Find a farm-friendly, plain-talking, whip-smart, tough-minded, scrappy Midwesterner, who spit in Brett Kavanaugh’s eye and who hasn’t self-destructed in the Primary year of living precariously. It sounds like a candidate fit to take down the Beast of the East Room.
Amy Klobuchar checks all those boxes. The New York Times, in the act of audacious equivocation, named the Minnesota senator one of its two endorsees for the nomination. Klobuchar covers the center lane of Democratic traffic. The endorsement places her ahead of Pete Buttigieg, the gifted favorite son of South Bend.
More impressive still, Klobuchar won out ahead of deemed-most-electable Joe Biden. Biden’s dream of a Senate locking arms across the aisle fails to recognize changes in the chamber and the zeitgeist since his salad days in the 80s and 90s. Klobuchar is more realistic than Biden. She understands that she, like Clinton, Obama, and Trump, will have to lean on executive orders for as long as divided government means no government at all.
In this Give No Quarter era of legislative gridlock, Klobuchar makes hay — and pork — by throwing her effort into non-incendiary issues. Klobuchar ranks first among senators in the current Congress by sponsoring bills that have become laws. Let’s assume she knows when she can achieve consensus and when she cannot. Here is a partial list of bills becoming laws:
- S. 524, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act
- S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015
- S. 894, Innovate America Act
- S. 218, Veterans to Paramedics Act
These laws addressed the opioid crisis, sex trafficking, education, and jobs for the present and future, and the work challenges faced by our service vets. Not flashy by any stretch, it’s a substantial body of work, the portfolio of a policy wonk.
The senator’s stances on the noisy issues are similarly pragmatic. She backs reinstatement of clean energy rules but falls short of taking a Jacobin blade to the fossil fuel industry.
Klobuchar supports universal health care. She hasn’t foresworn private insurance or endorsed Medicare for All. Like Biden, the Minnesotan is an incrementalist. She does not venture anywhere near the socialist tag, still considered the third rail of national candidacy.
For all her credentials, the Minnesota legislator remains in the shadow cast by the flashier candidates, including co-endorsee Elizabeth Warren, precisely because she falls on the workhorse side of Hillary Clinton’s show horse vs. workhorse divide. Even one of her showier moments, describing Trump’s unkept promise to lower drug prices as “all foam and no beer,” garnered mild reaction in the punditry. She would have done better by following it up by repeating her pledge to take down Big Pharma, or perhaps she was concerned about one of her opponents pointing out that during her career, she has accepted $400,000.00 from that lobby. In the event, the takeaway is that she made a glib remark destined to spend one day in the news cycle.
In making its curious dual selection, the Times avoided discussion of electability, to many the only significant issue in 2020.
“Many Democratic voters are concerned first and foremost about who can beat Mr. Trump. But with a crowded field and with traditional polling in tatters, that calculation calls for a hefty dose of humility about anyone’s ability to foretell what voters want.
Choosing who should face off against Mr. Trump also means acknowledging that Americans are being confronted with three models for how to govern this country, not two. Democrats must decide which of their two models would be most compelling for the American people and best suited for repairing the Republic.”
The Times chose Klobuchar and Warren as the “most effective advocates for the positions they espouse, both more progressive than anything we’ve seen in decades.”
Recently, Warren squared off with Sanders over her team’s claim that he dismissed the possibility of a female winning the presidency. Sanders denies the remark, but sadly, it could be correct. Currently, Sanders and Biden atop the leaderboards in Iowa and New Hampshire. They are trailed by Warren, whose campaign seems to have lost its summer momentum.
Meanwhile, Klobuchar is still trying to crack double-digits. Her best hope for the moment is Biden faltering, with enough of his support switching to her to keep Mike Bloomberg on the periphery. That’s a tall order because she also will have to overtake Pete Buttigieg, a center-laner with an impressive war chest and higher polling figures.
One of the most critical pieces to fall into place for Amy Klobuchar is the belief that a woman can win in 2020. Even though Hillary Clinton cracked the glass ceiling, Klobuchar must implode it, scattering glass shards across the land once and for all. Unfortunately, for Amy Klobuchar to win, she will have to do it backward and in heels.