The Likely Outcome of Impeachment

It was over a decade, but John McCain’s percentage of the vote should be familiar to you- he got 46% of the vote. McCain is generally viewed as an honorable, if flawed man, but had to run against the tides of history- an unpopular war, an economic meltdown, an imbecile running mate, a historic opponent, and most of all, an unpopular President from his own party. Four years later, Mitt Romney had to run against a popular President, with a growing economy, and he managed to bump his performance up to a whopping 47%. In 2016, the Republicans nominated a reality TV star that got caught on video saying “grab ’em by the pussy,” who had bankrupt casinos and stiffed contractors, and was hardly someone that should have appealed to Evangelical voters- he got elected President with 46% of the vote. I’m not a gambling man, but if I was, I would not take the under on Donald Trump getting 46%. It appears to not matter who the GOP nominates- they are getting 46%. Bank it.

It’s this reliability and stability in the GOP’s electorate that allows them to stick by their leaders, regardless of what happens. The Republican Party almost ceases to exist in some of the biggest states in the country, namely California and New York, but their stranglehold on “red” states, and even their enclaves in “swing” states remain solidly in their hands. Even as Democrats spent millions of dollars telling the country how bad Trump was in 2016, it did nothing. Republican voters stuck by him. No matter how terrible he is, he’s better than the alternative, to them.

So you’re going to have to excuse me saying this- no Republicans are coming to the Democratic position on impeachment. Zero. That’s even more clear in the Senate, where Democrats would need at least twenty Republican Senators to cross over and vote to convict. There are not twenty Republican Senators who would be considered “endangered” right now, in fact there are at least 34 that could credibly say the politics in their states favor backing Trump. In other words, you enter the impeachment process with no pathway to convicting the President.

What about the argument that the hearings could change that dynamic? I direct you above, to the part where I told you this President said of women that you can “grab ’em by the pussy,” and the video was released nationally, and he was elected a month later. Exactly what do you think could be said about Donald Trump to diminish him among the 46% that would vote for a turnip to be President, if it were the Republican nominee? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. There is no low, no embarrassment that would change their minds. Nothing. And knowing that, there’s no Republican members of Congress to move. Even for the few you’d flip trashing him, you’d lose others.

What of the argument that the hearings could galvanize Democratic voters? It’s hard to prove either way. What I do know is that we spent 2016 exposing his fraudulent behavior, his vulgarity, his lack of knowledge, and every bad trait that Trump has, and we got 48% of the vote- a lot, more than he had, but not enough. There are limits to how motivating the negatives on Trump are, even to Democratic voters. At least that’s what history tells us.

What harm could impeachment do? When Watergate began in 1972, it wasn’t a broadly popular investigation, nor was Nixon unpopular, but it grew into a movement that eventually pushed him out of office. Not every investigation takes that route, of course. Iran-Contra ended as a dud, having no sizable impact on any election, and largely not sending the principles to jail. The Whitewater investigation into Bill Clinton did end in impeachment, which in turn actually caused the Republicans to lose seats in the 1998 midterm, serving as the modern political argument against impeachment. While Democratic activists passionately want to impeach Trump, the rest of the electorate sits solidly (34-48%) against it– even as they give Trump the lowest approval in that poll of his Presidency. The political will for impeachment isn’t there, and the past shows it to be risky to push through that.

There is a solid argument that says the Democrats must do the right thing, for history, for the rule of law, and for our constitution. Of course, the tricky thing is what “the right thing” is? If there is truly no pathway to conviction of Trump in the Senate, if impeachment may politically help him, is it “the right thing” to impeach the President? Is the possibility of a second Trump term, possibly with a Republican House, and the probability of more Supreme Court appointments worth it? Even if we assume his guilt, which I do, what’s the value in impeaching him with no chance to convict. Yes, it might make me feel good, but what’s that do for the people Donald Trump is actively hurting every day he is in office? Is it worth risking RBG’s seat on the Supreme Court? Risking four more years of inaction on climate change? Risking more children in cages? What risk is too much to pursue something that is almost certain to fail?

Politics can be emotionally unsatisfying much of the time. I have concluded that the odds of removing Donald Trump from office, at this time, are approximately zero. I have also concluded that there is no way to fail at removing the President without paying a political price. It would feel better to impeach Donald Trump, and the Mueller report does show that he deserves it, but I think it’s a losing idea. I’m not against holding hearings, subpoenas for documents, and keeping the door open for impeachment in the future. I think going into that today though is a fool’s errand.

