Demo­cratic de­bates plat­form for vice pres­i­dent

The Saline Courier Weekend - - NEWS - GE­ORGE D. EL­LIS

Hand­i­cap­ping the pres­i­den­tial de­bates every four years is grand sport. Some­times we’re spot on, other times we miss the mark com­pletely. The lat­ter usu­ally oc­curs when we speak too loudly, too soon. We all laughed at him when Don­ald Trump came down the es­ca­la­tor at Trump Tower to an­nounce his can­di­dacy. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, it be­came ap­par­ent that his vile, pu­trid, name-calling smears were work­ing. Our early hand­i­cap­ping had been wrong.

There are twenty some­thing can­di­dates in the race, twenty of which were in the de­bates. But make no mis­take.

This was not a de­bate among pres­i­den­tial con­tenders. It was a de­bate among vi­cepres­i­den­tial con­tenders. Bi­den will be the nom­i­nee, but he’s only good for one term, so the run­ning mate is an im­por­tant de­ci­sion he has to make. With that said, here is how I saw the de­bates un­fold:

Sen­a­tor El­iz­a­beth War­ren. She is an im­por­tant ad­di­tion to the ar­ray of can­di­dates be­cause her cam­paign is pol­i­cy­driven. She “has a plan for that,” she says when asked about a par­tic­u­lar is­sue. By the luck of the draw, she was the only top-tier can­di­date to ap­pear on the first night. No one laid a glove on her. She won’t be on the ticket, but look for this for­mer Har­vard Law pro­fes­sor to show up in Bi­den’s cabi­net. Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury, per­haps.

Joe Bi­den. With all the yelling and scream­ing, he re­mained the states­man. He has a wide and ex­pan­sive grasp of all of the is­sues touch­ing on a presi- den­tial cam­paign, due in large part to his eight years as Pres­i­dent Obama’s Vice Pres­i­dent, but also hav­ing spent decades in the Se­nate. He in­voked Obama’s name sev­eral times. He would not have done so had their polling not shown a fa­vor­able ap­proval rat­ing for the for­mer pres­i­dent.

I pre­dicted that his de­fend­ing his hav­ing schmoozed with the likes of Sen­a­tor Jim East­land, an un­re­con­structed racist, would bite him you know where. It did. Ka­mala Har­ris pounced. But her char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Bi­den as luke­warm on de­seg­re­ga­tion and bus­ing was un­fair. Bi­den has been at the fore­front of civil rights for decades. In fact, he has been part of the pro­gres­sive agenda his en­tire adult life. He will be the nom­i­nee, and he will clean Trump’s clock.

Sen­a­tor Ka­mala Har­ris. The pun­dits love to talk about the de­bates in terms of a “break-out” mo­ment. It rarely happens, but in Har­ris’s case it re­ally did. There is no doubt that she was the ob­vi­ous stand-out on the stage. She held class. I did not like her turn­ing on Bi­den the way she did, but she was po­lite. As all of the can­di­dates were scream­ing at the same time, she said the peo­ple don’t want a food fight, they want food on their ta­ble. It was one of those planned zingers, but she de­liv­ered it with a cer­tain faux-spon­tane­ity that had to be ad­mired.

Har­ris has a cer­tain bear­ing about her that is hard to de­scribe. Ex­cept for Bi­den, no one on the stage on ei­ther night could match her com­bi­na­tion of verve, grav­i­tas, and mas­tery of the im­por­tant is­sues. She will make a great vice pres­i­dent.

Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar. She’s good. She’s no Ka­mala Har­ris, but she’s good. Also, she has some­thing else go­ing for her. One of Har­ris’s draw­backs is the fact that she’s a San Fran­cisco Demo­crat. She can’t add a lot of geo­graphic bal­ance to the ticket, be­cause the Democrats will carry Cal­i­for­nia big any­way. But Klobuchar is from Min­nesota, and Democrats need help in the up­per mid­west.

Bernie San­ders. It’s over, Bernie. Put a fork in him, he’s done. He has the same old tired ar­gu­ments. The sys­tem is rigged. Wall Street is full of crooks. The in­sur­ance in­dus­try is full of crooks (he’s right on that one). Oh, and did I men­tion that he is an un­re­con­structed so­cial­ist? His day has come and gone. It should be men­tioned that other than pres­i­den­tial pri­maries, he has never run on the Demo­cratic ticket in Ver­mont. Never. Why a good Demo­crat would sup­port this guy is be­yond me.

The oth­ers are also-rans. Some, like Beto O’rourke, are fin­ished. Oth­ers, most of whom we can’t even name, shouldn’t even be in the race. Stay tuned.

Ge­orge D. El­lis is a Ben­ton at­tor­ney. He can be con­tacted at gel­lis­in­ben­[email protected] net.

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