I don’t know what more needs to be said about how badly the 2020 Democratic nomination could get than that former President Barack Obama could end up being the voice of reason.
I mean, sure, we’d joked around about how Obama in 2008 or 2012 would be a conservative in this field of Democrats. Then it became less of a joke, particularly as Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts unveiled their plans.
Now, obviously, Obama isn’t a conservative, although some media outlets are now willing to go with that schtick.
Instead, he’s sane enough to realize what going the way of Bernie Sanders would mean for the Democratic Party — and he’d be willing to intervene to stop it from happening, according to his advisers.
This revelation came from a Politico article published earlier this week titled “Waiting for Obama,” which wondered in the subheadline: “[C]an his cerebral politics still galvanize voters in an age of extremes?”
Aside from conservatives deciding whether to accept the 10-yard flag for flagrant veneration or an excessive Samuel Beckett reference, what they got out of it was mostly a piece about Democrats trying to curry favor with Obama.
First there was the lengthy intro about the former president’s D.C. home — “Obama’s lair is more Restoration Hardware than Oval Office: lots of dark wood (his desk and an enormous mirror behind it), bronze accents (the bookcases), and neutral upholstery in a seating area.”
Then there was his advice to prospective office-seekers: “He has said he usually offers three big points: Don’t run if you don’t think you are the best person to be president; make sure you understand the toll a campaign will take on your family; and ask yourself, ‘Can you win?’”
At some point you think to yourself: Someone got paid handsomely for this. That someone is Ryan Lizza, the longtime Beltway fixture who was on the receiving end of the phone call that likely helped put an end to Anthony Scaramucci’s time at the White House.
After all this talk about Obama’s Restoration Hardware-esque fitments and the bromides he’s bestowed on the 2020 Democrat field came some justification for Lizza’s paycheck.
“Publicly, [Obama] has been clear that he won’t intervene in the primary for or against a candidate, unless he believed there was some egregious attack. ‘I can’t even imagine with this field how bad it would have to be for him to say something,’ said a close adviser. Instead, he sees his role as providing guardrails to keep the process from getting too ugly and to unite the party when the nominee is clear,” Lizza wrote.
“There is one potential exception: Back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him. (Asked about that, a spokesperson for Obama pointed out that Obama recently said he would support and campaign for whoever the Democratic nominee is.)”
There also wasn’t any idea what the intervention would involve — merely that there would be one.
As the Washington Examiner pointed out, however, if this is true, Obama shouldn’t be so dismissive yet. Sanders’ poll numbers are trending up since his heart attack in October.
The Vermont senator is currently in second place in the RealClearPolitics polling average; former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 27.0 percent to Sanders’ 18.3 and Warren’s 15.8.
Plus, this raises a fairly interesting question: How, precisely, is what Sanders is selling so different from the rest of the Democrat field?
Until Warren’s recent polling swan-dive, she was looking like the probable pacesetter once Biden eventually said something so cretinous it would deflate his campaign permanently.
Yet the Massachusetts senator’s plans — from a wealth tax to “Medicare for All” — are all virtually indistinguishable from what Sanders has been proposing.
Furthermore, more than half the Democrat field have said that they would be on board with some version of “Medicare for All.” What’s so special about Sanders that makes him uniquely bad — other than that he’s technically an independent and identifies as a socialist?
On the last count, I could see how Obama might think this looks like electoral poison. On the first count, though, what Obama reportedly said he would do — and still might do — reeks of 2016, when the thumb of the Clinton machine came down on the scales of the Democratic National Committee and tipped the whole thing over to Hillary Clinton.
Is that where 2020 is going, only this time with Biden or some other centrist?
If so, you can imagine that talk about “cerebral politics” is probably going to get forgotten by some very galvanized voters in this “age of extremes.”
And yet, he’d be doing the Democrats — and America — a favor.
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