Photographer: Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Thursday was the third of the Democratic Presidential Debates but, really, the first that mattered. This was our first chance to see the main rivals together on the same stage; experienced political brawlers like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren standing next to the younger Turks such as Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and Cory Booker. Would the candidates go after Biden? Would Warren dominate the stage with her big ideas and quiet delivery? Just how loudly would Bernie be able to shout? And how much money would Andrew Yang throw at voters to make them like him?
The night began how it would largely play out. Candidates worried about blue on blue crossfire came together with a unity of purpose, which was to direct most of their venom against the sitting president. The night was better thanks to this truce. The exception, however, was Julián Castro who had clearly been drinking at the peppery Cool Aid again. At his first opportunity, he went snarling after the former Vice President. He tried to make a point about Biden’s age, suggesting that Biden had forgotten what he’d said only moments earlier about people’s automatic right to healthcare. It was ungracious even if he was right. The problem for Castro was that he wasn’t right. Biden hadn’t forgotten. It was Castro who’d got it wrong.