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Movers and shakers in the Donkey Dow

Beto bursts onto the scene, Biden bides his time, Booker’s boo reveals herself

March 18, 2019

5:02 PM

18 March 2019

5:02 PM

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

donkey dow march 18


Is Andrew Yang last week’s news? Enter Sandman…we mean, Pete Buttigieg.

The South Bend, Indiana (think: Notre Dame) mayor is actually… pretty impressive. Like Yang, he’s on the young side and light on real experience. But the ascension of Donald Trump combined with the Democratic party’s own internal contradictions has unleashed a fracas upon the American political system. He had a viral moment this week as the tale of him learning Norwegian to read a book did the rounds. And in what is presumably a flagrant act of sabotage, his husband outed Buttigieg as a Hufflepuff. Relatable! Mayor Pete says he thinks a lot about 2054, when he’ll be ‘the current age of the current president.’ Cockburn will only get one schoolyard jab in, this cat’s got some serious chops: Rhodes Scholar, military record and boldly gay in a religious state.

What will it get him? Probably bupkis. But who knows! The US elections are looking more like the erratic process that generated nominees like Wendell Willkie, and Abraham Lincoln, then the more staid, organized affairs that produced the Georges Bush.

The establishment will continue to vociferously reject Tulsi Gabbard as unacceptable. But she’s ratings gold and poised, and accordingly, plausible. Stay in the game long enough, she could even vault herself to the ticket.

Bernie Sanders offers the Stalingrad candidacy for the Stalingrad election. And don’t worry, Sen. Sanders just liked himself some late Eighties Gorbachev malaise when he, preposterously, honeymooned in Russia; no one is insinuating he liked Uncle Joe! But it’s an appropriate moniker. Sanders, after treating Hillary Clinton with kid gloves (yes, he did), has but one path now that he starts the race as a front-runner: brute force. He won’t ever unite the party: big money could flee; if so, it’ll be about stopping the bleeding. But he wants to be president, right? Push through. He knows where he came from.

A slight increase for Jay Inslee. If Andrew Yang has proved anything, it’s that focus sells. Instead of another blasé candidacy, a drilled-down emphasis on a key issue can set you apart. Donald Trump had the Wall (lol). Andrew Yang has UBI. Jay Inslee… could have climate change?


Sen. Cory Booker. Where is this guy? Save weirdly leaking that he’s dating Rosario Dawson, the New Jersey senator has been as invisible as he was in Newark when he was mayor.

Joining Booker in the disaster area is his neighbor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She ‘officially’ launched her campaign this week, to collective ‘meh’s.

Sen. Kamala Harris has inadvertently become the establishment éminence grise. She may very well be the favorite. But in this landscape, it’s worth asking: will it be clowns to the right of her, jokers to the left? How is someone polished but uncool (Mitt Romney-style?) supposed to compete with bigger names (Sanders, Biden) and more outlaw candidacies (Buttigieg, Yang, even Beto)? Is she splitting the difference, or falling through the cracks?

Neither here nor there

Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She’s here and she’s hangry. She’s plausible. Question though: has the field already narrowed, cutting her out? 2016 and Donald Trump would instruct: no. But past isn’t prologue.

Andrew Yang is at a plateau for the moment because, to an extent, he’s done all he could thus far. He’s still polling in the doldrums (polls, schmolls). But he’s achieved phase one of his campaign with aplomb: get on the stage. Like Donald Trump in August 2015, to an extent Yang has inherited his role: the most anticipated candidate. Here’s hoping he, too, leads off by insulting Rosie O’Donnell.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a wonky wonderwoman. But she’s not in the top tier. If she fades out, or has to settle for the veep spot, like Chris Christie in 2016, many will wonder: should she have run four years earlier?

New faces

Welcome to the game, Beto O’Rourke. He started strong, announcing Monday that he had raised over $6 million in 24 hours. If Bernie knows where he came from, it’s imperative to remember how far Beto has come. Two years ago, he was a lonesome, weird ex-rocker, backbench politician. Two years on, well, he’s still that.

But. Make no mistake. He’s got a real shot at the presidency. Michael Avenatti be damned!

Above else: he’s the enigma. His mystique abounds. The real question – as yet revealed – is anybody home? If so, he can go for gold.

Still waiting

Joe Biden. Much has been made of the fact that Uncle Joe (no, not that one) is a two-time loser in this contest – 1988 and 2008. But it’s a little unfair: he’s not a two-time loser within one decade, in the Hillary or Mitt Romney style (both of who were vanquished at the general election level, rejected by the broader public). In fact, it’s near-certain Biden is a better general election candidate than a primary infighter. But, life’s not fair. He’ll have to summon the fortitude to grit through it. He’s sloppy, yes, but he’s no flapdoodle. A third climb of the mountain would be a sight to see. Run, Joe, run.

And New York City mayor Bill de Blasio addressed an audience of 20 people in New Hampshire. Multiply that number by 12.5 and you still couldn’t fill a delayed NYC subway car. Perhaps Blaz is due a change in priorities?

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