Monday, for the first time since The Unfortunate Incident, I get back into the hurly-burly. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, wouldn’t it be amazing if The New York Times endorsed both Amy Klobuchar and Senator Professor Warren in the Democratic presidential primary? Wait. I didn’t do that? Must’ve been the goofballs. What a crazy idea.
Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.
That’s the nut of the whole exercise right there. The most obvious inference to be drawn is that there were some serious—and eventually, unresolvable—conflict within that editorial board. Somehow, the two obvious frontrunners, who could just as well have represented this alleged philosophical arm-wrestling as the two candidates the board eventually chose, were eliminated from consideration. In fact, this is what the board said about Joe Biden:
Mr. Biden maintains a lead in national polls, but that may be a measure of familiarity as much as voter intention. His central pitch to voters is that he can beat Donald Trump. His agenda tinkers at the edges of issues like health care and climate, and he emphasizes returning the country to where things were before the Trump era. But merely restoring the status quo will not get America where it needs to go as a society. What’s more, Mr. Biden is 77. It is time for him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders.
Old dude, get in the slow lane, will you? Also, your blinker’s on.
Biden and Bernie did not get the Times stamp.
Scott OlsonGetty Images
As for Bernie Sanders:
Then, there’s how Mr. Sanders approaches politics. He boasts that compromise is anathema to him. Only his prescriptions can be the right ones, even though most are overly rigid, untested and divisive. He promises that once in office, a groundswell of support will emerge to push through his agenda. Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.
I voted for Sanders in 2016. Since then, I have become increasingly distressed by the angry fanaticism of much of his hired staff, and a large proportion of his followers, online and off. Sanders’s apparent unwillingness to stand up to this ugliness bothers me, too. But, Lord above, to compare his appeal to that of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago is dreadfully unfair. Go to a Trump rally and then go to a Sanders rally. The difference in mood and in the distinctive enthusiasms of their crowds is night and day. I never walked around a Sanders event with my head on a swivel.
Now, you can dismiss the relevance of newspaper endorsements in this day and age. I do, frequently. But this split-decision shows a major institution feeling itself wrong-footed by events. If I had to guess, I’d say that endorsing SPW was the majority choice of the board, but that there were doubts about her that settled on Klobuchar. I don’t think those doubts were about electability; picking Klobuchar as the moderate choice over Biden is proof enough of that. I think the doubts were about the salience of Warren’s ideas, and a kind of exhaustion of imagination in the face of the great indigestible blob that is Republican congressional obstruction. Odds are that this obstruction will exist for a President Anybody, as long as President Anybody is a Democrat. Me? I say, given all that, why not throw long?
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Charles P. Pierce
Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976.