Monday, November 26, 2018


Charles Blow of The New York Times went to Louisiana to talk to Mitch Landrieu, who doesn't sound like a presidential candidate.
“I am not already running for president.” He continues, “I haven’t done anything that a person who was running for president would do.”

... The 58-year-old Landrieu has spent 30 years in politics, but he really began to be talked about as a possible presidential contender when he moved to take down Confederate statues in the city and gave a powerful, poetic speech explaining why.

Mitch is now asked about running for president so often that his answers sound like ones that have been honed by repetition, shaved down sharp and smooth.

He recalls a recent exchange he had about the subject:

“Someone said to me the other day, ‘Are you running?’ I said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘That’s what everybody says.’ I said, ‘What do the people who aren’t running say?’ ” We laugh.
Blow thinks Landrieu is out of step with times because if he were to run, he'd be doing it as a centrist in a Democratic Party that doesn't seem interested in centrism. On the other hand, he's a strong opponent of racism -- but he'd be a white man delivering that message when there are non-whites prepared to deliver it.
As he put it:

“You don’t know how African-Americans in the South are going to perform if a white Democrat from the South is running against three really good African-American candidates. We’ve never had that before. You could have it this time. You could have Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Deval Patrick. So, that theory has never been tested before.”

It would be a hard debate stage to manage without looking like a white savior, coming to fix America’s race problem and saying that he was a better choice to do so than the women and minorities in the race.
That last paragraph is Blow talking, not Landrieu. I think he's right. But there certainly seems to be interest in having a white guy deliver that message for the Democrats.


And then there's Beto O'Rourke. Over at Crooked Media, Dan Pfeiffer portrays Beto as Barack Obama, only better:
I have never seen a Senate candidate—including Obama in 2004—inspire the sort of enthusiasm that Beto did in his race. This is about more than Lebron wearing a Beto hat, or Beyonce sporting one on Instagram. It’s about the people all over the country with no connection to Texas with signs in their yards and stickers on their cars. It’s about the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who gave small dollar donations because they were inspired by his candidacy and moved by his pledge not to take PAC money. It’s about the crowds of thousands in small towns that would turn out to hear him speak on rainy weeknights. It’s about the passionate army of volunteers who knocked doors, made calls, and sent text messages. He built a national grassroots movement for change and many of those people are waiting to be called into duty and head to Iowa and New Hampshire. The enthusiasm is real and matters. If Beto were to go to Iowa City next week, I am confident he would draw a crowd three times larger than any candidate has since Obama first stumped there.
Pfeiffer isn't writing about O'Rourke from the perspective of race -- he just sees him as a superstar, and therefore as someone we should take very seriously for 2020. But I feel as if we're talking about rock and roll in 1956 or so -- Chuck Berry is out there, Little Richard is out there, but the true superstar is the white guy, Elvis.

I like O'Rourke, but he lost his big race. Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum actually came closer to winning theirs, but no one is talking about them as 2020 contenders. I respect Landrieu, but he's obviously being talked about as someone who can give a multi-racial, anti-racist party a white face.

I don't know how this contest will sort itself out, but I don't assume that a white guy is clearly the way to go -- that could be right, but we shouldn't leap to that assumption just because it keeps a lot of people in their comfort zone.

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