I support every 2020 hopeful you can find in this photo


Yesterday, Bud said “This year there is an embarrassment of riches among the Dems,” just before listing 18 people running for president.

I’m glad he’s pumped about it, and that’s certainly a bunch of names, but the fact is that until Joe Biden entered his name today, there wasn’t anyone who was even close to being ready for the job.

There is no one else who has been anywhere near the presidency or who has held any kind of position that prepares one for the presidency the way 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years at the right hand of our nation’s last sane, decent president do.

When I got to thinking about how to graphically demonstrate that fact, I thought of this picture.

I’m not saying Joe Biden went out and got bin Laden personally. I’m not saying he’s doing anything special in that picture. I’m saying that he happens to be in the room because of who he is, because of what he’s done, because of his experience and personal leadership qualities. His life experiences brought him to that room at that moment.

And those experiences — combined with his basic human decency, which is a quality more needed at this moment than at any other in our history — make him qualified to be president of the United States.

He’s not qualified because he’s in the picture. He’s qualified because of who he had to be and what he had to do to get there.

And yeah, Hillary Clinton was qualified, too. She was a pretty good secretary of state — not to mention the eight years she spent at the center of presidential power before that.

But she was a terrible candidate, badly lacking in the ability to relate to voters.

I think Joe will be different in that regard, if he’s not brought down by a million cuts by all the Lilliputians out there.

He’s a natural campaigner. And a decent human being.

But most of all, he’s the only person who is even remotely qualified. And the best person to replace the least qualified, least decent president in our history, by far.

70 thoughts on “I support every 2020 hopeful you can find in this photo

  1. Doug Ross

    I’m thinking you’re going to have a day of reckoning in the next six months that will require you to select a new candidate.

    The numbers don’t look good for him despite having the highest name recognition. 70% of voters want someone else. 67% of voters in a survey named age as the highest rated factor that would cause thenm not to vote for a candidate.. higher than gender, race, or sexual identity.

    He’s Jeb Bush all over again.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “I’m thinking you’re going to have a day of reckoning in the next six months that will require you to select a new candidate.”

      Oh, that’s OK, I’ll just turn back to the photo and pick another candidate… oops, there are no other candidates in the photo.

      Sorry, you’re stuck with Joe…

  2. Bob Amundson

    Some think his “no” on this raid could hurt him. Is anyone ready for a job of this magnitude?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It was a tough call. Very high risk. The conventional thing to do was to bomb the compound. Obama made the right call on this, and I will always honor him for it, but I don’t necessarily condemn someone who didn’t want to risk the SEAL team when there was no certainty bin Laden was there…

      1. Bob Amundson

        I don’t condemn him, but “Obama made the right call on this …” This raid will be discussed by historians for years, much like President Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis (another POTUS tough call where there was no consensus).

        1. Doug Ross

          That’s what Democrats claim they think too. The blood of thousands of innocent people is on his hands. And now he claims he was “missed”. That’s shameful.

  3. Doug T

    Obama still says naming Joe VP was the best decision he ever made. Good enough for me.

    Guess I’ll see you somewhere on the campaign trail Brad. Maybe Gallivant’s Ferry?

  4. bud

    With all due respect Brad you are being way too dismissive of his age. 78 years old on inauguration day is a big f***ing deal. I’ve known many, many people who are active, vigorous, people with sharp minds when they were 75 who just declined physically and mentally dramatically by the time they were 80. Plus Biden has had some significant health scares. Those same concerns apply to Bernie. There are plenty of candidates among the Democrats who are well versed in the ways of Washington who are better on the issues than Joe Biden and who bring a better sense of where the country needs to go in the 21st century. Given Biden’s propensity to over indulge in foreign adventurism, along with his long, questionable track record regarding sensibilities toward women it is just too risky to elect a politician steeped in yesterday’s values and sensibilities. The Democrats have better candidates. Let’s not waste this opportunity by blowing it on someone as compromised in so many disparate ways as Joe Biden.

