Saturday, March 23, 2019

Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?

Matthew Walther

Illustrated | AP Photo/David Zalubowski, AP Photo/Charles Krupa, merc67/iStock, Wikimedia Commons

March 22, 2019

I wish I could say that the worst thing about John Hickenlooper's CNN town hall on Wednesday night was the part where he talked about watching Deep Throat with his mom. The former governor of Colorado, who is one of roughly 173 declared candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, explained that the porno-with-mom thing was not an accident. He said he knew that the movie was "naughty" but thought his mother might enjoy getting out of the house. Apparently after the infamous X-rated flick began she was "mortified." That poor woman.

Possibly even more cringe-inducing, though, was Hickenlooper's response to a question about whether he would consider selecting a woman as his running mate. "Of course," he told Dana Bash. Fair enough. What else is there to say? But for some reason he felt compelled to go on. "I'll ask you another question. How come we're not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?'" Did you hear that, Governor? That was the sound of a hundred thousand American woman groaning simultaneously.

Why are Democrats so weird? Only a few days after his long-shot candidacy had begun to attract some interest from the mainstream press, Andrew Yang came out strongly against circumcision, surely one of the most pressing political and social issues of our time. He even doubled down on this by agreeing on Thursday to debate right-wing Wunderkind Ben Shapiro on the subject. Last month Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) told a painfully obvious lie about listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac while smoking weed in college (she graduated many years before either of them released their debut albums). Even her own father told her to cut it out. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (Mass.) insistence on releasing the results of a DNA test in the hope of vindicating her past claims of Native American heritage was one of the most bizarre events in recent political history.

Meanwhile, there is Beto. I don't particularly care that in 1988 the young Robert Francis O'Rourke posted some erotic verses about cows ("Oh, Milky wonder, sing for us once more, / Live your life, everlusting [sic] joy" is one of the only bits I can quote on this family website) online. I didn't even know until yesterday that there was such a thing as "online" in 1988. Nor am I going to get all worked up about his weird murder spree fantasy story, which is the kind of thing stupid teenagers write every day. But what I do want to know is whether he actually took a handful of green feces, put it in a bowl, and served it to his wife once, telling her that it was avocado. Asked by a journalist recently to confirm the anecdote, which had been reported by a supposed friend of the candidate, he responded that while he didn't remember this happening it "sounds like the kind of thing I would do." Come again? If you fed excrement to the mother of your children, I feel like you would recall. I almost certainly think she would. If there was ever something to lie about as a politician, this is it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that no one in this gang of hardcore porno-with-mom-watching, pretend-weed-smoking, bovine-horny ex-teenage hackers could ever be elected president. The guy they are all running against is a twice-divorced serial philanderer and pathological liar addicted to social media and fast food who once bragged about the size of his genitalia during a formal debate. Maybe Democrats even think that by embracing their inner weirdness they can channel some of Trump's electoral magic. Or maybe they just think that the American people can no longer be bothered to care about the sorts of things that would have been career ending for any politician back in the remote past — 2014 or so.

They're probably right about this. At this early stage in the race, about 17 living Americans who are not either journalists or residents of Colorado know who the guy with the Dr. Seuss character name who legalized marijuana years ago even is. All of this nonsense is just going to blend together until the powers that be in the Democratic National Committee decide that some safe-ish, middle-of-the-road liberal like Harris is the candidate who can beat Bernie Sanders, at which point the junior senator from Vermont will probably fall on his sword by endorsing North Korea's bid for the U.N. Security Council or confessing that he doesn't know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance.

I can't be the only person who sometimes thinks there's something to be said for, you know, normal people in politics. It is certainly difficult to imagine poor Jeb Bush ever inviting his late beloved mother to view a smut film with at the local cinema in Kennebunkport. It is even harder to imagine President Obama feeding the former first lady the contents of one of Sasha or Malia's diapers.

The water is still warm, Hillary.

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