks, NH)
Leonie You're right to critique the CNN moderators. The network has lost some of its journalistic integrity by having 'reporters' (they are news presenters and analysts, not journalists) convene these panels where uniformity of opinion is stressed and talkers (David Gergen excepted) race to see who can skewer candidates, all in the name of objective reportage. I'm not buying it. PBS News Hour is the standard by which journalism can be measured. All other networks genuflect in their own sly ways to dollars and to feeding the hysteria. Watch with care.
"But there was something strained and strange about Sanders’s repeated pivots from the pandemic to income inequality, from the pandemic to corrupt pharmaceutical executives, from the pandemic to how many millionaires and billionaires have contributed to Biden’s campaign. The world has been transformed; the script remains the same." Bernie's script has remained the same since the 1970s. Last night's debate put that fact in stark relief. During the debate, he referred to his past votes in the House and Senate as indicators of his "leadership." In the context of his performance last night and throughout his presidential campaigns, they are more accurately indicators of his particular worldview. We already have a president whose messaging and policies are directed toward just one segment of the electorate. Merely changing the script won't accomplish anything.
John (Virginia)
Biden will provide the calm and assuring leadership that Americans need during a crisis like this. Bernie Sanders would cause panic and anxiety. It’s not Sanders’ style to be reassuring.
CHARLES (Switzerland)
Frank, I had the sense that both candidates missed an opportunity relative to the crisis. They went along with the 'we will get through this' narrative. On Sunday, nearly 250 Italians died in one day! Nobody and no country has tremendous control over the pandemic. America, with its dysfunctional, unequal, inaccessible health systems will not be able cope with the pandemic when it hits the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Over here, I'm being challenged by people who can't understand why it takes less than a week to finance illegal wars, bail out banks, corporate welfare and tax cuts; all the while, when the national social and health safety net is actually flat on the floor.
I actually liked the fact that there was no audience. When an audience is present the debate becomes a circus.
Ober (North Carolina)
@RHA Agree. All the debates need to do this.
rls (Oregon)
@RHA It wasn't just the lack of an audience - there were 5 less candidates then the last debate. Strange, how the DNC waited this long to reduce the number of candidate from 7 to just 2 candidates. I wonder why?
frostbitten (hartford, ct)
I hope future debates will have no audiences. This one was refreshing - no pandering to the audience, well controlled by the both the panelists and the debaters.
Jay Orchard (Miami Beach)
The debate was anticlimactic to begin with, given that Biden crushed Sanders on Super Tuesday and in the subsequent primaries. Throw in the ongoing and worsening coronavirus crisis, and I couldn't help but feel as I watched the debate that the candidates' real attention was elsewhere. If that was the case, I don't blame them.
Leonie (Middletown, Pennsylvania)
We saw this differently as Bernie being for the most part completely unable to lay aside his bid for the nomination and being willing to stick in the knife at every opportunity. Even when Biden had only quietly said a sentence or two, Bernie's mouth was hanging open, he shifted his feet and appeared intense and wanting to overwhelm Biden and the country with his unarguably great debate gifts. Did anyone notice that after the debate, just as Warren had refused a hand shake, Biden calmly walked over to Dana Bash at the table and began talking to her, ignoring Bernie completely. Bernie was forced to walk unceremoniously away.
JJ (Chicago)
Biden ignoring Bernie shows his true colors.
JJ (Chicago)
Joe didn’t seem calm to me. He has a tough time taking criticism. And it showed. And let’s be clear...he has absolutely put social security cuts on the table. So I don’t think he was honest about that.
Thomas (Washington DC)
Of course Bernie kept coming back to the need for a PERMANENT robust social safety net for all Americans including some form of PERMANENT decent health care for all Americans. Because millions of Americans are in a crisis every day, irrespective of the coronavirus. And because if we HAD a robust social safety net and decent health care for everyone already in place, we wouldn't have to scamble so hard to get things in place now. Biden says we need to stand up these things on an emergency basis, but he doesn't actually have a detailed plan to get it done because we don't have one as a nation. Whereas, we wouldn't be starting from ground zero if we already had much of the infrastructure in place. It would still be a stretch, but systems would be there.