    As a footnote, IF Biden is CLEARLY the best choice for defeating Trump then I’ll shrug and get behind him regardless of his flaws. Right now it seems Biden may attract more of the blue collar white voters than the younger candidates. However, he risks losing younger voters in equal or greater numbers. Younger people aren’t going to be enthusiastic for Biden. This caveat turns on the math of the electorate. THAT math is the number 1 consideration.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Biden may attract more of the blue collar white voters”

      Yep, and he does very well among black voters. A big test of HOW well will be whether he wins South Carolina.

      In this guy we have someone who could pull together the traditional FDR labor support AND the folks who flocked into the Democratic Party in the 1960s.

      He is the unity candidate.

      And y’all can talk all you want about his age, but there is no one younger who has the potential to unify the party and make it a working majority in the country.

      Sorry, young folks, but there are no alternatives…

      1. Doug Ross

        South Carolina doesn’t matter. He won’t win it in the general. He’ll be a ghost after the primary if he’s the nominee.

  5. Phillip

    I’m sorry, maybe this is ageist, but for me a Presidential term going past about age 80 is about the limit for me, because of the uncertainty of health, and the question of potential political stability in the sense of not being a lame duck right away, of having a legitimate aspiration for having a second term. I know 80 is the new 70 and all that, but there’s also the question of letting a younger generation of leaders (and specifically the two or three who may emerge most prominently) rise to the top. Joe would be STARTING his presidency at age 78. I just can’t go there, and you KNOW I love Bernie, but I can’t go with him this time around either.

    Biden has served the country well and I fear when this is all said and done his reputation may be tarnished more than burnished. I wish he had not chosen this path. Of course if he wins the nomination I’ll vote for him and will hope for the best (VERY important who his running mate would be) but there are at least 6 or 7 other candidates I’m looking at more seriously than him.

    By the way, since there is an official process to declaring oneself a candidate for a major party nomination, this must be a measurable statistic, and so I ask: is this indeed the record number of declared candidates for a major party nomination? I know there were a lot of GOPers last time around but not this many, right?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Biden has served the country well and I fear when this is all said and done his reputation may be tarnished more than burnished.”

      Absolutely. Joe has nothing to gain here, and a lot to lose. He’s doing this for the country, because there’s no one else to do it. I feel that very strongly here.

      We needed him to run in 2016. He didn’t, and I understand that. There was another fully qualified person running, and he didn’t want to split the party between them. Besides, Hillary was probably the one person in the party who had a greater claim to the “it’s her turn” rationale than he did.

      There’s nobody else this time. No one with the stature, no one with the experience, no one with the potential to unite the party and reach beyond the base, and maybe even get some of the never-Trump Republicans.

      So he’s doing it. Because we need him to. And I appreciate it, and will stand behind him.

      I’ve long had respect for people who step up and go through the unbelievable amount of crap a candidate must go through, especially when it’s someone like Joe who’s got NOTHING to prove to anybody, because their country needs them to.

      That respect was intensified by my experience on the campaign trail last year. I worked closely with the candidates, and in the homestretch I was alone with them much of the time, day after day. I saw the strain on them, and their families. I saw the things they gave up, with no guarantee it would lead to victory (in fact, with odds against them).

      That’s one thing with relatively young people like James and Mandy who had futures. With Joe, you have a guy who could rest on considerable laurels and enjoy his golden years, which he’s amply earned.

      But he’s standing up, and girding himself to take slings and arrows that candidates in previous times never dreamed of.

      Because we need him to.

      And I’m going to stand with him.

      1. Doug Ross

        You overestimate both his stature and his experience. What he has is name recognition. He hasn’t done anything in a decade. He’s lost twice badly in his attempts to run for President. He has no hallmark legislative achievement. He’s a corporate Democrat from a small state that caters to big banks. He was wrong on the Iraq war, wrong on Anita Hill, wrong on a lot of things. What was he RIGHT on in the past twenty years???

        He’s good at acting like a politician. Firm handshake, pressing flesh (even flesh that doesn’t want to be pressed), playing to the crowd. No intellectual depth, no bold ideas… he’s a product of a bygone era in the party.

        And he’d be the oldest President ever…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          He’s an honest and decent man who understands the job and its responsibilities.

          In other words, he’s the perfect antidote to Trump.

          You really like to run people down, don’t you, Doug? No one short of God almighty has done enough to impress you.

