Amy’s Not Really for Unity; Pete’s Not So Safe a Bet, and More


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One of the people depicted here will probably be out of the Democratic Presidential race in a little more than a week. So will the other.

I had hoped to finish my big piece on Michael Bloomberg’s exciting future by now, but events (mostly welcome family obligations) have intervened. So, with the last pre-California primary debate coming up tonight — 5 p.m. PT on CBS —  I’m going to say a little bit about Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg — the Battlin’ Egomania Twins — while they’re still relevant.  I’ll then drop some tidbits about others candidates.

Klobuchar is probably the most disingenuous candidate on the stage– and not merely because her big argument is “I’ve never lost an election in Minnesota,” which she pretends means that, ergo, she will not lose to Donald Trump for the Presidency. That is not how it works. (And her suggestion that maybe the way to win is to nominate a woman is just so sad. 2016 happened, Amy.)

Amy’s attack on Sanders and (to a lesser extent) Warren is that they think that they know what has to be done on various policies, and that if you don’t do it their way, you’re wrong, but that there are other possibilities! She says that we need to find a candidate who is centrist on the issues can appeal to Midwestern voters — and that those who don’t want to do it the way she says to do it … are wrong.  That’s the same kind of thing, simply with different content — “I’m the one who’s right on this” — that she’s criticizing in the progressives.  But she does not seem to have the self-awareness to realize it.  It’s disturbing.

We saw this again in the last debate, where her response to Warren’s slam that Amy’s health care plan could fit onto a Post-It note — fact checked as pretty much true, by the way — is to note that part of why it is funny is that Post-It notes are manufactured in her home state. No, Amy, that’s not why it’s funny.  It’s funny because it exposed you as a candidate whose plan for health care reform amounts to “not much.”

But for New Hampshire, Klobuchar would be doing about as well as Tulsi Gabbard right now. (Tulsi won four county convention delegates in Nevada — .0066% of Klobuchar’s sixth place finish and  .00059% of Sanders’s winning total. Why she is still in the race in not exactly clear.) Klobuchar only did as well as she did in New Hampshire because only she had the courage and presence of mind to say publicly, with him in the room, that Sanders was simply not electable. A modest portion of voters ate that up — but the plurality didn’t, and then New Hampshire ended, everyone moved on, and all she had accomplished was to ensure that when she next runs she gets a primary challenge. No, to be fair, that’s not entirely true: she also kept a lot of people from voting for Biden or Buttigieg or any other moderate, so for that I suppose she should be thanked.

Buttigieg, that silver-tongued devil with Blagojevich hair, is trying to make the point that he is the most electable, because he’s such a wonderful speaker and appeals to old and rural voters, so long as they’re white. While Amy’s crust of self-confidence is easily fractured, Pete’s self-confidence rings all the way down to the marrow — even though he really hasn’t accomplished all that much, as Klobuchar loved telling him in the most self-celebratory ways possible … before the mask fell off and she devolved to a “I wish everyone else was as perfect as you, Pete.”  It was a cringeworthy moment straight out of a dysfunctional family drama — at least she didn’t try to pass it off as humorous wit rather than poisonous spite.  The sense one gets from practical Pete is that he’s glad that no one is as perfect as him, because then he’d have more trouble winning.

The problem with Pete’s considering himself so safe of a choice is that he’s anything but. This is tender issue to discuss, but let’s dive in. In a year where the question of “can a woman win?” has been a point of debate thanks to Hillary’s goal-line fumble in 2016 — answer: yes, Warren can; no, Klobuchar can’t — the media and punditry has turned what used to be called “the love that dare not speak its name” to “the hate whose name none dare speak.”

Buttigieg is gay. While he has mentioned it by name at least once on the debate stage, and on occasions mention having a husband, he usually evokes issues of LGBT rights in an elliptical way such as “the right to love the person they love.” One voter in Iowa literally did not know that he was gay until after she cast her ballot for him — and then he frantically tried to snatch it back.  I don’t think that anyone voted for Barack Obama under the misapprehension that he was not Black.

I think that Trump and Bannon and the rest of his flying monkeys would like to run against Pete more than anyone else, because they are awful people who would like to unleash their destructiveness onto yet another vulnerable minority, to get a rise out of them.  (If Trump had been running against Obama in 2008, but with today’s technology and culture, I really have to wonder whether Obama would have won.  These guys have just gotten better and better at being reprehensible.)

