Joe Biden has applied for the position of President. Management finds that the pros and cons of his application have a substantial overlap.
Pros – Biden’s strongest assets are that (1) he is likeable and seems authentic, and (2) he could jump right in without needing an education, given that he’s been in politics since 1753 and has even been vice president.
Cons – Biden’s greatest weaknesses are that (1) his go-along-to-get-along, affable, deal-making personality is not what we need in this time of crisis, which cries for someone who is braver and willing to step on toes if necessary to save the country, and (2) he’s been in politics since 1756 and does not seem to have Kept Up with Things.
Leader in the Polls. Biden is the current front runner. This is a point in his favor, but the rankings will surely change and change again.
Can he win? Maybe.
On one hand, people who dislike the current president won’t be “afraid” to vote for him. They won’t associate a vote for Biden with a dangerous leap into some hitherto unknown presidential demographic (a gay French Hindu juggler!).
On the other hand, Biden will neither excite anyone nor bring a new generation on board. Nor would any demographic, even his own, be thrilled that – at last! – an old white man will have a chance.
Then there is the question of age. See the post of April 14 that I would link to if I remembered how, “Are Some 2020 Candidates Too Old For the Demands of the Presidency?”
Nominating Biden feels like admitting that we lack vision, guts, bravery. On the other hand, he is the current front runner.
Conclusion: Biden will not be invited back for a second interview at the moment. However his application is retained for further review.
Reyna is a free pattern for a one-skein triangular shawl. The design is a mindless combination of garter stitch and eyelet lace, perfect for social knitting or Knitting Under the Influence. It’s so boring that I need TV or conversation to work on it. Nonetheless, I’ve made several. Here is the latest.
“I think we should switch the New York Times and the N&O to digital. We’d save a lot of money.”
Well, yes we’d save some money. It’s also more environmentally healthy, all those trees not being used for paper. We’ll do it I suppose, but I’m not enthusiastic.
It’s obviously a generational thing, dating from a time when kids had paper routes, moms saved clippings, and the latest update arrived with the paper and not on your phone.
I like newspapers. They wait patiently if you get busy for a day or two. You can spread them out on the table, or give them a brisk shake as you turn a page. They’re useful for packing, painting, and lining canary cages. And the last thing I need is to spend more time staring at a screen.
When I was a kid, the driveway was two tenths of a mile long and “getting the paper” was a chance to daydream for a few minutes. “The puzzle” referred to the NY Times crossword, which gets harder as the week progresses.
For 36 years of married life, we’ve taken at least two papers. We’ve dashed out to get them before the rain started, cut out recipes (So old fashioned) and given “the paper boy” (usually a 50 year old man) twenty dollars at Christmas.
So, yeah, I guess it’s time to go digital, but I’m not excited about it.
My time as an active day-to-day mom is in the past. My own mother died 15 years ago. When you do your job right, you render yourself unnecessary – my mom said that about motherhood. The child becomes an adult with a partner or family that is the center if their life, exactly as it should be. Time to move on.
I have a box of old family letters in the closet that I should maybe get rid of. They certainly don’t spark joy. Some are hurtful, even mean.
The past. Do the old letters, old books, old things, connect me to the Past? Why do I want that – am I going to forget my childhood if I don’t keep old detritus around? And why would forgetting some things be a big deal?
I have lots of current projects and ideas for the future, but I’m haunted by the fear that I was a generally Bad Mother – wounding and harmful rather than nurturing and inspiring. I’ve sought therapy, not to resolve gripes about my parents, but to figure out if I was really so awful. I’ve done searching moral inventories of my mistakes.
But why? Why can I forgive myself for normal failings, since most of the time things were okay, even good, and my mistakes were well within normal range?
I think it goes back to accepting that the whole mother with children thing is over.
So, Big Realizations. First, as long as I participate in drama, I’m not coming to grips with the reality that the only healthy relationship for adults is an adult one. Secondly, I can unilaterally withdraw from the drama.
I can burn old letters. I can let go of drama that serves only to perpetuate long-outgrown roles. I can engage less with the past and more with the future. I can stay on my side of the street.
Happy Mother’s Day – we all do our best, and we all benefit by forgiving ourselves.
Okay, it’s time to write a southern gothic novel – the kind with forbidden love, ghosts, murder, creaks heard at night, sexy family secrets, and so on. Ready, imaginary readers? I’ll provide the illustrations and a prompt, you fill in the blanks.
She hasn’t seen the ruined plantation house since that fateful day 40 years ago, but she still remembered . . .
The sight of the barred windows brought a shudder. That hot night in July . . .
She recalled the lane – how innocent it first appeared!
