The Potemkin Socialists: Liner Notes

The week ends with a new column: “The Democratic Debates Are A Pageant Of Potemkin Socialism.” And because it was written after the first of the two debate nights, it’s more about the debates being the first look for many at today’s Democratic party elites than it is about the debates themselves.

If I had the luxury of waiting for the second night, I would have added that the performance of Kamala Harris illustrated these problems in two distinct ways.

On one hand, her attack on Joe Biden over his working with segregationists and his opposition to busing in the 1970s showed she understands not only that you have to beat the front-runner to be the front-runner, but also that she probably cannot win unless she captures a significant chunk of the black vote that falls outside the woke bloc she has been targeting so far. Whether her personalization of the issue damages Biden, or whether this issue continues to play less with older voters than younger ones remains to be seen — but at least Harris has a strategy, which is more than can be said for the rest.

On the other hand, today Harris finds herself having to explain yet another debate answer on whether she would effectively abolish private health insurance. She claims to have misunderstood the question. Believing that requires that you believe the most prepared candidate on the stage Thursday night was not prepped on the questions asked Wednesday night, on Elizabeth Warren raising her hand and flipping to single-payer, and the media reaction to Warren’s flip. It may not hurt Harris much in primaries, but will loom large if she is the nominee, all because Harris started from the posture of chasing the woke 25 percent of her party.

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