CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
FEBRUARY 25, 2020
8:03 PM: The 10th Democratic Primary Debate opens with moderators Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King explaining the rules of the debate. Moderators will act as first-time substitute teachers who are unsure how strict the regular teacher is, and who just try to quietly get through the day without making any waves. Candidates are encouraged to yell, fight, and backstab as CBS is justifying the cost of tonight’s debate by writing it off as a two-hour advertisement for Survivor.
8:04 PM: The moderators say that, according to their sponsors, the economy is doing well, and ask Bernie Sanders how he would convince voters that a Democratic Socialist could do better than Trump on the economy. Sanders responds that Mike Bloomberg may be doing well, but most people everywhere else are still struggling. Bloomberg replies that Trump wants Trump to be president, and Putin wants Sanders to be president, and he knows because they told him that in their last group text. The audience inexplicably cheers. Pete Buttigieg interrupts, insisting Putin wants chaos and, by god, if Pete has anything to do with it, tonight he’s going to get chaos. Elizabeth Warren says Bernie is winning because he’s running on progressive ideas, and those are popular. She says she holds many of the same ideas as well, but she’d be a better president than Bernie would. Joe Biden adds that Bernie voted against the Brady Bill five times, and he also yells a lot. He’s heard everyone talking about how Bernie yells, and that sounds fun, so he’s going to make that his thing now, too. Tom Steyer adds that he agrees with Bernie’s analysis, but he doesn’t like his solutions, like how Bernie declined to hang out with him even though Tom bought them matching friendship ties.
8:15 PM: Gayle King addresses Bloomberg’s stop and frisk policy in New York, saying, “You’ve apologized, but what are you apologizing for?” Bloomberg responds, “I’ve apologized, and, looking back, I could have bought more people off.” Gayle nods in understanding, “I see, and what more can you do, really?" She then asks the other candidates, who are also white, "Do you believe Bloomberg’s policy was racist?” Buttigieg checks his notes, then answers, “Yes, I have down here that I do.” Amy Klobuchar agrees, “It was racist, but also, what good is analyzing what any of us may or may not have done to black people, or who may or may not be asking us to suspend our campaign when we could focus on anything other than that?”
8:18 PM: The questioning now turns to Warren, who is asked about her remark that Bloomberg was not the safest candidate but instead the riskiest. Warren replies that Bloomberg has funded right-wing senators, anti-choice candidates, and once even tried to fund an opponent of hers. She says he has not earned the trust of the voters, which makes him the riskiest candidate. Bloomberg responds, “I have been training for this since Trump made a joke about me once, and now I’m going to buy this country and every last one of you along with it… Sorry, I MEAN, since 9/11, which is something my advisors explained to me that nobody is ever allowed to make fun of, so I win. In your face, girl.” The crowd inexplicably cheers. Warren responds that when she was 21 and visibly pregnant, her boss sent her home, but at least he didn’t tell her to “kill it,” the way Bloomberg was alleged to have said to one of his employees. The crowd boos. A woman in the back takes out a Sharpie and crosses out TRUMP on her TRUMP CAN GRAB MY PUSSY T-shirt and writes in BL❤️❤️MBERG. Bloomberg’s face contorts into what seems to be an attempt at a grin, parts of his face near the ears start to crack, and he turns to Warren, “That’s the thing with broads, nothing’s ever good enough to shut them up.” Warren’s eyes widen, she pulls out a notepad and writes down, “PLAN TO DESTROY BLOOMBERG [PowerPoint?], Step 1-3: TBD, Step 4: Proofread!!!, Step 5: ENJOY THE RUINS OF THIS MAN”
8:24 PM: As the conversation moves to healthcare, Gayle King says that Bernie hasn’t explained how he’d pay for his Medicare-for-All plan, and asks if can he do the math for the rest of it. Bernie gruffly replies that his plan will lower costs by 450 billion each year and that if other countries can do it, we can as well. King asks Klobuchar, “Does the math add up?” Klobuchar replies, “No.” Buttigieg adds, “We were talking math, and it doesn’t add up.” Other candidates start yelling, many chanting “Math! Math! Math!” seeming as if they are trying to conjure Andrew Yang to the stage. But as Marianne Williamson is not there and she has left them no conjuring tools, he fails to appear. The yelling intensifies. The moderators smile in their best “what can you do?” faces. King leaves to get coffee. O’Donnell stares straight ahead without moving, terrified to draw the attention of the increasingly restless crowd. Biden squints his squintiest squint and yells, “I CAN YELL, TOO. I’M A YELLER BUT NOT A YELLER-BELLY LIKE SOME OF Y’ALL, LIKE THAT BILLIONAIRE DOWN THERE.” Everyone looks to Bloomberg until Steyer gestures “me?” Biden lowers the cowboy hat that suddenly appeared on his head and swaggers out in front of the podium, “Yeah, you, Johnny come lately,” and runs his finger over what appears to be a holster containing a water gun. Steyer looks into the camera and mouths, “What the hell is going on here.” Klobuchar, seeing her moment, jumps in with, “If we keep tearing each other apart tonight, we’re going to spend four more years watching Trump tear our country apart.” Her rehearsed line does not land because this world has clearly been messed with and manipulated, and words have stopped making sense. The candidates start to feel lightheaded. Warren grabs hold of her podium to steady herself. Colors swirl in front of Sanders’ face, “The billionaires!” he exclaims, but the crowd only cheers at hearing their own economic status. Bloomberg pulls out a gilded mask and secures it over his own mouth, ventilating his air, “I’m surprised any of you even showed up tonight, shouldn’t you have been scared to see me again, after last time.” His laughter sounds like an angry crow trying to swallow a diamond. Gayle King returns with her coffee and says, “Time for a short break — stay with us” as the room goes dark.