Tim Kane (Mesa, Arizona)
@Thomas The problem with healthcare is that the underinsured and the uninsured get sick and they spread their illness to the insured. Back in the late 19th century they discovered that open sewage was the source of cholera. The solution wasn't to just give sewers to the rich neighborhoods but to all neighborhoods. It's also the compassionate thing to do. The current healthcare system makes absolutely no sense except if you are a for profit insurer.
Ichabod Aikem (Cape Cod)
@Thomas Biden’s detailed plan to get it done is to have Warren be his v.p. She has plans and the wherewithal to see them through.
Kate (Los Angeles)
@Ichabod Aikem from your mouth to God's ears. I will be very, very surprised if he chooses Warren. Probably a more moderate woman will be chosen, since Biden has promised "nothing will fundamentally change" and if Warren has executive power, things would most definitely fundamentally change (hence Bloomberg entering the race as soon as she was gaining traction).
Roget T (NYC)
There was one vaguely interesting point in last night's debate. Sanders emphasized that the slow and inept US response to the the COVID-19 pandemic was an example of why Medicare for all is needed. Biden countered that Medicare for all wouldn't have prevented the present US crisis. In fact, Sanders is far closer to the correct answer. Just look across the border to Canada. COVID-19 is spreading exponentially, just like in the US. But in Canada you can get tested. In Canada there is a coordinated national framework and response. In Canada no citizen is worrying about how to pay for either testing or treatment. COVID-19 is still a serious challenge in Canada, but it doesn't have all the excess baggage superimposed on top of the situation like in the US. On this issue, like many historical issues, Sanders is again on the right side of the argument and Biden isn't.
SMcStormy (MN)
@Roget T /I agree completely. The US is in serious trouble. We are not prepared for this.... Our feeble, for-profit, publicly-owned corporations that make up our healthcare system, from HMO's to hospitals to supply chains all take a piece. This results in the poorest outcomes of all developed nations while we pay the most of it. American families will face financial ruin the likes of which haven't been seen since the Great Depression, and healthcare costs and ill-preparedness for a crisis like this will be a keystone in their ruin. . .
John (Virginia)
@Roget The US mortality rate is equal or better than other nations with a significant number of cases. That includes nations with single payer healthcare systems. A 1.8% mortality rate is exceptional under the circumstances.
Joseph (Wellfleet)
@John yeah, good luck with that thought, we're just beginning to hit the slope of the curve
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
"I suspect many Democrats tuned into this debate, almost certainly the last of the Democratic primaries, not to see Biden tested but to will him onward unscathed." Amen to that, Frank Bruni. I just wanted the assurance that Biden could handle two hours, one on one, with one of the best Democratic debaters there is. He could, and he did. In fact, he outperformed my expectations. Yes, it got tedious, and repetitive, and sometimes testy. But it never got even close to the level of mendacity, gaslighting, evasion, and lack of personal accountabililty shown by Donald J. Trump. There was a third person, actually, on that debate stage, a hulking moody presence who never spoke: the opponent Democrats face in a few short months. Covid-19 has changed everything, intensifying the stakes of this election.
memosyne (Maine)
@ChristineMcM Agree with you about Flint: and about lead paint. Here in the Northeast, old houses are full of it. As a family doc I saw what it did to kids. One pea sized flake will cause brain damage. HOWEVER: to do anything about anything for anyone will require a Democrat as President. The Republicans will do nothing for anyone but their campaign donors. Work for Democrats and then Lean on Us real hard. Remind us, daily, of our responsibilities to our people.
Doc (Atlanta)
Two hours of what civil discussion and argument looks like. Two adults engaged in debate over national governance. How very American. We have a tradition of one-on-one political debates like Lincoln and Douglas and Kennedy versus Nixon. They are important now more than ever as we determine who can save this country from devouring itself. While I now support Joe Biden, I am grateful for Bernie's contributions: new approaches; uncovering the wounds of inequality; the selling of America to Wall Street and the plight of the working and middle class who struggle mightily in this wealthy country.
Truth (Brooklyn)
Biden did not look like an adult. He laughed, mockingly at Bernie each time Bernie raised an objection. Bernie didn’t do anything like that. There was only one adult on the stage.
