Posts Tagged ‘Buttigieg’

The Right-Enough Candidate

March 4, 2020

I’m feeling amazingly perky after Joe Biden’s miraculous resurrection, with the seeming likelihood that he will beat Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. I say “amazingly” because less than a week ago I wrote a friend that “I’d like to vote for Biden because I think he’s a decent man,  but every time I see him in a debate I think, no way.”

At the beginning of the campaign I was mildly favorable to Joe, seeing him as the exact opposite of Trump. But on the debate stage he sometimes flailed like a drowning man grasping for a coherent sentence to pull him out of the flood. It particularly stood out next to the other candidates, who were a remarkably articulate bunch. (Can you spell Buttigieg?) I flirted with Mayor Pete (but thought he was just too young and inexperienced), Amy (I wanted to like her, but she absolutely lacked charisma), Corey (I still like him, but he dropped out early), Elizabeth (who is smart and capable and chipper, but makes too many policy choices that I think are wrong).

All along I was wishing for somebody to jump out of the pack. Nobody did. They were all impressively good but nobody was perfect. Nobody could grab our attention and hold it. Nobody could pull the bulk of the party behind them.

Then, in a week, Joe Biden jumped out of the pack. What happened? He did not become perfect. But somehow the crowd saw, with vivid clarity, that it was either him or Sanders.  We wanted to believe in Joe, so we did. It’s a little like accepting the guy you aren’t crazy in love with but who is a good man and a reliable provider. Once you make up your mind, everything feels better.

Joe isn’t the candidate we dreamed of, but he is, certainly, somebody we know. He’s right enough, as Ross Douthat put it in his column today. He’s a realist who would rein in extremes, but he’s a pragmatist who would want to get something done. Could he? That might depend on the fate of the Senate more than on his legislative skills. He’s broad-minded enough to bring in a talented cabinet (we’ve seen plenty of possibilities in the debates) so it wouldn’t all fall on him.

His most important quality, however, is normalcy. There’s a reason he’s called Uncle Joe. I could use a dose of normal. A big dose.