Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Handicapping Democrats for 2024

With all the clamor for Joe Biden to forego running for reelection in 2024, it’s time to handicap potential successors as the Democratic Party standard bearer.

Sadly, Democrats do not have a well-stocked bench of ( relatively) young, experienced winners with national credentials. Oh sure, it’s true Barack Obama was a virtual unknown when he declared his candidacy, but those were different times. Dems were trying to regain the presidency rather than retain it. It was a PT and PC period—pre-Trump and pre-crazies. It was a time when Democrats could expect to face a principled Republican foe with traditional Republican values.

With that in mind, what’s the morning line field look like:

From the first time I saw Gavin Newsom on “Real Time with Bill Maher” when he was Jerry Brown’s lieutenant governor I thought he would one day run for president. He is media cool (or is it media hot?), his state is the fifth largest economy in the world, he has to deal with climate change, legal and illegal migrants, and he recently has started jousting with Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, a sure sign his vision gazes beyond the borders of the Golden State.

Rate him a frontrunner.

Pete Buttigieg probably wants to run again but his stewardship of the Transportation Department has not been inspiring, even if the problems of high gas prices plus airline delays and cancellations are not his fault. The public has to take its anger out on somebody and Pete has the bullseye on his back and chest.

Rate him a prayer not worth answering.

Beto O’Rourke needs to win the governorship of Texas in November to be taken seriously, and even then he’d be a long shot.

Rate him too wet behind the ears.

The same can be said for Stacey Abrams. Though she is a firebrand whose passions inspire she first has to win the governorship of Georgia in November to secure a reputation as a winner. Recall she lost four years ago to the current incumbent, Brian Kemp.

Rate her a star in the making (hopefully).

Kamala Harris might think she has the inside track as the current vice president but she is saddled with being linked to Biden and for being a mostly uninspiring, ineffective number two.

Rate her not ready for the top job.

Bernie Sanders might think his age should not inhibit him from seeking a third shot for the highest office in the land. Lots of dedicated followers but ultimately he would not secure sufficient numbers to win.

Bernie rates the Democratic equivalent of the Alf Landon trophy.

AOC dreams of a White House address but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is way too radical to claim the nomination, much less the presidency. Still, she is among the most intelligent and committed of legislators but against Republicans who will twist her statements and positions she cannot hope to sufficiently spread her gospel.

Rate her too far ahead of the country to win.

Hillary Clinton will be a spring-chicken 76 during the primary season of 2024, 77 by election day. Aside from her loyal base, could she count on voters who failed to support her against Trump in 2016 because they just didn’t feel their vote was needed or didn’t fully appreciate what a disaster his presidency would mean for democratic/Democratic values? Is the country finally ready for a female president? Would she pick Newsom as a running mate? Would he accept the placement as a stepping stone to the presidency? Or would she opt for a governor from her birth state, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, to avoid criticism that Democrats are only interested in people who populate the east and west coasts? Is the country ready for a Jewish vice president, not just a Jewish second gentleman?

Rate Hillary a strong contender.

If it all seems like, in the words of Yogi Berra, “déjà vu all over again,” take solace in the choice Republicans have, given the cult-like allegiance Donald Trump commands from primary voting party regulars.

So, are we excited about Hillary vs. Donald, Part II? Each nominee would want to wash away the bad taste of defeat from their respective last race. At least one presidential election loser would emerge a victor.

Would the country be a winner? Depends on your politics.

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