          You say he’s “wrong” or Iraq and “wrong” on Anita Hill (whatever that means). I disagree completely. But even if I agreed, that would be pretty small potatoes in the context of 42 years at the top of our government. I mean, really — that’s it? That’s all you’ve got — that in your book he was “wrong” about things that everyone else was “wrong” about, too?

          As for lack of accomplishments — I’m sure I could refute that if I wanted to go through his record year by year, but I won’t because I don’t need to be impressed the way you do.

          You just go ahead and do what you do, Doug – show your contempt for a good man, day in and day out for the next two years. Run him down. Sneer at him.

          I’m going to support him as well as I can…

          1. bud

            Brad I’m trying really hard to explain why Biden is low on my list without showing contempt or running him down. That said, much of your logic is full of holes. Take this: “no one (but Biden) with the potential to unite the party and reach beyond the base, and maybe even get some of the never-Trump Republicans”.

            You and others have made this point on several occasions. But you completely miss the other side of the equation. And it’s a big side. Or rather many sides. Anita Hill just came out with a rather cold rebuttal to Biden’s attempt to reach out to her. She’s not having it. Many, many women are just not satisfied with his explanation for his horrendous performance in the Thomas hearings. For every never-Trumper Biden might appeal to he probably has 3 women who might defect or more likely stay home if Biden is the nominee. You can disagree and that’s fine but this isn’t about what is right it’s about math.

            Then there’s this: “In this guy we have someone who could pull together the traditional FDR labor support AND the folks who flocked into the Democratic Party in the 1960s.
            He is the unity candidate.”

            1960s??? I hate to tell you this but that was a looooong time ago. Calling Biden the unity candidate is a remarkable statement. The old time labor coalition is a tiny fraction of the generation Z voters who are more interested in global warming, student loan debt and healthcare than they are manufacturing jobs. Those folks could easily defect to the Green Party, a party not ambivalent about global warming.

            I get that you like Biden for his old school worldview. But you should acknowledge that electoral math has two functions, addition AND subtraction. Biden might appeal to many folks in Wisconsin and Michigan that Hillary lost. But let’s never forget that Hillary got 3 million more voters in 2016. Appealing to old school voters risks subtraction by alienating young voters, a group that could swing Arizona and maybe even Texas toward the Dems.

            Biden is a good man with a long and distinguished career. But his time has passed. The cold war is over. Manufacturing is not the future. The 1960s will never return. It’s time to move on to people who can unit the party even more effectively than Biden. My guy is Mayor Pete (for now at least). But if Biden wins the nomination I’ll support him 100%. Can you say the same about one of the other Dems? If not then you really need to stop commenting about how terrible Donald Trump is.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Bud, that was a very thoughtful extended comment, and I appreciate it. I’ll try to answer in a similar vein.

              First, I need to explain my earlier comment. By “the folks who flocked into the Democratic Party in the 1960s” I meant black voters. That was simplistic of me. I was thinking black voters turned heavily Democratic in the JFK and LBJ years, and the trend did accelerate then, although it really started during Truman’s time.

              So I’m sorry about my lack of clarity. I wasn’t talking about the counterculture; I was talking about black voters, among whom Joe does well.

              You can talk about it being a long time ago, but to the extent that I have any Democratic leanings, it’s my affinity for the party of the New Deal through the early ’60s. (And to the extent I have Republican leanings, I like Ike.) And let me add that if Democrats ever want to return to the kind of dominance they knew in my youth (when I was young I thought it was a RULE that Democrats always dominated Congress) they need to go back to that New Deal Big Tent, before they got sidetracked by Vietnam and Identity Politics. Back when they embraced issues that mattered to EVERYBODY.

              Those times are before my time, by the way. By the time I was old enough to vote (1972), both parties had ceased to be anything I feel comfortable identifying with.

              Next, what precisely was Joe’s “horrendous performance in the Thomas hearings?” I’d like to see that broken down, point by point. I’m not clear on what he did that was so terrible. I remember it this way: NOBODY knew how to handle hearings for a nominee for the highest court in the land that got dominated with talk about Long Dong Silver and pubic hair on a Coke can. It was surreal, and I’ve never had it explained to me exactly what Joe did that he was supposed to do under such circumstances.

