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Donkey Dow: the bayonetting of Biden

The Four B’s – Bernie, Beto, Buttigieg, Biden – remain preeminent. But one looks poised to fall into the political ravine – before even formally announcing!

April 2, 2019

2:43 PM

2 April 2019

2:43 PM

Cockburn is introducing the Donkey Dow: a round-up of the movers and shakers in the race to face up against Donald Trump. Here’s how the candidates and contenders fared over the last few days.

donkey dow bayonetting

Joe Biden: Is it possible to be down before you’ve even taken to the starting blocks? Trust Biden to try and find out. Don’t count Uncle Joe out, says Cockburn. But there can be no denying it: what a difference a week makes.

He’s gone from America’s uncle to America’s creepy uncle. C’est la vie in the gladiatorial arena of the Trump era. Biden’s people smell a plot – say our friends at Axios – and insist ‘the VP’, as his clique refers to him is ‘full steam ahead’. Still, there’s no denying the #MeToo-esque brouhaha has been damaging to the former vice president’s previously rock-solid national reputation. His folks are said to blame Bernie Sanders.

Speaking of the Bern…

Bernie Sanders: UP. He announced his first quarter fundraising numbers Tuesday morning. At an eye-popping $20 million raised – the preponderance of which from small donors – we have ourselves a front-runner. Cockburn still thinks this (early) race is defined by the manspreading ‘Four B’s’ – Bernie, Beto, Biden, Mayor Pete – but with numbers like these, heir apparent status from 2016 (when he finished runner-up), Biden’s tribulations, it’s fair to say, the former Burlington mayor is a king of kings.

Speaking of small town mayors…

Pete Buttigieg: UP. Mayor Pete is the bonafide surprise of the early cycle. He’s now cracked the top five in many national polls – even with Elizabeth Warren (oh dear). He kissed the liberal ring with a Friday appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. The question is whether Buttigieg – ‘American Macron wannabe’, as one ingenious, anonymous tweeter deemed him – can hold it up. While we’re discussing Twitter, it’s worth asking whether his husband’s deeply annoying presence on the site could slow him down in the weeks to come…

Speaking of early surprises seeming to be fading (a little bit)…

Andrew Yang: DOWN. The Yang Gang has been banged up the last week or two. Mueller’s vindication of President Trump has seemingly revived much of the internet Right’s enthusiasm for the Donald. POTUS has got his swagger back. Why does this matter for a fringe candidate in the Democratic primary? Because Yang, exotically, was filching some of his support from the president; his Freedom Dividend and feisty, fan-created memetic warfare were big hits among the youth wing of the Extremely Online Right. Live by the sword, die by the sword: should Yang make the first debate, which he looks poised to, look for his fellow liberals to crucify him as an alt-rightist. He may possess legs sturdy enough to weather the blows, but he needs to prove himself as more than a web creation.

But speaking of political web creations…

Mike Gravel: UP. The rowdy teens who run the quixotic former Alaska senator’s Twitter account are still pummeling the other candidates with body blows.

Speaking of taking no prisoners…

Kamala Harris: Steady. The California senator is the most likely woman to claim the nomination. Striking, that in a primary defined by the #MeToo cacophony, that it’s actually men, not women, that are leading the way early on. Harris is the X chromosome’s best chance to foil that. She may yet. Her polling is modest – generally third nationally – but in a possibly 40-person race, that’s not nothing. She leads the all-important endorsement primary – the choice of current officeholders. That’s also not nothing. Critics would cry Jeb Bush – who once led in such a metric in a race in another party long ago – but it’s quite possible Kamala is poised to be more George W. than John Ellis (JEB!). If there is a path of the overpowering, establishment overlord (think: Bush 2000, Romney 2012 and Clinton 2016), it’s Harris’s mantle to seize.

Speaking of people not seizing their mantles…

Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand: DOWN. Warren, the populist darling who passed on 2016, is now tied with the mayor of South Bend. Castro, passed on for the vice presidential slot by Hillary Clinton, has been cast into the political netherworld. No one cares. And Booker, poor Cory Booker. One almost feels like Woody Harrelson’s Marty Hart in True Detective. Hart should go to young Cory with a wad of cash, and plead: ‘Do something else.’ Triple that for Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Speaking of rank outsiders…

Tulsi Gabbard: UP. It may appear hard to pick a high-performer out of the zero-, one- and two-percent brigade. So props to the Hawaii congresswoman for her sensible ‘time to move on from Mueller’ video this week. A stark departure from Beto claiming ‘You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government’ last week.

Speaking of Brooks Brothers button-ups…

Beto O’Rourke: Stable. On the one hand, he’s fast becoming an internet a joke as a vapid, homeless man’s Barack Obama. On the other hand, his principal establishment rival (and Obamaworld gatekeeper) Joe Biden is foundering. In an already knives-out political contest, might – as Steve Bannon thinks – Cockburn’s two ‘stable’ candidates (Beto and Kamala) form the ticket?

Speaking of things no one wants…

Michael Bloomberg and Terry McAuliffe: UP. Biden’s potential ruination is this pair potential reward. The establishment lane needs a champion. If Biden passes on a run, both are likely to think they’re it. For these two, this week, there’s victory in that.

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