Potter (Boylston Ma)
The lack of audience was a positive. We are giving Biden a pass now given the circumstances? This is the best we can do against Trump it seems, Biden resurrected out of fear of Sanders. We will hope Biden can get it done. And yet Sanders deserves a lot of credit and admiration. Credit for pushing the stubborn positions of the moderates, at least in argument. Sanders keeps attempting to counter the "we cannot afford this" with "we cannot afford to NOT do this" regarding urgent matters especially regarding those left out, healthcare (especially now), higher education, climate change and on... Sanders deserves admiration for selflessly pushing on with vigor, even after his heart event. All the while hate and criticism from all quarters heated up after it appeared he was in the lead.
@Potter Sanders is in part the reason Trump is in office. There is no credit or respect that he deserves in my opinion. He's a one-trick pony that, fueled by an ego that compares with Trump's, refuses to stop pushing for the spotlight. And I have no doubt he'll be back in 2024, still railing against the 'corporate establishment' and assisting in another lost election.
Potter (Boylston Ma)
@MMNY This precisely what I mean about Sanders- hate. I don't understand it. Rationality would lead one to see that Sanders is far from "one trick" unless that so-called one trick is pushing for equality and a rebalanced democracy that includes all. "We are all in this together". Apparently the other candidates veering towards his positions think he has a point- a point which is also supported by the votes he has garnered. He has a responsibility to those who have not yet voted and to the issues he is pushing for (the Democratic platform). I doubt he will run again. Being swept aside summarily by those who are of your opinion would have made many angry and not done your cause any good.
PT (Melbourne, FL)
That debate has now become almost irrelevant. Both Biden and Bernie are good men, capable of leading the country out of the mess we are in. Biden currently has the momentum, and it is time for all sensible Americans to get behind him, full stop. Our democracy, and our way of life, is literally at threat. First by Trump. And now, by Trump's grave missteps in losing precious time, a virus. We do not need rhetoric. We need calm, good governance, and science-driven policy. Biden can deliver.
Please, please, please, let that be the last debate. Let's move on, coalesce for Biden and focus only on defeating Trump.
Misplaced Modifier (Former United States Of America)
Why not coalesce for Sanders and move on?
Stephen (Fort Lauderdale)
@Misplaced Modifier Because we want to win the White House, the Senate, the House and as many state and local offices as possible.
Tim Kane (Mesa, Arizona)
@BMD Biden offers me nothing.
ando arike (Brooklyn, NY)
Contra Mr. Bruni, the takeaway from last night's debate is that the coronavirus is showing why we need a Bernie Sanders presidency more than ever. His message, pounded home again and again, is that the growing capture of all political and economic power by the "billionaire class" is driving the world into crisis -- as the response of our for-profit "health care" system to the coronavirus promises to illustrate. Donald Trump, the epitome of the predatory, con-man capitalist, has fumbled the federal response to the virus because his instincts are to prioritize profit-taking above all else. He cares nothing for the "little people" whose lives will be shattered. Joe Biden and his ilk -- call them "neoliberal Democrats" -- have been devoted servants of capitalists like Trump since the Clinton era. The choice between Sanders and Biden could not be more stark.
LoveNOtWar (USA)
@ando arike Thank you for this clear and concise contrast between the capitalist greed of Biden’s position and the humane position of Sanders.
Matt (Crouch)
@ando arike unrestrained capitalism is literally incompatible with survival. Climate change, health care, automation. Socialism, or at least "Social democracy" vs. Barbarism
Liz (Philadelphia)
Bernie is right that we need big structural changes...now more than ever. Did either of them talk about WHY we are in the middle of a pandemic? It’s all about destruction of our planet, loss of natural habitat. This is likely only the first pandemic to hit the US hard, not the last. So yes we need massive changes in the way we live, not incremental change that will alleviate our short term anxiety, then back to life as usual. We desperately need a Green New Deal, Medicare For all and much much more. The American people and especially the establishment, democrats and republicans alike are still living in lala land. I am scared, not for myself, I’m 65 but very scared for my children and grandchildren. We were warned over and over that this would happen and we still don’t want to listen. It’s a fatal flaw of human nature.
LoveNOtWar (USA)
@Liz How can anyone fail to see the urgency for a green new deal and M4A? My partner was praising Biden last night and I lost any respect I still had for him. Moderation is not what we need right now.