              I like Buttigieg. Not necessarily all his proposals (I think his idea of expanding the Supreme Court to 15 is nuts), but I like him. Give him 20 years and more experience — say, in the Senate or as a governor or in a Cabinet position, preferably secretary of State — and I might seriously consider him for the presidency.

              I can’t waste time even thinking about Sanders or Warren because they don’t have a prayer among swing voters. The eventual Democratic nominee MUST appeal to the center of this country’s electorate, or forget about it — it won’t matter whether I vote for them or not; they’re going to LOSE to the worst president in U.S. history.

              As for young voters: First, show me that they VOTE. And then, show me that centrists — the people in the middle who decide national elections — will vote along with them.

              Then, I’ll care about what is fascinating them at a given moment. Until then, I’ll go with timeless qualifications, with candidates who possess qualities that appealed in the past, do in the present, and will in the future — decent, honest people who represent the solid center of American political life and possess the qualifications for the job…

              1. Mr. Smith

                “they need to go back to that New Deal Big Tent”

                Yeah, I think that too – in nostalgic moments. Problem is, most of the poles have been knocked out from under that tent. And not just by people who used to shelter under it. The anti-government and libertarian impulses, both of which extend across the political spectrum, have done a lot to dismantle the New Deal coalition. So it’s not clear there’s still a coherent constituency out there. Maybe it can be rebuilt. But there are strong counter-currents working against it.

          2. Doug Ross

            I don’t run down people. I hold them accountable. It’s funny that you can’t name anything that stands out without having to go look it up. There’s millions of honest and decent men out there. That doesn’t mean they should be President. He has done nothing but sit around for TEN years..

            It not contempt when you expect the leader of the country to have something more than being honest and decent. I’m not an outlier here, you are. Nothing I have worried hasn’t been said already by members of his own party.

  6. Bart

    Open question for anyone on this blog. Based on the information available on each announced Democrat candidate and their platform, who is your #1 and who would be your choice for their running mate and why is this candidate your favorite?

    My choice is Biden and running mate would be Gabbard. Biden is the one candidate regardless of age who I believe can work across the aisle with Republicans. I also believe Republicans will be less wary of Trump even if he is re-elected. Gabbard seems to have a good balance of ideas and ideology that would compliment Biden.

    As for Republicans, no matter who the candidate is, won’t vote for him or her. Unless a good candidate comes along, plan to vote 3rd party again, probably Constitutional Party. Or maybe no vote on POTUS. I guess I am too cynical at this point to place any faith in any candidate other than Biden.

    1. Doug Ross

      I’m Gabbard first but she really has no chance. I am 100% in lockstep on her military/foreign policy views (and she has the experience on the front lines to warrant respecting her opinion).

      I have no other #1 at this point. There are some Democrats I’d vote for and some I wouldn’t. If William Weld actually gets on the ballot, I will vote for him in the primary instead of a Democrat.

      I’m going to wait for the debates in June to form a better opinion.

      So to answer your question, even though it is impossible, Gabbard/Buttigieg.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Doug, really? You want to make a 38-year-old and a 37-year-old the most powerful person in the world and that person’s backup.

        There’s not anyone more maturity and experience in life you’d put in front of them?

        That makes you my polar opposite. I’m usually not comfortable with anyone younger than myself being the most powerful person in the world, although I was willing to make an exception in Obama’s case. But he’s only eight years younger than I, and is an extraordinarily gifted person.

        Buttigieg isn’t just younger than that; he’s younger than three of my five children. Seriously…

        1. Doug Ross

          Yes. I think there are plenty of people with the energy, intelligence, perspective, and capability to be President. I don’t care how old they are… In fact, if prefer they be young and uncorrupted by politics You like experience..I find experience in politics to be a negative because it leads to compromising principles for votes.

          Trump has proven that the job isn’t hard. The country has been fine despite his tweets.

          1. Doug Ross

            Remember you thought Nikki Haley was too inexperienced, right? I’m sure she’s good she didn’t take your advice. She was a good governor and now will be a political force for another two decades.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Biden yes, and Gabbard absolutely not.

      The problem is that there’s no one among the announced candidates ready to step in and be president, and that’s a must in a veep.

      I suspect the ideal running mate is someone not running for president.

      Obama had Biden, which was good — a qualified person who helped make up for Obama’s youth and inexperience.