So look, we have a problem. Not a fatal one, but we’re running against centuries of American hostility towards homosexuality, despite recent advances that may or may not survive Trump’s judicial majority. But that problem is compounded by a second problem: we — led by Pete — are pretending that it doesn’t exist.  We’re not talking about it because doing so is impolite, and we would so dearly like to believe that the demons of bigotry are not safely locked in the basement. But if there is one thing that Trump has taught us, it’s that that is not reliably true.

Buttigieg, and I’m afraid LGBTs generally, will be pummeled with hatred and derision, in the most florid terms, if he is nominated — simply because that’s the most effective way for the bigots to win the election. Pete in a dress, Pete performing fellatio, Pete as a bottom, Pete depicted in other ways that he’s probably never been, much like the portrayals of Barack Hussein Obama with a bone in his nose — all of it winging to your text messages from anonymous numbers as a way to alienate people from Pete’s apparently sedate version of a homosexual lifestyle. And we’re not even getting ready for it; we’re pretending that it won’t happen — and Pete’s not urging us towards readiness.  (That’s the real flaw. Obama had no illusions about what was coming — and he helped gird us for it.  If the thinking is that the public will react in horror at the gay-bashing of Pete and will rise to his side — well, welcome back to consciousness after your four-year coma.

To be clear: none of this means that Pete shouldn’t be nominated just because the Republicans will create deep fakes showing him in sexual poses and fanning the flames of hatred against gays (and others among LGBTQQ+ identities) everywhere. Pete’s victory would be a huge, historic civil rights advance, and arguably it is worth the gamble. What I object to is our not even acknowledging that it IS a gamble — and letting Pete get way with arguing that he’s “the safe choice.”

He’s NOT the safe choice! That’s the best thing about him. But if electability is supposed to be everything, projecting our own West Coast lack of anti-gay bigotry onto other states is insane.

If Pete is nominated we will all have to take the same kind of deep breath we did when Obama was nominated and defend against the onslaught as best we can. But the notion — promoted by Pete — that nominating Sanders is the risky choice because he is an FDR social democrat (calling himself a democratic socialist, which gets shortened to “socialist,” which gets translated by that fathead Bloomberg to “communist”), but that nominating Pete (who has been able to marry for a decade, but not that long before that would have faced calls for quarantine is “safe” is completely insane. That’s not how it will be!

Bernie’s overwhelming popularity with all but the oldest voters shows that the visceral hatred of socialism (especially FDR-style “socialism”) among voters under 55 is pretty much played out: people throughout the country are much more worried about fascism and plutocracy.  Homophobia, despite the welcome societal move to acceptance of same-sex marriage, is still alive and well and often thriving — as LGBTQ+ people will remind us often when we’re not talking about whether someone is going to rip open a gargantuan wound born of misguided religion and toxic masculinity than can be exploited to divide the country.

It is astounding that this prospect is not acknowledged. I’ve barely heard anyone talking about the difficulties of electing a gay man as President against the most vicious rich schoolyard bully in American political history. It’s like we think that if we don’t acknowledge that a major anti-gay fusillade is coming, then it won’t happen. Trump’s trying to lull us this past week into saying that he could certainly vote for a gay candidate for President is not something that binds him.

Favor Buttigieg, if you will (and I don’t, based on both policy and aspects of his character) despite that it will be risky and hard — as it was with Obama running against the magnitudes more decent John McCain — and not under the bizarre misconception that he is “the safe choice.”

OK, on to odds and ends:

Tom Steyer is a kind and decent man, but simply isn’t much of a candidate. Now that his massive spending in Nevada gained him next to nothing, and it looks like Bernie WILL surpass him in South Carolina, he really needs to not be in the race after that Leap Day primary.  (This is, remember, why I suggested that people not vote until after Leap Day.) He’s handled himself well in the primary, though, and will probably be entitled to a cabinet position if any Democrat wins.

Joe Biden actually had a much better debate last time than he’d had in a while — I don’t know why the pundits said otherwise —  but he didn’t have the fire in him. If a moderate had to win, he’d be the one I’d prefer — but a moderate doesn’t need to win.

Elizabeth Warren probably would have finished second or third, rather than fourth, if her expert dismantling of the still-vulnerable Mike Bloomberg had come before such a large number of Nevadans had voted early.  But them’s the breaks.  If Massachusetts’s Republican Governor can agree to appoint Bill Weld to Warren’s Senate seat as a caretaker, she will be Bernie’s Vice Presidential nominee, and I’d happily take it.

If Mike Bloomberg wins the nomination, though, I somehow don’t think that Warren will be on his ticket. (That’s understated wit, Amy.) But we’ll get to Bloomberg sometime after the debate — that’s going to be a long and intricate discussion.  For now, tune in tonight, 5:00 p.m. our time, on the CBS stable of stations.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)