Bob Franken


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Quick — name all the Democratic candidates for president. There are only 23 of them, now that Gotham Mayor Bill de Blasio has joined the hunt. It’s not enough that so many New Yorkers hate him; he wants to go nationwide. Of course, most New Yorkers hate everyone. Just look at Donald Trump.
But of the Democrats, how many can you recall? Maybe it would help to have some clues. Who is the old white guy running far to the left? Bernie Sanders, of course. Not to be confused with the old white guy who wants to be all things to all people. That’s Joe Biden. The best way to keep them apart in your mind is their personalities: Biden is Mr. Congeniality; Sanders definitely is not.
Nor is Elizabeth Warren, who resembles Bernie in ideas and disposition; of course there’s the gender thing too. Sen. Warren is not an old white guy. She is 69 years old. You can decide whether that makes her an old white woman, particularly since she’s younger than both Sanders (77) and Biden (76). You also can decide whether you give a hoot about age, since she’s younger than Trump, who is nearly 73. Chances are, you’ve heard of him.
If you are into that generational thing, perhaps your taste runs to the youngsters. There’s that guy with the last name no one can pronounce, Pete Buttigieg. He’s just 37, a mere two years above the constitutional minimum. He’ll turn 39 on Jan. 19, 2121, which is just a day before Inauguration Day. What a celebration that would be. Might be.
Also in the March of the Millennials is Beto O’Rourke. Do you remember him? For a while he was leading the parade — he even had the Vanity Fair cover imprimatur. But he’s faded and now promises a redo, telling Rachel Maddow, “I recognize that I can do a better job.”

Notice we have discussed only white candidates. There have been widespread complaints about that, and it’s a valid gripe, particularly since there are some in the Democratic presidential lineup who are people of color and have loads of experience holding major office. Kamala Harris is a U.S. senator and former California state attorney general. She’s 54 years old, so age is no issue, and to put it in political terms, as a black woman, she checks off two boxes for those who would love to see the first woman president of the United States and get back to the national pride that Barack Obama’s election inspired before the bigots got hold of our country.
If you’re not among them, perhaps you are celebrating the presence of experienced African Americans like Cory Booker. Booker is a U.S. senator now, and a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He also attended Oxford University. Still he is in the middle of the pack. Perhaps that’s because he’s middle of the road on many issues.
Also struggling right now is Amy Klobuchar, another senator, whose main appeal was her affability. That was before word spread that she’s a monster boss, which definitely hurt her “Minnesota Nice” image.
Add Kirsten Gillibrand to the lackluster list. Gillibrand is another New Yorker, although she’s an upstater. She’s best known as the senator who stuck it to Al Franken when he was reeling from sexual misconduct attacks. Basically, he quit without a fight, as one might with that knife in his back. Al and I are distant relatives and friends. Anything I say about candidate Gillibrand would be suspect.
Have we overlooked anyone? Actually, yes. There is a big bunch of Democrats jumping up and down trying to get noticed. The Republicans don’t have that problem. Their guy is Donald Trump, who has spent his lifetime jumping up and down to get noticed. Successfully. He’ll face off against whichever Democrat survives the party’s rugby scrum. If they don’t destroy each other first.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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