Here we are, Iowa and New Hampshire done, and Elizabeth Warren is done as well — so far as the press seems to be concerned. 55 electoral contests to go, only 2% of the delegates awarded… You’d think things were just getting started.
Instead it’s all about the horror for the DNC if Bernie gets the nomination, and Rush Limbaugh having a hissy fit over Buttitgieg’s marriage, and Bloomberg buying the nomination despite a history of sexism, racism, etc. etc. Kloubuchar has some good recipes, while Biden is toast… and Warren seems to have become invisible.
Meanwhile Trump’s revenge drive is going full speed ahead. He’s sending storm troopers into sanctuary cities. The show trials will be next, as soon as Barr and Graham can get rolling. But hey, no big deal, right?
So what exactly are Warren’s unforgivable sins? What did she do that ‘ended’ her candidacy? David Atkins over at Washington Monthly suggests it comes down to this: being honest and female.
If Warren does end up falling short there will be numerous well-sourced accounts, but the trajectory from the outside is already clear enough. In a primary where voters have been obsessively seeking “electability,” and where other candidates have been willing to spin fables or dramatically change positions to secure votes, Warren’s basic decency and honesty have cost her. And the sexism undergirding much of the conversation around electability hasn’t helped.
…The Buttigieg/Biden/Klobuchar wing was content to diss Medicare for All entirely, hedging toward frankly unworkable “Medicare for All Who Want It” style plans. The challenge for the moderate approach to healthcare will be the same as that of the ACA: half-measures that will be immediately hobbled by the medical provider and insurance industries, and that will not provide the cost savings required for a universal plan to be effective. Politically, this was an attempt to undermine Warren whom they saw as the primary threat, and to solidify their own control of the “moderate” lane.
…Sanders’ strategy has been to simply win the Democratic primary and worry about the consequences for the general election later. Admittedly, it is working for him so far: he is the definitive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Read the whole thing. Atkins makes a case that Warren is getting short shrift because people are obsessing over ‘electability’, progressivism versus centrism, and so on — and because she’s come out with specific plans that can be critiqued to death and dismissed while others slide by for the moment.
instead of looking at what candidates promise to do, (which is harder than it looks), it’s about looking for electability metaphors, and getting past the initial phases when candidates like Bloomberg and Klobuchar start to get second and third looks.
The press is obsessed with the horse race metaphor. They can’t wait for it to come down to whomever gets to go up against Trump. (And Warren terrifies their corporate owners and much of the Pundit Class; Brett Stephens dives under the bed whenever Warren’s name is mentioned. Which is why they don’t want to mention her at all.)
Charles P. Pierce opines that we are now in the hot zone of the primaries, having left the corn dogs and down vests behind. Shit is about to get real, as they say. While he has critiques for the other candidates, he had this to say about Warren:
She is not running against either Donald Trump or the malefactors of great wealth at the moment. She’s running against Sanders and Buttigieg and Klobuchar and Biden. And whoever it was who suggested leaking a staff memo in which were made all the criticisms of her immediate rivals that SPW should have been making on the stump and on the debate stage all along deserves a gold medal for passive-aggressive campaigning, as well as a corresponding decrease in pay. Who “stays in the fight” by memo? That bungled tactic managed in one swoop to undermine her reputation for straight talk and her attempt to cast herself the “unity candidate.”
Warren still has plenty of time to right things. She has money and a campaign infrastructure that’s been in place for months. And she’s still a strong candidate. But, as much as she may not like it, she’s running in a Democratic primary against other Democrats, and her campaign should start behaving accordingly…
It is one of the problems of politics in America that we elect people who are good at campaigning — but not so so good at governing. And then we complain about broken promises and broken government, and half the voters stay home on Election Day, and …
Atkins closes his write up with this:
…But it would be a terrible shame if one of the lessons of the 2020 election cycle were that honesty, decency and attention to detail–as well as just being a woman in a world where Donald Trump festers in the White House–were seen as lethal drawbacks for a candidate rather than the strengths they rightly ought to be. And it would be a stain on the Democratic Party if a woman attempting to unite the two factions of the party after an ugly rift in 2016 were left high and dry by both sides in their respective attempts to dominate the other.
Before anyone on the Democratic side can defeat Trump, they have to get past all the other Democrats vying for the nomination. It is going to be divisive by its very nature. Trump has a total lock on the GOP at this point — nothing for the press to see there so of course they are focusing on the Democrats, playing up all the differences.
One reason Warren is having problems is because she’s trying to avoid fueling that narrative. Warren is looking at the bigger picture, the long view — and that’s a gamble. There’s still a ways to go and the big problem is always keeping the money coming in. Warren is counting on small donors; a de facto press blackout on her campaign could be fatal.
There is no surer indication of how f*cked up things are in this country than that the press is playing up fears that Democrats won’t be able to defeat Trump rather than asking how much longer Trump can hold on, and that they are more worried the Democrats will take the country too far left, rather than that the GOP is taking us into full blown fascism.
Never give up, never surrender.