September 16, 2019

JONATHAN CHAIT: What If the Only Democrat Who Isn’t Too Radical to Win Is Too Old?

What if all [Biden’s] major competition raced to the left, succumbing to the fashionable delusion that the party rank and file demanded a Bernie-like nominee? And what if the only self-styled moderates in the race (Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, John Hickenlooper, and so on) lacked the name recognition to mount a credible challenge?

Indeed, two candidates seem to have realized this problem. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have dropped out of the left-wing arms race and begun positioning themselves as heirs to the Obama style of optimism and uplift. But it’s already getting late, and each candidate has already devoted most of the time between their launch and the Iowa caucuses trying to avoid getting dragged on Twitter. What’s more, the fact that both Harris and Booker are trying to squeeze into the same political space increases the probability that neither will achieve escape velocity.

Meanwhile, Biden looks like a candidate hoping to somehow stagger across the finish line. He has campaigned at a leisurely pace. His first debate performance was disastrous. The next two started out vigorous, but saw him slowly flag as the evening wore on. Thursday night included a rambling answer in which he urged parents to “make sure you have the record player on at night.” Biden’s lack of awareness of Twitter may be to his benefit, but it’s more disturbing if he lacks a working knowledge of such innovations as the compact disc player.

Plus: “If Biden isn’t up to this, he needs to collapse soon enough for another mainstream liberal Democrat like Booker or Harris to take his place.”

I’m not getting cocky, but neither Booker not Harris seems like much for moderate Dems to pin their hopes on.

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