Here’s the good news though- there is another way to remove Donald Trump from office- beating him in 2020. If Hillary Clinton has just received 49% instead of 48% in 2016, she would have probably (assuming they weren’t just more base, blue state votes) won at least four more states, and been elected President easily. She did that against incomparable negativity aimed her way, from the primary season through Election Day. She did so despite the fact that attacking Trump largely did not work. If the Democrats spend half as much time building up their potentially electable candidates as they do looking for a way to make impeachment happen, they absolutely can beat a President who’s approval is at -18%. We can win in 2020. We should win in 2020. We have to win in 2020. It’s really the only way forward.

Advertisements

There’s No Actual Bernie Momentum, So What’s Actually Going On?

Hit pieces on Neera Tanden. Declarations of “victory” over Fox News. Accusations that Democrats are “agonizing” over how to beat Bernie. Even reporters threatening twitter users with “doxxing” for criticizing their work on Bernie:

https://twitter.com/regwag2003/status/1118287071104372736?s=21

Yes, this is real life. It’s not even one incident.

https://twitter.com/katierogers/status/1118239852720533505?s=21

I keep asking myself the same question- why the f**k does the press keep covering for this guy? Like, I come to all the normal “white bread” answers that leave me unsatisfied- they’re hyper educated big city kids that think socialism is cool, they despise the overly secretive “Clinton Washington” crowd, they think the system is broken, etc. I just find that answer quite unsatisfying. This guy gets a pass for his lack of achievements in Congress, his lack of realistic details in his plans, his creepy essays, his lack of a job until he was 40, his hiring a Putin stooge, his bad votes on immigration, guns, and the crime bill, and everything else, from so many reporters. The answers for why this happens fall flat for me. Even things like the investigation into his wife bankrupting a for-profit college, Bernie’s hypocrisy on millionaires, and Bernie failing to vote for Russian sanctions get less ink than Hillary’s e-mails, and always come with caveats. It’s like they’re a part of his press shop. It couldn’t be that Bernie is nothing but an angry, old grifter. Never.

Their advocacy has changed in the past few days, as I noted above. It’s not just advocacy for ole’ Bernard- it’s offensive aggression on his behalf, particularly coming out of the New York Times. It’s an actual effort to enforce a view of the race that isn’t true- the myth that Bernie Sanders has momentum and is the front-runner to be the Democratic nominee. To be clear, he has a chance to win the nomination, provided the field stays divided. He raised the most money in the first quarter, just as he out-raised Hillary Clinton in 2016- but his $18 million haul is not overwhelming and crushing when compared with Kamala Harris $12 million, Beto O’Rourke’s $9 million plus, Pete Buttigieg’s $7 million, or even the $6 million of Elizabeth Warren and $5.2 million of Amy Klobuchar. All of these candidates are less known, and in their first national run. As the field begins to narrow in the coming months, all can improve. On top of this, Bernie trails former Vice-President Joe Biden in nearly every poll, and has seen roughly half of his 2016 support evaporate in the last three years. He’s a front-runner, he might win if he never has to get 50%, but Bernie Sanders has no particular momentum, or recent strength that should back up his supposed “momentum.” All of this reporting is a myth.

So- why? Honestly, I have no idea. I’d love to know why @NYTLiz, @kenvogel, and @katierogers are all racing to aid Bernie right now. Of course they’ll call it a ridiculous accusation. Who would ever question their intentions?

Since Bernie’s Visiting My Home, Let Me Welcome Him…

Bernie Sanders will be about fifteen minutes from my home tonight, in Bethlehem, PA, where I went to college, doing a town hall on Fox News. Given the “help” that the “Bernie Bros” gave me in helping build up a Twitter following of 10,000 people, help received in the form of being put on a hit list and targeted for harassment, I feel like the least of things I could do for ole’ Bernard is to welcome him to the swing area of one of the key swing states, the Lehigh Valley.

Let’s dispense with some of the basic buzzwords we know are coming from Senator Bernard. Yes, the Lehigh Valley was the epicenter of a generation ago’s working class America. Bethlehem Steel, Mack Trucks, and Ingersoll-Rand did employ tens of thousands of people, many of whom were off the boat Catholic Europeans (white working class for those of you new to this.). Thanks to the Steelworkers, UAW, and many of the other major industrial unions that make up the Building Trades unions, thousands of middle class households had a good living. All of those companies are gone though, and while strengthening unions is still a key part of our politics here, other things matter too. What other things? Well, for one, immigration reform is important to our growing Latino population, and to the growing tech industry here (we have over a half dozen colleges). Bernie May want to avoid that subject though, since he voted against immigration reform when he had a chance. The main point though is that there’s bigger issues to us than bringing back yesterday’s economy for the Lehigh Valley, we’ve moved on. Even most of our union members are working on 21st century projects that fit a community that is progressing with the world- so talk to us about that.