      I felt the same was about Al Gore, who I thought was a better potential president than Clinton. Ditto with Bush as Reagan’s veep.

      These upside-down tickets occur because of the raw political talents of the guy in the top position — Reagan, Clinton and Obama were all supremely gifted politicians, who outshone their better-qualified backups out on the stump.

      By the way, I was fine with Clinton and Obama being president, in spite of their relative lack of experience. But because of their gifts, they were unusual, sort of the political equivalent of the kid who graduates from college at age 15. They were sort of political Doogie Howsers.

      There’s nobody out there this time. Buttigieg has some charisma, but he’s not in Obama’s league, and it doesn’t make up for his small-time resume. None of the others make as much of an impression.

      But give them time. Maybe someone will emerge as having the gifts to overcome their lack of experience…

      Note that I’m thinking only of the young people here when I say someone might make an impression. Sanders and Warren are for me completely beyond consideration…

      1. bud

        Sanders and Warren are for me completely beyond consideration…

        Would you vote for them if they won the nomination? Both have extensive resumes which you have put forth as an important consideration.

  7. Barry

    I donated to Joe today through his online portal. Not sure he has my vote yet but would like to see him emerge. I’d vote for a fork over Trump.

  8. Doug T

    Off topic:

    Where is best site to see candidates’ SC visit schedules? I signed up to receive info from just about every candidate but all I get are a deluge of emails begging for money. I’m with Joe all the way but I want to check out his possible VPs : )

  9. Bart

    According to a Tribune Times article, some of the Democrat candidates are making a move back toward the center and not advocating the extreme leftist positions. Booker is now advocating more a step at a time for Medicare. Instead of Medicare for all, he is advocating for lowering the age of eligibility. Others are backing away from the proposal to allow criminals in jail to vote. Maybe the message to back off some of the radical proposals is getting though to the leftists. Maybe Biden’s decision to officially enter the race has had a positive effect on the tone of the Democrats and the AOC contingent’s demand for radical changes too soon.

    This will surely not please the advocates for drastic changes immediately but it will give the Democrat base a reason to vote for Democrats in 2020. The party is not as far left as it is portrayed by the media and the vocal activists who command the center stage.

    1. Doug Ross

      Booker’s ideas on lowering eligibility she is the right start. We don’t need to disrupt the entire healthcare industry instantly. Drop the age to 55 first and maybe cover all kids up to 18. Let that play out for 5 years and then extend the ranges on each end another 5 years. This will give the insurance industry the time to transition.

  10. bud

    Are AOCs policies radical or pragmatic? We need to address global warming. Healthcare should be a right. Income inequality is obscene. The real radicals are the Repubs (since you incorrectly referred to the Democratic Party as Democrat Party). They lock children in cages, take away insurance to persons with pre-existing conditions. They support big pharma that pushes opioids and a coal industry that fouls the environment. Conservatives continue to push for tax policies that create enormous income inequality. GOP polices will result in a continued decline in the American way of life including life expectancy. The Democratic ideas of AOC will bring about a better way of life for all.

      1. Bart

        Brad, you are correct. I didn’t mean anything by it. It is a habit, not an insult. So therefore in the future, when addressing Democrats as a noun, I will use the word “Democrat”. When using the word as an adjective, I will use the word “Democratic”.

        I apologize to you bud since you took offense. Twenty lashes with a wet noodle and banished to not posting anything for another 10 minutes. Sufficient punishment? 🙂

  11. Mr. Smith

    I have nothing against Biden. But he has the look and feel of yesterday, maybe the day before yesterday. Someone has to point out why he will catch fire this time after running twice before and fizzling out.

    Plus: placing the emphasis of his campaign on getting rid of the incumbent is a necessary but not sufficient reason for choosing him. He’s going to have to come up with more than that, a vague promise to restore “American values” and a friendly demeanor in order to win.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “he has the look and feel of yesterday”

      The thing is, I don’t think in those terms. I don’t think there are times for people or ideas. Fundamental things about human beings and their existence that are true today were true yesterday and will be tomorrow.

      I think in terms of “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…”

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Actually, this is kind of something that should be a separate post, but…

        It’s interesting the timelessness of ideas about people and their interrelations.

