What was the Democratic National Committee thinking when they devised the twelve-debate marathon now underway? “Everybody come!” sounds democratic. But it’s beginning to look like anarchy. Nineteen, or is it twenty or twenty-four, candidates have stood on the debate stage. What do those performances and policy plans tell us about the ability to repair the damage done by the Trump administration? His successor must run the country while restoring good governance, mending regulatory infrastructure, and removing leftover saboteurs. Who is up to governing this rattled country on January 20, 2021?
Millions yearn for “anyone but Trump.” My favorites are Midwesterners Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Each behaves and talks like a normal person; neither has the style of a glad-handing pol. Buttigieg has made difficult choices in his life and remains a decent, serious, and modest person. Wouldn’t that be great in a president? He is inching toward the top tier in Iowa, but is still way behind the top three in nationwide polls.
I like Amy Klobuchar’s crooked smile and cool sense of humor, and I also like her defense of middle-of-the-road policies. It suggests a realism that could calm and mend our rattled and polarized society. In many quarters it is a mark against her that she has been hard on her staff (some use the word “abusive”). But maybe her tough demeanor is what’s necessary to hold people like Brett Kavanaugh to account. Both Klobuchar and Buttigieg have delivered decent debate performances but it is widely—though perhaps too easily—agreed that neither will make the cut.