We know we’re also going to get a large helping of “Medicare for All,” free college, and “Green New Deal” talk. All are noble ideas, but trouble voters in a swing district suburban area like this. These middle class voters wonder if the tax hikes associated with his Medicare for All plan will be larger than their current costs of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, not whether or not the total cost is bigger or smaller for our macro-economy. The thousands of people employed by Lehigh Valley Hospital and St. Luke’s hospitals, two of our region’s largest employers, wonder if their jobs will survive under his revamped system, as do all of the folks working in the health insurance industry around here. As I said above, we have over a half dozen colleges and universities in this area, and the employees there wonder what will happen to them if Senator Bernard’s plan for tuition-free college passes. Many, many people in the Lehigh Valley commute to work in North Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia, almost all by car, and wonder what will change under Sanders’ climate policies, or how he would fund a massive investment in mass transit from this region to those hubs, to get people off the roads. Will Bernie address these concerns tonight? Of course not. He’ll broadly talk about making the economy “fair,” which to these people sounds like they’ll get the shaft when the details get sorted out. He’ll stay at thirty-thousand feet with the details on funding, talking about “taxing billionaires” and cuts to Defense spending and corporate welfare, all great places to start, but folks around here know that’s not enough to get the job done. In short, Bernie will appeal to his base with red meat, and not to most of the people of this swing area of a swing state.

With all of that said, it should serve as no surprise that Bernie’s track record here isn’t so great, politically speaking. In the 2016 Presidential primary, Bernie lost Northampton County (50-47) and Lehigh County (52-47), as well as neighboring Monroe (53-46), despite the fact that Clinton struggled in the region and never even visited during the primary or general election. Not one significant public official on the Democratic side- the Congresswoman, our long-time State Senator, either county’s Democratic County Executive, any of the four major mayors, the District Attorney and Controller in Northampton County, or any of the state representatives in the region have endorsed Bernie in 2016 or 2020. Most of the unions that he will speak about a lot tonight, also backed Hillary in 2016. Bernie has not had much appeal here. Early national and Pennsylvania polling show Joe Biden handily beating Bernie here, and show Bernie’s support as being almost cut in half since 2016. People are waking up to the sham he is.

It’s time to be honest about who Bernie is- he fashions himself as a European style leftist, but really is just a critic of the Democratic Party that lacks substantive answers. It’s all “30,000 feet,” it’s all just about pointing out the compromises Democrats make to get things done, and it’s all preaching to the choir about what he’d do, with no realistic plans to get there. I’m glad he’s campaigning to my home area, but there’s all of a zero chance I’ll support him.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Bernard.

About the Presidential Race, 4/10

I think we’ve almost got the whole 2020 field- really! At this point, we’re waiting on Terry McAuliffe, Steve Bullock, and Michael Bennet to make their decisions, but really we’re all mostly waiting on Joe Biden to shake things up- one way or the other. Stacey Abrams and Seth Moulton still sit on the periphery as possible candidates for now.

While I’ve been watching very closely, I haven’t picked my final horse yet. There are 19 current candidates, and frankly it’s hard to see this race not hitting 20. I do have some generalized feelings though, so I figured I’d share them.

I Really Like a Lot of Candidates

I pretty much knew that I loved several candidates from the jump. I already had made up my mind that I felt positively about Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden before this campaign (add Sherrod Brown here too, though he ultimately didn’t run.). I had more than a strong hint that I liked Julian Castro too, which hasn’t changed. Jay Inslee’s commitment to fighting climate change has made a fan of me. Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke have built strong followings in a hurry, and I am impressed by their charisma. John Hickenlooper’s record as Governor of Colorado has surprised me in a positive way, relative to how he’s been sold so far. That’s ten candidates I can already give a positive grade.

There are others whom I am not necessarily negative on, I just don’t have enough information yet to make a decision. Tim Ryan is always someone I liked, but I soured on a bit for his opposition to Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. His recent entry is too new for me to judge yet. John Delaney is a fairly wealthy former Congressman who is self-funding, and running towards the middle. I don’t see his pathway if Joe Biden enters, but it’s hard to judge until then. Wayne Messam is a very interesting Mayor of Miramar, Florida, but he hasn’t generated a ton of coverage yet. Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson come from outside of the government world, but like Messam aren’t getting much coverage. Eric Swalwell is an impressive Congressman, but he just entered this week, and so I have no feelings yet. I haven’t passed much judgment on these five so far.