Liz (Philadelphia)
And I just heard on NPR a discussion about how the economy will suffer because of lack of consumer demand. Our whole system depends on demand that requires continued destruction of the planet. Where are the leaders we need right now... People brave enough to tell us that the worst is yet to come if we don’t face reality. We are going to have to learn the very very hard way with unimaginable human suffering.
me (Pittsburgh)
covid19 is not the first US pandemic. it was not caused by loss of natural habitat. you are the one living in la-la land.
Taylor (USA)
The two national parties are going to offer Donald Trump, need I say more, or a Democratic candidate who has difficulty in putting two coherent sentences together more than one time. Fortunately, the Dems have passed on Sanders who would have been simply disastrous for the economy. A legitimate 3rd party will have a possibility to become a force in this country if the current trend continues regarding the quality of candidates. Perhaps, a good name for the new party might be the Common Sense party which is something that is missing in today's political discourse.
Fairwitness (Bar Harbor)
get two people in a rooom and see if you can get agreement on what is "common sense" and you will know your new party is impossible.
Leabharlannai (US)
If we think this pandemic is bad, think about what climate change has in store for us, including more pandemics. My vote is still going to Bernie Sanders because that he continues to hammer home all the reasons why we need fair wages, paid family and sick leave and action on this climate crisis is the reason why he, not Biden, reassures me in the present time. To me, Biden seems like he is being propped up by the past, Bernie is willing to see into the future. Not me, us.
memosyne (Maine)
@Leabharlannai But I hope you will vote BLUE in November. Trump has truly damaged America and a second term would be complete the disaster.
OKC (Southwest)
@Leabharlannai I do hope Biden moves to the left on climate change, but I find his plans far more practical and effective. He has a firmer grasp on what kinds of immediate executive action he can take as President in order to combat climate change. Biden has communicated his intent to support a carbon tax (Highly recommended by experts, opposed by Sanders) and new nuclear technologies (HIGHLY recommended by experts, opposed by Sanders). With Sanders, I can expect a whole lot of talk and little action. Biden seems to recognize the real "not me, us" -- that climate change is a global issue, and it will take a global diplomatic effort to combat the crisis.
Renard (Seattle, WA)
I was aghast that even during a pandemic, neither could mention that it's quality of care (including but not limited to whether there's a bed, a doc, a nurse, lab tech, and/or a vent around), not an insurance card, not industry profit margins, that determines whether the next critical case lives or dies. The government's mindless mazes and crony capitalism in everything from medical records to Medicare reimbursement models has spurred many early retirements, reduced the drug/device innovation we used to be known for, and wastes unbelievable time and money to meet truly Byzantine regulations. If we don't process this, any riff on "Medicare for All" (aka Mediocre Care for All) will only worsen both access and outcomes well past this pandemic. As for the golden fleece of single payor systems, I've been inside a few "top tier" hospitals under those systems. Access, yes. Quality? Not so much. Whatever the budget and red tape allows that day.
Thomas (Washington DC)
@Renard And yet they deliver better patient outcomes by many measures at lower cost. I've also lived under a West European system and the folks there would never trade it for what the US has. So go figure. Maybe the question isn't whether or not to give decent health care to everyone, but how to do it. We aren't doing it now, so why should we stick with the current system? Mostly because the health care industry has us in choke hold.
John (Virginia)
@Thomas The US healthcare system produces really good outcomes. America is at or near the top when it comes to many ailments, including cancer.
brupic (nara/greensville)
@John the united states of america is somewhere around 35th in life expectancy and way down the list for infant mortality rates. it has tens of thousands of people die every year because they can't get health care or wait too late. i can't imagine citizens of any other developed country trading whatever their system is for america's. americans are still trying to enter the TWENTIETH century when it comes to health care.
stan continople (brooklyn)
Biden's whole shtick has been about restoring the nation to some gauzy recreation of the Obama years. That's what's euphemistically termed "healing". Well, things have changed irrevocably, and there's no going back. The pandemic has revealed all the flaws in the system that Bernie has been talking about his entire career, but which Biden's establishment buddies have been loath to acknowledge because it might cost them a few additional bucks in wages and taxes. Nobody is going to emerge from this wanting a return to those halcyon days of bank bailouts, crushing debt, and healthcare for the few. It still amazes me that Biden has made no real overtures to Bernie's supporters, assuming that they are outweighed by the country club republicans who'll flock to his candidacy. Even the sop of embracing Elizabeth Warren's bankruptcy law seems a little perverse, because it never addresses the underlying factors of student debt. Biden's thinking on most matters ossified around 1972 and hasn't evolved much since. Even surrounded by advisers who do see him as an anachronism, he is just too set in his ways to make any meaningful change, so instead, he expects us to change to accommodate his inflexibility.
