Saturday, July 25, 2020

Race for the White House # 82

Tomorrow  means we will reach the 100 day mark until the 2020 Presidential election. This is clearly a campaign season like none other. At the moment, the polls portend a potential blowout for the Democrat, but supporters of the Republican incumbent seem to think these polls are "fake" and remember the surprise of most four years ago when Donald Trump was elected.

All sorts of things happened this week and it is nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. Trump is now sending "federal forces" into American cities in the supposed attempts to quell violence and this is leading to a lot of controversy and questions of Constitutionality. He also has resumed, somewhat, his daily Coronavirus press conferences, in which he is appearing solo and saying some weird things, such as saying he wishes jailed accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, the ex girlfriend and accomplice of the late Jeffrey Epstein "well", and points out that he met her several times.Was he just totally unprepared for this question and perhaps not even aware of a high profile matter before his own Justice Department or was he trying to send her a veiled message to be quiet, the way he has told other past allies?

On the matter of the virus itself, Trump continues to sometimes give mixed messages, but has been a bit more realistic and sober in his assessment this past week saying it is likely that things will get worse before they get better. He also took the unprecedented step of canceling the Florida portion of the rearranged Republican National Convention. This means, as many expected, that there will not be anything this summer resembling typical conventions. Both Trump and Joe Biden will likely give addresses in front of a camera, but before largely empty rooms. It has been reported that Trump has been told that his opponent in this race is not as much Biden, but the virus itself. For all intents and purposes, that is accurate. Unless Trump can show that he has gotten a better handle in dealing with what America has been facing, both functionally and in a public leadership way, he really does not have much of a chance of gaining another four years. What Biden does is largely irrelevant. There are a lot of questions and doubts about Joe Biden, but what he also has going for him is that he is also nowhere near as disliked as Hillary Clinton was. He also of course does not have to face the task of being the first ever female Presidential nominee.

Fairly soon, Biden will announce his pick for Vice President and while numbers twos on tickets rarely make the difference in elections, they are covered, at least at first, quite heavily by the media. Biden will be the nation's oldest President if elected, and while he is said to want to serve two full terms, many expect that there will be a different nominee for his party in 2024 and I think that at a certain point in a Biden Administration, many in the left of the party will call for the President to step aside in favor of a younger, female, and likely more liberal Vice President. If that happens, the Democrats will have a chance to have an incumbent run twice and potentially serve 10 years in the Oval Office. Nonetheless, Biden is said to want to have his moment of glory, both in the campaign, and in the White House, largely to himself and is reluctant to pick anyone who might "overshadow" him or has Presidential ambitions of their own. While it is true that most recent successful picks have been altered toward the governing process, I do not believe Biden's age nor the tumultuous situation of the country really gives him the luxury of being that selective.

Biden has long said he will pick a woman to run with, who will join the ranks of the late Geraldine Ferraro and the now politically dead Sarah Palin as the only women to be nominated for Veep under a major party label (Selina Meyer does not count.) I want to briefly address the names that are being mentioned as the woman who might face incumbent Mike Pence in a debate.

Two U.S. Senators have already ruled themselves out. They are Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. It is far more likely that Biden will pick a racial minority female for this job which would rule out Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham would be the first Latino or Latina on a ticket, but she seems unlikely at this point. There has been some talk that another white female, Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is being considered, but I do not think that is likely. She would be the first openly gay person on a national ticket.

There is another Midwestern  Senator named Tammy though that has been getting a lot of recent buzz. That is Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Born abroad to an American father and a Thai mother, Duckworth is a genuine American hero who lost both legs serving in the military as a pilot in the Iraq War. I have watched her career locally since she first made her political debut and she has been both my Congresswomen and Senator. I admit that I would appreciate the contrast between her and Trump on the matter of service and personal courage, but I have to say, I do not think she is exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer and would probably commit some political gaffes under the national lights. Biden will do enough of that himself. She is said to be very seriously considered though which might mean that if she is picked, her former boss, the disgraced ex Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, flung from prison from Trump, will get a lot of tv airtime talking about her in support of his new hero, Donald Trump.

Several African-American females are under consideration including Florida Congresswoman Val Demings (whom I suppose would be the pick I would object to the least) and California Senator Kamala Harris. Both have long associations though with law enforcement, from having respectively been a cop and a prosecutor and sadly enough many in the Democrat Party would find that life and work experience to be a negative. Nobody believes that former Georgia Gubernatorial nominee Stacy Abrams is under serious consideration, because she lobbied too hard for it, but there may be an outside chance for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, an early Biden supporter. She received high marks from some for the passionate way she defended her community during the early stages of the riots a couple months ago, but an incident with the police only led to further violence in her city. Recently, she and other members of her family have been recovering from Covid-19.

If Biden wants to pick  a low-key policy wonk that he has worked with before, there will be many who will suggest former Obama Administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice, an African-American woman. She clearly seems to want the job, despite having never run for office before. During her tenure in government, she was often controversial. I note that it would be interesting though how her selection would handle the fact that her only son is a former, and perhaps even still current, College Republican leader, who has expressed his support for Donald Trump.

Another African-American woman has been getting talked about as a real possibility more frequently and I never would have expected at the beginning of the process that California Congresswoman Karen Bass would be a factor (even putting aside what has seemingly happened in online culture regarding the female name Karen)

Bass, the current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus seems like a very nice person, but she represents a district in Los Angeles that is one of the most heavily Democrat in the country, So, she has never really had to go about trying to reach swing voters. Biden has a bond with her because they have both been parents who have sadly lost children. She also at age 66 is believed to not have any Presidential ambitions of her own and would seemingly be content to play second banana. If she is picked, there will be attention paid to her very liberal voting record as well as to statements she made upon the death of Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro.

Needless to say, whomever Biden picks is unlikely to be someone I will share much in the way of ideological kinship with, but I still hope he picks wisely. It is doubtful that his chances of winning will go away because of a bad pick, but there are some that would be more helpful in winning potential swing voters than others. Most importantly though, considering Biden's age, it is important he pick someone who could conceivably serve in the top job credibly, from Day 1. We have learned from the Trump Era just how bad an unprepared person can be. Biden needs to keep all this in mind as more important than potentially being "outshined." Frankly, many Americans who will vote for Biden will do so hoping they see and hear far less from him and about him than the person who currently occupies the office.


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