A Few Thoughts on Politics

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Amy Klobuchar

 

Senator Klobuchar (D. Minn.) appears to have made enemies in being The Senator Next Door.

 

The attacks appear to be the kind of attacks often made against powerful women.

 

On the other hand, not being able to treat . . .  at least some . . .  of the people who work for you well is often a bad sign. 

 

George Marshall, for example, was famously hard on senior officers who worked for him, having both very high standards and being uncommonly reserved and detached.  However, Marshall was also known for the courtesy, empathy and professionalism he demonstrated in dealing with NCOs and enlisted Soldiers.  Further, many people who are known to be demanding towards their staff (like GOA George Marshall or GEN [R] Wes Clark) are also known to be even harder on themselves.

 

If Senator Klobuchar is a "George Marshall-type," then this criticism is grossly misplaced.  On the other hand, if she has no greater vision than "garner praise and avoid blame," she will always be disappointed in her staff who will never be able to truly anticipate her requirements and she is unlikely to do well in this cursus honorum.

 

Elizabeth Warren 

 

Despite her name recognition, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D. MA) presidential aspiration are unlikely to survive the controversy about her Cherokee roots (or the lack thereof).  This is especially true after the Texas Bar application surfaced.

 

In the wake of the financial crisis, Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School, specializing in Bankruptcy Law, got a great deal of media attention for her critiques of the finance industry.  She advocated for the creation of a   Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") and increased regulations.

 

However, in practice, these things have shown little utility even though she rode them to a Senate seat.  I think she will leave the race early.

 

Cory Booker

 

A Yale Law Graduate, former major college football star, Rhodes Scholar, former effective (and, in one instance, heroic) big city mayor and US Senator, Sen. Booker (D.NJ) has to be seen as a formidable contender in 2020.

 

His performance in the Kavanagh Hearings, however, has probably damaged his carefully burnished credentials as a business-friendly moderate. 

 

This could become a major setback this year.

 

The Democratic Field is running left.  However, Trump's brand of Right Wing Populism does not please all Republicans and seems to have a limited appeal to independents.  If Booker were able to run towards the center he might find a winning coalition . . . or at least . . . provide a Vice Presidential balance for a more liberal Presidential candidate.

 

Finally, while he may or not be Spartacus, his dating Rosario Dawson at least implies he has seen Alexander

 

Tulsi Gabbard

 

Rep. Gabbard (D. HI, 2d District) is also an announced candidate for the Democratic Nomination for President in 2020. 

 

No sitting US Representative has ever been elected President.  (Lincoln had last been in office as a Congressman when elected President in 1860, but had become a nationally known railroad lawyer since leaving Congress and had lost a Senatorial race against Stephen Douglas that earned national attention two years before his Presidential run.  President Garfield was in Congress but already had been selected to be a US Senator prior to his election as President.)

 

Rep. Gabbard is also a Field Grade Military Intelligence Officer in the US Army Reserve and has strong, well reasoned and innovative positions on a lot of issues.  It may be that Rep. Gabbard is running to gain greater exposure for her ideas and to build support for a run for state-wide office in Hawaii or to be selected to a cabinet post like State or Defense, for which she seems a good but unexpected choice.

 

Kamala Harris

 

My gut instinct is that Sen. Harris (D. CA) has a profound lead in the "Gravitas" and "Likability" races that may already be insurmountable.

 

As a former big city District Attorney (dealing with crime) and a former large-state Attorney General (dealing with civil law and public policy in our most populous state), Sen. Harris has the grace that comes from success under fire.

 

As a person, with her demeanor, she does not seem to trigger a  Backpfeifengesicht response (unlike notable politicians like Ted Cruz, who I supported, and HRC in the 2016 cycle).

 

Which is not to say that the electorate (or even all Democrats) uncritically support her.

 

Sen. Harris is strongly pro-choice.  She is an outspoken supporter of Medicare For All.  In the 1990s, she had a relationship with Willie Brown, a powerful California Democrat who was still married to someone else and decades her senior.  (In essence, it is the plot to James Cagney's 1959 film, Never Steal Anything Small.)   As a DA and an AG she made enemies among civil libertarians across the political spectrum, 

 

However, all of these issues are rational issues and not visceral, emotional reactions.  Sen. Harris does not inspire the opprobrium that someone like HRC or Trump or Sen. Cruz or Sen. Warren does.

 

I think, at minimum, that will be a formidable advantage in securing the nomination.

 

Donald Trump

 

I suspect Donald Trump can't be re-elected based on the results in the 2018 Mid-term elections. 

 

Trump is unlikely to win in Michigan, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin based on 2018 results in these states.  Further, although the GOP held on to or picked up important seats in Florida, Texas and Georgia, the trend seems against them in those states in 2020.  Especially notable was Texas,  where Beto O'Rourke's comment that Texas is less a Red State than a Purple State with voter registration issues seemed to be born out.

 

If the Democrats are smart, they will prevent O'Rourke from running for President in 2020 and will keep him organizing in Texas.

 

Mitt Romney and John Kasich

 

Given Trump's likely 2020 weakness and given the electoral disadvantage the GOP operates under in that (and subsequent) years it would make sense to primary Trump, if only to create a new paradigm for that party.

 

While neither Romney nor Kasich are likely to take the nomination from Trump, at least they can begin to create a Republicanism that is free from Trump's nativist tendencies.

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

 

Watching the State of the Union, it occurred to me that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D. NY-14th District) is a figure not unlike a Freshman US Representative of 208 years ago named Henry Clay.

 

Like Clay, Ocasio-Cortez is a member of groups who have not had great power before, in her case, as a Latina and a young woman, in Clay's case, as a Westerner whose connections with the tidewater aristocracy were somewhat attenuated (Clay was trained as a lawyer by George Wythe, the same lawyer who had earlier trained Jefferson and Madison when they were apprentices, but his people came from the Western part of Virginia and relocated to Kentucky.)

 

Both Clay and Ocasio-Cortez had father's who were self-made men (Clay's father was a farmer, Ocasio-Cortez's father an architect) whose early death's caused financial hardships for their families.

 

Both Clay (with his American System) and Ocasio-Castro (with the Green New Deal) are identified with ambitious programs that face skepticism from the powers that be, President Madison for Clay and Speaker Pelosi for Rep Ocasio-Castro.  While people today might find Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's influence to be overblown, it is worth remembering that Henry Clay was the first (and last) freshman US Representative selected as Speaker of the House.  

 

Looking ahead 40 years or so, you have to wonder what time and fortune will bring AOC.  Like Clay, will she rise to the Senate and the Cabinet, but be denied the Presidency?  Will her ideas become as accepted as Clay's American System is today?  Will she deeply influence a protégé who will become an American legend, as Clay's admirer Lincoln became?          

 

History, in the end, is just the ongoing record of other people's triumphs and tragedies.

 

          

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