Quick Notes on Last Night’s “Debate”

I didn’t watch the Democratic presidential candidates’ “debate” last night; I have limited time and a limited appetite for stress. I have been listening to the coverage on the morning news and will follow it in the opinion sections of the newspapers.

So far what seems to me the frankest assessment came from former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. After a few minutes of being a good soldier and saying nice things about the candidates the savviest political strategist the Democrats have said something to the effect that the debate was a net negative for Democrats, that the candidates needed to stop saying things that would hurt the Democrats in the general election, and that everything that any of them said would be fodder for Trump to use against them.

There was one clip of Joe Biden which everyone seems to take at face value but it was yet another gaffe. He said that under Obama they didn’t take children away from parents or put people in cages. Actually, they did just not in the volume of the Trump Administration. A frequently used photo of “people in cages” was actually taken during Obama’s term of office. VP Biden should have just attacked Trump’s cruelty in general terms and omitted the details. The reality is that we take children away from their parents every day in the United States for example when their parents have been arrested for a crime.

16 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    I don’t believe it’s a gaffe from Biden.

    As others pointed out last night; he repeated the same point with Colbert last week.

    The quote then was “I don’t get wrong things like we should lock kids up in cages at the border.“.

    It’s better to conclude Biden (a) believes it never happened while he was Vice President or (b) is using a very artful dodge — the word “should” meant he didn’t intend for it to happen.

  • I suspect he was sufficiently detached from what was happening that doesn’t actually know.

  • James P Kirby Link

    Someday it would be nice to see political debates and policies that don’t focus on parents and their children. Many of us are child-free, and our rights are regularly abused when it comes to taxes and things like “family reunification.” Couples are family, too, whether married or not, gay or straight, but our visa and residency rules regularly deny many their right to live together. This country is overcome by pro-marriage, pro-religion, and pro-natalism.

  • steve Link

    “is using a very artful dodge — the word “should” meant he didn’t intend for it to happen.”

    Could be an artful dodge, or just saying what was intended. Trump’s policy was to deliberately lock up kids hoping the cruelty would keep people away from the border. Under Obama it was mostly an unintended consequence. Guess depends upon if you think intent matters.


  • Roy Lofquist Link

    Steve, you sound just like the fat fuck on CNN. But here’s the thing. He gets paid buck bucks to slander people and lie about them. He’s a big “P” Professional Asshole. Don’t be that guy.

  • I think intent matters very little. It hurts just as much when you get run over by somebody who didn’t even know you were there as when you’re run over by somebody trying to hit you. How do you now what their intention was?

    Nobody has bad intentions. Lenin’s intention was a better life for everybody. Hitler’s intention was a better life for the German people. All good intentions.

  • Roy Lofquist Link

    In re Dave’s comment; Theodore Roosevelt had some thoughts:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

  • Grey Shambler Link

    “All good intentions.”
    Chairman Xi and Kim Jong-un as well. Because we are not like them, because we don’t have the same worldview as them, it probably doesn’t help relations to declare them members of the “AXIS OF EVIL”. Big reason right there I like Trump’s foreign policy approach.

  • That matters only to the striver. There have been millions of people who tried and failed. They are forgotten, however hard they tried or good their intentions.

    Also Mary Wollstonecraft:

    No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

  • steve Link

    ” Actually, they did just not in the volume of the Trump Administration. ”
    Intent often matters a lot. If we are at dinner and I accidentally pick up your credit card and walk out, the immediate action and result is the same as if someone stole your card. The difference is that I would return your card. The person who stole it will not.

    So, if you intend to separate families, you end up with more separations, as you note above. Beyond that, you have other effects. Children separated from families by Trump’s admin were not carefully tracked and some may be permanently separated, exactly what you would expect if it was perceived that separations were done on purpose.

    “Nobody has bad intentions.”

    Many, many people have bad intentions. In this case the Trump admin documented in its memos that it was intentionally separating families. Their actions were immoral, and not surprisingly they didnt get the outcome they predicted.

    ““An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec, 6).”



  • You are in opposition to two millennia of Western thought.

    Your reference to Aquinas is on point. You may note that I am taking the same position while you are justifying the Obama Administration’s acts based on their presumably good intentions. I would be willing to bet that just before that quote he says “Augustinus dixit…” (Augustine said…)

  • steve Link

    Your hatred of Chicago politicians overrides your logic. In Trump’s case they intentionally (the means) decided to separate families to try to stop asylum seekers (the ends). As noted at the link, Operation Streamline started in 2005 and was aimed at adding criminal prosecution of those crossing illegally, which was largely single males at the time. There was no policy of separating families, and when it did occur it happened when the was suspicion of trafficking and lack of documentation or lack of facilities. What the Obama admin did was try detaining entire families together.

    So there was never any intent to separate families, it happened uncommonly and efforts were made to not have it happen. There was no active, deliberate program to separate families as some means to achieve another end.


  • Here’s CNN’s assessment:

    In a discussion of immigration policy, former Vice President Joe Biden said: “We didn’t lock people up in cages, we didn’t separate families.”

    Facts first: Both of Biden’s claims are false. While the Obama administration didn’t systematically separate families, it did happen under certain circumstances.

    Separations did sometimes occur under Obama, but they were non-routine and much less frequent, according to immigration experts and former Obama officials.

    They occurred in exceptional cases. Examples include those where the parent was being criminally prosecuted for carrying drugs across the border or other serious crimes aside from illegal crossing, those where human trafficking was suspected and those where the authorities could not confirm the connection between the child and the adult.

    The separations didn’t happen as a result of a blanket policy, however, as was the case during the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy last year.

    Similarly, fenced enclosures at processing facilities along the border, the structures that have been labeled as cages, existed under the Obama administration. Some individuals — including children — were held in those cells during processing.

    There are no statistics available on the number of children separated from parents under the Obama Administration or the number of separations as a percentage of the number of adults travelling with children.

    I guess CNN hates Chicago politicans, too.

  • TastyBits Link

    Any parent who would drag their child over a 1,000 miles to commit a crime is an unfit parent, and they should have their child removed ASAP. Cruelty would be to allow the child to be further abused.

  • Guarneri Link

    I’ve been watching this thread in amazement. Steve, please tell me you don’t actually believe your BS. I love to poke people in the ribs, but outright bizarre positions give one, um, pause.

    Aside from silly, politically motivated, notions of the moral relativism between administrations, I’ve been waiting for sober reality. Tasty delivered. Not only his point, but many of the “children” are not the children of immigration/asylum seekers at all. They are pawns. Innocent pawns. WTFU. Put an end to this evil crap. Anyway you can.

  • BTW I don’t “hate Chicago politicians”. I hate bad, destructive policies.

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