8:42 PM: When the candidates discuss guns, Klobuchar references the Boyfriend Bill. Biden interrupts, “I wrote that damn bill.” Klobuchar looks at him, grinning in confusion, “You didn’t write it, I wrote it.” Biden yells louder, “I WROTE THE BILL!” Klobuchar smiles with contempt, “Well, I guess we’ll have to fact check.” “THE FACT CHECK IS I WROTE IT!” Biden barks. Klobuchar’s jaw locks, her smile radiating anger so intense it begins to melt her mic. She turns her gaze down at the hot dish in her hands. The tater tots begin to sizzle, the cheese melts. She offers some to Steyer. “The secret ingredient is hatred,” she tells him.
9:31 PM: 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker brings up Sanders’ recent comments on Fidel Castro and asks if Americans can trust that Democratic Socialists won’t give authoritarian leaders a pass? Bernie replies that he consistently opposes authoritarianism and that regarding Cuba, he said what Obama had said, that literacy programs were good. The audience boos. Bernie stops and turns to the crowd, “Really? REALLY?!” The booing intensifies, it begins to take shape, tons of small robotic flies start to swarm the stage, making tiny “boo” sounds. Bloomberg 2020 is stamped in microscopic font on the abdomens of each bug. Sanders bats away the Bloombugs, “Occasionally, it might be good to be honest about American foreign policy. America has overthrown dictatorships all over the world.” The Bloombug swarm grows, they begin to dive at everyone on stage except Bloomberg, who holds a remote control. Buttigieg says “This is about the future, this is about 2020, not the 1960s where people took up action to fight inequality and injustice, those days are behind us.” Sanders, nearly engulfed in robotic bugs, yells, “Let us be clear! Do we think healthcare for all, Pete, is some sort of radical communist idea?” Buttigieg, also swatting Bloombugs, speaks over Sanders: “Someday an answer will find us, quite a long shot. But anyway, I think the past, the past is behind us. It would be really confusing if not, but anyway. I put all my hope in tomorrow, it’s gonna be great. I can see a new, a new day dawning. I like to sleep late, oh well, but anyway.” Sanders continues, “Do we think raising the minimum wage to a livable wage is a radical idea? Do we think raising taxes on billionaires is a radical idea?” he falls to the floor under the weight of the Bloombugs and continues from beneath the pile, “The truth is, Pete, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE—” Gayle King cuts him off, “The American people want a commercial break. We’ll be right back.”
9:56 PM: Moderator O’Donnell smiles and addresses the candidates, “Well, this has been a complete shitshow and a waste of everyone’s time, so let’s keep that going by finding out, what would you say is the biggest misconception about you, and what is your personal motto?”
STEYER: The misconception about me is that I own more than one tie, and my motto is “Why own more ties?”
KLOBUCHAR: The biggest misconception about me is that I’m boring, but I’m not! I’m just from the Midwest, and I am Minnesota nice, and that’s not boring, it’s just incredibly judgmental and passive-aggressive! And, of course, my motto is one that I heard from my grandparents, who worked hard every single day just to give their children a better opportunity in life, and that is, “Pete is a rat-faced smarm-bucket.”
BIDEN: Look, there are misconceptions about me all the time, and one is that I heard what you just asked me, and that’s just not true, and I know because I was in the room! When the time came to answer this question, I got it done, and I’m the only one up here who can say that!
SANDERS: Well, let’s talk about it! The misconception that people have about me is that I can control the volume of my voice! This is just how the words come out of my mouth! And my motto is what Nelson Mandela said, “Everything, even Biden claiming he was arrested on his way to see me, is impossible until it happens.”
WARREN: The misconception about me is that I eat very little, but I have written down everything I’ve eaten in my food journal and graphed it both by category and by nutritional value, and it is really quite significant. My motto is, “Never forget to bring a flamethrower.”
BUTTIGIEG: The misconception about me is that I copy Obama. When in reality, I copy lots of people. And my motto is, “Allowing America to live up to the greatness that is inherent in the promise of tomorrow takes small steps towards big movement in the best future for the people, of the future, of the country, of America.”
BLOOMBERG: The misconception I’ve heard is people saying I don’t own them. My motto is “Here’s some money. Oh look, I’m now the president.”