A pride of lions. A gaggle of geese. A coven of witches. A clutter of candidates. Enough already! Twenty-one months until the presidential election and campaign fatigue has set in along with campaign confusion, campaign misinformation — even campaign comedy. As of the last week in February, the list of Democrats numbered 18, plus a few “maybes.”
You don’t have to be a pollster or analyst to realize the folly. For openers, these candidates who already serve as elected officials must devote time better spent governing than to fundraising and rallies. OK, Bernie took in a spontaneous $1 million in the first few hours after his announcement. Three days later, that number topped $6 million. Never mind that Bernie is way old enough (77) to be Tulsi Gabbard’s (37) father.
But is this the time for frivolous candidacies, when the real national emergency is not rapists and druggies storming the border but unseating a president who has been called a despot by Washington cognoscenti? Divide and conquer doesn’t work at the ballot box.
Besides, only the naïve believe all these candidates are serious, not just running to build a resume and/or gain points in other elections. Maybe stockpile stories for their grandchildren.
Some seem motivated by making a statement — good for them — like gay-and-married South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. One or two think diversity alone is enough. They may be right: If an old white man with no government experience got elected, why not a young woman of color with credentials?
I’m hunkered down, passing time with observations.
I predict Joe Biden with either Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar as veep, and the unspoken promise that he will not seek a second term, paving the way for the first woman president. Sen. Harris has a sharp, often sarcastic tongue appreciated by urbanites. Not sure about the heartland. She is brainy and attractive but somehow lacks that down-to-earthiness Klobuchar conveys. Both have great smiles and even better hair. Never underestimate the power of a candidate’s hair, male or female. What was JFK’s trademark? Bill Clinton? Ronald Reagan? Remember how awful Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, looked in long, droopy locks? Why do you think Klobuchar threw her hat into the ring while going hatless in a Minnesota blizzard?
Congressman Eric Swalwell, 38, caught my eye months ago: meets hair and smile requirements, extremely well-spoken, an Iowa native (son of a police chief so count on the blue-blue vote) now representing California. If I’m still around, Swalwell’s my guy in 2028.
Names don’t really matter; who would have predicted Barack Obama? But I can’t get my tongue around Hickenlooper or Ojeda. What irony, a President (Julian) Castro. Interesting, that boyish Beto (O’Rourke), 46, is a Spanish diminutive of Robert, Beto’s given name. That couldn’t hurt the Texas Irishman. At six feet, four inches, Beto towers over Michael Bloomberg, who might be the shortest president ever and at $51 billion perhaps the richest, if Trump ever releases his tax returns.
I know nothing about John Delaney or Chris Murphy, too much about Elizabeth Warren. Cory Booker needs to lighten up, smile more, put New Jersey behind him.
About Bernie: I moved to Burlington, Vermont, the week Bernie was elected mayor by a dozen votes, defeating an old-guard incumbent. He had long, wild hair, didn’t own a suit, spoke revolutionary ideas in an abrasive Brooklyn accent. He was an independent filmmaker rumored to have lived out of his car. He refused questions about his personal life. However, by making him an offer he couldn’t refuse I copped a long, comprehensive interview. Over the next 20 years I wrote about him, his wife, son and stepdaughter. We spoke at the supermarket and at events. I’ve been to Bernie’s house in Burlington (don’t ask) and was sent to Washington to shadow Vermont’s senators and lone congressman. There, I saw his semi-basement condo (don’t ask) and cluttered office. By then, he owned a suit, had tamed his hair but not the accent.
Now, although shouting the same message, he is a changed man. From scruffy hippie to proper senator who still inspires not only aging groupies but idealistic young voters.
The upshot of this premature campaigning falls under Civics 101, not rocket science; we need news about building bridges, roads, schools, transit systems, not endless debates on constructing walls. We need to feed children, not egos. What we don’t need is billion-dollar 22-month campaigns filled with Shakespearean sound and fury, signifying little.