This leaves Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mike Gravel in the category where I’m less than supportive. My feelings towards them are not all the same, so let me address them individually.

  • Mike Gravel- The former Alaska Senator is commendable in some ways, particularly for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record in his Senate tenure. With that said, a lot of time has passed since those days, as has a mostly unnoticed 2008 campaign for President. Gravel pretty much freely admits he’s not running to win this nomination, so it’s hard for me to be excited.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand- If I voted entirely on issues, I could probably like what Gillibrand is saying now. The problem there is her career has put her on both sides of everything from guns to immigration. Evolution is fine, but it gets to be a bit of a stretch. While I believe Al Franken should have been afforded a Senate Ethics Committee investigation, I don’t blame Gillibrand at all for voicing her opinion on that. I do hold Gillibrand’s about face on Bill Clinton against her though. After a two decade relationship, working in the Clinton Administration, working in major allied law firms, having Bill and Hillary campaign and advocate for her House and Senate candidacies, for her to “evolve” and say President Clinton should have resigned over the Lewinsky affair was a bridge too far. You don’t turn on your mentors the moment they aren’t popular and useful anymore. Even so, her campaign positions are admirable, and while I’m not a fan, I feel better about her than I did before she entered.
  • Tulsi Gabbard- Gabbard is another candidate I was out on from day one. I’m unhappy with her 2016 decision to quit the DNC to endorse Bernie and call the process “rigged.” I could get over that though. What I can’t get over? Gabbard’s advocacy for Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. It is one thing to oppose military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, it’s another thing to say he hasn’t committed war crimes against his people. In Gabbard’s defense, her campaign has laid out a desire to curb war spending in America, which has given her ideological consistency and clarity that I can respect. I’m just not forgiving advocacy for a bad guy.
  • Bernie Sanders- Absolutely not. Does Bernie have a few aspirational ideas that aren’t bad? Sure. I can’t say I generally agree with him though on the policies for right now, nor does his record suggest to me that he has any plan to enact his plans, much less pass them through Congress. I cannot forgive his 2016 behavior either. The guy’s not a Democrat, and he’s shown us that. There’s no way I’d support him to be the nominee in 2020.

So that’s my feelings on the candidates. So how about…

The State of the Race-

Polls really don’t mean much until Joe Biden either enters or exits the race, because he’s the undisputed polling leader. In the race’s current construction, with him as a probable candidate, the race is far different than if he doesn’t. If 30% or so of the electorate suddenly were free agents, that would shake things up, and probably dramatically change the current polling order.

What does matter is money though. There is no argument that Bernie raised the most in the first quarter. Kamala Harris also had an impressive quarter. Beto O’Rourke did pretty well as well, and Pete Buttigieg did fairly well. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker all did well enough to compete, but have to keep up their pace.

What’s more important than cash raised though is burn rate. Bernie spent $4 million of his $18 million despite not being in the race very long. Warren spent 80% of her money raised, but still came out with a deceptively impressive cash on hand number by transferring Senate campaign funds. Can they sustain their spending rate? Meanwhile, while Klobuchar came in behind them, she only spent about 20% of her cash, and transferred more over from her Senate campaign. Watch the cash on hand, and the burn rates, when evaluating early fundraising.

In a race where most of the candidates are similar on issues, I’m watching who has the strong operations. Lean campaigns that raise respectable money, while remaining competitive in the polls, impress me. This is part of what has made “Mayor Pete” seem serious to operatives so far- he’s sustaining a competitive campaign without spending much.

Nobody is Perfect

Just about every candidate has some flaws in their candidacy. Some seem overblown, others concerning, but really none are disqualifying to me, unless I said so above. I’m not looking for perfect, or to be inspired, or to make history. I just want to elect a competent President.

This means I’m looking for an electable nominee. Some candidates, like Biden and Klobuchar, have solid arguments about their electability- but it’s anecdotal so far. Candidates need to prove that.

This Ain’t 2008

Because everyone in the field is trying to raise their money from the “grassroots,” rather than traditional bundling, the debate is more leftward than the country at-large, and it is favoring candidates with less experience and record. That may very well be a good thing in the end. It might also spell defeat for the Democrats. The 2008 process pushed us towards an electable nominee, this one may very well push us towards one that appeases our base, and no one else.