        We are living in supposedly “enlightened,” modern times, or post-modern times. There’s no room for the old notions of honor and courage, and certainly not for such atavistic things as (scoff!) chivalry.

        And yet… we are enthralled by “Game of Thrones,” the appeal of which lies in those fundamental concepts.

        It didn’t start out that way, of course. For awhile, for years, it looked like GoT would be yet another cynical, dark story in which there are no heroes. There’s no one to admire. Virtue is not rewarded or even respected. Sort of “Breaking Bad” with swords and dragons.

        Over the last couple of seasons, it’s morphed into something else. I suppose the turning point (SPOILER ALERT!) was when Jon Snow died, and was brought back. At that point, the powers that be behind the show decided “no more Ned Starks.” We were going to have a hero and stick with him. And he was going to be admirable, noble even….

        And the most recent episode was a mushy sentimentality festival, in which…

        Actually, I think I WILL turn this into a full post, later today…

        1. Mr. Smith

          Yes, that’s all well and good. But I hope you’re not suggesting that Biden is the sole candidate who embodies these eternal verities.

          Biden is the candidate for the fairly comfortable older white guy. What he needs to do is demonstrate that he has a constituency beyond that.

          Above you mentioned a wish to get back to the New Deal Big Tent. Well, that tent was built on concrete government policies and programs that brought together a range of substantive interests across ethnic, racial, sexual and socio-economic lines. It wasn’t built around broad eternal verities or personal niceness.

      2. Doug Ross

        Must be tough carrying around that buggy whip while checking your pager.

        There are certainly times for new ideas. It’s called evolving or progress. And those new ideas don’t typically come from 78 year old people.

        If the fundamental things you speak of regarding humans are decency, honesty, etc. then I would expect pretty much all of the Democrat candidates have those character traits. So then we need to decide what else a candidate brings to the table. Experience as a vice president has rarely proven to be a factor in the success of a President… Only two VPs have ever been elected President – Van Buren and Bush Sr. And Bush Sr. wasn’t re-elected….

        So let’s get beyond Joe being a nice guy. What will he bring to the table going forward? Will he protect Roe v. Wade? Continue the war on terror? Repeal the Trump tax cuts? Try to implement Medicare for All? Legailze pot? What does he want to DO as President besides replace Trump? — which is what every other candidate wants to do.

        1. Bart

          Doug, I am not a Biden supporter and definitely not a Trump supporter. But I don’t think Biden will engage in trying to end Roe v. Wade. As for the war on terror, I believe Biden will respect many of the aspect of the war on terror that will show our allies we are still with them and probably reassure the ones who are doubtful. Medicare for all, probably not but most likely will try to make some changes if he has a Congress to support him. Legalizing pot, probably not for recreational use but I believe definitely for medical. The states will have to decide whether to legalize it for both or not.

          I believe Biden will at least try to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans. Whether he is successful or not depends on Republicans but at least it is my belief he will try.

          Replacing Trump is the primary goal of the Democratic Party, no different than the Republican Party working 24/7 to replace Obama. Age at this point is not relevant to a larger portion of the Democratic Party than a candidate who will try to bring civility back to the office of POTUS.

          Biden, if elected, will be a one-term POTUS. His choice of a running mate will be a strong influence on his chances of winning against Trump. His choice will also be an indicator of the direction the Democratic Party will follow in the near future.

          (see how I used Democratic Party properly?)

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            “Replacing Trump is the primary goal of the Democratic Party…”

            Yes, and of anyone else who cares about our country. It is the everlasting shame of the Republican Party almost none of them have the same goal, even though so many of them know better (I refer you to Lindsey Graham as the poster child), and fully realize how the presidency is further degraded by every moment he spends in office.

            This isn’t about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about decency vs. indecency, and which our nation will embrace…

            1. bud

              This isn’t about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about decency vs. indecency, and which our nation will embrace…

              Actually it sort of is. You can’t just say in one sentence that “It is the everlasting shame of the Republican Party …. ” then turn around and try to say Democrats are somehow in on that shame. The shame is on the Republicans, and the Republicans alone. Besides, Trump is not the entire horror show on the Republican side. He’s just the part of the iceberg that we see. Lindsey Graham is not just an enabler, he’s a co-conspirator.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                What do you mean, “turn around and try to say Democrats are somehow in on that shame?” Who said that? Who said anything like that?