Peter (CT)
@stan continople Totally correct about Biden, in spite of which, let’s vote for him if he is the nominee. He is not the solution, but he is a step in the right direction.
Tim Kane (Mesa, Arizona)
@Peter By every definition of the times, Biden is not the step in the right direction. 2013 wasn't that great, but even so, it is gone forever. Everything Bernie asks for a super majority want. Biden will deliver nothing of these. To 90% of the people Biden will deliver nothing. The only thing he can deliver is that he's not Trump. That's a pretty low bar.
S.P. (MA)
@Peter — No. At best, Biden is a step away from the wrong direction. Still, I'll vote for him.
Ker (Ny)
I don’t think Trump will debate Biden (or Sanders). It’s another tradition that he’ll try to gut, because he has nothing to gain from it and a lot to lose. (I hope public pressure forces him to do it.) Hooray for Biden! (And Bernie.) He’s NORMAL. He has empathy and respects experts and loves his country. That’s enough for me!
Gail S (Nyc)
@Ker Biden's experience also counts hugely.
raymond jolicoeur (mexico)
@Ker Not enough for me:He is a very week candidate with a lot of baggage. He´s gonna get clobbered by the great bully. Just wait ´till the word comes up: HUNTER.
Panthiest (U.S.)
@Ker I've said from the get go that Trump will refuse to debate the eventual Democratic nominee. He'll bellow "I'm the president. I don't have to prove myself to anyone." He's an insecure blowhard who knows he will look bad in a debate with the eventual Democratic nominee.
et.al.nyc (great neck new york)
There were a few things made clear by last nights debate. It was much more informative and effective than the ineffective, unwatchable "made for Reality TV" shows that brought us to this place in America. Watch the HRC documentary. Would we be in this mess without those awful "debates", debates which allowed Trump to prop up one of the great nonstories of the past 50 years, the "emails", second only to Obama's birth certificate? Both men actually explained in enough detail to inform without hysterics. Refreshing. Then Biden demonstrated the benefits of experience, a forgotten metric in politics.
Phil Dunkle (Orlando)
The bottom line is that the person elected president in 2020 will appoint federal judges and Supreme Court justices. That person needs to be someone who is not named Trump. Voters will face a choice in November and it does not matter to me one bit what anyone said about Castro or Social Security years ago. I will gladly vote for whoever is nominated by the Democratic Party. In my view, Trump must go.
brupic (nara/greensville)
@Phil Dunkle barring some catasrophe, if either biden or sanders become potus, appointing scotus justices will be irrelevant. there are five conservatives now. the most likely opening is for RBG's spot, not a conservative.
Ron Aaronson (Armonk, NY)
@Phil Dunkle But if the Senate still has a Republican majority, and especially if McConnell continues as majority leader, I could see the Republicans doing to any Supreme Court nominee what they did to Merrick Garland. They truly have no shame and no respect for the oath they took to uphold the Constitution.
Tim Kane (Mesa, Arizona)
@Phil Dunkle That's not the bottom line if you are working class. Please see graph 2 at: Bit.ly/EPI-study The median wage has been flat for 48+ years, despite GNP growth of 150%, nearly 90% of the gains going to the <1% - the people paying Biden to run. Since some wages have gone up (health/tech) & some in good unions have floated (7%), the vast majority of Americas 160 million workers have had to suffer 48+ years of declining expectations, triggering opioid crisis, protofascism & Trump. These people's lives have already been ruined. What do they care about the disposition of federal judges. That's a 1st world problem. Congratulations on being bothered by that. The working class of this nation face something closer to 3rd world problems. Your ignorance or indifference to that IS the problem. And Joe Biden is a perpetuation of that problem, not the answer to it.
