Sunday, March 29, 2020

Whatever You Say, Mr. Clyburn

It's not difficult to determine the profile of the individual political scientist Rachel Bitecofer believes should be the Democratic vice presidential nominee. She notes
It's a dirty little secret of modern politics: those susceptible to the allure (superficial, I've argued) of voting for a candidate because the victory would be "historic" are generally uninformed and care little about policy. Bitecofer tweets also

One common theme emerges: it is ALWAYS white, moderates that suggest to me the double white, moderate (B.A.F.) Democratic ticket.

I'm a white moderate. Its not a campaign for US: its a campaign for the tuned out. And we're already sending them Biden.

The "tuned out" helped nominate and elect Barack Obama over, respectively, the better qualified Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Biden has little appeal to the "tuned out."  He is more qualified than Trump or even Obama was and is more closely associated with a political party than either of the other two. Hence, the need for a running mate for the tuned out.

We don't know whom that will be. But we do know it will be a woman and, assuming it is not Amy Klobuchar (possible) or Elizabeth Warren (remote), we know it will be a black woman.  We know because Axios revealed on March 15 that House Majority Whip James Clyburn stated of Joe Biden "I'll never tell you who I'm going to advise him but I would advise him that we need to have a woman on the ticket, and I prefer an African American woman."

It is not mere advice.  Once upon a time, Joe Biden was going to win the South Carolina primary narrowly after getting slammed in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Biden was down to his last card, South Carolina, in which a majority of primary voters would be black and in which he led by single digits.

On February 26, Clyburn (not surprisingly) endorsed Barack Obama's loyal lieutenant, and eleven days later Biden won approximately three-quarters of South Carolina's delegates as he crushed Bernard Sanders by a better than 2 to 1 margin.  Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg promptly dropped out of the race, endorsed Biden, and and the latter cruised to victory on Super Tuesday.

Although the ex-vice president was favored in South Carolina, Sanders was expected to run a close second, and was expected to win on Super Tuesday. However, when Biden's extraordinary performance and the endorsements which resulted therefrom catapulted him into a surprising victory two days later, Elizabeth Warren dropped out, and Sanders' days clearly were numbered.

This nomination belongs to United States Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina. Of course, the nomination ultimately will be won (assuming no meltdown) by the candidate himself. But it has been a very long time in national politics that an endorsement by anyone had as great an impact upon the primary process as that of the  House Assistant Democratic Leader. James Clyburn probably- probably- will not select Joseph R. Biden's running-mate, but it's a slam-dunk certainty that he has veto power.

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