Saturday, June 08, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 23

As the summer of 2019 approaches, this might have been a consequential week in Campaign 2020. For one thing, we know that if the Republican nomination were not already a done deal for Donald Trump, it is closer to officially so now. While former Governor William Weld continues to press onward, current Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said last Saturday evening he will not oppose the incumbent in a primary. He had made some noise about doing so. Not long ago, former Ohio Governor John Kasich said basically the same thing. While I salute Weld for having some political cojones, for me, the most realistic option has always been try to find a mainstream center-right candidate (I would even settle for center-left at this point) to run in the general election. Despite much in the way of hinting at such by Kasich last year, he has gotten far quieter on this point. Also nearly absent from the public scene in recent months, post back surgery, is former Starbucks boss Howard Schultz.

So, if nothing changes, and not taking into consideration the participation of the traditional third parties such as the Libertarians and Greens, we are looking at a traditional D vs. R race. The D race will definitely be hotly contested. We are less than three weeks away from the first of the debates. It should be quite a spectacle. The DNC is already taking steps to try to limit the number of candidates who might qualify for future debates.

The front-runner is still perceived to be Joe Biden though, although his lead in primary polls has continued to shrink a bit while general election polls against Trump have been such to buoy the spirit of Democrats. I think this was a bad week for Biden though. The particular reason why has been a bit disappointing to me. While I know enough about Joe Biden to not ever be able to vote for him, I was open to at least somewhat "rooting" for him against Trump. I think that will be much harder to do although my Trump loathing remains as strong as ever. Biden has proved to have the spine of a jellyfish. For decades, while still being publicly pro-choice on the controversial issue of abortion, Biden has supported the Hyde Amendment, a 1970's piece of legislation that barred public federal funds from going to subsidize abortions.

This was once considered sacrosanct but the Democrats have moved so far to the left on the issue that Biden became the only one of the 24 major contenders to have this position. He was confused and surprised when first asked by a woman at a campaign event in which he seemed to indicate he opposed the Hyde Amendment. The campaign then released a statement trying to clear up the damage saying he still supported it. The left and other candidates pounced on Biden and provided pressure. Within 48 hours, the "flip flop flip was complete" as Biden said publicly he no longer supported the Hyde Amendment framing as an issue of "healthcare" for poor women. To me, it is morally unacceptable to expect people who honestly consider abortion akin to murder to have to pay for others to have the procedure. There would be a whole lot I would be willing to overlook in regards to a Democrat, even the general issue of abortion itself, but I cannot overlook this.

It is said that former child star and Twitter activist Alyssa Milano had directly contacted to Biden campaign to get the candidate to change his position on this issue. Sure enough, that is what happened. I guess Alyssa/Samantha is "the Boss" after all.

While changing his position on this issue might limit the damage immediately for Biden among Democrats, the message is now out that any amount of pressure can get him to change his mind. He has 45 years of a public record to answer for and left-wingers will be trying to get him to denounce and apologize for such much more, while adapting their positions. If he is ultimately successful in winning the nomination, there may not be much to differentiate Biden from Bernie Sanders after all. All of that will just make Biden look like a less appealing general election candidate. There will once again be a lot of voters who dislike Donald Trump, as was the case in 2016, but will hold their nose and vote for him, because of such fear of how far left the Democrats have gone. No, I will not be one of them. I will vote my conscience above all else.

This was a very weird week for Donald Trump as well, even as he got to meet the Royal Family in London, at least the ones that were willing to be photographed with him. He started a Twitter fight with actress Bette Midler and seemed to infer that the Moon was part of Mars. Before that, there was much discussion about if he called Megan Markle, the American born Duchess of Sussex, "nasty" or not. Audio evidence indicates he clearly did but I would be willing to give him a bit of a break on the context of how he said it.

Of course this week was also about commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. In ceremonies, by all accounts, Donald Trump read his teleprompter without a hitch and spoke very moving words written by others that honored those who paid the ultimate price and the ever dwindling band of heroes who still survive among us. That is great. When the teleprompter is off though, Trump cannot help himself and with the crosses and Stars of David in the background, he used the occasion of a Fox News interview to attack Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Robert Mueller, a decorated and honored Vietnam War veteran.

Pelosi did happen to say this past week, behind closed doors, but in remarks she clearly wanted to go public, that she does not want to see Trump impeached, but imprisoned. (If the latter is worthy, surely the first should be automatic.) Trump acolytes reacted in shock and spoke of a "Banana Republic" as if they do not remember that Trump led large crowds in chants of "Lock Her Up" in regards to his 2016 opponent on nearly a daily basis. Of course the hypocrisy extends both ways, but what else is new?

On the policy front, the week involved Trump making threats to Mexico about tarrifs only to call them off at the 11th hour indicating a "great deal" on immigration had been cut. For the sake of the country, I hope that is true, but I doubt it. Who caved? Mexico or Trump? I think evidence points to Trump. For one thing, this is a rare issue where it looks like many Congressional Republicans were willing (on solid ground) to actually oppose him on something. The Trump die-hards, in and out of elective office remain with him when he is stubborn and with him when he caves and always deny either is ever a problematic trait.

So, everything this week showed serious political and personal vulnerability among the front-runners of both major parties. Many in both parties are hoping there will a different option than Trump vs. Biden. Democrats can at least make that possible. Republicans like me are in a more hopeless situation. As the saying goes, the chips will fall as they may. At least the eventual loser of Campaign 2020 will deserve to lose.


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