                The point is, as I said at the outset, this is not about what the Democratic Party wants. It’s about what ANYONE who cares about the country wants — an end to Trumpism. And shame on anyone who isn’t working to bring that about….

            2. Mark Stewart

              I know Lindsey Graham thinks his radical swerve towards Trump is another of his finely-timed slithers, but I sure hope he is wrong about this next year. The man has proven time and time again that he isn’t for anything other than his own aggrandizement.

              Now that I’m off my soapbox, Kamala Harris and Kristen Gillibrand lead the Democratic field for me to date. Corey Booker doesn’t seem like his heart is in it; while Elizabeth Warren is doing her very best to wonk herself right out of the race. I agree that neither Sanders nor Biden represent viable candidates this election cycle. It’s not just age – its their messaging as well… Mayor Pete seems potentially a VP, but I have the feeling his quixotic campaign is more about taking advantage of the current Trumpian terrain to gain the name recognition that might better serve him in an Indiana senate race in 2022.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Here’s the thing about Lindsey… It’s working for him.

                The other day I ran into one of my fellow Smith/Norrell alumni on the street. She’s working for Jaime Harrison‘s campaign. She mentioned that it looked like they were going to have primary opposition before Jaime could face Lindsey…

                And then it suddenly hit me — I haven’t heard of the usual crowd of folks trying to run to the right of Lindsey in his primary.

                So, as awful as it is to see what he’s doing… the worse thing is that it’s working. Unless there’s a bunch of people running that I don’t know about…

                1. Doug Ross

                  It’s what the rest of us saw in Lindsey from at least 2008. He buddied up to Obama then turned away right around the time his re-election was approaching.

                  Lindsey only cares about two things: staying in office and getting his face on tv.

                2. bud

                  Lindsey care about his self-aggrandizing for sure. But unlike Trump he does have passion for one policy area, military intervention. (Trump is 100% about himself) That probably explains why Brad is just now surprised by Lindsey’s bizarre embrace of Trump. The war stuff just drowned out the self-aggrandizing.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Guys, I’m not going to repeat myself. I’ve explained over and over and over again the many reasons why I have always respected Lindsey, up until the point he started kissing up to Trump.

                    Y’all have always despised him, even when he was doing one thing after another that should have caused you to respect him — trying to end the perpetual partisan warfare over judicial confirmations, trying to meaningfully address immigration, etc. And doing so at great political risk.

                    The Lindsey Graham who now bows down before Trump — after having been the most delightfully on-point critic of Trump in the country back in 2016 — is a COMPLETELY different creature from anything anyone ever saw before.

                    You can say “It’s what the rest of us saw in Lindsey from at least 2008” over and over again, and I know you won’t listen to a word I say about it.

                    But you’re wrong. Completely wrong.

                    My typing these words will have zero effect on your beliefs, I know. Which is why I ignored the first comment to that effect. And the second. But after about the third such comment as to how you always KNEW Graham was like this, I have to pause to tell the truth, however pointless it is for me to do so.

                    It’s kind of like the “Bush lied” thing. I try to ignore it coming from people who believe it like God-given religion. But occasionally I have to pause to say, “No, he didn’t…”

                3. Mark Stewart


                  I started out liking Lindsey Graham. He seemed to be respected in the Air Force / National Guard.

                  But the thing is he has always been one slippery character; and that has gone from being a hidden rumbling to an outright obviousness. Together with the second aspect of his character he has just become too much for me. The second part of his malformed character seems to be a clingy need for a male mentor/political father figure. Call me weird for pointing it out, but Graham has always hitched his wagon to another. The best of them was John McCain and its hard to fault him there. McCain’s decline and death seems to have left Graham feeling insecure (so it seems to me anyway).

                  That said, I don’t have any ill will toward Graham, and have voted for him mostly. Donald Trump is another situation all together. It may be politically expedient for Graham to suck up to Trump (which is what it is given his obvious opposition to Trump in 2015-16); however, it’s a bridge too far for me. Both he and Mick Mulvaney seem like country bumpkins the way they get stary-eyed over an obvious con man and are so transparently under his sway.

