Amy Klobuchar was all of us in the South Carolina debate

Presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) explains what was going through her mind during a fiery moment between former Vice President Joe Biden and Tom Steyer at the CBS Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina.

If you missed Tuesday night’s South Carolina presidential debate, I can sum it up in just two words: LOUD NOISES.

For extended periods of time during the two-hour debate, candidates sought to talk over one another, land opposition research hits and create zingers that they could then use to raise money for campaigns rapidly running out of it.

It made for an absolutely terrible debate — to watch and to participate in.

Which brings me to this photo of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar reacting to being caught in the middle of a shouting match between former Vice President Joe Biden and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer over the latter’s supposed support for private prisons.

Yes, Amy. I feel you. We all feel you.

Asked about her reaction in the photo, Klobuchar told CNN’s John Berman this on Wednesday morning (bolding is mine):

“It was a legitimate discussion, but Steyer moved over closer and closer to my space to the point I thought I could actually get hit on the debate stage. … And then I thought, ‘Well he’s kinda got deep pockets if that happens.’ I don’t know. But I was literally sandwiched between the two of them yelling at each other. I knew very well what was going on and what that photo would be. Because my point to America was, we don’t all agree with the fighting, people can make their points but this keeps going and going. To me it’s one thing to make a policy point. It’s another to make it so you get a sound bite the next day on TV just to raise money. And that feels a bit what was going on with some of my colleagues.”

Yes, yes, yes.

There is always a performative aspect to politics — especially in debates — but Klobuchar’s critique, in words and that picture, perfectly summed up my (and I bet a lot of other peoples’) frustration with Tuesday night: It felt like sound and fury signifying nothing. The candidates wanted to show they were Outraged and Angry and Not Going To Take It Anymore. And so they yelled at each other and interrupted each other and snarked at each other. But they didn’t really debate each other.

Throwing your hands up in wonderment and frustration was really the only right reaction to all of it. Which Klobuchar nailed.

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