Michael Hollings on the importance of choosing Biden

What can a Democratic president accomplish if most of these seats are filled with Republicans?

What can a Democratic president accomplish if most of these seats are filled with Republicans?

Bud Ferillo shared this letter from Michael Hollings, son of Fritz. It raises an important point I’ve seen others raise recently, such as Nicholas Kristof (“I Worry About Sanders, and His Coattails“): What can a Democratic president accomplish if he lacks the coattails to elect a Democratic Senate?

It’s Not Complicated.

A segment of the Democratic Party speaks of “revolution.” Obviously, no D agenda will occur unless the D’s regain the U.S. Senate. The nonpartisan Cook Report projects that the Senate D’s could gain 5 or 6 seats while needing only 3. The R’s are defending 23 seats, the D’s 12. Elements of the progressive agenda warrant consideration, but, given the current political disconnect, only a moderate can defeat Trump and also offer coattails to D Senate candidates. Do we really want to endure the next 8 months listening to Trump’s venomous rantings on the evils of socialism as the gateway drug to communism? Even if a Socialist D could conceivably win the presidency, we most likely will lose the Senate plus any opportunity to pursue any progressive agenda. The moderate of the group best qualified to score the “two-for” is not the D who switched twice to run as an R, supporting George Bush for President, then switched to an Indep. to run for the same office then switched back to a D, all the while spending a couple of $100 million to do so ( while masterminding the quota-driven stop and frisk police tactics later declared to be unconstitutional). The moderate with the tenacity, the fight, the temperament and the experience to score the “two-for” of defeating Trump and winning back the U.S. Senate, while advancing progressive ideas is Joe Biden, and Deborah, Chris and I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy. As Fritz would say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Michael Hollings
Columbia, SC

Those are not exactly the same points Kristof raised: Hollings sees the solution as being Joe (as do I). Kristof is thinking more in terms of Klobuchar (who would be my very distant second choice).

But both raise the question: What good would all the plans in the world do, if you can’t help Democrats win the Senate?

14 thoughts on “Michael Hollings on the importance of choosing Biden

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Michael’s father and Biden, of course, were good friends and allies.

    In fact, I first met Joe through Fritz. Joe was coming to town for an event, and I called Fritz to ask if he’d help me extend an invitation to Joe to come by and visit with the editorial board.

    Joe came by, and stayed and chatted for about two-and-a-half hours. I think it was just Mike Fitts and me in the room with him, since it was our busiest day of the week — Friday.

    It put us behind on getting the pages out, but I appreciated the chance to talk with him at length…

  2. Doug T

    Imagine Trump winning while keeping the Senate and flipping the house. Is it worth the risk supporting Bernie…or Pete…or Amy? Um….no.

  3. Mr. Smith

    The thing that Biden backers fail to understand or optimistically ignore (in the same way that Sanders’ supporters ignore his own baggage) is the enthusiasm deficit — which was in part Hillary Clinton’s undoing. That and the not-him-again/just-another-old-Washington-insider fatigue — which likewise helped undermine Clinton.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Ah, the “enthusiasm deficit.” I can’t speak for other Biden supporters, but for me, the fact that Joe doesn’t get people all worked up and ready to charge ramparts is a feature, not a mark against him.

      We have a president whose supporters get excited about him. It is not a good thing.

      I want a guy — or a gal — who can help the country settle down.

      If there were someone on the scene who could get people excited in a GOOD way, like Obama, or maybe Bobby Kennedy, that would be cool. But we get those about once a generation. Give me a good, decent person who will do the job properly and let us all breathe easy for a change.

      And for me, with this field, there’s no question who that is…

      1. Mr. Smith

        Apparently, then, you don’t care about numbers, either — like the ones in primary returns. Those are demonstrating a real enthusiasm gap when it comes to Biden. He’s coming in far back of the leaders — and doing so in elections in which turnout is up. Your attitude toward enthusiasm may make you feel superior to the hoi polloi, but it’s an empty, meaningless superiority.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I don’t know about feeling superior, but I distrust emotion in politics…

          Of course, I feel an emotion toward Joe. I like him. I’m also grateful to him for doing this. He doesn’t have to. He’s done plenty. He could kick back and enjoy life. But there’s no one out there with his experience and understanding of the job who might reasonably be expected to have a chance to beat Trump.

