SEPTEMBER 12, 2019
8:02 PM: The moderators introduce themselves by promising they’re not CNN and noting that tonight is unique because it is the first time all of the candidates are appearing on the same stage and they’d better enjoy it before Tom Steyer fucks it up for everyone.
8:03 PM: Candidates give their opening statements in reverse polling order. The candidates all agree that there is more that unites them than divides them, such as how they are all either from, have lived in, or are aware that they are currently in Houston. Senator Kamala Harris directs her remarks directly to President Trump stating, “You tell the others the LAW’S coming. You tell them I’m coming and hell’s coming with me, you hear? Hell’s coming with me. You may now go back to watching Fox News.”
8:07 PM: Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s campaign had teased that Yang would be doing something never before done on the debate stage and speculation included him dropping out, inventing a crypto-currency called “Yen-Yangs,” or wrestling Marianne Williamson. Unfortunately, the surprise turns out to be just Yang out Yang-ing himself by twelve. Yang-heads in the audience do body shots, erect a homemade bar, and begin dancing on it.
8:16 PM: Moderator George Stephanopoulos directs the first question of the night to former Vice President Joe Biden, noting that he is often in disagreement with senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, so does he think they’re the ones who suck or is it him? Biden responds by nodding thoughtfully and holding up a photoshopped picture of him riding a tandem bicycle with Barack Obama and eating ice cream.
8:20 PM: As in previous debates, the first part of the discussion is dominated by the topic of healthcare. Medicare for All proponents Sanders and Warren argue that other plans leave Americans uninsured. Senator Amy Klobuchar puts on a cowboy hat and responds that everything’s bigger in Texas. Mayor Pete Buttigieg agrees and adds that the problem with Medicare for All is that it doesn’t trust the American people, who should be able to make their own choices about whether or not they want to have pre-existing conditions and die in debt.
8:29 PM: Discussion of healthcare gets heated as Julián Castro challenges Biden’s assertion that he’s aware of where he is and what day it is. In response, Biden makes his eyes very big, possibly to gain sympathy or merely to show they are not currently bleeding. His teeth, seemingly wanting no part of any of this, try to leave his mouth.
8:40 PM: Moderator Linsey Davis turns the conversation to the question of racism. Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke reminds the room that his hometown suffered a horrific mass murder mere weeks ago. The moderators give him an immunity card entitling him to skip directly to the next debate. Everyone on stage agrees.
8:46 PM: Kamala Harris is then asked about her record, and why, if she cares about decriminalization, she didn’t take action when she had the power to do so. Harris responds by saying “Thank you for asking me that question,” then points directly at the camera and mouths the words “I’m com-ing for you, Do-nald Trump.”
8:54 PM: Continuing tonight’s odd trend of actually holding candidates accountable for their previous actions, the moderators ask Biden why, if he wasn’t able to pass gun control in the wake of Sandy Hook, voters should believe he’d be able to achieve it now. Biden replies that he’s the only one who can beat the NRA and he was only foolin’ around before but now he means it. Harris pulls out her phone and begins playing Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.” Biden looks around seemingly confused as to where the music’s coming from and asks who’s hiding a Victrola in their dungarees. Klobuchar reassures him that what unites us is so much greater than what divides us, which annoys everyone in a different way.
8:57 PM: Bernie Sanders, with a hoarse voice, reminds the room that he has been consistent for decades and his record is clear, no matter how many special interests assemble to tell him it would hurt his throat less to talk quietly he will NEVER stop yelling.
9:01 PM: Beto states that he is now for banning all assault weapons. The other candidates nod quietly while readjusting their mics and taking sips of water and avoiding any eye contact. The nodding gains intensity, no one speaks.
9:06 PM: Moderator Jorge Ramos addresses immigration by pointing out that the Obama administration deported 3 million people and asks Biden if he’s prepared to say that he and Obama made a mistake. Biden responds that he’s the Vice President. Castro knocks his podium over while yelling “This is fucking RIDICULOUS,” then takes out his phone and says, “That’s it, I’m calling Barack,” as Biden squints and taunts “Fine why don’t you do that.” Buttigieg throws his hands up and says, “See what I, the only adult on the stage, has to deal with?” Beto rolls his eyes and Booker nervously starts gnawing on eggplant jerky. Warren quietly confiscates Castro’s phone and Klobuchar holds up a blanket she was knitting that reads WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON, PARDNERS with a picture of a cowboy in red thread.
9:21 PM: A robust discussion of tariffs showcases each candidates’ particular views on international trade policy while serving as the ideal time for viewers to finally decide it’s too late to order food and instead root around in their fridge to make a sort of makeshift plate of pseudo-nachos using crackers left-over from a Labor Day party.
10:06 PM: The debate hits upon education as Yang is asked about his support for charter schools. He says we should pay teachers more… maybe a $1000/month more? Yang-heads in the audience flip over chairs and throw beads onto the stage.
10:14 PM: Biden is asked about his previous remarks against reparations and what responsibility Americans need to take on to repair the legacy of slavery in our country. Biden responds by laughing, squinting, shaking his finger, and doing the Charleston. When the moderators try to cut him off, he throws peppermint candies at them and launches into a meandering story that seems to be about the time he stole the Lindbergh baby and gave it to Cher.
10:26 PM: The candidates are subjected to a modified Voight-Kampff test, to determine if they can make themselves relatable as human beings and not merely power-hungry politibots.
BIDEN: “My family died, which is sad. I know Obama, which is good.”
WARREN: “Innnnn Oklahoma City born and raised, in the classroom is where I spent most of my days — sing it with me.” (She turns the mic to the audience who sing the rest of her childcare origin story in unison.)
SANDERS: (Tries to speak but his voice is gone, so he quickly draws a scribble on a piece of paper that looks like GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION and waves it at the moderators.)
HARRIS: “Thank you for asking me that, have you heard of my whole life? Have you? DONALD?”
BUTTIGIEG: “I’m a married, gay, veteran mayor and it’s cute that anyone else is even trying here.”
YANG: (Alarms go off, indicating he’s failed the test.)
BOOKER: (Starts to mention living in the Newark projects for the third time, but starts to worry the bit is getting old.) “March of the Penguins really hit me hard, guys.”
BETO: (Holds up immunity card.)
CASTRO: “I have a really good story for this—” (he is interrupted by Stephanopoulos who says, “Ok, that’s enough nastiness out of YOU tonight” and cuts off his mic.)
10:30 PM: In closing, everyone on stage is asked if they can name one man who’s still running for president but didn’t make the debates. No one can. The debate ends.