NOVEMBER 20, 2019
9:01 PM: The 5th Democratic Primary Debate opens with journalists Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Ashley Parker, and Kristin Welker as an all-female reboot of this popular series. From offstage, Chris Matthews is heard complaining that this feminist pandering is ruining his childhood memories of politics.
9:03 PM: In another unconventional twist, no opening statements are made. Instead, moderators begin by asking the audience why they’d choose to go from spending an entire day watching impeachment hearings to watching yet another debate, when instead they could be reading a book, watching reruns of The Office, or filling their bathtubs with jello and the chilling the hell out. Rachel Maddow silently mouths into the camera, “If I wasn’t chained to this desk right now, I’d be GONE.” Senator Bernie Sanders nods and raises his hand while former Vice President Joe Biden squints.
9:04 PM: Senator Elizabeth Warren is asked if, given her support for impeaching and evicting President Trump from office, she would try to convince her Republican colleagues to do so as well. Warren replies warmly by saying, “Of course I would. Do you think I go around telling Republicans impeachment isn’t bad or something? What the fuck kind of question is that?”
9:05 PM: The moderators note that Senator Amy Klobuchar has said she’d wait to make a judgment on impeachment. Klobuchar responds, “Trump has undoubtedly committed many crimes and that nothing less than our very democracy is at stake. So it’s a real toss-up.”
9:13 PM: Turning to inequality, Warren remarks that her plan for a wealth tax is not about punishing the rich, but about reminding them they didn’t create their success alone. Senator Cory Booker responds that he doesn’t agree with the wealth tax because it’s too cumbersome. Warren, confused, says, “Wait, I thought you were the nice one?” Booker pulls out an orange, crushes it wholly in his fist, lets the juice drip down his arm, pauses for a beat, and then responds directly into the camera: “NOT ANYMORE.”
9:19 PM: Andrea Mitchell, talking about working with Republicans, remarks that the GOP never stopped fighting Obama, so what would be different this time around with a Democrat in the Oval Office? South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg answers, “Look, this is the Heraclitus river analogy, which I originally learned in Norwegian and—” but he is cut off by Chasten Buttigieg running on stage to take a quick picture of Pete with his phone, exclaiming, “THIS GUY!”
9:21 PM: Warren begins to discuss her three-year plan for Medicare for All. Moderator Kristen Welker interrupts her: “Bernie Sanders, let’s bring you into this conversation.” From the wings, Sanders walks on stage to tremendous studio applause that turns into rousing laughter as he delivers his classic catchphrase, “I wrote the damn bill!” The camera pans through the crowd showing cheering members of the audience wearing I WROTE THE DAMN BILL T-shirts and waving stuffed beavers with BILL nametags.
9:27 PM: Senator Tulsi Gabbard, Rich Person Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang suddenly materialize onstage. It is unclear whether they had previously been invisible and suddenly showed themselves, or if they oozed in as some sort of Terminatoresque liquid metal and then assumed human form. Senator Kamala Harris locks eyes with Gabbard, curls her lips into a tight smile and says, “Oh? You’re back for more?”
9:30 PM: Ashley Parker asks Yang how, as an outsider, he would be able to lead the nation? Yang begins by signing a few autographs as panties are thrown on stage. He then says, “I’d like to stand up for Tom Steyer, he’s spending his own money, and think how many more elections he could be purchasing if he were also receiving an additional $1000/month?” Steyer thanks him by handing him a check.
9:34 PM: Turning to qualifications, Andrea Mitchell asks Klobuchar about a comment she had made saying that if a woman had the limited political experience Pete Buttigieg had she wouldn’t be standing on this stage. Klobuchar pats Pete on the head and says, “He’s a real sweetie, but if women weren’t held to a higher standard we’d be playing a game called name your favorite woman president,” to which Biden smashes an invisible buzzer and yells “ADLAI STEVENSON!”
9:39 PM: As the debate veers into a more substantive discussion, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell asks the candidates if they will tweet when they are president. Andrew Yang holds up a phone to show Mitchell the TikTok he just posted of her asking that question set to Wu-Tang Clan’s “CREAM.” Sanders quietly hums along.
10:20 PM: Maddow raises the topic of the #MeToo movement and asks how a Biden Presidency would address issues like harassment and violence towards women? Biden responds, “We have to change the culture of violence and just keep punching at it and punching at it and punching at it. Stand close to that culture, smell its hair. This is just too important. When it comes to changing this culture, we won’t take no for an answer.”
10:34 PM: The moderators turn the conversation to racial inequities, making sure that each white person is given appropriate space to answer about their feelings about what it is to be black. Buttigieg stares at his superbly polished shoes and whispers, “Please can we move on?” Booker pulls out a pomegranate and again squeezes it whole, crushing it as the juice runs down his arm and into an aquamarine Hydro Flask water bottle. He then pulls out a lime, crushes that and adds some chopped organic spinach, and an eyedropper of B-12, shakes it and downs the whole bottle in a single gulp. He wipes the last of the reddish liquid from his lips, and says calmly, coldly: “Nobody on this stage should need a focus group to hear black voters.” He asks the other candidates if they’d like juice, apologizing that he should have offered earlier, and hearing only silence, he continues. “You know, this week, I heard Biden say you don’t think we should legalize marijuana. I thought you might have been high when you said it.” The room holds their breath. Biden yells, “That’s me! I’m Biden!” He then laughs and shakes his head. “First tweeting and now high and I don’t know why we’re just discussing birds here but you know I like birds, I was the one who actually signed the legislation that made birds legal, had to fight Milosovic on that but President Obama trusted me and I got it done.” Booker asks, “Are you okay?” Biden responds with “Yes, Obama, I’m better than okay, you know, I endorsed the only black woman in the Senate!” Harris, calmly holding Tulsi Gabbard in a chokehold, says, “That’s not true, I’m right here!” Biden replies, “No not you, the Kenyan lady from that Pete guy’s ad, she’s great!” Tom Steyer interrupts and asks if he can fix this by giving someone money? Warren does not look up from her crossword puzzle as Klobuchar pulls out a crockpot of Swedish meatballs and offers them to the moderators.
11:00 PM: Candidates give their closing statements.
BOOKER: I did a lot better! Well, I’m out of fruit and I want more juice so please send me donations or pears would also be good — no pesticides.
STEYER: FINALLY! Okay, I have some things to say. First off [an orchestra suddenly appears and interrupts loudly playing him off.]
GABBARD: Every story needs a villain. Let me be that villain, for you, the American people.
YANG: As a parent, I understand that we need to leave our children with a world that is better than it is now, so there is no need for me to provide any further details about my plan to do that.
KLOBUCHAR: I just don’t understand how none of you idiots get that I’m just fundamentally much nicer than you.
HARRIS: People like to disparagingly call me a cop, so I’d like to remind you that’s not me, I’m so much more than that: I’m a prosecutor who works with cops.
BUTTIGIEG: I’m not running to get rid of Trump, I’m running for the day after Trump’s gone, when we can finally get to work and show America that change is too hard and there’s no point, nor any benefit, to trying.
SANDERS: [Is out behind the studio just shooting basket after basket, sinking each one, waiting for his shared Lyft]
WARREN: [Looking up from crossword] I forgot to say this tonight but my whole thing now is anti-corruption. Thanks.
BIDEN: I just don’t think you all were nice enough to me, and you at home watching this, spending hours, staying up late, being tired for work tomorrow just to keep yourself informed and educated on our political process, you’re not doing enough either. God bless us all.