Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me wearing a chef's hat and coat, kissing my fingers next to text reading 'Chef's Kiss,' pictured in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

Naturally, with yesterday being Memorial Day in the U.S., most of the presidential candidates were highly focused on paying tribute to fallen troops. VoteVets, in partnership with Now This, has a compilation of remembrances from a number of candidates.

But that wasn't all the candidates have been talking about the past few days, of course.

Senator Kamala Harris tweeted about the Violence Against Women Act: "The House has already passed a bill to reauthorize and expand the Violence Against Women Act — but now it's in the Senate's legislative graveyard. This makes no sense — expanding protections for sexual assault survivors shouldn't be about politics. We must pass it in the Senate."

Senator Cory Booker tweeted about reproductive freedom, accompanied by a terrific picture of him sitting with women and listening to them:

Senator Amy Klobuchar told a story about how, during Donald Trump's inauguration speech, the late Senator John McCain "kept reciting" the names of dictators to her. It was a compliment: She was saying that McCain understood what a profound threat Trump posed. Naturally, Meghan McCain tweeted at Klobuchar, telling her to "leave my fathers [sic] legacy and memory out of presidential politics." Honestly, Meghan McCain should be thrilled for any compliment her father gets in any discussion of presidential politics, since his greatest contribution to it was abetting its decline by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Senator Elizabeth Warren gets a decent write-up in the New York Times: "Elizabeth Warren Gains Ground in 2020 Field, One Plan at a Time." Decent by Times standards. And in other Warren news, this tweet got me all choked up:

Governor Jay Inslee tweeted about climate change, because of course he did. (I ain't mad about it!)

Andrew Yang tweeted: "You get the feeling that we would all be better off with more three-day weekends." Hard agree.

Beto O'Rourke tweeted a video clip of himself talking about Trump's vile nativist agenda, accompanied by text reading: "This president has caged children, separated families, failed to reunite them, and lost the lives of at least six kids in our care. All at the expense of our humanity and our values, not to the benefit of our safety. We must do better, and under my administration we will." Good message, but that "my administration" bit seems increasingly unlikely.

And this isn't going to help: Today, a documentary about O'Rourke's senate run premieres on HBO, which includes a clip of him apologizing to his staffers for being "a giant asshole to be around sometimes." And it was warranted, Marlow Stern reports at the Daily Beast:
In the doc, Beto comes off as charismatic yet controlling — its most revealing moments being ones where he is seen dressing down his clearly overworked staff for their perceived lack of preparedness. The person on the receiving end of most of the scoldings is Cynthia Cano, his road manager. At several tense points in the film, Cano is criticized by Beto — in front of her campaign colleagues — for not leaving enough time in his schedule for media interviews, having him be late to campaign events, and not adequately prepping him for those events.

(Cano views Beto's penchant for going long in his speeches and wanting to speak with every single constituent and/or person with a microphone as the reason for his constant tardiness and lack of prep time, which appears to be the more likely culprit.)

Also on HBO (who should give me a year of free service for plugging their shit, lol), is a Vice interview with Rep. Eric Swalwell, a clip of which he tweeted, where he is asked by the female reporter, "Why should another white guy be president?", to which he replies: "Well, a white guy who doesn't see other identities or understand other experiences should not be president. I do. And, you know, where there would be gaps in my knowledge or my experience, I will pass the mic to people, you know, who do have that experience. I've also pledged that I would ask a woman to serve as vice-president." Like I said, he tweeted that himself, so he thinks that is a very good answer! Whoops.

Speaking of white guys... Joe Biden is leading the pack in polling, but his base of support isn't super enthusiastic. Neither of those things matters in May of 2019.

Senator Bernie Sanders' staff continue to be a mess: "Since Theresa May has confirmed that her resignation as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party is imminent, Sanders adviser Winnie Wong seems to think that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is about to become the new PM. This was made evident by the fact that Wong tweeted a GIF on Sunday that shows Corbyn dancing on Thatcher's grave." Just wildly inappropriate for a presidential advisor during a campaign. For crying out loud.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg says that he is more qualified for the presidency than most (all?) members of Congress, which is such a terrible claim to make, especially when there are four female senators and a Black senator who has also been a mayor running against him:

Martha Raddatz, ABC News: And you talk about your experience, which leads us to the question you're asked all the time: You're just 37 years old, and the highest office you've held is mayor of your hometown. Even if you have that executive experience, which you do, you've never dealt with a Washington like we've seen today, or foreign problems. How do you convince people you can actually do this at your age?

Buttigieg: I feel like I wouldn't be getting these same questions if I were a member of Congress. Which is interesting, because you can be a very senior member of Congress and have never in your life managed more than 100 people. When you are responsible for everything, from economic development to public safety and emergency management, when your day oscillates between managing a — a development deal and figuring out how to hold your community together during, for example, a racially sensitive officer-involved shooting, when you literally get the 3:00 am call to deal with a man-made or a natural disaster, you have as good a preparation as an elected official can get for an office that frankly is in so many ways daunting and new for anybody who walks into it. And I would put my experience up, aided I think by my military experience, against that of any competitor.

Raddatz: It is Memorial Day weekend. The president and first lady on Thursday went to Arlington Cemetery. At about the same time, you were saying that the president faked his disability to get out of serving in Vietnam. Pretty positive about that?

Buttigieg: Yes.
Hahaha I love his confidence in answering that second question! (He goes on to talk more about that, which you can read in the transcript of the interview, if you're interested.)

But back to the first question: I don't necessarily agree with Buttigieg that having executive experience, whether it's as a mayor or a governor or a corporate leader, is "as good a preparation as an elected official can get" for the office of the U.S. presidency. Serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee, for example, is obviously way more relevant preparatory experience for certain parts of the presidency than being a mayor of a midsize city in Indiana.

I'm not discounting Buttigieg's experience, including his military service. He is certainly more qualified than the catastrophic dipshit who's holding the office now. And I believe that every person who is prepared for the presidency comes by that preparation in different ways — and it's people who have the most diverse breadth of experience who are usually the best prepared, because the presidency is an incredibly complex job. That's why Hillary Clinton would have made such a fine president.

I wish Buttigieg were a little more sensitive to the nature of the criticism, because being the president isn't just about being an executive, and he does lack some experience that many people feel would be useful. He shouldn't dismiss that out of hand. And he should be way more sensitive to how it comes across when he is dismissive, or sounds dismissive, of the members of Congress against whom he's running.

The president is, after all, a diplomat as well as an executive.

To be clear, I'm not taking the time to write all of this because I "hate" Buttigieg. I'm taking the time to write it because it's what Buttigieg needs to do to become a better candidate.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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