Login

State of the presidential race, to this point

Democrats desperate to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 have two big advantages. One, of course, is Trump himself. The other is the mainstream press. Media coverage of Democrats is like fawning biographies of the Kennedys, Clintons and Obamas. No matter what the Democratic protagonists do wrong, the journalists or biographers always make it come out right.

Such overwhelming press favoritism steers millions of Americans to the Democratic party every year, a far greater advantage for the left than any small bump Trump could possibly get from Russian meddling. Yet Trump may still win. That’s how problematic the Democratic candidates are. Here’s how they’re faring so far:

Early favorite Kirsten Gillibrand is out. Her female-focused campaign never took off, despite widespread media support. Her polling clocked in at just about zero.

John Hickenlooper is out too, and Bill de Blasio always was out, although he doesn’t know it. He really should go home and do the mayoral job he was elected to do.

Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar will soon be out, and Kamala Harris, who gained ground by attacking Joe Biden, has lost her momentum.

Pete Buttigieg’s campaign ideas include packing the Supreme Court in search of a liberal majority. Beto O’Rourke would term limit the justices. No and no.

Several other candidates are also out or on the skids, their names so anonymous that even Google can’t find them.

For many lesser candidates, running for president was always about vanity, just a chance to say they once were contenders, like Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront” (“I coulda been somebody.”) These ham-and-eggers got a quick audition, a handshake and a one-way ticket back to Palookaville.

Even some bigger names are out. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz just officially abandoned an independent run. That’s good. Anyone whose business promotes overpriced sugar snacks as “curated just for you” is too pretentious to lead a democracy.

Only three Democrats are actually polling above single digits. Take your pick among the socialism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren or the “normalcy” of Joe Biden. Good luck with that.

Since most of Liz and Bernie’s New Deal fantasies make the left’s court-packing scheme look like the Marshall Plan, oddsmakers figure Biden is the only Democrat who can beat Trump. But Joe will have as many unforced errors as Trump himself.

Luckily for Biden, the press will spin all his gaffes in his favor, just as they spin all Trump’s to his disfavor. Joe’s latest outrage was to confuse several stories of battlefield valor and to misrepresent his own claims of honoring the soldiers. Yet the press spun it all as well-intentioned slip-ups rather than the ignorance, incompetence or willful lying always attributed to Trump.

Yet Biden always has lied. Even when he ran for president in 1988, he “repeatedly lied about marching for civil rights,” reports “The Week.”

The problem for the left is a shortfall of Bernie and Liz voters among the ranks of disgruntled millennials with overdue college loans, professors lacking tenure, ‘60s radicals with arrested development and older feminists still steaming about Hillary.

So Democrats will need a compromise ticket, probably Biden and Warren. Trump, meanwhile, will hold his core 40%, and the fight will be for the undecideds.

To that end, Warren is moderating her message, if not her actual intentions. She now talks of just a revival rather than a revolution. Try on this Warren hat: “Revive America’s Greatness.” Sound familiar? At least the press won’t condemn her logo, like Trump’s.

Nor is Warren’s Pocahontas scandal going away. The whole thing was a lie from start to finish, including her non-apology apologies. First she was sorry for not understanding tribal rules. Now she’s sorry if she caused any harm. She’s never actually apologized for appropriating native culture for 30 years, and her fawning biographers in the press aren’t about to hold her moccasined feet to the campfire.

As for Democrats still suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” there’s now a virulent new contrarian bug called “POTUS Stockholm Syndrome.” This virus afflicts citizens who previously hated the president but now identify with him, like captives sometimes do with their captors.

These Americans now realize Trump is not a madman. He may not be a “very stable genius” but he has presidential experience and certainly knows his way around Twitter. Even his hair is less odious since Boris Johnson became prime minister of Britain. Plus, Trump really hammers the hated press, the value of which cannot be overstated.

So don’t bet on Liz being the first female socialist Native American president, or even vice president. Instead, figure on four more years of the DTs.

Oh, you poor kid.

 

Mark Godburn is a bookseller in Norfolk and the author of “Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets” (2016).