May 3, 2019

2020 Update

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“A new CNN poll conducted by SSRS after Biden's announcement [last] Thursday shows 39% of voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents saying he is their top choice for the nomination, up from 28% who said the same in March.” CNN

“16 Democratic candidates have now qualified for the first two primary debates this summer.” FiveThirtyEight

See past issues

From the Left

The left is not keen on Biden, highlighting other qualified candidates.

“In my conversations with voters — even those who said they felt strong affection for Mr. Biden — it was pretty clear that practicality, not passion, was the driving force in their support for the former vice president. It was a sentiment that seemed to transcend age, gender and ideological orientation… [But] pragmatic support is generally not the stuff of winning presidential bids. (See: Romney, Mitt; Clinton, Hillary; Kerry, John.) Of course, given how badly Democrats want President Trump out of office, that instinct to follow their hearts could certainly play out differently this cycle. But with 21 candidates running (oh hey, Senator Michael Bennet!), voters certainly have plenty of time to play the field.”
Lisa Lerer, New York Times

“In the country’s most diverse candidate pool ever, with several people running on ambitious plans to remake systems of power that have facilitated the exploitation of generations of Americans, Biden has stepped in to add—what, exactly? A promise to return the country to the good ol’ days? He doesn’t seem to realize, or care, that those days weren’t all that good for massive swaths of the electorate. Instead of attempting to chart a bold American future, Biden is peddling a gussied-up version of America’s past.”
Christina Cauterucci, Slate

By contrast, “Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is dominating the ‘ideas primary.’ In the age of tweet and Trump, Warren is betting that voters want substance. Though she’s often grouped ideologically with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Warren has gone far beyond the core agenda derived from his 2016 challenge, issuing a new policy plan virtually every week. Warren’s bold structural reforms seek to transform a system she sees as rigged for the wealthy and well-connected—one many voters view the same way.”
Robert L. Borosage, The Week

“Warren believes in eliminating tax ‘getaways’ for the ultra-wealthy, empowering people of color, ensuring that every citizen has the right to vote, and abolishing the Electoral College so every vote counts. She wants to begin a Green New Deal that banishes subsidies for fossil fuel companies, shore up our legal system so all Americans can truly have ‘equal justice under law,’ support family farmers so they can compete fairly with big corporations, and break up big tech companies… Warren can fulfill the promise of Obama’s ‘Yes We Can,’ with the added oath: ‘I’ve got a plan.’ We need only show up for her to make it so.”
Elis de Guerre, Independent

Others note that “Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) may have had their breakout moments of the campaign on Wednesday… Both former prosecutors, the pair of Senate Democrats once again (see their exchanges with Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing) demonstrated their ability to perfectly grill a Trump administration official… Biden on Wednesday pledged to visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties, an intensive and time-consuming process that would be decidedly harder for a sitting senator. But Harris and Klobuchar illustrated the power that comes from going toe-to-toe with top officials on live TV, the closest anyone will come to debating Trump himself until fall 2020.”
Jacqueline Alemany, Washington Post

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is focused on Biden, given his lead in the polls.

From the Right

The right is focused on Biden, given his lead in the polls.

“What made Biden’s announcement bounce so large? One could say he took a page from Trump by focusing his announcement on what angered his party the most. Biden focused almost entirely on opposition to Trump and examples of some of the most controversial moments of the Trump presidency, particularly his response to the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.”
Arnon Mishkin, Fox News

“Biden is not only leading, but he’s leading across all demographics. He gets 39% of women voters and 25% of younger voters. And yet the political chattering class keeps telling us he’s not young enough and hip enough to appeal to the Millennials. But the most important stat is this: 56% of voters think Biden has the best chance to beat Trump. And that is going to be the most important issue in 2020.”
Merrie Soltis, Washington Examiner

Skeptics, however, argue that “Biden is a candidate who was best suited to run for the nomination not in 2020 but in 2016, when he could have run as someone to safeguard Obama's legacy. He has been out of office for four years, after working in Washington continuously for over 40 years. His candidacy will have to rely on looking back in time when most Democratic voters want to lookforward. Biden is an establishmentarian in a populist wave fueled even more by resentment over the right-leaning populism behind Donald Trump's ascendancy. He is, to put it bluntly, an old white male politician in a party that puts identity politics at the core of its message.”
Edward Morrissey, The Week

“Biden’s entry into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has opened up a division in the party, and it’s not just about the candidates’ demographic characteristics or policy records. It’s about their view of our country. Biden’s left-wing critics think he’s soft on the banks and on accused sexual harassers. But they also think he’s soft on America itself… There are plenty of reasons to oppose Biden, from his spotty record on due process to his bad judgment on foreign policy. But he’s not going to pay a price for being too rosy-eyed about America, and he shouldn’t.”
Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg

“[Biden’s] problem is simple: He has a record. That record is long and checkered. And that means that Biden has spent the first months of his undeclared campaign apologizing… The power of positive thinking trumps years of experience. After all, you don't have to worry about what Mayor Pete Buttigieg has done since he's never done anything. But you do have to worry about Joe Biden's record being rehashed. That's why Biden's best weeks may be his first weeks. As his record reemerges, as other Democrats dig into his past for dirt,Biden will have to get used to saying he's sorry and then hope that Democratic voters choose to take him back.”
Ben Shapiro, Daily Wire

“Former vice president Joe Biden declaring that the figures running the Chinese government are ‘not bad folks’ and that ‘they’re not competition to us’ has to be the most jaw-dropping assessment of a world power since Gerald Ford’s 1976 assessment that ‘There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.’”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

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