Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of the National Interest.
The South Carolina debate formed a political graveyard for a number of candidates. Klobuchar may protest that the biggest misconception about her is that she’s boring, but she did nothing to disprove it. Bloomberg came across as a lout as he dismissed his opprobrious remarks about women as amounting to no more than a few stray comments. Steyer’s most powerful statement was his rigid refusal once more to don anything other than his shabby tartan tie. And Warren was once again as ineffectual as she was earnest.
The most animated performances came from the two old codgers, Biden and Sanders. Biden’s advisers performed some powerful necromancy to reanimate him after his previous lackluster performances. He got in some good shots about Sanders’ loopy comments about Cuba as the Harvard of the Caribbean. As Sanders blustered about his veneration for Cuba’s educational attainments, he came across as a relic from the 1960s, someone who has learned nothing and forgotten nothing from that turbulent decade. Small wonder that Trump is elated at the prospect of facing off against him this fall. If Sanders’ histrionic performance was anything to go by—hair flapping as though it was caught in a jet stream, arms waving wildly and protuberant eyes—Trump would likely make mincemeat of him.