by Lisa Schiffren
Looking at the polling going into the Iowa Caucuses, with some combination of Joe Biden, Bernia Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Buttigieg listed among the top four candidates, I am puzzled. Each of those candidates is so deeply flawed as to be a nonstarter in the general election. The idea of handing the race to autocratic, elitist Mike Bloomberg, when those four fail . . . well, when the base riots, they will have my sympathies.
Sure, it’s a weak field. That’s often the case when the out of power party goes up against an incumbent. But from where I sit, (firmly on the Right; happy to support President Trump), the one candidate who could give Trump some real trouble, is being ignored. If I were a Democrat, I’d want to nominate Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She is light on charisma, but she is the one Democratic candidate with political substance and personal mien that will appeal to moderates and grown-ups across the spectrum.
Among other things, Klobuchar is the first legitimate, qualified female candidate who has emerged from “the pipeline,” which, for almost 50 years, has promised to produce such a thing.
In addition to not being the wife of a former president, with a quarter century of favors and corrupt cash accrued, neither is Senator Klobuchar the wife of a very wealthy man, who bankrolled her early years in Congress, like Speaker Pelosi. Nor is she the former, very public mistress of a popular, married California political figure, whose career was jumpstarted by that relationship, like Senator Kamala Harris. Senator Klobuchar got to the stage on her own steam.
Klobuchar is a meritocrat. That word is currently in disfavor among the Wokerati, because it implies that personal attributes, like intelligence, combined with personal actions, like exceptional academic success, and hard work at a serious career, are more important than identity markers. She came from a professional family, but not a famous or wealthy one. So I presume her admission to Yale, and Yale Law School was based on grades, SATs, and activities. That is, intelligence and hard work. Those were virtues we all used to respect, back in the day when success was understood to be largely an individual matter.
She held a job at a law firm, and was elected to a prosecutor’s position, before running for the Senate, where she is in her third term. She appears to focus on legislation more seriously than most of the senators up on the stage.
Perhaps her most distinguishing attribute in the Democratic field is that Senator Klobuchar is manifestly sane. Offputtingly sober, even. She does not exhibit the discomfiting mania of, say, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on a warp speed, high-pitched policy jag, which at any time could morph into the next delusion. She does not make up things about herself, or fail to so much as blush when caught in what ought to be life-changing lies. She is what she seems to be. While I did not appreciate her vote against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, she did not beclown herself or have a tantrum, as did Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif) and Warren. A low standard, sure.
Her famous bad temper? Amazing how many politicians have one, on both sides of the aisle. She will control it, or it will cost her the service of good people. Eating salad with a comb? That is cringe-inducingly gross.
Klobuchar’s political views are also within the realm of sanity. The reality she appears to comprehend is recognizable. She understands that there are limits. For instance, when asked if she supports “Medicare for all,” this year’s health care chimera, she said, “No. We cannot afford that,” like a person who has balanced a checkbook, or paid taxes. Ditto on free college for all, another fantasy. Too many Democratic candidates prefer the responsibility-dodging “we can’t afford not to . . . ” locution.
On the contentious if tangential transgender matter, she appears to understand that men and women are not the same. And, while she supports all of the usual liberal, feminist abortion laws, she has not felt the need to make “reproductive justice” the centerpiece of her platform, or to grossly cheer for death. So, that’s something.
What does she know about economics? Who knows. But she isn’t a socialist, so there’s that. And, Midwesterner that she is, she seems to trust Americans to make more of their own decisions than her rivals do.
Klobuchar is a mom. Most Americans are parents. It is important that a president understand the issues that Americans raising children face. That would not lead a sane candidate to announce that she will run her pick for secretary of education past a 9-year-old transgender child.
Would it include cooking classic Minnesota “hot dish?” Maybe. Here’s her recipe . . .
Klobuchar is 59. The Talmud notes that wisdom begins at 50, (though it is not a given that everyone gets it). Given the complexity of modern life, it is hard to argue that anyone younger than that should have the power of the presidency.
What does babyface Buttigieg know of life? He has raised no children; never struggled with a mortgage; not lived long enough to see real change. He is unprepared, even apart from the silliness of contemplating a mayor of the fourth largest city in Indiana for the world’s biggest job. Given the demands of office, it is equally hard to argue that anyone well into her 70s should have the job.
Here is why the Democrats should consider nominating Senator Klobuchar: she will appeal to moderates and suburban women, and lefties will have no other choices. She might get some crossover votes from Republican Trump haters. Though that would be a mistake, because no Democrat can govern all that far from current party leftism.
She will lose. Any Democrat will. But unlike Warren, Biden, Bloomberg, and Sanders, Klobuchar has a future. If she does okay, she could run again in an open year, like 2024.
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Lisa Schiffren has been an editorial writer, columnist, and White House speech writer. She covered the Soviet War in Afghanistan, back before the U.S. military built roads.