Elizabeth Warren won’t go down without a fight. And by “fight” I mean a UFC-style no-holds-barred, bodily fluids-flying-into-the-crowd, everything-goes cage match. The kind people bet on in Vegas.
In the first moments of Wednesday’s ninth Democratic presidential debate which, yeah, was in Las Vegas, she spoke out even though she hadn’t been called on (one of her best qualities). “I wanna talk about who we’re running against,” she said. “A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians. And no I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
Reaction shot: Bloomberg, looking like a time-lapse video of a tree trunk fossilizing. Reaction shot: every Warren supporter, or Warren-liker, or Warren-enjoyer in America yelling pet-scaringly loudly at their televisions in unison.
The Vegas crowd went wild, as Vegas crowds are wont to do during a beatdown.
After that, Bloomberg spent the rest of the debate with about as much gravitas as a ventriloquist dummy without a lap to sit on. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, turned in her strongest debate performance yet, striking Bloomberg over and over again like a viper with a grudge. Bloomberg was annihilated. He was decimated. He was degloved. Everything that a Democratic voter might find distasteful about Bloomberg was laid bare for everybody to see.
Warren didn’t just turn her sights on Bloomberg. She diminutized Mayor Pete’s health-care plan by calling it “a PowerPoint.” She called out Amy Klobuchar for having only two paragraphs explaining hers. She called out the idea of being a moderate in the first place. “We can’t be so eager to be liked by Mitch McConnell that we forget how to fight,” she said in reference to the moderates Joe Biden and Klobuchar, to thunderous, Vegas-y applause. By the time it was all over, it was clear that she’d won this one like Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Like a tremendous machine.
Of course, winning the debate and winning the nomination are totally different things. It’s unlikely that this debate is going to ding the frontrunner Bernie Sanders, who turned in a characteristically solid performance of his own.
Warren left Bernie alone, a fact that mystified Washington Post op-ed columnist Jennifer Rubin. “Warren inexplicably would not go after Bernie,” she tweeted. “As a result she may not improve her standing. A serious strategic error.”
To that, I say: nah.
The Bloomberg pummeling was more than basic cable porn for the Eat the Rich crowd, or entertainment for people who can’t pay attention to politics unless it comes with its own applause track. It was about principles. She and Bernie Sanders are most ideologically aligned. Why would she want to take him down?
Warren’s performance demonstrated that she saw beyond all the moderate-worshipping punditry bullshit. Bloomberg’s candidacy isn’t something to save the Democrats in a potentially Biden-less election; it is a slightly softer sanded-down version of everything that sucks about President Trump. All we needed was for somebody to call it out while a lot of people were watching.
Do voters really want to go to the polls in November and choose between a pig and a predator? Now, hopefully, thanks to Elizabeth Warren, they won’t have to.
Warren’s was a performance that everybody who supported her, or even told somebody at a party that they’d be “totally happy if she won, but I’m voting for Bernie” can be proud of. Her poll numbers may be sinking for reasons that nobody can pinpoint, but because of Wednesday’s debate performance, nobody who stuck with her should feel let down, and people who have given up on her might want to reconsider. They might just miss a late-round comeback.