Saturday, January 18, 2020

Race for the White House # 55

This past Tuesday, six white Democrats, with only a small trace of Cherokee blood combined between them, met in Des Moines, Iowa for the final debate before February's statewide Precinct Caucuses.

Yes, it was remarked upon how lacking in racial diversity the current field is, especially among those who qualified for the debate. The week began on Monday with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker becoming the latest to end his campaign. He will now focus on reelection or perhaps a hope to join somebody on a ticket. The only remaining African-American candidate in the field from the party that produced Barack Obama, is Deval Patrick, who remains virtually invisible on the campaign trail. The 2016 open Presidential cycle saw no white Democrat enter the field. This open cycle saw several racial minorities run, but the end result seems to be that none will do any better than the previously unknown Andrew Yang.

For fifty years, Democrats and their allies on the left have claimed that a system of meritocracy was not enough and that affirmative outreach must be included in any push for diversity. That is why the party racially changed their delegate rules in 1972 to enure set-asides for racial groups as well as other minorities. For whatever reason, this has not worked to the advantage of the non-white candidates running in this very large field (while Republican can point to the presence of African-Americans and Latinos on the main debate stage in the last two cycles.) Will the party feel the necessity to do something different for future elections? Whatever the case, it cannot be denied, that if it were a Hollywood awards show, allies of these candidates would be calling for boycotts of the industry and demanding more diversity.

As for the actual all-white debate? It was definitely on the boring side. The only "fireworks" occurred immediately after the debate. While the candidates officially knew they were on camera, they tended to play it safe. This particular applies to Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg, whom polls show are in the first four (and fairly close together) positions in Iowa as well as several other states. All seemed content to try to coast by in the debate and not anger the supporters of the other candidates. It reminded me of a team that had clinched a playoff berth, sitting their best players during the homestretch of the regular season.

Tom Steyer was also there and he is not apt to attack any of his fellow candidates. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar came out a bit  more determined to elevate herself, but even she seemed to be playing fairly safe, and had a bit of an off night, struggling to remember the name of a Governor for instance. To the extent that no real news was made in this debate, that would seem to benefit Biden, the national front-runner. Some believe he looked more tired and disengaged in this debate than the last couple of them.

The big campaign news of the week is that the longtime detente agreement between Sanders and Warren is apparently over. These candidates have been fishing for votes in the same left-wing pond for a long time now. For a while it looked like Warren had a big advantage. Then it more recently shifted in the direction of Sanders. It was inevitable that these two would eventually have to have a "fight."

Reportedly, Sanders allies have been pushing him in contrast to Warren at the grassroots level. Welcome to Politics. Elizabeth Warren somehow seemed outrage by the fact that Bernie supporters would do this. Her response was then to claim that in a meeting they had at the beginning of the race, Sanders told her a woman could not be President. Sanders has said it was "ludicrous" that he would say that, while not exactly, completely offering a full denial. The actual allegation is not that Sanders said a woman should not be President, but that he was apparently questioning the electability of any against Donald Trump. Why Sanders thinks he is electable might be a whole other question, but this all seems pretty overblown to me. People tend to believe that despite his semi-denials, Sanders did say it, but many feel that Warren reacted too far by airing this dirty laundry and sour grapes publicly. Barely below the surface are the simmering tensions that exist from four years ago between Sanders supporters and those of Hillary Clinton. The Sanders folks feel, not completely without justification, that the nomination was stolen from them, while Hillary and her die-hards maintain that Sanders presence in the race and his slowness to endorse her hurt in November. They are somewhat right as well.

This matter was brought up on the stage, with a local Iowa reporter basically contradicting Sanders' denial immediately after he gave one. At their podiums, both candidates tried to gloss over this matter and not talk about any tensions between them. When the debate was over though, and with cameras rolling (with audio of the exchange also being available the next day), there was some more "action." As the candidates were all shaking hands and heading on their ways, Sanders offered his to Warren who instead of shaking her longtime friend's hand said, "I believe you just called me a liar on national television." Sanders was taken aback and said,"what", so Warren repeated herself and Sanders said something like "let's not get into it now. We can have this conversation later." All the while, Tom Steyer was caught up on the populist crossfire, saying he did not want to get in the  middle, but just wanted to say "goodnight." Ok, goodnight Tom! Sanders started to answer back Warren but then stopped himself and said, "let's not do this now." So, that was it. They departed with no handshake and a credit rolls scene straight out of Veep or perhaps with the Larry David as Bernie Sanders angle, "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

The last few days has done nothing to diminish the concept of very strained feelings between Sanders and Warren. How will this effect the campaign trail in Iowa and beyond. Will their feuding help someone else as is often the case in politics? We just know that these two have to sit on a jury together now and along with Klobuchar (and the forgotten Michael Bennet) be absent from the campaign trail. All of these factors might seemingly be good news for Biden and Buttigieg in Iowa, as both continue to unveil endorsements. However, facetime with voters makes it harder to run from gaffes.

So, back to that jury. On Thursday, they were all sworn by Chief Justice John Roberts. All 100 of them. How many of these men and women have dreamed in the past or continue to this day of taking an oath administered by the Chief Justice? Damn near all of them probably .This was not likely what they had in mind though. Instead, they are preparing to serve in the solemn and serious matter of the Impeachment Trial of President Donald John Trump.

Opening arguments start Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named a small but diverse group of House Democrats to serve as the Impeachment Managers,. She probably overdid it though by passing out ceremonial pens at the signing. On the other hand, Trump will have a potentially large legal team on the Senate floor that is said to now include Kenneth Starr, the former prosecutor of the impeached Bill Clinton, and Alan Dershowitz the very famous and much respected celebrity defense attorney, whose high profile clients have included O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein.

Will this trial be boring or will it be a circus? Will Chief Justice John Roberts have to rule from the "bench" in the Senate chamber, which might then be overruled by the Senate itself? Probably. Of course, most want to know about witnesses and if former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton might be called to testify. If so, what will he say and will we be able to tell whose "side" he is on. The media was much taken this week by an interview tour of Lev Parnas, a now indicted ex crony of Rudy Giuliani who says he wants to testify and can offer evidence that Trump himself was involved an effort to break the law regarding Ukraine policy. There were also developments that Ambassador Marie Yonanovich may have been under surveillance in Ukraine by Trump allies.  If Parnas testifies, television ratings may soar. What if Joe and Hunter Biden testify too? Four Republican Senators may have a say in all of this.  The Ukraine government though has announced an investigation into some of these allegations. So it appears, Trump got his wish for them to go after potential corruption after all.

Impeachment. Iowa. Iran. So much is going on as the year begins to kick into gear. The stock market often sets daily records and Trump himself can brag of the passage of trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, and China. Things in theory should be thought as going well for him, but anybody who knows Trump will be able to say that this impeachment saga is weighing heavily on him. Almost nobody expects the end result will be his immediate removal from office, but one never knows what might pop up in the news cycle from day to day anymore and what the ultimate effect could be.


Post a Comment

<< Home