Saturday, March 30, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 13

For all the talk about diversity among Democrat Presidential contenders, the most recent national polls show that three white men at the top of a very large pack. Furthermore, another white man seems to be making a move at the grassroots level trying to break through and make a large name for himself.

In the meantime for Democrats, the carousel of contenders continues. A recent report now has former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe leaning towards running, which would come as a surprise to many who assumed he would not run if Joe Biden does. Might he know something others do not? Then, for those who feel that Bernie Sanders and Biden are not old enough, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who is soon to be 89 years old has said he will run for the White House once again. Apparently, he does not intend to be President, but wants to get on a debate stage and berate fellow contenders. Forty-five years younger than Gravel is Wayne Messam. The ex-Florida State Wide Receiver is the African-American Mayor of Miramar, Florida. He may not even be very well known in his state's political circles, but the city he governs happens to have a good deal more people than South Bend, Indiana whose Mayor is getting a lot of attention.

Pete Buttigieg is just 37 years old and youthful looking but comes across as at least a little bit older. The former Rhodes Scholar and Afghan War veteran is finishing up his second term as Mayor of the city which contains the University of Notre Dame. He is also the first openly gay candidate to ever be a contender for President in a major party. Democrats have been saying that once people learn how to pronounce "Mayor Pete's" last name that they are becoming very impressed by his intellect and his communication ability. This is quite a lot for a politician who has never sought statewide or even Congressional office. He did seek to become Chairman of the DNC in 2017.

Political junkie types are buzzing that Buttigieg is running a strong under the radar campaign and is poised to sour in places like Iowa and New Hampshire once people can see him on the debate stage. The expectations will certainly be high for him as a candidate in such crowded field. Some in the party are already convinced that he is the perfect type of candidate to oppose Donald Trump, and someone who could put Midwest states, even Indiana in play. When it all comes down to it though, despite the fact that his married to a man, Buttigieg is a white dude and contenders are having to answer to that.

As mentioned, the top candidates in national polls are Biden, Sanders, and Beto O'Rourke, all white men. They have tried to find various ways to apologize for this, although Sanders has felt the least need to do so, perhaps because he would be America's first Jewish/agnostic President, and that fact that he is also very, very socialist.

O'Rourke, who likes to stand on counters, is holding a series of rallies today to formally kick off his campaign. He is also having to deal with a continuing of stories hinting at his weirdness. Apparently, he was a bit of a lost soul briefly after his recent Senate loss to Ted Cruz and there was also a story that he once tried to trick his wife into eating a turd from their newborn baby. In any event, if the polls are to be believed, Beto has moved up nationally since becoming a candidate.

The political universe continues to wait for Joe Biden however. He seems to be doing everything he can to deal with negative stories early on such as offering a public apology (while never having spoken to her privately) to Anita Hill for the way she was treated by a "bunch of white guys" at the 1991 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings he presided over as Chairman. Shouldn't he also apologize to the equally African-American Clarence Thomas that he also had to be questioned by white guys?

Biden is being seen in the polls as the Democrat front-runner and the strongest possible alternative in his party against Trump. If one really wants to look at things though, despite the respect people may have for him over the way he has dealt with family tragedy, has Biden ever been a strong candidate for anything? He was lucky enough to be Barack Obama's Vice President for eight years and was the beneficiary of a billion internet memes where he was positively portrayed as a loyal wing-man to the nation's first black President. Over this past month, there have been stories that Biden was preparing to announce his candidacy with a pledge to pick Stacy Abrams, the African-American woman who narrowly lost the race for Governor of Georgia in 2018. The problem may be that Abrams was apparently never consulted with such a plan and she is maintaining that she might run for President this cycle herself. (Considering the size of the field and her lack of political background, it would be a great deal for her to take if she can get it extended. by Biden)

I have also always thought that Biden might struggle overcoming his reputation as being a bit handsy. The concept of "Creepy Uncle Joe" may be hard to shake. Over recent years, there are many photos and videos of Biden placing his hands on females of various ages who look visibly uncomfortable. There is not necessarily any reason to suggest Biden was trying to touch them in a sexual manner but this is definitely a problem in the "Me Too" age.

Yesterday, Lucy Flores, a Latina political figure in Nevada, who was her party's candidate for Lt. Governor in 2014 recounted a story about how at a rally that year, Biden surprised her by placing his hands on her shoulders and sniffing her hair. She said she was mortified and made very uncomfortable by the experience. It would be next to impossible for Biden to deny this, since there is video of him doing the exact same thing to other women, so his spokesman basically just released a "he had no idea she was uncomfortable and she has every right to speak out" statement.

There is little doubt that other Democrat candidates, especially the women, are going to need to push this angle to a large extent if they want to surpass Biden in the polls. This is if he even runs at this point. Might Lucy Flores wind up being one of the most influential players in this entire cycle? Is she currently supporting a different candidate?

As everyone knows, the most recent and presumptive future Republican Presidential nominee is a man who was caught bragging about committing sexual assault and who has been accused and sued by women for doing exactly that. Is Biden, however innocent he might have thought his touching of woman was, the right person to put up against Donald Trump? Needless to say, Trump will have a field day trying to use this against Biden, apparently without any self-reflection of his own.

We saw that of course this past week with the way Trump and his apologists have declared "total vindication" in the wake of the release of the Mueller Report to the Attorney General. Clearly, Robert Mueller has determined that he cannot establish a conspiracy to tie Trump to the Russian efforts to interfere in the election. As I said last week, I trust Mueller on that and think the result is good for the country, however corrupt I may personally find Trump. More interestingly though, is that Mueller apparently punted on the issue of obstruction of justice to William Barr, Trump's new Attorney General, who has determined that nothing along those lines can be proven. Of course, we have yet to see the report and the fight over when and how it will be released will continue probably for at least a couple more weeks.

There can be no debate though, that Trumpworld is spiking the football over the lack of being labeled felons. At least publicly, they are saying they are now free to march on towards 2020 stronger than ever. That could potentially lead to some political or policy overreaches but it more than brings home the point that Democrats absolutely cannot take victory over Trump for granted.

While it may not last forever, the short political life of DJT does indeed seem to have some personal teflon.


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