          So I’m grateful to him for that.

          But those emotions are nice, calm ones. They’re not likely to inspire me to do something extreme…

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          As for numbers — I care about the ones in November, particularly those determining the result in the Electoral College.

          As I keep saying, the ability to win in a primary is very different, sometimes even diametrically different, from the ability to win in the general.

          It’s conceivable that the very best candidate — both in terms of qualification for the job and ability to win the general — could go through the whole process without winning a single primary, getting beaten over and over by people who excite partisan passions.

          That wouldn’t change the fact that he or she is the best candidate to go with…

  4. Sally

    Hillary Clinton had a high personal negative rating as did Trump. That’s not true of Joe Biden. Regarding Bernie, he won’t win over the country club Republicans or the suburban Republican woman. Media coverage currently focuses on the Democratic nomination horse race, not so much the national data on head to head with Trump. Biden still leads that polling. Last week’s PBS/Marist poll showed Biden beating Trump nationally outside the margin of error. None of the other Democratic contenders were outside the margin of error.

    1. bud

      Absolutely not true. Check these polls out in the Fivethirtyeight site. Bernie equals or beats Joe against Biden in all the surveys:

      YouGov has it (vs Trump):

      Bernie +3 Joe +2

      Bernie +2 Joe +2

      Bernie +7 Joe +4

      Bernie +2 Joe +1

      Bernie +11 Joe +3

      Frankly there just isn’t much general election polling yet. But what there is suggests Bernie is every bit as competitive as Joe against Trump. So all this handwringing about Bernie being a socialist is unsupported by evidence. MY intuition suggests it doesn’t matter who the Dems pick. All have strengths and weaknesses. Somehow the Biden supporters just can’t or won’t see his many weaknesses.


      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Actually, Bud, what Sally said was, “Last week’s PBS/Marist poll showed Biden beating Trump nationally outside the margin of error. None of the other Democratic contenders were outside the margin of error.”

        And here’s what that poll said:

        The one thing Biden can continue to hang his hat on is how well he does against President Trump. All of the top six Democrats the poll tested beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup, but Biden does best, beating Trump by 6 points and the only candidate to reach 50%.

        The poll had a margin of error of 5.4 percentage points. Bloomberg was closest, beating Trump by 4 points. So yes, Joe was the only one exceeding the margin of error in his advantage over Trumpp.

        If you prefer to look at charts, there’s a chart at that link

      2. Bryan Caskey

        “So all this handwringing about Bernie being a socialist is unsupported by evidence.”

        The far-right publication, NPR, did a survey.

        “A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll backs up the idea that the label could hurt him. Asked about their impression of socialism, 28% of adults said they have a favorable view, while 58% said they had an unfavorable one.”

        I think it’s possible that most Americans don’t want a socialist country. Has anyone asked Bernie if his 1976 statement (which he made when he was 35 years old) “I favor the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries,” is still something he believes, or if he’s changed his mind? Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine for him to have this belief, I just think it may be relevant to know if this is still his position, or if he’s changed his mind.

        In Bernie’s interview on 60 minutes YESTERDAY, he was defending Castro, touting Castro’s literacy program. Again, I think literacy programs are great and all, but the other parts of Castro’s regime…ya know the shooting people for having opposing political views…can overshadow a good literacy program. Also, Bernie is aware that the residents of South Florida are not huge fans of Castro, right?

        But hey, I could be wrong. If so, I’m sure I can get my mind right in the re-education camps.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Obviously, in your case, we can’t get those up-and-running too soon.

          I think I’ll need a head start, too. I understand there are significant penalties for flunking re-education camp, so I would need to start getting my mind right early…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I wonder if I should update my avatar? I shot that extreme-closeup selfie back before “selfie” was a word. It was in my office, and I wanted a new image for my then-new blog. It was sometime in the middle of the 00 decade…

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