Fearfully, she stepped inside. There was the hall, the old fireplace . . .
The sight of the stairs brought a slight shudder. She’d waited upstairs, only to discover the truth . . .
Fleeing the house, Erythrinia found herself among the live oaks – under whose branches she had first –
The Spanish moss dripped like blood from the branches . .
There had always been only one way out of Tibwin. For so long she had been locked in . . .
Review of the application of Amy Klobuchar has raised the issue of electability. Obviously, management is charged with selecting, not simply the best candidate, but the best candidate who can defeat Trump in 2020. Accordingly, management has commissioned a report on the subject of electability.
A Central Question. The debate over electability often focuses on the relative merits of two opposing viewpoints:
(1) Choose a candidate from the middle, who will appeal to the broadest swath of potential voters and have a greater chance of winning the votes of disaffected Republicans.
(2) Choose a vibrant, exciting candidate who will increase turnout among his or her demographic group, younger voters, and progressives seeking transformative change.
This report cites a number of articles. Hot off the presses today is “Can anyone define what ‘electability’ means?” in the Washington Post.
Don’t get nervous, but an article in Real Clear Politics suggests that a significant number of voters would vote for a Democrat, depending on who the candidate is, and thus that the choice of candidate matters a lot. Gee, thanks for increasing the pressure.
Observation. Can’t remember where I read it, but Democrats have lost more often by running supposedly electable candidates, and seem to do better with candidates who offer something new. (It’s ancient history now, but it was a big deal that Kennedy would be the first Catholic president).
Preliminary Conclusion. It seems that “electability” is often shorthand for “most conventional and least threatening.” If a candidate’s views are bizarre or extreme, they are not electable.
But, if a candidate has the same general positions as other candidates, we should not assume that they are unelectable simply on the basis that “America will never vote for a candidate who is” [so young, so old, black, white, Hispanic, gay, unmarried, angry, from the south, inexperienced, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, quirky, etc. etc.].
This is a big subject and I’d love to know what my imaginary readers think. Meanwhile, it’s time to publish this for now with a promise to revisit it as we go along.
Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, is running as a moderate, a centrist, a “nice” candidate who can find common ground and bring us together to meet in the middle.
Background. Klobachar is a white woman from Minnesota, 58 years old, and married with a 23 year old daughter. She has been a prosecutor and an attorney in private practice, and was the first female senator elected in Minnesota.
Positions. Klobuchar’s views correspond to her identity as a liberal centrist. She supports the right to abortion and LGBTQ rights, and she was critical of the war in Iraq. Klobuchar is generally in favor of gun control, a higher minimum wage, and increasing taxes on the rich. She opposes the death penalty and gerrymandering.
Klobuchar is slightly to the right of some othet camdidates. She considers Medicare for all to be an unattainable “aspiration” (although every other western industrialized country manages somehow to achieve this), but supports expanded access to health care. She does not support the Green New Deal, but she would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Klobuchar wants to reduce student debt but does not support free higher education.
Klobuchar’s views on current issues are traditional liberal positions. The perception of her as a moderate or centrist arises from the fact that other candidates (Sanders, Harris, and Warren) have moved the Democratic party to the left.
Here is a useful summary of Klobuchar’s stances on a number of issues. Management concludes that Klobuchar’s positions are acceptable, if cautious. The Atlantic has an interesting article about her identity as a Heartland Midwesterner.
The latest polls show 2% of those surveyed are presently planning to vote for her.
Mean Boss? There have been reports that Klobuchar is a Bad Boss. If true, this is a significant shortcoming, both because it indicates emotional immaturity and also because the ability to play well wth others is central to an effective presidency. The only data that supports these rumors is the fact that Klobuchar has the highest staff turnover of any senator.
A Google search for “is Klobuchar a mean boss” returns numerous articles in reputable publications describing her tendency to be demeaning, angry, and even abusive towards her staff, who are described as working in a state of panic and anxiety. All of these reports are anonymous, so there is no way to verify them; moreover, other employee have publicly supported Klobuchar.
This is the best article I’ve found on the subject. Management concludes that Klobuchar’s alleged nasty treatment of her staff is concerning, but not necessarily a deal breaker.
Electability. The biggest question about Klobuchar is whether there is an opening for her to succeed. Why would a voter prefer her over any of the others? What does she offer that is unique?
It seems possible that many people who might otherwise vote for Klobuchar would instead choose one of the others – maybe Biden (another centrist, but a former vice president with a good reputation), Harris (flashier, more progressive positions, and a woman of color), Sanders (long record of progressive values, bolder proposals), Pete Buttegieg (another competent, workmanlike Midwesterner gay, which makes him seem edgier somehow), or one of the other 4 or 5 competitive candidates. It is just not clear where her niche is.
