The Second Sleeper is Awakening
OK, I have to admit – I am feeling a bit prescient.
A good year ago, I was saying that Pete Buttigieg was likely to be the sleeper candidate that surprised everyone. Not many others were saying that then, but they surely are now. In the last few months, I have been saying that Amy Klobuchare might well be the next, and possibly last, sleeper to come alive. On Monday, the NY Times endorsed her for President (along with Elizabeth Warren – their first ever dual endorsement). The effect is likely to be significant. She has a shot.
The Senior Senator from Minnesota is a most interesting candidate. I frankly have been surprised she has not been further ahead in the contest.
Her Strengths are Significant and Numerous
- She has one of the most accomplished records in the Senate. This is someone who gets things done, often with surprising amounts of Republican support, or at least the absence of resistance. It would not be hard to make the case she has been more productive than any of the other senators now or recently running.
- Klobuchar is detail oriented, in a good way. She bridges the distance between concept and execution very well. Like Warren, she has a lot of plans, and they look solid, doable, and realistic, for the most part.
- She has had more good jokes and punch lines on the debate stage than anyone else. Hey, that counts for me. The woman can deliver a punch line. Klobuchar can also deliver a cutting criticism.
- She seems grounded in reality and has justified confidence in herself. She has not forgotten her roots or the people she represents. She exhibits a sense of history that is important in a potential president.
- This was my favorite campaign launch. She did an outdoor launch rally, in winter, in Minnesota. A blizzard conveniently showed up, allowing her and her followers to remind us just how tough they can be. Remember her great line? “Can you imagine Donald Trump doing this? No! It would totally mess up his hair!” Nice line.
- She is a proven vote getter, including in tough districts. Being a vote winner in the Midwest is a pretty good card to carry into this game.
- The Senator clearly is a progressive, modern Democrat, but more a centrist in how to accomplish things like universal health care. That would appeal to a lot of Democrats and independents, and to a handful of Republicans.
- Her campaign indicates good focus, organization, and prioritization.
So, What’s Not to Like?
This is not a short list, either.
- It is not unreasonable to ask why she is not doing better in the polls at this point. Double that question in her neighboring state of Iowa. Watch out, though. The late NY Times endorsement might shake up the caucuses.
- Her practicality has not endeared her to the more progressive wing of the Democratic party. She has some real fence mending and selling to do. A significant number of Bernie supporters are effectively in a personality cult (more on that in an upcoming blog post), but lots of other progressives can be brought along if they are heard and feel included. I have mentioned before that all the leading candidates actually agree on almost all the big issues. They agree on the what; it is the how that brings the trouble. This should not be a deal breaker.
- She has a wide-spread enough reputation as an abusive boss. I cannot judge how true that is. This is troublesome for two reasons. One, being an ass of a boss is wrong, period. Two, such bosses tend not to attract and hold the best people or get their best work. Take a look at Trump’s entourage if you need an example. I would expect her to attract a first-rate staff and cabinet. We will have to wait to see if they answer the call.
- She is not the most inspiring orator. Nor does she radiate presence the way some do. That is a deficit in a candidate, a president, or a world leader. On the other hand, a lot of people would be happy to deal with someone who seems normal and calm, not a former TV character who seems to have eaten too many Cocoa Puffs most days.
- Not listed here as a liability is being from “flyover country” or being a woman. This may be the election in which both of those are advantages. That would be welcome.
We Shall See
Klobuchar brings a lot to the table. We have not seen her truly tested in crisis, but odds are she has the will and the spine to take on a heavy load. I also think she could give Trump a run in a debate, especially since he is likely to underestimate her. If she is clever in picking a VP candidate and focuses on unifying the country, it’s possible she could pull it off.
As I have said before of others, we could do a lot worse. We ARE doing a lot worse.
A closing note: The NY Times endorsement today was a really well written document. I may not have agreed with all of it, but it did a fair and succinct job of reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. It is worth your time to read. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/19/opinion/amy-klobuchar-elizabeth-warren-nytimes-endorsement.html
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