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Progressives Ponder the Perfect Candidate

There’s a new parlor game among progressives these days, a question we often ask each other: Do you have a favorite candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination?

Let’s call it “Worried Liberals Frantically Search for a Credible Candidate Who Won’t Sell Them Out.” But it’s challenging to find a favorite among the approximately 75 hopefuls.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the new golden gal for progressives. She’s been propelled by her plans to end corporate welfare as we know it, create public housing for pet owners, and hand out refrigerators to end global warming.

She is also an exceptionally bright, articulate candidate, a Massachusetts liberal with a Harvard background.

Which places her on a par with Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry and several other Democrats — all of whom lost to dumber candidates who connected with voters on a less-than-Ph.D level.

Of course the default favorite of progressive Democrats has been Vermont’s own Bernie Sanders. He gets big points for being ideologically consistent since first grade, when a rich kid stole the one crayon his family could afford.


But Bernie’s book called “Our Revolution” was subtitled “A Future to Believe In.” Which apparently was meant to exclude people who make more than minimum wage, vote Republican, or do not otherwise believe in the concept of the future.

So if it’s not Bernie for President, who ya gonna call? Why not Andrew Yang?

Yang is practically a Vermonter, hailing from Schenectady, N.Y. He’s for a universal basic income, eliminating the penny and paying NCAA athletes. All of which is fine, but he automatically disqualified himself by dressing for the debates wearing a sport coat, dress short — and no tie!

Marianne Williamson in the same debate, same problem: No tie.

I’m one of the few people who are fascinated by the candidacy of Joe Biden.

First, because I once met him and sat in a small conference room for an hour as he talked for 59 minutes and 59 seconds. During which I began to feel faint as he sucked all the oxygen out of the room.

Anybody who can do that — well, just imagine what he would do to Vladimir Putin.

A second reason to like Biden is because he’s good old Uncle Joe. He was famously mocked (or was it saluted?) by The Onion as a guy who spends his free time waxing his muscle car.

Biden is also the one bona fide, likable, smart, knowledgeable (VP for eight years) candidate who might win a few purple states and get elected.

Which of course makes him anathema to many progressives. Go figure.

Some liberals quake at the idea that Biden said he was once on good terms with segregationist senators James Eastland of Alabama (“The Voice of the White South”) and Herman Talmadge of Georgia

Sen. Patrick Leahy once introduced me to Sen. Talmadge, at a meeting back in 1975. I told Talmadge my relatives were all from Augusta, Ga. He said he knew a bunch of Dennises who lived in Augusta and were probably some kind of cousin to me, and we shook hands.

So far as I can tell, shaking hands with Talmadge did not make me a racist. But Biden is clearly disqualified from being president for all those handshakes he had with Talmadge and Eastland.

Some of us really like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Like Sanders, he has a long history as being truly committed to doing something about climate change.

Unlike Sanders, however, as a governor Inslee has been able to get a lot done, directing his state to move toward eliminating coal-fired electricity and reduce overall carbon pollution.

Inslee, unfortunately, remains among the “who’s he?” also-rans. His best hope is that some other Democrat wins and he gets named to head Interior or the EPA.

At least he hasn’t fallen as far as former Rep. John Delaney. That poor guy has been campaigning in Iowa since the middle of last century, still garners only .5% in the polls and has a staff that has openly suggested he quit the race.

Which Rep. Eric Swalwell has already done, in case you missed it.

Among the other candidates who’ve failed to gain much traction is Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Which may have something to do with how she treats her staff.

In one incident, Klobuchar railed at a staffer who brought her salad to carry on a flight but failed to bring along a fork. The senator proceeded to pull a comb out of her purse and eat the salad using the comb. (I am not making this up.) What happened next, according to the New York Times: “She handed the comb to her staff member with a directive: Clean it.”

So much for Klobuchar’s chances.

Whoever eventually gets the nomination will have to choose a VP nominee. My favorite ticket so far? Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for President with John Hickenlooper as her running mate.

“Gabbard Hickenlooper.” Try fitting that on a bumper sticker.
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