Joe Biden Skated at Democratic Debate Thanks to Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren Feud

Wednesday was a very good day to stay off the electric Twitter machine if you could arrange it. The Democratic debate on Tuesday night was decidedly cool and low-key, but the takes coming off it are flash-boiling the lakes of Naboo. Most of these are coming from supporters of varying degrees of anonymity attached to Senator Professor Warren and Bernie Sanders. There was the predictably idiotic concentration on—and overreaction to—a short episode at the end of the debate, when Warren and Sanders seemed to have an angry moment in the presence of Tom Steyer. The continuing barrage rivals only moderator Wolf Blitzer’s obvious lust for a fight between candidates and a war in the Middle East.

Here is what I think about The Handshake That Wasn’t.

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That said, I suspect that not many Iowans awoke Wednesday morning to find they’d changed their minds on anything. The single most remarkable thing was that, once again, Joe Biden was punished with the soft cushions and the comfy chair. Nobody laid a glove on him after Sanders jibed him about his Iraq War vote early on. In the run-up to the debate, it was widely believed that Sanders would press Biden on his past support for various Simpson-Bowlesian notions for “reforming” Social Security, while Warren seemed ready to tee him up (again) on the noxious bankruptcy bill that Biden wrote.

Biden escaped major attack once more.

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Both of these are very big fish in very small barrels, and both of these continued un-shot through the evening’s festivities while Pete Buttigieg soft-shoed his way through every discussion and Amy Klobuchar decided this was the time to be a deficit scold. And it would have been nice if somebody brought up the story that broke only a couple of hours before the debate, that elements of the Trump campaign may have done more than smear Marie Yovanovitch.

Because Biden skated as thoroughly as he did, and because the other three leading candidates performed with surpassing ennui, the Warren-Sanders business is going to be what people take away from Tuesday night. I have no idea what was said during the famous conversation about whether a woman can be elected president. But the response from the Sanders supporters, especially on the electric Twitter machine, has been so hysterically over the top—Responding with snake emojis? That’s only the oldest misogynistic smear of all time, going all the way back to Genesis.—that it does make me wonder whether or not there’s something in that campaign that attracts the Democratic equivalent of the incel boys. I hope it stops soon, but I doubt that it will.

If the Sanders people want to go down in history as the campaign that kneecapped two talented, accomplished women, that’s their decision. I thought Warren recovered nicely with her bit about how she and Klobuchar were the only two people on the stage who’d never lost an election. Other than that, the debate was little more than a reminder that starting this process off in Iowa is no way to elect a president of this whole country. That’s absurd.

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