The Democrats have lost in the past when they ran competent compromise candidates, even those who might have been very good presidents. Hi there Kerry, Dukakis, McGovern, Humphrey, and even Clinton.
Preliminary Determination. Klobuchar has been a competent, effective senator, and her positions are likely compatible with those of many moderate Democrats. Management will not discard her application.
The problem for Klobuchar is that the centrist label also fits Biden, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, and Buttigieg, among others. Management has decided to set aside her application for the present. However, if one or more of the other middle-of-the-road applicants withdraws their application, or if new developments improve Klobuchar’s standing in the polls, we will call Klobuchar in for a second interview.
Management has reviewed the application from Kamala Harris, currently a Senator from California.
Positions. Kamala is a liberal with progressive views on subjects that are in the public eye. She supports Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, criminal justice reform, legalization of marijuana, a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, increased pay for teachers, and a moratorium on the death penalty. Her views are similar to most of the serious applicants for President, who also espouse progressive positions. A recent article discusses her stance on a variety of issues.
Background. The daughter of immigrants, Harris has an ethnic and personal profile different from the typical white candidate. Wikipedia offers this summary of her background:
Kamala has shared her personal history with voters throughout her career. As this article notes, her family background has shaped her life and her views. She is a living rebuttal to Trump’s xenophobic view of immigration.
Former Prosecutor. Before running for the Senate, Harris was the District Attorney of San Francisco and then the Attorney General of California. Her record as a prosecutor has been criticized from both the right (she declined to pursue the death penalty for a gang member charged with multiple murders) and the left (she prosecuted the parents of truant students and fought to uphold convictions that were tainted by official misconduct).
Management has two observations. First, the record shows only that when Harris was a prosecutor her approach was prosecutorial. Her job was to seek convictions and to argue that they should be upheld despite evidence of official wrongdoing. Management finds the criticisms of her record to be the flip side of attempts to smear criminal defense attorneys for advocating on behalf of notorious criminals, or seeking to “free a murderer on a technicality.”
Secondly, to the extent that Kamala was charged with making difficult discretionary judgment calls, that was excellent practice for the daily duties of a President.
Fierce Critic of Trump. Harris sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and on several occasions she has questioned witnesses for the Trump administration. It is a joy to watch Kamala Harris cross examine a weasely government witness.
The witness’s plan may be to run out the clock with irrelevant speechifying to avoid answering the question. Kamala does not allow him to get away with it, and is prepared to cut off a meandering non-response with “It’s a yes or no question, sir; did you bring a hula hoop to this hearing, yes or no?” “That isn’t what I asked. It’s a simple question sir, did you or did you not, yes or no, take the cookie from the cookie jar?” “Excuse me, sir, I’ve moved on to a different subject.” One can be forgiven for exclaiming “Yes!” or “Zing!” while watching her fearlessly tackle a foe.
For the most recent example, here is a Kamala evicerating William Barr:
and here she is, gently questioning Kavanaugh:
Foreign Policy. Harris voted in favor of the US ceasing its involvement in the war Yemen, against the appointments of Tillerson and later Pompeo as Secretary of State, and has said that she won’t “conduct foreign policy by tweet.” She opposes Trump’s policies on immigration and has argued that we need to be careful to distinguish between the religion of Islam and the actions of Muslim terrorists. Can’t argue with any of that.
Israel. There exists a tension between America’s historical and ongoing support for Israel and the criticisms of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, it’s incursions into the West Bank, the viability of a two-state solution, etc. Harris has been criticized from the left for, as best management can discern, being insufficiently critical of Israel. On the other hand, any public official who criticises Israel is immediately branded anti-Semitic.
Disclaimer. Darned if I know how to solve The Middle East. Management’s position is that of course we should oppose anti-Semitism and support Israel, and that of course Palestinians have rights and that of course Israel needs to find some solution to the issues associated with its Palestinian population, maybe two states, I don’t know, sounds good but I’m not Secretary of State. Management concludes that Harris’s foreign policy positions are acceptable.
Demographics. Management confesses to lingering bitterness about the appointment of Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, and to a resulting conviction that it was past time for a President who is not a straight white man. Elections are won in the margins and it is likely that Harris’s name on the 2020 ticket would increase turnout among all non-Caucasian population sectors, including African-American, Indians and other Asians, and probably Hispanic voters. On balance, her ethnic background is a plus.
Preliminary Conclusion. Kamala Harris is a strong candidate. Her positions on a variety of issues, her focus on the problems faced by groups that are under attack by the current administration, and her fearless confrontation of opponents all recommend her. Management has decided to invite Harris for a second interview.