Impeachment: Obviously, I am disappointed in the results, though not surprised. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict Trump is even more significant than it might seem. What I hadn’t quite realized until I read Michael Cohen’s Boston Globe newsletter item the other day is that Romney was the first senator in American history to vote to convict a president of his own political party in an impeachment trial. He’s never been the worst of the Republicans, but he’s not been the best either. But he did prove it is possible for someone to be honorable and patriotic, regardless of their party. Would that there were more.
More Outrageous Actions: There are too many to list them all, but here are a few more reasons to be disgusted by His Orangeness:
- Giving a hate-filled pompous bloviator like Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom is an insult to the dozens of honorable Americans who have been given that award.
- Removing restrictions on U.S. use of landmines will lead to thousands of people – often, children – being killed or maimed.
- Residents of New York State are being denied trusted traveler program enrollment (including renewals) in retaliation for New York City (which is a separate jurisdiction and often at political odds with the rest of the state) declaring itself an immigration sanctuary. This includes Global Entry, Nexus (a big deal in parts of New York along the Canadian border), but not TSA pre-check. Note that one has to have a passport already for these programs, so the claim that it is to protect against illegal immigrants is pure unmitigated bullshit.
- After Secretary of Defense Esper promised Alexander Vindman he wouldn’t face retaliation for having testified in the impeachment hearings in the House, he’s been transferred out of his National Security Council job.
So What About the Democratic Candidates: As usual, my top choices were gone long before anybody weighed in on things. Actually, to be more precise, my top choices weren’t ever planning to run. (I should probably note that the last Presidential candidate I was truly excited about was John Anderson in 1980. Incidentally, for those too young to remember, he started out running as a Republican.)
I should start with a few criteria. I care about appropriate experience and I think executive experience in government is ideal. I am more interested in foreign affairs than most people are, and I’d like to see someone with at least some familiarity with how we operate in the world. For example, I think isolationism is unrealistic and dangerous. I am somewhat conservative about economics. I don’t think that free public college for all is a good idea, for example, because everyone who has studied the idea has found that it would benefit children of wealthier families the most. There are other ways to get students higher education without crushing debt burdens. What I’d most like to see is somebody who has proven the ability to work well with others, including the ability to reach appropriate compromises, without backing down on the things that matter most. And, despite those who think they can come in and change Washington, I am a believer in working within the system. The last President who came in without having the inside experience and succeeded was Woodrow Wilson.
So let’s look at the 11 Democratic candidates who are still left.
Michael Bennet: Who, I hear you ask? He’s a Senator from Colorado. He hasn’t gotten enough traction to make the debate stage since the second debate. I think it’s kind of a pity that he hasn’t gotten any momentum, because he’s got a seriously wonky reputation and has shown the ability to stand up to others, e.g. in his take-down of Ted Cruz over the government shutdown. I also really like his experience with immigration reform. Realistically, he has no chance at this point. He might be an excellent running mate for a candidate who needs some gravitas.
Joe Biden. I have deeply mixed feelings about Joe Biden. He’s got a lot of experience (including both legislative and executive experience) and he’s really strong on foreign policy. He has a long history of being able to work across the aisle, though I am not sure how feasible that is in these more divided times. On the downside, he also has a chronic case of hoof-in-mouth disease. My biggest concerns with him are: a) his age and b) his vulnerability to Trumpist attacks, however unjustified.
Michael Bloomberg: I really hate that he jumped into the race late and forced his way into prominence by spending lots of his own money. I’m also annoyed that I am being bombarded by his advertising. But, here’s the thing. I agree with many of his positions. I think he has a reasonable, albeit non-ideal, level of executive experience. I like that he has shown the ability to admit that some of his past positions were not good ideas. I think he could be electable, though there are a certain percentage of Americans who, though they won’t admit it, are unlikely to vote for a Jew. And, if I am concerned about Biden’s age, I should note that Bloomberg is actually a year older. I’d rather not see a Presidential race between two old rich men, but I could live with Bloomberg if it came to that.
Pete Buttigieg: I understand why some people find him an attractive candidate. He has an impressive resume, in many ways, with serious educational and military credentials. He’s fairly well-spoken. But he just doesn’t have the right level of experience. I doubt he could find K Street (where the lobbyists gather) on a map. (Hint – they run alphabetically.) I’d like to see him seek an office which would teach him a little about how Washington works.
Tulsi Gabbard: She has an interesting background in some ways, e.g. military service in a combat zone and being the first Hindu member of Congress. But she combines that with inadequate experience and a history of anti-LGBTQ+ positions, though she says she has changed her views since her days in the Hawaii state legislature. I am, frankly, surprised she has lasted as long as she has.
Amy Klubuchar: She’s probably the closest to my views of the candidates who have qualified for the debates so far. I wish she had some executive experience, but that could be balanced with the right running mate. I’d like to see her putting out positions on bigger picture issues as all I’ve really heard her on is healthcare. After a weak showing in Iowa, I doubt she will last much longer, alas.
Deval Patrick: Is he still actually in the race? He entered late and hasn’t gotten much traction. I think he’s got the right background (having been a governor) and I like his focus on building a more sustainable and inclusive America. But he has neither the financial resources nor the organizational support to make it.
Bernie Sanders: Oy, don’t get me started on Bernie. He’s an angry old man who has never actually accomplished anything in his life. He’d be a complete disaster for the economy. And he isn’t even a member of the Democratic party! (Admittedly, neither am I. I’m a Dead Armadillo.)
Tom Steyer: There is a certain irony about a billionaire who says his candidacy is about getting corporate money out of our political system. I actually like a lot of Steyer’s positions (especially with respect to climate change) but his lack of mainstream political experience makes me wish he’d keep to his advocacy groups and stay away from the grown-up table.
Elizabeth Warren: I like Warren’s wonkishness, which has resulted in her having lots of plans. I don’t particularly like many of those plans, particularly with respect to the economy. While she lacks executive experience, she does have a record of actual accomplishment, notably in her role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. My biggest concern is that I think she is naive about foreign policy. And her economic positions are too far to the left and could be nearly as disastrous as Bernie's.
Andrew Yang: I understand his appeal as Yang seems like a genuinely nice guy and is the rare political candidate with a sense of humor. But being likeable and being a successful tech executive do not amount to being ready to be president. Go home and run for school board, then Congress. Maybe get a Cabinet appointment in 10 years or so. Then I might consider you.
Bottom line: Look, I am going to vote against Trump no matter what. If the Democratic nominee were Bernie, it would take some serious nose-holding to pull that lever. If there were an actual Republican contest and, say, Bill Weld were the candidate instead of Trump, I’d have to do some deep thinking.
Overall, I’d be happiest if the candidate were to be Michael Bennet or Amy Klubuchar. I’d also be very pleasantly surprised. Beyond that, I think Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg would be electable. I’d like to see Tom Steyer turn his money to whoever the candidate is (as well as giving serious cash to various Senatorial candidates.)
Love, love, love me. I’m a moderate.
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