Conclusions

I’m going to stick with an upbeat outlook here. I absolutely love 3-4 candidates, like around 10, and could accept 15-16. That’s a good field. In the end, I want a nominee who can win though, and that is what will matter to me. I can give a bit on ideology and/or excitement, as long as they can beat Donald Trump. That’s what matters.

The Out of Touch Activists

The New York Times pretty much summed up my feelings about politics in an article out today- the activists are out of touch. They are not representative of the general public, voters in either party, or any form of a majority. It should be no wonder that the public is so turned off by politics, when politics are being driven by people outside of the mainstream.

The case they lay out is pretty clear- a large majority of Democrats are not like the activists online. Most Democrats watch less cable news, don’t share political articles on social media, are less college educated, less white, and far more moderate than the activists driving the party debate. It’s why more Democrats want the party to be more moderate, rather than moving left. It’s why most Democrats, especially African-American Democrats, didn’t want the Governor of Virginia to resign over his racist med school yearbook photo, even as almost every national Democrat called on him to do so. It’s why most Democrats think “PC Culture” has gone too far, even as the activists don’t agree. There is a clear disconnect.

People in politics think everything we do is pretty important- voters don’t. They don’t pick their party or it’s candidates on a checklist of issues, but often on cultural values and a sense of who will basically fight for them. In short, it’s not all that ideological for most voters, but rather perceived self-interest. It’s why issues like health care really drive voters passions, but many social issues don’t. It’s why attacking new programs for the subsequent tax increases usually works.

So why is our political system driven by a minority of voters? The answer lies in one of the illustrations in the article, asking if you have donated to a campaign in the last year- and 45% of activists said yes, far ahead of the rest of voters. It’s money. Campaigns are very expensive, and giving is restricted by campaign finance laws. The only way to get the money to get your message out is to appeal to the hyper motivated activists, and the interest groups they are members of, if you want the outside money to come in that is necessary in major campaigns.

I wrote last week on how the Democrats are losing the online game, saying they treat it like an ATM. The truth is, all of politics is being treated like an ATM. The GOP treats public policy as an ATM to reward their big donors, Democrats treat their activists like the ATM. Neither is all that representative of America as a whole, and America doesn’t love either- hence the big swings in control of Congress in each midterm. As long as campaign finances control our politics though, get used to it.

How the Democrats are Losing the Online Game

Tell the truth, how many fundraising e-mails did you delete this weekend? For me, it got so bad that I unsubscribed from close to a dozen e-mail lists. Back in the dark ages when I was in college (2002-2006), I got myself on every e-mail list I could. It felt like I actually got information about the 2004 Presidential candidates back then. That’s not what e-mails are used for on political campaigns in 2019.

Democrats now view digital campaign organizing, e-mails, and even their website as an ATM. In the wake of McCain-Feingold and the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, Democrats face a real challenge in keeping up financially with the right-wing financial machine. They’ve exasperated that by ingesting the poison pill rhetoric that all lobbyists and political action committees (PACs) are terrible, and we can’t take their money. The Bernie purity rhetoric, and even President Obama’s a generation ago, puts Democrats behind the eight ball. So what’s been the answer? Go grassroots. Ask for $27 over and over again. We still can’t keep up, but it’s worth a shot. Pledge to take no PAC money or federal lobbyist money at all- even from unions, Planned Parenthood, or Environmental groups- to try and motivate activists who have little understanding of campaign budgets to fund your campaign.

The net result is a million micro-messages from every group and candidate on the left to try and motivate you to give some cash. It turns into annoying white noise. It works fine for interest groups in DC, who do the best in this messy void, but leaves everyone else all over the map. It leads to the “Democrats have no message” meme.

What about the Republican Party? They don’t have quite the same issues. In 2016 everyone knew that the Trump message was “Make America Great Again,” and “Crooked Hillary.” Hillary Clinton was a criminal that would take the America you and your descendants built away from you, and give it to “other” people, but Donald Trump would stop that and restore it to you. Yes, they did field, television, and mail to get that message to you, but on a far scaled down level from what Mitt Romney and John McCain has done. They understood that the race would be decided at the margins, so they went cheaper and more straight to the point- they talked to you online. Sure, maybe some GRU guy in Moscow was giving them an assist, but don’t underestimate what the GOP did. They were getting 20 impressions on your brain through Facebook, for the price of one TV ad, at a far more efficient clip too. They hit their audience directly with one simple, straight forward message- Make America Great Again. The whole right-wing took part.

