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.
Consistent with his light breakfast start to the campaign, former vice president Joe Biden missed the weekend’s big confab – the California Democratic Party Convention in San Fran. His principal rivals were not impressed. Shade was thrown.
‘Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses, but our country is in a time of crisis,’ Elizabeth Warren said. ‘The time for small ideas is over.’ The reference was unmistakable – a broadside against the front-runner who once floated having Warren as VP. An attack on an establishmentarian who has bragged that his climate plan is ‘beat Donald Trump.’
‘When it comes to health care, there is no middle ground,’ Bernie Sanders told the gathered. ‘When it comes to abortion, there is no middle ground. When it comes to mass shootings and the fact that 40,000 people were killed last year with guns, no middle ground.’
Yikes! Take Cockburn’s word for it: Biden’s avuncular style was put on blast. But does that change the stakes?
A waning Bernie could offer Elizabeth Warren a chance to surge. The problems of a Warren candidacy are well-known: she should have run in 2016. Her career ascension is based, in part, on purporting to be the Sitting Bull of bankruptcy law. And yet, if the Democratic race is bracketed – establishment and anti-establishment – Warren could snatch the mantle of the latter, and prove a plausible general election candidate. America is not ready for a socialist, but it seems ready for a ‘capitalism with rules,’ Warren’s hobbyhorse, as evidenced by President Trump’s own anti-market instincts. ‘Her rhetoric is so Trumpian that it might embarrass progressives who have been attacking Trump’s “economics of nostalgia” for the last few years,’ John Carney of Breitbart wryly noted. Warren’s new plan for ‘economic patriotism’ is a choice word away from Steve Bannon’s favored ‘economic nationalism’.
Call it a hunch, with the debates beginning this month, Cockburn senses a second coming of Yangmentum. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s followers are small in number, devoted and extremely online. But a thousand bucks a month is still a thousand bucks a month. After a mediocre sprang…it could be the return of the Yang Gang.
If he can cling on, Cory Booker might surprise in South Carolina. And then who knows?
Finally, with the ‘yas kween sleighhhh’ viral moment of the week, Kirsten Gillibrand clapped back against Fox News’s Chris Wallace during her Sunday town hall:
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) June 3, 2019
Cockburn remembered you existed, and not in a bad way. You go Glen Coco!
At the risk of incurring the further wrath of the Berniecrats, Cockburn must note how the Bernie Sanders campaign has a whiff of desperation. Bernie’s increasing, unreciprocated attacks on Biden are revealing: he’s struggling in second place. His tone can turn half-cocked and conspiratorial.
Case in point: the Vermont senator misheard Chuck Todd on Meet the Press
over the weekend. Todd was quoting a dismissive assessment from a gentleman identified as ‘the former head of the Democratic party in Pennsylvania.’ The quoted said: ‘I’m supremely confident Bernie Sanders could not win Pennsylvania. … When Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren open their mouths, many, many Democrats in Pennsylvania stick their fingers in their ears.’ Sanders then proceeded to complain about an ‘Ed’, doubtless referencing Ed Rendell, the former Democratic National Committee chair, Philly mayor and staple of the Clintons’ political machine. Problem is: Todd was quoting a ‘T.J. Rooney,’ not Ed Rendell.
It’s 2019, not 2016, but Bernie, like the fruitcake right-wingers he loathes, still sees Clintons around every corner.
Elsewhere, it’ll take more than calls from fourth-place finishers to foist Mayor Pete Buttigieg back into the center of the race. His air time has been cut by Biden. And he risks being cut down by his own hokeyness.
Bill de Blasio…whatever the opposite of ‘America’s mayor’ is, he’s it.
And everyone else on single digits – Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, Steve Bullock, Amy Klobuchar, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, Mike Gravel, Michael Bennet, Tulsi Gabbard, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Eric Swalwell, John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson – take a lap.
Neither here nor there
Joe Biden’s plodding approach may have come under fire in California, but it is not without strategy. He’s never going to rival Sanders’s menshevik bona fides. But no matter, he’ll make gay rights the centerpiece of his campaign – he infamously got out ahead of Barack Obama in favor of gay marriage in 2011. Now, he hopes to get out ahead of the rest of the field on a matter of unanimous support on the left. It’s also a stance that wins broad approval nationwide.
True to form, Biden appeared instead at an event over the weekend for the Human Rights Campaign, the major gay rights lobbying outfit. And consistent with his approach geared already toward the general election, Biden’s event of choice was in Ohio. His sales pitch is that he can reclaim the heartland, which the left has lost, not that he can impress California, where Democrats are invincible. His post-announcement surge slowing down, Biden has seen a slight dip in the polls – with guns now trained on him from the left. But make no mistake, this prohibitive front-runner’s campaign is stable.