Valerie Elverton Dixon (East St Louis, Illinois)
Still not a word about infrastructure and the revitalization of cities. So much time spent on old votes while the people of Flint, Michigan are still lining up to receive their ration of bottled water.I
Alecfinn (Brooklyn NY)
@Valerie Elverton Dixon I believe that the current world wide health crisis is overriding most of everything else. I agree your concerns are important and have been important for a few years, but Corvid19 has shown itself to be a pretty nasty piece of work. It spreads fast and as a new illness can and is wrecking havoc across the planet. I am 69 years old and retired I spent most of my life working in healthcare facilities I don't recall any time where healthcare staff are getting ill in spite of protective clothing and procedures. The U.S. is lagging behind the world in this situation as the Administration was framing this as a political attack on the POTUS. And that's a shame... Just an old white man's opinion...
Rich Pein (La Crosse Wi)
@Valerie Elverton Dixon 60 Minutes did an update on the Flint Lead Poisoning Scandal. Former Gov. Snyder and some of his associates should be in prison.
memosyne (Maine)
@Valerie Elverton Dixon Agree with you about Flint. As a family doc I saw kids hurt by eating just a few flakes of lead paint: it's sweet!! But we need a Democrat as President to do anything, anything at all for our people. Please work for Democrats and then LEAN HARD!!!
Karen (Westport CT)
I was struck by how ahead of the times Bernie Sanders has been on multiple issues that came to pass including voting against the Iraq War, allowing gay marriage, increasing minimum wage, free college tuition, and warming relations with Cuba. Unlike most politicians, he not only has a clear vision of what the future should look like, but has been brave enough to stand alone on his ideals. Bernie Sanders would make a great leader.
Stephen Fisher (Toronto)
Good points for sure. But I felt Yang was the one with the most realistic grip on how to deal with future changes to the economy and our way of life.
Mimi (Baltimore and Manhattan)
@Karen Does that include immigration reform? NO. Does that include gun control? NO. Sanders is not a leader. He has not been able to lead any other Democratic Senators to join him to pass any legislation that would further his revolution. If you think a leader shoves his ideas down our throats you might as well stick with Trump.
RickK (NYC)
@Karen actually, you have it wrong; yes, Bernie's ideas and ideals are great; but that is not what makes a great leader. And it is why he has never been able to get any of his larger ideas passed into law. Maybe in a different political system he would do better.
chickenlover (Massachusetts)
Sanders has had his last hurrah, his farewell address. It i snow high time to rally around Biden and push him across the finish line. I hope Sanders concedes in the very near future and asks Bernie Bros to throw their support to Biden. To show unity and the dire need to oust Trump, Sanders also needs to start campaigning for Biden. Trump is a bigger crisis than the corona-virus and needs to be defeated. Can we move the calendar to November right now?
Misplaced Modifier (Former United States Of America)
Biden guarantees Trump another term. Biden won’t win.
Stephen (Fort Lauderdale)
@Misplaced Modifier Thanks for Today's Chuckle.
John Graybeard (NYC)
The simple truth is that today we need a Joe Biden. (Of course, "today" means January 20, 2021, and a lot of things will happen before then.) Tomorrow, however, after we recover from the coronavirus and the global recession or even depression it causes, we need a Bernie Sanders … like in 2024. Hopefully, after having served for four years as vice president, she will take over.
Gerard (PA)
The line about Italy having single payer health care was effective ... because it plays to the American smugness that we are better than those foreigners. It does not address the questions of whether our pandemic will be bigger or better without universal access to healthcare. I wonder if that line will sound so good in a month or so when we see the uninsured coughing in our streets.
John (Virginia)
@Gerard Among nations with large numbers of cases, America has the best mortality rate. Our healthcare system is among the best in the world.
Doug (Tokyo)
@John - I wouldn't be so quick to boast. This is early days. I hope you are staying safe and encouraging those around you to do the same.
number (numb)
@Gerard How should societies deal with coughers who roam? Those found in public spaces, those who stray away from where they've been advised to self quarantine and those in marketplaces, both as shoppers and shelf stockers ?
margaret ackerman (new york city)
Nice analysis Frank. This debate certainly seemed more like a debate than any of the others in recent years, which have largely become reality shows.
Action (Centennial, CO)
@margaret ackerman If you wanted a serious debate, then have it on CSpan or public TV or YouTube with no ads, no interruptions, and moderators that are not trying to "jazz things up" for Jeff Zucker et. al behind the curtain. However since there is no function in our society that cannot be reduced to a craven money grab, or a DNC coordinated chess game to get their centrist through to the general, this does not happen. We are a deeply un-serious country.
