The surge of former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls immediately after he entered the 2020 White House race should have been all the proof the rest of the crowded Democratic field needed that its performance has been so far underwhelming, to say the least. Biden is a severely flawed candidate on many levels and should not leave any of the 22 other announced candidates shaking in their boots at his early supposedly enormous lead in the polls. The Dem debates will present plenty of opportunities for Biden’s rivals to point out and exploit his long record of foibles.
Stop Shooting Your Own Foot
That is, if these other candidates would stop making egregious mistakes themselves. Recent reckless sweeping statements by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg highlight what appears to be a design flaw in the presidential nomination process for a party driven emotionally by radical progressives.
The floundering Gillibrand has done more to hurt her chances than any other candidate before the debates even kick off. Her bizarre eagerness to prove that she can change her mind on any position is the single identifying trait of a muddled, incoherent campaign up to this point. Gillibrand was at it again in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation that aired the other day. The one-time defender of tough immigration laws startled even her friendly CBS interlocutor Margaret Brennan with the breadth of her open borders rhetoric. When asked how she would deal with illegal aliens detained at the border, Gillibrand instantly fled from the word “detained.”
“As president of the United States … I would not lock up these families, I would have a humane immigration policy where people … would have lawyers and have a proper asylum process,” Gillibrand said.
“I wouldn’t keep them in detention at all,” she repeated to a startled Brennan. “I – I wouldn’t – as president of the United States, I wouldn’t use the detention system at all …. If someone is seeking asylum, I would assign them a lawyer.”
When Brennan reminded her that officials have stated that “hundreds of thousands” of people are crossing our southern border, Gillibrand remained adamant. “They don’t need to be incarcerated. They can – if they’re given a lawyer and given a process, they will follow it.”
In her ham-handed attempt to decry President Trump’s “inhumanity” on immigration, a favorite Dem talking point, Gillibrand revealed again that she is more interested in angling herself as far left as possible in the eyes of Democratic voters than she is in articulating sane policy positions. This projects a weakness discernible even to the most hardened leftists in the Dem ranks while completely alienating her from middle-of-the-road voters in states more moderate than her native New York or California down the line.
Cheap Judge of the Past
Not to be outdone, Mayor Pete unnecessarily made waves of his own with a poorly conceived attack on Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. In a recent interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Buttigieg took the cheese when queried and stated that Jefferson should essentially be carefully scrubbed from American history due to his slave-holding past.
“You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor,” Buttigieg said while casually declaring Andrew Jackson to have been guilty of “genocide.” “Jefferson’s more problematic,” he conceded. But then he continued:
“You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong.
“And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the founder fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that. Then, we’d better look for ways to live out and honor that principle, even in a symbolic thing.”
It’s interesting that Buttigieg initially says he does not want to topple Jefferson from his lofty status in America’s memory and then proceeds to advocate doing just that. As with most progressives, he seems disturbingly unaware of the arrogant overtones that come with strenuously defending judging a giant of American history by the standards of 2019, 193 years after he died.
Not only that, but Buttigieg actually believes that fighting racism should be a core mission of our modern political statesmen today. As with Gillibrand, Buttigieg intentionally drifts into the left lane for the sake of his party’s sensibilities and abandons outreach to mainstream Americans as he does so. The country is struggling with major economic and security issues, and he offers himself as the next Obama-esque Moralizer in Chief.
Two examples of undisciplined Dem rhetoric bode poorly for the coming primary debates. The party’s best hope to defeat Trump in 2020 lies in a younger, more dynamic alternative to Biden or aging socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) catching fire on the debate podium and generating genuine enthusiasm heading into a general election tussle with the president.
Instead, we are witness to jarring evidence of an inability to be serious and a propensity to be flaky, if not outright goofy, by two of the more recognized names beyond Biden and Bernie. If Gillibrand’s and Buttigieg’s rash remarks are a preview of the Democratic debates to come, then President Trump is in store for a heck of a good time for the next 10-12 months.
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