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Kennedy: Sanders nomination would mean sure defeat to Trump, but other Democrats flawed

Even as one who tries with a passion to avoid politics in my daily life, I find myself strangely drawn into that world.

The public, and sometimes not so public, pronouncements by the candidates for president and their campaign handlers have led me to a somewhat disturbing conclusion: If the leaders of the Democratic Party don’t convince Bernie Sanders that he cannot, and will not, defeat Donald Trump, the country will be in dire straits.

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I watched every minute of the debate from Las Vegas last week and much of the post-debate analysis, and came away with several observations about each of the candidates. I’ll go from left to right as they were positioned on the stage.

The former mayor of New York, and the leading spender of the bunch, Michael Bloomberg, didn’t come off as well as he might have hoped. He showed none of the personality that I witnessed during his speech at the commencement exercises at the University of Maryland last May. The other participants challenged him on several policies and actions that he took as mayor and as the CEO of his various very successful businesses. He answered those questions, but really didn’t give the answers that I, or the other candidates, seemed to want. He really needs to step up his game, and not just by pouring another several hundred million dollars into TV and radio ads.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren began the proceedings by lighting into Bloomberg on his “stop and frisk” policy while he was mayor. She kept up her attacks on him whenever possible. Her attack mode wasn’t limited to Bloomberg, though; she hit hard at all of the others as well. The post-debate pundits commented that this seemed to be a new strategy, designed to make her stand out. I think it worked to some degree — how much is still open for debate. Warren also showed some softening of her positions, moving a bit more toward the center and away from the Sanders-like stance that she had before. A wise move on her part, methinks.

Sen. Sanders was his usual passionate self, trying to sell his “democratic socialism” platform to America. One thing to admire about his fervor is that his message never changes one iota. Unfortunately, even if he were to be elected, most of his ideas will go nowhere because much of the American public, and especially members of Congress from both parties, aren’t buying what he is trying to sell. Bloomberg commented, “I don’t think there’s any chance of the senator beating Donald Trump.” As the post-debate reviewers commented,— almost to a person — although recent poll numbers show that he has anywhere from 26 to 31% of respondents favoring him, that means that about 70% do not. Therein lies his problem and the one for the party.

Former Vice President Joe Biden looked better, to me, than he has recently. Unfortunately for him, his performance in the debate wasn’t all that positive. As he has done before, he stumbled over words, couldn’t easily put his thoughts together coherently, and generally showed that at his age, his mental acuity is waning. Although the will is there, I’m not so sure about his ability to serve.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, seems to have a more rational and centrist view of the solutions to the problems, which all of the candidates seem to agree on, than do Sanders and Warren. His main target during the debate seemed to be Amy Klobuchar, whom he went after, sometimes more personally than I was comfortable with. However reasonable his solutions might be, he has several disadvantages in his campaign. First is his relative youth. Next is his lack of wide-ranging political experience. Finally — and this is probably, unfortunately, the kiss if death for his ambition, at least in the short term — is his open sexual preference. Many folks who might agree with his stances on the issues will simply not vote for him for religious or personal morality reasons. That may be a sad commentary, but it must be looked at realistically as a detriment to his candidacy.

At the far right of the stage, Sen. Klobuchar made her pitch to the voters in Las Vegas and the nation. Her agenda as president is similar to that of Buttigieg and Bloomberg, somewhere to the right of Warren and Sanders. She touts her success in winning local and statewide elections in Minnesota, as well as her successes in getting legislation passed in the Senate. She is articulate and seemingly unflappable, even when being attacked personally. Her stance on the issues is reasoned but cautious. She doesn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think, though, that she has a real uphill battle to gain the nomination because she wasn’t, and probably still isn’t, a household name outside of her home state, and she has had difficulty in raising funds for her campaign. I think that she could handle the job, but it’s probably not going to happen.

That’s how I see it at the moment, although things are bound to change before all the shouting is over.

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Bill Kennedy writes every other week from Taneytown. You may contact him at wlkennedyiii@verizon.net.

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