So what’s going to happen in 2020? Look no further than this week’s Wisconsin election for the State Supreme Court. Democrats narrowly lost, despite hitting their turnout targets across the board. Republican turnout simply spiked. What was their message? Socialism. It didn’t matter if it was the Koch funded groups, the NRA, or religious conservatives, they simply told you the Democratic “socialists” are coming to take what you want away from you. They’ll take your guns, your church, and your tax dollars, and give America to those “others.” They will spend hundreds of millions of dollars into digital ads on the internet that tell their voters to fear Democrats, because socialism.

As the really smart friend of mine that does digital campaign work explained this to me yesterday, I realized just how messed up the Democratic Party is on digital. We’re trying to use the internet to finance our campaigns, while they’re using it to poison the Democratic brand. It’s a mismatch. If no one in the Democratic Party figures this out soon, it could be too late- and Donald Trump could be basking in “four more years” chants.

A Hit Job By Any Standard

Let me start by saying what I think- It’s not going to work. I don’t believe attacking Joe Biden for kissing a woman on the back of her head, or rubbing noses with a woman is going to kill his potential Presidential bid. While it might resonate with supporters of Bernie Sanders, or more activist driven feminists, those folks weren’t going to probably support Biden in the Democratic Primaries anyway. Biden’s base of support within the party, a base that currently puts him in the lead, would probably require a much higher standard of wrong doing- something much closer to criminal, to even give it much thought. These aren’t the issues animating them, and they’re not likely to be moved by them.

Let’s be clear for a second that while Biden is very popular within the party, he’s not universally loved, or the absolute sure thing, silver bullet candidate his fans sell him as. He’s run and lost for the nomination twice. He’s gaffe prone, at times. He’s an old, white male, and there are plenty of people in the party who would rather not do that. I like Biden a lot, and could easily vote for him in November against Donald Trump, without second thoughts, even with these attacks on him. I’m also not committing myself to support him yet, because well, he does have flaws.

Let’s also be clear that what’s being done here is an absolute political hit job. Lucy Flores, a Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, dropped this revelation about Joe Biden “smelling her hair” and “kissing the back of her head” on the Friday before the second fundraising quarter was set to begin- roughly the point where many folks believe Biden may enter the race. It got her on the Sunday shows, and now a Congressional aide comes out and says he “rubbed their noses” together the next day. It comes as polls show Biden with a significant lead nationally, and a lead in the kickoff state of Iowa. A Biden candidacy right now would be the biggest roadblock for Bernie Sanders, Flores’ candidate of choice. To be clear from the pictures above, Flores isn’t always upset by older men entering her personal space in a friendly manner. If you think this is all happening randomly and accidentally right now, I have some ocean front property for you in Nebraska.

Now, through all of this, let’s be clear here, I’m not saying we should give Biden a pass here. Hair sniffing is kind of weird. His intimate, physical style of interacting may not be welcome by everyone, and if it isn’t, he needs to understand that and adjust his behavior accordingly. Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, rushed to Biden’s defense when a picture of him touching her shoulders was used to attack Biden’s style, as did several former female aides to Biden. They are entitled to their feelings on Biden’s actions, as is Flores and those who don’t appreciate it. I’m not going to rush to judgment on other people’s feelings. When Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders a decade ago in Iowa, it didn’t bother me, but I only get my say.

I just wish people would be honest about their real issues with Joe Biden, rather than making a mockery of real accusations against actual monsters. Lucy Flores is already backing away from making this a sexual harassment issue, instead saying it’s a “personal space issue.” Can we call it what it really is though- a front-running candidate issue. Some people don’t like Biden on ideological grounds. Others don’t like him because they don’t feel he represents the identity of the base of the Democratic Party. These are legitimate reasons to oppose a Joe Biden candidacy for President. Pretending Biden is some sort of predator for kissing the top of a woman’s head, or rubbing noses, is a ridiculous hit job, being done on the behalf of an inferior candidate for President that is not as likable or achieved as Biden. Should Joe check this behavior? Yeah, while it’s endearing to me, it’s just not something he can do indiscriminately in 2019. His rivals should stick to taking him on with real issues, not making the entire American left look like a bunch of prude clowns though.

Not the Right Spokesperson for the Democrats

In the Trump era, Democrats were left largely without a voice for the first two years. Without the White House, the Senate, or the House, there was a vacuum. President Obama was gone. Hillary Clinton was gone. Tom Perez was busy off trying to appease Bernie world without angering everyone else. It was a free-for-all.

