A couple of Democratic candidate notes…
- Today I listened to an interview with Michael Bennet on the podcast Pod Save America. It’s a bunch of ex-Obama staffers who have the leaning that you would expect. The podcasts tend to be on the long side, but there’s some good content in there.
- My main takeaway from the interview is that Michael Bennet sounds like a Senate institutionalist, rather than someone trying to make a move into the Executive Branch. I previously lumped him with the group of Democratic Presidential candidates whom I think have something add to the discussion and should stay in the race. This interview changed my mind. His vision for the presidency is as a Senator. Time to get out of the race, Senator Bennet.
- I’ve previously said I’ll vote for any of the Democratic candidates over the 73-year old former reality TV show host that currently sits in the Oval Office. This includes the 77-year old Bernie Sanders. I count Bernie among the top tier of Democratic candidates, in a group that includes: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. But Bernie is my least favorite on that list and I’d probably put him below Castro, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Gillibrand as far as whom I’d like to see get the nomination. I’ve said before that there were a lot of factors that led to Trump beating Clinton in 2016, but one of those was definitely Bernie. So, I’m holding a small grudge against him for that. While I agree with his endgame on many policy positions (healthcare being one of them), he just doesn’t have a good answer for how you get from here to there. I also view 2020 as a potentially close race where base enthusiasm will matter. A battle of 70-something white guys is just not going to cut it for the Democratic base.
- There is an argument, however, that a general election battle between Trump and Bernie will be all about Socialism, since Bernie describes himself by the dreaded term “Democratic Socialist.” I wish Bernie had a better defense of the term, honestly, but I think this criticism of Bernie’s candidacy is overblown. Republicans and conservatives have shown that they will criticize Democratic candidates and their policies as socialist regardless of whether they’re actually right-wing, left-wing or moderate. Democrats should not choose someone other than Bernie for fear of being called a Socialist. It’s coming no matter who the nominee is. This is a predictable attack and any competent campaign should have an answer for this. The reason not to support Bernie in this lane is because he doesn’t seem to be able to hit this softball.