COMMENTARY: A look through the ‘thin weeds’ of Democratic contenders

To hear the big-time, eastern, inside-the-Beltway pundits tell it, the Republican presidential candidates are driving around in the clown car with way too many quirky, no-way-in-hell candidates.

Three have never held elective office. One throws stink bombs about Sen. John McCain’s war record or about the morals of Latino immigrants. One was defeated for re-election in his own state quite a few years ago. One has been an ex-governor so long the people in his own state barely remember him. And a bunch of others.

Now, that’s quirky.

Reid Beveridge

Reid Beveridge

Except for Democrats. First, you have a 68-year-old woman who’s been in public life for more than 40 years who thinks she’s a new, fresh face and the anointed one. And then, you have a socialist, need we say Communist, U.S. senator who isn’t even a member of the Democratic Party. And a former Republican senator turned Democrat governor, the son of another U.S. senator, who is so shy, he rarely campaigns door-to-door.

And then, the former mayor of Baltimore. Yes, Baltimore. Now, there’s a real success story. Maybe he’ll run on his record. And former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, who’s even older at 69 and who says he’s from Virginia because he lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., who served in Senate-confirmed positions in the Reagan Administration.

And, of course, we have our esteemed vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. It seems that when Joe’s son, Beau (actually, Joseph R. III), was on his deathbed, he told his dad to run for president. Old Joe is nearly 73 — would be pushing 80 if he finished only one term; would be an octogenarian if he finished two.

There are a lot of East Coast pundits who think the general election race is almost certain to be Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush. The Democrats may well nominate Mrs. Clinton because of the appallingly thin woods in terms of presidential timber. Sanders is 73 years old and looks a decade older. While he appeals to the left end of the Democratic left wing and may do well in Iowa for that reason, it defies even the vividest imagination to think the American voters will elect him president.

All the other Democrats have some political flaw one would think would rule them out. Of that list above, only O’Malley would seem to have much gravitas as any other than his tax-and-spend record. But he was followed in deep-blue Maryland by a Republican governor, telling you something about O’Malley.

Webb served one term in the Senate, but hated campaigning so much, he quit. Not to mention, he served in the Reagan and Bush (41) administrations as an assistant secretary of Defense, and then, secretary of the Navy. He’s a hawkish Democrat, which would seem to rule him out with the pacifist wing of the Democratic Party.

And then, of course, we have Mrs. Clinton. Oh, yes, Mrs. Clinton. Two points. First, she comes with more baggage than the queen of England. Second, think about this: What exactly has she done — done herself — in her public career? By public, I don’t mean being married to a four-term governor of Arkansas, and then, the president of the United States. I mean herself.

So, as Bill was leaving the White House in 2000, she decided she wanted to be a U.S. senator, so, she ran in New York state rather than Arkansas. Anything to avoid having to move back to Little Rock. Arkansas, after all, is such a backwater that it doesn’t even have good pond scum.

No, New York would be about right, especially Westchester County, sometimes considered the wealthiest county in the United States. Yes, indeed, a nice house in Chappaqua would be about right. And an especially good place to park Bill to get him out of Washington.

So, with the late, great Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., retiring, she ran for the Senate. A bit of a carpetbagger, but not to worry. If Bobby Kennedy could do it and get away with it, surely she could. And unlike Bobby, she wouldn’t even have to defeat a strong incumbent.

And like President Obama in Illinois a few years later, her luck held: A strong Republican opponent had to bow out of the race at the last minute because he had been diagnosed with cancer. It’s well to remember that Mrs. Clinton might never have won that 2000 New York Senate race had not New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani taken ill. (Obama’s opponent was sentenced to prison; lucky Barack).

And then, in 2009, President Obama made her secretary of State as a consolation prize, which only piled on more baggage, such as the Russian reset. Or the Arab Spring. Or the alienation of both the Saudi royal family and the Jews in Israel. And, of course, the pay-to-play foreign donations to the Clinton Family Foundation.

So, here we are 15 years later. The mainstream media is agog over Donald Trump and his effect on the Republican nomination, which is nicely obscuring one dismal fact: That Mrs. Clinton is a lousy political candidate. She proved that in 2008 when, at this stage of the race, she was the prohibitive favorite for the nomination. One might think she has improved in eight years. But apparently not. And it’s been eight years of loading baggage.

Editor’s note: Reid K. Beveridge has covered politics in Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware and Washington, D.C. He is now retired at Broadkill Beach. He can be reached at

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