God, grant me the confidence of a pulse-having politician from Massachusetts, where anybody who’s ever wrangled 8,000 votes in an uncontested race in North Attleborough is secretly convinced that they ought to be president.
Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, Jill Stein, Jill Stein again, Seth Moulton. . . . Welcome to Massachusetts, here’s your Charlie Card and your paperwork to get on the ballot in New Hampshire. In the 2020 race, both major parties have a Massachusetts option: Elizabeth Warren, of course, and Bill Weld, who is “running” for the Republican nomination the way I “run” on the treadmill after lunch at Mr. Bartley’s.
And now comes former governor Deval Patrick, who is making a last-minute bid for the Democratic nomination, on the grounds that the roughly 400 people already seeking said nomination have failed to establish “political momentum.”
It was this unmistakable and definitely real concept of political momentum, of course, that propelled Hillary Clinton to her landmark victory in 2016. . . . Just a moment, I’m getting a message in my earpiece. Oh my. Oh dear. I have just received some troubling news.
I’m old enough to remember when Patrick said he wasn’t running. It was way, way back in the sepia-toned days of November 2018. Let me tell you, youngsters, those were interesting times. Men were men and women were women and Hollywood was churning out classics like “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which was tops at the box office.
Ah, the good old days. So much has changed! The culture of cruelty that surrounded our elections, which Patrick decried when he decided not to run, is mercifully behind us now — ah, hang on, getting something in my earpiece again . . . uh oh. Oh no.
Just when you thought Michael Bloomberg was getting in too late and for no good reason — he’s from Massachusetts, too, by the way, though neither of us likes to talk about it — here’s Patrick, even later, and without the giant pile of money Bloomberg is so eager to set on fire.
Warren is already running as strong a campaign as any Massachusetts liberal has in decades. Massachusetts is sufficiently represented on the national stage. And yet, I’m half-expecting Moulton to announce that he’s considering a last-minute run for president, hoping everyone has forgotten he already did that. Is, I dunno, Martha Coakley shoring up support somewhere just in case?
Imagine looking upon this very strong field of candidates and seeing a hole in the lineup that is exactly your size and shape, whether you’re Bloomberg or Patrick. It is true that support in polls is divided between moderate options like former vice president and current Medium.com blogger Joe Biden and Brad Stevens impersonator Pete Buttigieg; and the “progressive senator from New England” hive (Bernie Sanders, Warren). It is also true that exactly zero votes have been cast and won’t be for months.
Allowing Democratic primary voters to winnow the field via months of campaigning and debates, narrowing it down to a few front-runners and sorting that out during the primaries sounds like a pretty good way to pick a candidate, actually. Complaints about a lack of good options aren’t something you’ll hear from actual Democratic primary voters this time around.
This is a race in which incredibly accomplished and impressive candidates like Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris appear to be also-rans. Beto O’Rourke turned out to be kind of a weirdo and it didn’t matter at all because there were still a dozen people worthy of serious consideration.
No, the only people complaining about the field are Republicans, who love to provide free, useless advice to Democrats about how the secret to winning is becoming indistinguishable from Republicans.
You want to know who has bad options? Republicans. They’re choosing among a semicoherent, obviously corrupt Twitter addict who will soon be impeached, a couple of vanity candidates, and Bill Weld. But please, tell us more about how a field featuring a popular former vice president, four accomplished senators (and the reportedly annoying mayor of South Bend, Ind., for some reason) is a dry hole.
So here’s some free advice for Republicans, whose field is looking mighty weak indeed. There’s another Massachusetts governor — the current one, actually — who might be able to save your party. The bad news is that he’s the only politician in the history of Massachusetts who doesn’t seem to want the job.