Helen (chicago)
The debate, while civil, felt out of touch with the current reality. Events of the last month have changed the dynamic of nearly everything; and I wish that they had dedicated more time to plans and assurance of leadership about the epidemic which is inside our doors. Biden's promise of a woman as V-P felt tone deaf and unnecessary under the circumstances. Now that the debating is over, let's get working on what is truely important to us all... the health of our families and our country.
Action (Centennial, CO)
@Helen Of course it is tone deaf for Biden to promise to have a woman VP, but cynical Dems love to hammer the identity politics. Biden will likely pick Kamala Harris, (yes the same Kamala Harris that neglected to prosecute Steve Mnuchin, then with One West Bank when she was California AG.) Kamala will of course conveniently forget about her woke identity politics moment when she took Joe Biden out to the woodshed in a debate. Let's be real. If the Democratic Party cared about empowerment as more than a virtue signal then Tulsi Gabbard would have been on that stage. Weird how the DNC kept a woman off the stage to let the old white guys sort things out.
susanp723 (virginia)
Biden's commitment to a female v.p. is pandering and paternalistic. By guaranteeing a female v.p. he eliminates, without consideration, other, possibly better, choices. The choice should be made based on who is best for the job, not their gender. As a female, this declaration tells me the missionary position is still the preferred one.
Rensselaer (Queens)
It means he’s already asked someone who has agreed. He’s not going to say who it is until he’s the nominee.
Gail S (Nyc)
@susanp723 It has long been true that we have an abundance of extremely well qualified female leaders, and here's to Joe Biden for making that commitment. He would have had my vote before doing that but he'll have it with great enthusiasm now.
Thomas (Washington DC)
@susanp723 It's not pandering or paternalistic, it is long overdue and there is no man out there who is better prepared and qualified than any of several women who come to mind as excellent choices.
Prof Dr Ramesh Kumar Biswas (Vienna)
I suppose in the light of the pandemic, a fundamental reform of even three, four aspects of US-American life (as Sanders proposes) will be shelved - suits the establishment. I say: OK, let Biden win if it is more comforting to the voters, but let Sanders' policies be incorporated. It's not the man so much as his ideas that are essential.
Ockham9 (Norman, OK)
@Prof Dr Ramesh Kumar Biswas. This is my conclusion, too. Whether it’s the Coronavirus or Trump’s behavior and agenda, Democratic voters seem to be searching for comfort. But it saddens me that Democrats can’t seem to do two things at once: rid themselves of Trump and install a knowledge-based administration to tackle problems like a pandemic AND at the same time restructure our society to avoid future existential threats. There is no reason why the president we elect in November cannot make much more progress on climate change, income and wealth inequality, healthcare for people rather than profits for corporations and shareholders, and a host of other issues. And this isn’t dependent on just the president; after all, electing a president without simultaneously changing the composition of Congress to not just Democratic, but Progressive Democratic will be a recipe in frustration for those of us wanting a more just and equal society. Democrats seem to be too timid, or too worried about the health of their investments.
Jeffrey Lance (Chesterfield, VA)
@Prof: his policies are what put a ceiling on his support
Lucy Cooke (California)
@Jeffrey Lance Yes, the warmongering, Wall Street supporting, status quo protecting Establishment and its media have the clout to limit Sanders support. Sanders policies have majority support, but the Establishment has worked ferociously to kill Sanders candidacy, constantly disparaging Sanders,his policies, and his electability. A vote for Biden, would be a vote for accepting the values of the Establishment and its media...
bill walker (newtonw, pa)
Since Biden has now incorporated most of Sanders' positions-free college, medicare for all lite, ban fracking- what's the difference. Lost my vote.
Saba (Albany)
Lost my vote equals a vote for trump and a vote against democracy.
JohnFred (Raleigh)
@bill walker Let me give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are speaking of the PA primary vote and that you will, in November, vote for Biden if he is the nominee. We can hope and pray we will survive the current situation if a Democrat takes office on January 20, 2021 but if not, all could be lost.
gene (fl)
He will do non of them. He will govern as a Republican just like Obama.
See also