New York City Mayor and presidential hopeful Bill DeBlasio took time from his departure schedule from South Florida following his debate performance Wednesday night to visit with airport workers.
Speaking before a large group of striking laborers, in many ways he became perfectly emblematic of his fellow Democratic debaters. Serving as their avatar was not intentional, nor was it meant to be complimentary.
Over the course of two consecutive nights Miami was the stage for 20 candidates to square off and do their best to distinguish themselves in a very crowded field. Declarations were made, Spanish was invoked freely, and in the Sunshine State handouts were promised by the snow-shovelful. Perplexing promises rained down from the podium and denials about the economy were nearly as commonplace as the bickering.
This is not as easy of a slog as the Democrats expected. The prior months have seen their messaging become growingly extreme. So far, pledging massive giveaway programs, or eliminating private health insurance, and embracing socialism have not paved the way to an easy defeat of Donald Trump. The DNC has recently taken out its second line of credit within a month, to help it pay for the coming national convention as it is operating in the red. The GOP meanwhile has more cash on hand from donations, has no standing debt, and after Donald Trump officially announced he would run for reelection, he hauled in $24 million -- in one day!
While the press insists the nation has turned away from this administration, the cold facts seem to rebut that claim. And we did not see a calm force from White House hopefuls last week.
DeBlasio, after making himself noticed on the dais by becoming one of the more obnoxious participants, followed the lead of many of the candidates, making a personal appearance in the area.
Elizabeth Warren made a spectacle of herself when she visited the Homestead immigrant detention center Tuesday. She was making accusations of the living conditions inside a facility she had not entered, invoking the lie of children sleeping in cages on the floors (the cage myth was repeated often on both nights). She also made a staggering comment that was the apex in a lack of self-awareness.
Through her foghorn, Warren made a seemingly passionate plea for funding to be provided for the mounting issues the country is facing at the borders. It sure sounded heartfelt, until you realized that the evening prior, there had been a vote in the Senate about that very issue -- except Warren missed the vote in order to go out and draw attention to herself on the trail. That's how important the issue was to her.
Notably missing from much of the four hours of teed-up questions was any mention of the Venezuelan crisis. An issue of sharp interest for many in the Miami area -- whether as natives from the impoverished land, or Cuban expats angry over that country’s involvement in propping up the totalitarian government -- went unchallenged by those debating. This is because the Democrats are largely in opposition to the Trump administration attempting to ease democracy back into Venezuela. The socialism-embracing blue party wouldn't dare stir the pot among the Latino audience with that one.
Then there was DeBlasio at Miami International. He was standing in front of a gathered SEIU crowd, speaking with a microphone. And while the throng of union workers were responding appropriately to his taglines, he then uttered the poison pill of a quote -- “Hasta la victoria siempre!” I do not care how supportive of a union crowd you may think you have, quoting the butcher of Havana, Che Guevara, to a roomful of Cuban-Americans is NOT the way to go.
Even DeBlasio’s wan excuse and apology -- claiming not to know those were words directly associated with Castro’s famous henchman -- is chased off by facts. He was a supporter of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1980s, and more than that in college he actually studied Latin American politics while at Columbia. He has to have known exactly what he was saying to the wrong audience.
But this encapsulates the Democratic takeover of South Florida last week. It was filled with days of feigned expertise, pandering linguistics, self-aggrandizing photo-ops, and distemper on display under the stage lights. If anyone came away looking better following the show, it was the candidates who previously had received little exposure and distinguished themselves by appearing composed.
None of them came off as a charismatic leader, and many left an impression quite the opposite of endearing. Welcome to the campaign cycle everyone -- just 16 more months of this to go.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.