Fortunately in the aftermath of the 2018 midterm, the Democrats are a relevant party again. Nancy Pelosi is arguably the second most powerful person in America. The House Democratic leadership team gets the title “Majority” in front of their names now. Their chairman can subpoena information and run investigations and oversight. There are relevant Democratic voices in the process of making law.

Unfortunately, those aren’t the only voices that seem to have emerged from the leadership. There are other voices rising, voices with a “burn it down” tone to them. They aren’t interested in any compromises, or therefore actually making law. They don’t accept any criticism, they fire back at friendly criticism with the fury of hell. They’re convinced they and they alone “get it,” and that the last generation of Democrats just didn’t “do it right” to get what we want. There idea of “coalition building” is to bait and switch allies into supporting their ideas, then moving the goal posts. When they say unacceptable things, they fire back at fellow Democrats with cries of xenophobia.

I’m obviously talking about more than one member, but none of them have quite shined like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC. On a Capitol Hill full of men older than my parents, and with far less charisma, her media savvy does shine out. She’s good on TV, active on social media, and unapologetic in making demands in a way that excites parts of our base. She is the proverbial “golden goose” of the left. She comes out of the Bernie left ideologically, but plays identity politics with the best of them. Taking away my personal feelings about her politics, she is an impressive talent.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the Bronx and Queens. It’s a cool district. It’s also not at all representative of most of the other 434 districts in Congress. At most, there are 100 seats as urban as her’s, probably less as diverse, and almost none as liberal. She did beat a formerly powerful Democratic Leader in last Summer’s primary, but she did so in a race where under 30,000 people voted, or less than 75% of what would typically show up in a hotly contested primary like this. She is not representative of a candidate who would win in most other blue districts, and yet she is demanding the rest of the party’s members follow her, whether it’s on the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, or abolishing ICE. Worse yet, when they do follow her, she then changes what they agree to without their consent.

We are a long way from AOC’s brand being electable in the large majority of house districts. She would not win in swing-districts in North Carolina, Iowa, or Pennsylvania. Her ideas roll up huge support numbers in her district, but are far more controversial in places that Democrats don’t have a stranglehold on. Should she be primaried? I’d actually say no, it’s not my district, not my choice. Should she be the face of the party, the person people in PA-8, IA-1, or NC-9 see as representing our party in the media? Hell. No.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez polls under water about 10% nationally. As you can see above, she polls under water in the blue state of New York. Her favorability in New York City is less than overwhelming, and her position against Amazon putting a second headquarters in Queens polls underwater. With this much opposition to her even in “friendly” areas, it’s hard to sell her as a national savior for the party anywhere else.

Still, I’d consider her just fine for her district alone, if she wasn’t such a bully. They elected her there, they can have her. She’s not content with that though. She has promised to primary Democrats that are out of step with her ideals for the party. She has talked up a potential primary to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries. There are rumblings of a primary against House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. Both Jeffries and Lowey are members of the New York delegation with her. While she is likely to fail to unseat either, the possibility of nominating someone unelectable (especially in Lowey’s seat) is very real. Even if she does fail, it’s a complete waste of resources.

AOC is not the face of the party that Democrats need if they want to represent the majority of the United States in Congress very long, let alone the White House. To this point, leadership has left her to fire up the faithful and do what she does. There’s a danger this will become less harmless soon. AOC is not the leading figure Democrats need, particularly if she’s going to push more and more members to be acolytes of her politics. The Democrats need to elevate representatives who could represent more districts, rather than throwing red meat to the ideologues.

There Will Be No Peace

I wish I could say that I was shocked that NYU students Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf cornered and berated Chelsea Clinton at a vigil for the Muslim victims of the terrorist shooting in New Zealand that killed 50 people, but I’m not. I wish I could say these two young people had a point, but they don’t. I wish I could say that I’m glad to see young people engaging the political process, but I’m not. About the only thing I take from this unhinged and unfair behavior is that I told you so.

Chelsea Clinton is not a public official. She has never run for public office. Despite popular opinion, she is not actually her mother or her father. By the way, her former President father isn’t running for office ever again. Her former Secretary of State and Senator mother is also not a candidate for office either. Strange as this is for many supporters of Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Clinton is just a pregnant woman in New York with her own career and a famous last name. You’re not really “speaking truth to power” when you corner her at a public event to attack her views, you’re just using her fame to get yourself attention.

