Democrats choosing their nominee

The news earlier this month that Robert Francis O’Rourke had dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination surprised absolutely no one, except perhaps those who wondered why he was not gone months earlier.

As a candidate, he had two things going for him: dishonest identification as a Hispanic (thus the bogus moniker “Beto”, which I refuse to use) and a history of almost upsetting a sitting Senator. Political analysts who think nearly beating Ted Cruz (a real Hispanic) for a Senate seat in Texas is a big deal ignore the fact that Cruz is not well liked in large parts of his home state.

O’Rourke ran as the most left-leaning of the nineteen or twenty Democrats who eventually threw their hat in the ring, and as someone who had to set off on a journey of self-discovery followed by You Tube videos of him getting his teeth cleaned and his hair cut. Shouldn’t a candidate for the highest post in the land have discovered himself before he started a presidential run?

The high point of his presidential run was undoubtedly the Annie Liebovitz photo of him and his dog in Vanity Fair. The low point was probably his tooth-cleaning video. I’m not sure where his dirt-eating episode (I’m not making that up) fits into the list.

In a field of candidates who have tried to outdo each other by promising even more free stuff and moving ever further to the left, O’Rourke took the most extreme positions of any Democrat, including calling for a gun buy-back program (never explaining how the government can buy back something they didn’t own in the first place) and punitive taxes on churches that do not embrace the LGBT agenda.

You might well ask how so far-left a candidate can hope eventually to appeal to swing voters, important in any election. O’Rourke would doubtless have had a hard time picking them up. In fact he is so extreme, Republican party operatives are said to be filing away his You Tube videos to use against his party in the future.

O’Rourke was always a tenuous choice in a large field of uninspiring aspiring candidates: three white people who are so old they couldn’t buy life insurance, a small-town mayor who is hated by the African-American community and police force at home, a billionaire whose sole issue is climate change, and assorted also-rans who are lackluster campaigners. And now Warren has admitted her Medicare For All proposal would cost fifty-two trillion dollars, with a “T”. She cannot explain how it would be paid for.

Speaking last week to a roundtable of Bloomberg newsmen, Nancy Pelosi said that her own constituents might like the extreme promises, but they won’t win votes in large parts of America and they won’t beat Trump.

It is hard at this point to believe any of the declared candidates will end up being chosen by their party to be the Democratic nominee. Some, like O’Rourke, come across as too extreme even for the base of his own party, much less for the crucial vote of independents. Others, like Kamala Harris, did well at the outset but are now shedding points as she becomes better known. It is entirely believable at this point that Hillary Clinton, John Kerry or Michael Bloomberg will jump into the race at the last minute. Or perhaps Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schulz will get back in.

With primary elections beginning in four months, the current crop of Democratic candidates doesn’t look very electable, nor can their promises be accomplished. I anticipate many more dropouts in the coming months and perhaps some new (old) faces emerging between now and then.

Fred LaSor retired from the Foreign Service to the Carson Valley 15 years ago.


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