Some thoughts on the Democrats — all of which may prove wrong in the end, but hey, let’s have an honest accounting of how things look now. Joe Biden’s strength in the polls remains impressive, but his candidacy is crippled. In the last debate, he was easily the worst performer: confused, addled, over-briefed, and clearly past his expiration date as a pol. Close your eyes and he sounds exactly like Abraham Simpson. His crowds are anemic, his speeches lame, his self-defense as Trump lunged biliously at him and his family a case study in ineffectiveness. This is not a criticism of Biden’s career or character. He’s done his part for decades, and I am deeply fond of him. On the issues, I’d prefer him to most of the rest. He would have won easily in 2016, if he hadn’t been consumed with grief or if the Clintons and Obama hadn’t kneecapped him. But this soufflé will not rise, even as I wish it could.
Sanders has had a heart attack. He came back swinging in the debate and looks fine. But come on — he’s had a heart attack at the age of 78. What happens if he has another one at any point before the election? Why should a party risk that? He’s also an actual socialist, and he hasn’t entertained — let alone engaged with — a new idea in decades. That’s appealing to millennial Marxists who have no memory of the 1970s, but Jeremy Corbyn was also a superstar with the youngsters a while back.
Warren is surging, but she is, I fear — yes, I’ll say it — unelectable. I may be wrong, but by pledging to rip everyone off their current private health insurance, it certainly seems like she has thrown away the core advantage of her side — health security. By floating the notion in the CNN forum that her future Secretary of Education would have to be approved by a transgender 9-year-old boy, she’s placing herself firmly inside a cultural revolution most Americans are deeply uncomfortable with.
And the Trump game plan against her writes itself: She’s a supercilious, smug, know-it-all Massachusetts liberal who reveals contempt for the deplorables the way Clinton did last time. The “first woman of color” to get hired as a professor at Harvard Law School is the stuff that GOP dreams are made on. That any suspicion of the viability of her candidacy will be ascribed entirely to misogyny will only help Trump, the way it did in 2016.
Booker lacks a connection with anyone, and still seems to be campaigning for a Rhodes Scholarship. On paper, he’s perfect. In reality, he comes off as an earnest cyborg from outer space. Harris has revealed herself as a feckless, authoritarian, lying opportunist who treats the Constitution as cavalierly as Trump, but without his excuse of total ignorance. Tulsi is despised by too many Dems to have a hope (I can’t quite figure out the reason for their hatred, but it’s a fact). Klobuchar is a ball of nerves and insecurity who seems to shrink upon exposure. Buttigieg is easily the best debater, and most appealing to independents and a few wavering Republicans, but the big question still hangs over his candidacy: Will more culturally conservative minority voters — not to mention white working-class ones — show up for a gay man in the numbers that Democrats need? The cause for concern is real.
O’Rourke is a woke, moronic bigot, who believes we live in a white-supremacist country, and would happily remove tax exemptions from most traditional churches, synagogues, and mosques, because they still believe in the literal teachings of the Bible or the Koran. Of all the candidates, he’s the only one I actively loathe. Castro is an open-borders globalist panderer dedicated to the vital cause of free abortions for transgender male illegal immigrants. All of them have staked out “left Twitter” positions on immigration, race, and “social justice” that make Obama seem like Steve Bannon in comparison.
The only true bright spot is Andrew Yang — fresh, real, future-oriented, sane, offering actual analyses of automation, trade, and technology that distinguish him from the crowd. Like Buttigieg, I suspect he’d be a superb foil for Trump and could flummox the dictatorial dotard into incoherence and open bigotry. He’s a fascinating character to me. When he’s asked a question, his nearly expressionless, wrinkle-free face, which seems to spring directly from his chest, seems about to offer some canned pabulum, and then almost always responds with a flawless, thoughtful, and entirely relevant, even insightful answer. I’m rooting for him (and Pete), but I’m not delusional.
Yang and “Booty-judge” are the future that possibly has arrived too soon, like Obama in 2007. But neither, alas, has Obama’s aura, emotional intelligence, and natural command. Who even has Bill Clinton’s roguish charm and policy brilliance?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll vote for anyone, including Warren or Sanders or even the vacuous “Beto” to defeat Trump. We proud human scum will not be distracted from the central task at hand. But let’s be honest: This is a field that has largely wilted upon inspection. For what it’s worth, I suspect Warren will win the nomination and dutifully lose the election just like Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and the second Clinton. She has that quintessential perfume of smug, well-meaning, mediocre doom that Democrats simply cannot resist.