Here’s the real kicker though- Dweik and Asaf are wrong about Chelsea Clinton, and Clinton is right on her criticisms of Ilhan Omar that angered them so much. Now I’ve given my opinion of the good and the bad on Omar already, but here’s the simple fact- Omar has repeatedly used anti-semitic and over the top language in her criticisms. One doesn’t need to say Israel hypnotizes it’s supporters, or that it’s “All About the Benjamins” to allude to Israel buying support, when making the very plausible case that the Netanyahu Israeli Government is ineffective, opposes peace, and is bad for both U.S. and Israeli interests. It is a point that can be made without slurring a whole religion or nation. It is a point that can be made without old-line anti-semitism accusing “the Jews” of using money to control the world. Omar is a smart enough woman to know what her words mean, to choose the words she wants to use, and to understand context. She chose not to. She deserved every condemnation she got for that. Perhaps these young ladies are drawn to defend her though because she aligns with their views- one of them has actually called for Israel to be demolished. I am not a supporter of Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu, but these are radical views that should not be given credence.

Let’s be clear here, the American far-left is radical. It is not just fighting a war against Trump extremism, but against anyone who doesn’t accept their “revolution.” I’ve personally been put on their hit-lists, but worse yet, I’ve seen them bully people in public, like in this case. It doesn’t matter if you are Chelsea Clinton or some private citizen living in Southwest DC, these folks are ready to attack you, and even cause your career harm. Behavior like these NYU students displayed is not an exception, or something to be treated as an isolated incident. This is the norm. This is how they wish to conduct politics. This is what they want the American left to be.

I see no pathway to peace between the Democratic Party and the Bernie-inspired far-left. I’m sick and tired of hearing Democrats say we all need to “unite,” and “be positive” with these folks. It’s not going to happen. They’re never coming to the table to unite. Stop pretending that it can happen when only one side is interested in it. These people wish to destroy the Democratic Party, not work with it.

The Clinton-Sanders primary has been over for more than 2.5 years. Like Japanese troops who didn’t know World War II was over and continued to fight, these students are in the ranks that haven’t stopped fighting yesterday’s war. You can’t make peace with these people.

What is it About White Guy Candidates and Messianic Fantasies

I like Beto O’Rourke. Sure, I have questions and doubts about him, but that shouldn’t be construed as opposition. If he’s nominated by the Democrats, I’ll vote for him. I’ll even give him a look while I’m considering my primary candidate right now. He’s an impressively talented campaigner, he’s got some charisma, and he’s motivating some people.

There’s something rather Bernie-esque though about his support. No, I’m not just talking about the $6.1 million he raised in his first day in the race either. I’ve heard people compare him to RFK, and even say he’s a better speaker than Obama. Commentators have said he creates “the greatest contrast” with Trump. I’ve had friends tell me he’s “the only way” to move the country forward. Hell, even Beto has pronounced that he was “born to run.” There’s some heavy destiny talk happening here. The only other candidate I hear talked about like that by his people? Bernie Sanders.

Let me pour a little cold water on all of this- as great as Beto is, he did lose the 2018 U.S. Senate race in Texas to a deeply unpopular Ted Cruz (over 10% under-water approval), in the greatest Democratic year since Watergate. Sure, Abraham Lincoln lost the 1858 Senate race in Illinois, so I’ll give Beto a singular pass there, even though I’m not totally buying the Lincoln comparison with anyone. Part of Beto’s appeal is his normalcy, which I like, but it means he comes with a checkered past- like any real person. I do like what I hear from him too, but he needs a lot more substance yet to keep up with this field. He’s a talented candidate, but he ran a very unorthodox campaign in 2018, and came up short. Perhaps he would have won if he done some of the more traditional “blocking and tackling” of a campaign. Again, he’s very talented, but not perfect.

Now look, I’m a white, straight, Catholic male, and I’m willing to vote for a white guy for any office (if I agree with them), but I do think it’s fair to ask the question- why is it only white dudes getting the “Messiah” treatment from their supporters right now? I’m not saying it’s always limited to white guys (This happened at times with President Obama in 2008, although to be fair, he lived up to more of the hype than I then expected), but it seems to be that way a lot. Berners think he’s politics version of Luke Skywalker despite his many flaws that prohibit him from winning over many of us. I’m hearing some of the same sounds from Betotes now.

This is far less a criticism of Beto himself, who I’m generally more favorable than not about, and more of a commentary on white liberals and progressives and their hero worship. In 17 years in politics, I have never met or seen a perfect politician. Bill Clinton had his infidelity, Barack Obama his naivety on Republican opposition, and Hillary had her campaign’s strategic mistakes. I supported all three of them, and would again, but I don’t argue their infallibility. For some though, they think their “great white hope” is the savior we need. It’s just weird to me. You’re electing a person, not a God. These guys ain’t Gods.