Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me riding on the back of a chubby unicorn, 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!

This weekend was Iowa's infamous Hall of Fame Celebration, which unofficially marks the start of campaigning for the Democratic Iowa Caucus, and 19 of the eleventy-seven candidates showed up to try to convince Iowans that they should be the next president.

There is coverage of the weekend events at Iowa Starting Line, which has a bunch of great pix: Early Scenes from the Biggest Iowa Caucus Yet.

At the Atlantic, Edward-Isaac Dovere is perhaps less enthusiastic about the political circus, lol:
When Winston Churchill said democracy was "the worst form of government except for all those other forms," he did not foresee the tailgate party that descended on northwest Iowa yesterday morning.

Former Representative Beto O'Rourke's campaign rented a taco truck and dished out free chorizo. Senator Amy Klobuchar's gang rattled little white bells. Former Representative John Delaney's team had a bagpiper and a mini blimp overhead. Some of Senator Elizabeth Warren's supporters wore bright feather boas, with a few women dancing up and down the street playing Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" on a portable speaker. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosted a barbecue at a park and played keys with a local band while wearing sunglasses. Senator Bernie Sanders marched from a McDonald's alongside striking workers and activists.

...One tense moment occurred when Sanders arrived with his parade of workers through a crowd of Harris staffers, who started chanting, "We deserve a woman president!"
LOLOLOL all of that sounds pretty fun to me, but then I'm a person who willingly writes this thread every day, so.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker were standouts in Iowa, writes Natasha Korecki at Politico: "In the early state where field organization has traditionally mattered the most, Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have quietly and patiently concentrated their resources toward building grassroots machines designed to power them on caucus night. It showed here on Sunday as 19 Democratic presidential candidates converged for the first time in one venue to make their five-minute pitch to the party faithful." Smart cookies.

In other Warren news, here's another Washington Post piece about how she's got a plan for that. And that. And that. And that. And that other thing over there. And this. And that. And that. (I'm not complaining!) While I'm glad that Warren is getting favorable coverage about her intense policy strategy now, I fear that the other shoe will drop soon, and the same press that now commends her preparedness will start accusing her of being "over-prepared" and "too wonky" and all the same shit they threw at our last, very prepared, female nominee.

Also in Iowa, Senator Kamala Harris debuted (as far as I know) a new riff on why she, as a former prosecutor, is uniquely positioned to take on Donald Trump, and I really hate this:

Harris, standing onstage speaking into a microphone at an Iowa event: We got a President of the United States who made a whole lot of promises and betrayed the American people. What did we get? A lot of broken promises. So we need to prosecute the case.

And, Iowa, I'mma tell you: There's a rap sheet fulla evidence to make the case! [audience applause] Let's look at what happened.

He promised healthcare and then he tried to rip healthcare away from millions of people. What's that called? Healthcare fraud.

He said he was for working people, then he passed a tax bill benefitting the top one percent and the biggest corporations in this country. That's tax fraud.

He believes the president of Russia and a North Korean dictator over the word of the American intelligence community. Securities fraud.

And then he claims to be the best president we've seen in a generation. Well, I say let's call Barack Obama, 'cuz that's identity fraud!
What? No. Lying about healthcare isn't "healthcare fraud." The bait-and-switch of conservatives' class warfare isn't "tax fraud." And "securities fraud" has nothing to do with national security. Is that supposed to be a pun? I don't get it. I don't get any of this. And, to be honest, I find it extraordinarily unhelpful to be conflating Trump's shitty politics with criminal behavior when he's committed actual crimes that need to be prosecuted. This is a hot mess. Flush that one down the turd tunnel, Senator Harris. I beg you.

* * *

As I mentioned on Friday, Joe Biden was planning to skip the events in Iowa, which he did (to instead attend his granddaughter's graduation), and will instead show up in Iowa this week on the same day as Trump will be in Iowa, because of course. Biden is avoiding any event that looks like a Democratic primary and is trying to look like he's already won the nomination and is running against Trump in the general. That might be smart if he weren't already dropping in the polls.

Biden is also banking on his belief that he knows the Democratic base better than anyone else and that everyone else is wrong about it: "From his schedule to his messaging to his policy positions, the former vice president is carving a divergent path through the primaries based on a theory that few of his rivals appear to believe — that the Democratic base isn't nearly as liberal or youthful as everyone thinks." We'll see about that.

And in other Biden news, he's getting the same "old and sick" treatment from Fox News to which Hillary Clinton was subjected: "One month after Joe Biden announced his run for president, several Fox News stars have already begun quietly pushing rumors that the 76-year-old ex-veep is in poor health. Since the end of May, Fox Business Network and Fox News star Lisa 'Kennedy' Montgomery and Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity have speculated on-air, on at least four separate occasions, that the current Democratic presidential frontrunner is secretly dealing with health issues." Epic eyeroll.

* * *

This is not good, and this is one of many reasons why I keep urging people (voters and party leaders) to pay attention to Julián Castro: "Democratic presidential candidates are squandering a critical early opportunity to mobilize Latino voters ahead of 2020, potentially easing Donald Trump's path to reelection, according to leading Latino political operatives in battleground states. Interviews with more than a dozen strategists and organizers revealed rising alarm at the lack of attention being paid to Latinos in swing states where they could decide the outcome of both the Democratic primary and the general election." Castro is deeply connected to this community, was first out with a comprehensive (and excellent) immigration reform plan, and is, to be blunt, one of the best resources generally that the Democratic Party has. He's also one of the best candidates in this field.

Are you listening, Beto O'Rourke (and about six other candidates)? "'Democrats facing a steep uphill climb to win back the Senate want Beto O'Rourke to reconsider his long-shot bid for president and take another look at running for the Senate in Texas, especially if his White House bid fails to pick up momentum,' the Hill reports. 'They feel the same way about two other White House hopefuls who are polling at around 1 percent or lower: former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.'"

Relatedly, Mayor Pete Buttigieg apparently enacted a great solution to help undocumented immigrants access social services in South Bend, but he's not talking about it on the campaign trail. He should.

Senator Bernie Sanders suddenly appreciates incrementalism and political calculation when he has to defend his own votes: "Sanders was asked on CNN's State of the Union about his support for bills containing the Hyde Amendment, which bans using Medicaid funds for abortions unless the woman's life is in danger or the pregnancy arises from rape or incest. 'Well, look, sometimes in a large bill you have to vote for things you don't like,' Sanders said." Okay for him, but no one else, I guess. Like literally everything else.

Andrew Yang maybe didn't think about this as much as he should have before tweeting it: "I think that every four years there should be at least one presidential candidate who comes from outside the government. It seems positive to have different points-of-view." Dude, I know that's a defense of your own vanity run, but it's a highly questionable position to advocate while Donald fucking Trump sits in the Oval Office.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president — and I think he's stealing Kamala Harris' snacks!

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

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