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Politics is all about timing, and it isn’t Seth Moulton’s time

Seth Moulton’s presidential campaign has struggled to get traction. Above: Moulton campaigned in New Hampshire on Sunday.Steven Senne/Associated Press/Associated Press

Like his beloved baseball team, the one that plays at Fenway Park, this does not appear to be Seth Moulton’s year.

His presidential campaign has struggled to gain traction, and wise guys have been saying that he never had a chance anyway, so why run?

Hmm. The ambition thing.

You can blame him, if you’d like, saying he was too cute by half in pursuing his Quixotic campaign, or, even better, too ambitious, which I find amusing. I have never met a politician who wasn’t ambitious and would be deeply suspicious of one who isn’t. I’ve never understood why so many people consider ambition a pejorative, in Moulton’s or any other politician’s case. Ambition is good, especially in politics.


Many media types never warmed to Moulton, seeing him as peripatetic in his ambition.

If you say a female politician is too ambitious, you’re sexist. If you say it about a guy like Moulton, you’re woke.

Go figure.

Some people will never forgive Moulton for trying to take out Nancy Pelosi. Didn’t bother me. She presided over a moribund party that suffered historic losses. And while some described Moulton’s putsch as sexist, and, even more ridiculously, ageist, Pelosi has hardly been an enthusiastic supporter of women in party leadership. Moulton went after the top three leaders of the Democratic party, and by my count two of them were men.

Call me naive, but I thought the story of why some politicians changed their minds and their votes, leaving Moulton holding the bag, was more interesting than remonstrating about Moulton’s chutzpah. They give out Profiles in Courage awards to those who defy their party, but, oh, well.

Give Pelosi some credit. She stepped up, becoming a worthy adversary of the crazy guy in the White House. Maybe Moulton deserves some credit for that. And, to all the progressives already typing angry missives, please note that Moulton has been calling for Trump’s impeachment while Pelosi, so far, has demurred.


So, who’s the real progressive?

Politics is all about timing, and this isn’t Seth Moulton’s time. Being a Marine officer who led men in combat used to mean something, but it means less now in a country where many regard our military as they do the guys who cut their grass: hired help. The men in Moulton’s platoons — while Moulton served with many female Marines, there were no women in the platoons he commanded — were diverse in color, religion, sexuality, and origin.

Seems to me that somebody who could lead a diverse group of people in something as highly stressful and chaotic as war would be eminently qualified to lead a diverse nation that has never in modern times been as divided and chaotic as now.

Moulton did his country some service in Iraq, and he’s done some service in his campaign. He tried to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by acknowledging he had suffered from post-traumatic stress, the first presidential candidate to acknowledge such a vulnerability.

He talked about reshaping foreign policy, not so that it would return to pre-Trump so-called normalcy, but to go beyond the confines of the neo-con orthodoxy that got us into wars that he — not the chicken hawks in Congress who wouldn’t dream of sending their own kids — fought.


He talked not only about rethinking NATO, which as constituted is a Cold War relic, but creating a Pacific version of NATO, to provide a check on an increasingly, dare I say, ambitious China.

I would pay big money to watch Moulton, a decorated combat veteran, debate Trump, who scammed his way out of the service, on how to support our military and our veterans. No one in the Democratic field, not even Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg, who like Moulton is a Harvard guy and a good guy, could eviscerate Trump like Moulton.

But, again, it isn’t his year.

Some year, it might be.

But then, in saying that, maybe I’m being too ambitious.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.