                  Graham has lost me because it is obvious that he puts politics before country. Graham’s calculated oratorical outbursts the last 18+ months plainly show a politician who has lost his way. He isn’t alone in this, but the historical record is not going to be kind to the coterie of Trump enablers.

                  My issue with Lindsey Graham has always been about character – or a lack thereof. It’s like the difference between decision-making and judgment, if that makes sense?

                4. Mark Stewart

                  The Senate Judiciary Committee is in session. It looks from his opening statement that Graham is going to make clear today what kind of man he is. Let’s see how he wants to be remembered…

                5. Doug Ross

                  Brad: I was right then and I’m right now.

                  Doug: I was right then and I’m right now.

                  The difference is that I am very comfortable with my assessment and you get righteously indignant when someone disagrees with yours. Probably because when I’ve been saying all along that Lindsey was a pandering political animal and now he has proven it to a point where nobody would disagree. He is what he always was. It’s a lot tougher for you to say you were wrong than for most people because you believe your opinions are more crafted and thought out than those who disagree with you. You can fall back on the “I spent more time thinking about this than you did” excuse.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, I don’t care about those things. I mean, I care about some of them, but not in this context. “Nice guy” is enough. When you add that he’s a nice guy who fully appreciates what this country is all about, and knows with the job entails, there’s no need to talk further.

          That makes the difference between him and Trump one of night and day, ones and zeroes. Everything else is just noise.

          I tend to look at voting the way I do hiring. Give me your resume and samples of your work, then let’s sit down and talk about the job. If I like the resume and what the person has done in the past, and the applicant seems to fully understand what the job entails and has his or her head on straight — is someone everyone can work with — I’m satisfied.

          If you find two candidates who both fit that description, then maybe you dig a little deeper into details, looking for tiebreakers. What I don’t do is demand to know the person will do X, Y and Z in the first week on the job. I want to know the person is prepared to deal intelligently (and of course morally and ethically) with whatever arises…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            In fact, give me too many details and you might not get the job. For instance, I like Buttigieg in general. I like when he speaks intelligently in ways that move us beyond the culture war stuff that tears the country apart. I like that he served his country in uniform. And in general, I like the way his mind works when he discusses issues.

            But when he says he wants to expand the Supreme Court to 15, I kind of go, whoa, what kind of crackpot do we have here…?

  12. bud

    (see how I used Democratic Party properly?)

    And that is much appreciated.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that some core values aren’t timeless – courage, honesty, compassion – but these ideals are defined in different ways. Morality evolves. It is inconceivable to return to a time when inter-racial marriage was immoral. Or integrated schools. At one time during the Roman empire it was considered appropriate for adult men to engage in sex with adolescent boys. Smoking in public space was ok. Gay marriage, not so much. So while it is true that we should as a nation strive for a higher ethical standard than we currently have under Trump we shouldn’t lose track of the reality that morality evolves.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Nope. Sorry. There never was a time when interracial marriage was immoral. People might have said it was, but they were wrong.

      And smoking around other people has never been right. It’s a physical assault on the people around you.

      You’re talking about prevailing standards and customs and what is tolerated at a given time. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about right and wrong, which do not change.

      Yep, there were times when you couldn’t go anywhere without breathing someone’s cigarette smoke, a time when it seemed almost all adults smoked. I’m old enough to remember that. But that didn’t make it right…

      Now, let me be clear — I’m not proposing that we judge people in the past based on what we think we know is right and wrong now. However sure we might think we are about it, I don’t think we need to condemn someone who, for instance, ran a restaurant where everyone was allowed to smoke 70 year ago was a bad person. It would in fact have been difficult to have a restaurant and stay open if you didn’t allow it, and a person needed to make a living.

      Personally, I am glad that I live in a time when smoke-free public spaces are the fashion. I’m glad people are more aware of the harm smoke does to other people, and that we’ve taken measures to address that.

      Is everyone confused enough by what I’m saying now? 🙂

    1. Bob Amundson

      “Trippy garage rock” and “Coltranesque” jazz sax (just to name a couple)! I love your eclectic taste. I’m also confused but like it.

            1. Bob Amundson

              That’s something! The contrabass clarinet with the muted trumpet and bass combine well. Amazing riffs.

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