With another round of Democratic presidential debate bouts over and done with, I guess it’s time for some serious assessment on the part of the party powers-that-be to determine just who skates through to the next round in the party represented by the donkey. (By the way, has anyone else ever thought that was an unfortunate symbol choice? I mean, the GOP has an elephant, a powerful animal with, at least according to reputable sources, a good memory and dolphin-level intelligence. Even though donkeys are supposedly smart as well, I would think the DNC might want to consider an icon with a little less built-in negative PR. Maybe a koala bear for warm and fuzzy feelings, or even the king of the jungle, the lion. But I haven’t been asked for my suggestions.)
As for the first two Democrat internecine battles (reminiscent of the Republican ones four years ago), there are definitely some differences of opinion. But even though some fireworks have briefly erupted, there are always smiles and glad-handing before and after the action takes place. Everyone puts on a great game face to try and show some semblance of unity.
Don’t you have to wonder, though, if all the candidates were together in the Green Room before the debates, just what some of the conversations would have been like? Of course, they’ve been split up due to sheer numbers, but just suppose all 20-something of them were confined to the same four walls for maybe an hour or so before heading onto the stage.
I mean, really, there are maybe half a dozen contenders with big-time name recognition and many who wouldn’t be recognized on the street by 99 out of 100 people. Can’t you just see Bernie Sanders and, say, Wayne Messam (Go ahead, look him up. He’s on the list.) talking animatedly and at length about a social issue? At the end of the conversation, you can almost hear Bernie turning to an aide and saying, “Who the heck was that I was talking to again? I can’t keep all these people straight.”
Do you think one of the lessor-knowns might see the pregame as a good time to perhaps get under Elizabeth Warren’s skin a little? Maybe say something such as, “Hey, how’s it goin’, Pocahontas?” Or maybe another one sidling up to Joe Biden and casually mentioning, “You probably don’t remember me, but at a fundraiser in 2010, you put your hands on my wife’s shoulders and kissed the top of her head.”
Surely no one would have been dastardly enough to ask Kamala Harris if she were going to campaign in a bus, right? Why stir up trouble, eh? Why, indeed.
But when your poll numbers start with a decimal point, it’s a pretty good indication you haven’t managed to capture the attention of the voting populace. You have to do something to stand out in a crowd. And getting a front-runner to lose his or her cool couldn’t hurt your chances of gaining a little traction.
Back in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was running for president, the story was told of a woman at a rally of some sort saying she would make a contribution to his campaign if Bobby could name the dates of all of his 10 children’s birthdays (an 11th was born a few months following his assassination). Today’s version of that might be to inquire as to whether any Democratic candidate could actually name everyone he or she is running against.
Having worked on a couple of campaigns early in my career, I can assure you there is no love lost between warring factions. The adversary is considered scum regardless of whether it’s a primary or general election battle. Opposition research is a cornerstone of any crusade, and it’s always at the ready. I guarantee you if suddenly the name Joe Sestak (Who? That’s my point.) was on everyone’s lips, the next day any slip-up Joe might have encountered from birth to present day would be leaked by at least half a dozen campaigns.
So far, I doubt if Donald Trump is quaking in his Guccis. At this juncture, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tweet that says something such as, “Just been watching TV, eating popcorn, enjoying the show. Call me when these guys get ratings as big as ‘The Apprentice,’ which all of them would love to be on right now. It was huge.”
American democracy in action. It’s no wonder we’re the envy of the world.