So, two old white pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates walk into a bar ...

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - OPINION - Kathleen Parker

CHARLESTON, S.C. >> Even be­fore Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren sus­pended her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, a re­cur­rent theme had emerged from the com­men­tariat. In so many words: Now all we have to choose be­tween are two sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian white men.

(Yes, Hawaii’s Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard is still run­ning, though no one seems to know why.)

We’ve long known that white men are the de­mo­graphic to hate (on), as the woke gen­er­a­tion might put it. But not so long ago — like, last sum­mer — it was con­sid­ered bad form to be ageist. P.S. War­ren is 70.

What hap­pened? And, how did the Demo­cratic Party sud­denly start act­ing like the GOP? Some­how, with all the diver­sity crowd­ing the orig­i­nal field of Demo­cratic con­tenders, the party of progress wound up culling the herd to two white men of ad­vanced years.

One, 78-year-old Bernie San­ders, is an arm-wav­ing so­cial­ist who comes across as a fa­natic. The other, 77-year-old Joe Biden, is a bleed­ing-heart, old-school lib­eral, whose style tends to­ward the con­cil­ia­tory.

My fa­vorite Biden line from the de­bate se­ries tells the story. When the moder­a­tor in the de­bate here last week called time on Biden, the for­mer vice pres­i­dent seemed sur­prised at him­self when he re­sponded: “Why am I stop­ping? No one else stops.”

In­deed, Biden did stop, be­cause that’s what he was sup­posed to do, whereas nearly all the oth­ers con­tin­ued talk­ing over the moder­a­tor. Most peo­ple prob­a­bly thought lit­tle of Biden’s re­mark even if they un­con­sciously ab­sorbed the deeper mean­ing of his words: Biden plays by the rules. This counts a great deal when it comes to gov­er­nance and con­sen­sus-build­ing, as you may have no­ticed the past three or so years.

Af­ter al­most five decades in public of­fice, Biden has learned how to talk to the other side and pitch leg­is­la­tion with­out break­ing down doors. Although some Democrats may see com­pro­mise as sur­ren­der and might pre­fer a San­ders-style revolution in the na­tion’s af­fairs, they seem to be in the mi­nor­ity.

If the Democrats’ mis­sion is to de­feat Don­ald Trump this fall, then pri­mary vot­ers have thus far cho­sen wisely. There is sim­ply no way in­de­pen­dents and Repub­li­cans-in-ex­ile would vote for San­ders. In­deed, San­ders is the per­fect can­di­date if vot­ers want to see Trump re­elected.

Among those dis­ap­pointed with the old, white men’s club are those who had hoped War­ren would lead the Demo­cratic ticket. They blame her failed cam­paign on long-em­bed­ded no­tions that pres­i­dents should look a cer­tain way, in­sist­ing that the deck is stacked against women. With­out ques­tion, women have to strive harder than men to ad­vance in nearly ev­ery arena and War­ren out-de­bated, out-planned and out-did her­self with a pas­sion and en­ergy sel­dom, if ever, be­fore seen.

Even so, she was of­ten her own worst enemy. De­spite her enor­mous tal­ent and in­tel­li­gence, War­ren be­gan los­ing ground when she con­tin­ued to ad­just her po­si­tion on Medi­care for All. This un­der­mined the sin­cer­ity she oth­er­wise con­veyed. And, by the way, didn’t the Demo­cratic Party nom­i­nate Hil­lary Clin­ton last time around?

The coun­try isn’t yet ready for what San­ders is selling and Biden, though he trips over his words some­times, is steady, fa­mil­iar and hu­man. Not least, like the pres­i­dent he served as vice pres­i­dent, Biden flashes a daz­zling, re­as­sur­ing smile, the value of which can’t be over­es­ti­mated.

Against the scowler-in-chief, aged 73, an ex­pe­ri­enced, con­ge­nial, happy war­rior should do well.

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