Then too, we may sometimes get stampeded: Who should be the Democratic nominee for president next year?
In our view, the question is a bit premature. That said, we’ve been struck by suggestions people have made in the comments to recent Frank Bruni columns.
Bruni’s columns have inspired some liberals and progressives to reject the idea of voting for “the lesser of two evils.” We’d be disinclined to vote for someone we regarded as “evil” too.
That said, we’ve been struck by some suggestions from people who aren’t real high on Candidate Clinton. In response to Sunday’s column, an early commenter said this:
COMMENTER FROM NORTH CAROLINA: Frank Bruni, after indicating that Mrs. Clinton (and more particularly Bill Clinton) are unfit to lead and making a comparison with that other disgraced president, Richard Nixon, says we ought to hold our collective noses and vote for Hillary. So far the Republicans—in my mind—don't have a credible candidate but, as Obama came from nowhere, so does Bernie Sanders. Coalesce around Sanders or reach out and draft Jerry Brown—a proven success as the chief executive of California. Democrats needn't nominate Hillary Clinton because she, all along, did whatever was expedient knowing she’s “inevitable.”We don’t know why this reader thought Bruni had said that “we ought to hold our collective noses and vote for Hillary.” We don’t see him saying that in his column at all.
That said, the reader would like Bernie Sanders to get nominated, or possibly Jerry Brown. On the whole, we like Sanders’ politics too, given what we know of them. Beyond that, it’s our impression that Brown has been a good governor of California.
That said, we had a certain reaction to his pair of suggestions. First, let’s note a third suggestion, offered in a reply to the previous comment:
COMMENTER FROM WASHINGTON D.C.: Or draft Joe Biden. I love both Biden and Sanders.We like Biden too. At any rate, these three suggestions appeared and reappeared in the comments to Bruni’s recent column. For ourselves, we thought about the ages of these three men.
Candidate Clinton will be 69 on Election Day 2016. By traditional norms, that makes her a little bit old to be seeking a first term in the White House.
(Candidate Reagan was 69 when he was elected to his first term in 1980.)
That said, the other three suggested candidates are all older than Clinton. On Election Day 2016, Sanders will be 75. Biden will be 73—two weeks short of 74.
Brown will be 78! For that reason alone, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to think about him as a candidate.
There’s another reason why it doesn’t make much sense to talk about Biden or Brown, or about Elizabeth Warren. None of the three have chosen to run! For better or worse, Clinton has. The willingness to make the fight is an important factor.
Some liberals are quite negative on Candidate Clinton. This is often traced to her vote in October 2002 in favor of the war resolution, or to the idea that she is a tool of corporate interests.
For ourselves, we described that vote on the war resolution as the worst in Senate history. That said, many Democrats cast that vote. Senate Democrats favored the war resolution, 29-21.
As a general matter, we wouldn’t describe ourselves as “fans of Hillary Clinton.” We’ll leave that to the Post’s Ruth Marcus, who does describe herself that way—even as she compares Clinton to a gluttonous pig and says her brief announcement video was utterly insulting.
(Within the context of the establishment press corps, those are the sorts of remarks a “fan” of Clinton will make!)
We wouldn’t describe ourselves as “fans.” On the other hand, it can be discouraging to see the way we liberals sometimes reason.
When people say we should nominate Biden, do they know that he voted for the war resolution too? (So did Candidate Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee.)
Do they know that Biden’s voting record as a Senator seems to place him fairly well to the “right” of Senator Clinton? Digby made that point in yesterday’s column, linking to a well-regarded quantification of left/right standing in the Congress.
In our view, people who prefer Bernie Sanders should work like heck to get him nominated. In our view, that’s the way the system works.
On the other hand, we the people can sometimes possibly get stampeded in our thinking, especially when widespread political wars are being waged against people. Back in 2000, a lot of progressives were describing Candidate Gore as “evil.” That thinking helped us get President Bush, with the evil Candidate Gore moving on to oppose the war in Iraq, then win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.
Does that earlier rhetoric about Candidate Gore seem a bit overwrought now?
By any normal political reckoning, it would be hard to elect Candidate Sanders in a general election. (Unless the GOP nominates Candidate Carson, in which case all bets would be off.)
That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t support Candidate Sanders. We would say it means this:
We have an obligation not to get stampeded, or swept away, in our overall thinking. When we go ahead and elect the greater evil, it can have tremendous effects.
No, Virginia, Candidate Gore wasn’t actually “evil.” But dear lord! How good it felt to say he was at the time!