Friday, March 6, 2020

Thinking About Warren and The Rest of the Primaries

When the campaign started years ago..... sure feels like that... I was not expecting to support Elizabeth Warren.  I admired her ability to wire-brush both Republican and Democratic appointees that appeared before her committees.  I always thought that she was an excellent Senator, but I was not sure she would be that great of a President.  I also tended to view her as to the left of my preferences on various policy issues.

As the campaign developed and some of the candidates I favored dropped out (Kamala Harris, for instance), and as I learned more about Warren and about those on her team (several NatSec friends worked for her), I started to consider her more seriously.  And then I considered her plans (well thought out even if some were again to the left of me).  And then I watched her in speeches, in debates, and in interviews, and I could not help but admire her smarts, her moxy, her empathy, and her dog. 

I came to the conclusion that of the candidates in the race, that she would be the best President.  That she would not act ideologically but take seriously the issues, fight for what she believed in, and work smartly towards her goals.  And, yes, her stance that corruption is a great threat to the US and to the liberal international order played very well in my house. 

I am not surprised that she had to drop out.  First, Bernie had locked in the far left of the party--he could just build on his 2016 coalition.  Of course, he has not really, but he has mostly kept what he did build before.  Second, the media fixation with narratives of electability did heaps of harm.  If the issues were covered more and the premature horse racing was covered less, I think Warren would have stood out more.  Third, she probably should have gone after Bernie a bit more aggressively--how could she get some of his voters OR get more of the squishier voters who could see her as the best alternative to Bernie.

But Warren provided a huge public service twice in her last weeks on the campaign trail.  In the debate, she took out Bloomberg very effectively.  Maybe she cannot take on all billionaires in this race, but she took out the one that appeared on the stage  most effectively.  I am sure Bloomberg stands for much of what Warren finds wrong with today's politics, and she ripped him apart.  For that, a grateful nation will thank her.  Similarly, she made Chris Mathews look like the dinosaur that he is.  Why should she believe Bloomberg's accusers?  Why should Bloomberg lie?  Why she does not believe him?  Warren stood her ground and made Mathews look like the misogynist he is.  His career might have ended for other reasons, but I think she administered the coup de grace.  And it was wonderful.

Alas, we will not see her doing the same on a debate stage with Trump--pretty sure Trump would have dodged such debates.  But we will see her conducting oversight with passion, intelligence, and strategy for a while to come.

I am conflicted about the next stage---Bernie's voters are far less likely to vote for Biden in November than Biden's are to vote for Bernie's.  Which means, dare I say it, Bernie might be more electable.  But I really dislike Bernie.  He is not a democrat, he is not all that smart about  the issues, and he is frickin old.  Biden is old and too willing to work with the Republicans, but he is likable, which matters.  I think both Biden and Sanders set back women's progress not just by winning and eliminating the women but because their campaigns and their behavior tend to be less than great on those scores.  That the most vulnerable in the Democratic coalition support Biden does speak to me. 

Given their age, I just hope the nominee picks a smart woman who can bring on some voters so that Trump can be kicked to the curb and that ultimately we get a smart woman in the White House.

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