vision 2020

Buttigieg-Gabbard 2020? Give Me a Break.

Dream ticket? Seriously? Photo: Getty Images

One of the really unfortunate consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency isn’t an impeachable offense. But it has arguably deranged many political observers and regular voters who now believe his improbable election in 2016 has abolished every single rule of logic, history, and even common sense in terms of who might succeed him in office. The most obvious example of this anybody-can-win bender is the sudden belief of every other billionaire in this country that they ought to at least consider a presidential run. Two of them are actually in the race.

But another is the proliferation of asinine theories about which Trump challengers have a plausible rationale for candidacy, or who might (as the saying always goes) strike fear into the hearts of the president and his cronies. The worst yet arrived this weekend at The Hill from former Republican staffer and freelance pundit Douglas MacKinnon. I won’t go through his litany of examples of occasions when the pundits have been wrong about presidential nominating contests; needless to say he doesn’t bother to mention the many other times the conventional wisdom has been right and the many other times there were mild upsets that were by no means Trump-size. Here’s where he lands, though:

As one who was involved in three winning presidential campaigns, I have watched the ever-evolving Democratic primary campaign for 2020 with growing interest. Over the course of the past year, I’ve discussed with a number of friends and political operatives from both parties that the two Democrats who should strike the most fear in Trump are Buttigieg and Gabbard. 

Since precisely zero people have publicly made this argument, you have to wonder if by “discussed” MacKinnon means that these “friends and political operatives” were just listening to him and rolling their eyes.

The headline mentions a “ticket” and the column itself refers to Buttigieg and Gabbard as a “package,” but MacKinnon does not explicitly say which candidate should be the presidential nominee and which the veep. I don’t know if that was intended to boost the odds of this prophecy coming true from .000001 percent to .00001 percent, or was just an oversight in a piece tossed off between drinks or before breakfast. Perhaps more to the point, MacKinnon never really explains why this combination of candidates would be so powerful. We get, on Mayor Pete’s behalf, the unsupported assertion that America is “more than ready” to elect a gay president (I hope that’s true, but I would like to see maybe a speck of evidence), and apparently Gabbard’s big credential is that Hillary Clinton attacked her. Then there’s this clincher:

As a package, those two candidates, with their various skill sets and experiences, do speak to a great many communities and demographics across the country. 

Yes, and so would a ticket composed of Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang. That doesn’t mean it makes any sense or would have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening.

MacKinnon was involved in campaigns during the era of Reagan and Poppy Bush, so maybe he’s stuck there and thinks it’s crucial for Democrats to run military veterans. That’s really about the only thing Gabbard and Buttigieg have in common other than being half the age of Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. Perhaps the weirdest thing about this particular suggestion is that it comes so soon after a Democratic candidate debate in which a nasty quarrel between Buttigieg and Gabbard provided the main drama. Here’s how it was summarized by The Hill, the publication that ran MacKinnon’s column:

Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard tussled Wednesday night over prior experience and judgment after the Hawaii congresswoman said the South Bend, Ind., mayor wanted to use the U.S. military to fight drug cartels in Mexico, which he denied …

Buttigieg called the accusation “outlandish” and said his comments had been taken out of context. He said he had been talking about U.S.-Mexico cooperation and continuing to develop existing law enforcement and military cooperation between the two countries …

Buttigieg on Wednesday countered that he has “enough judgment that I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like” Syrian President Bashar Assad, with whom Gabbard met in 2017. 

Gabbard shot back that Buttigieg had made clear that he “would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends to ensure the peace and national security of our nation.”

These candidates do not appear to like each other. Their ticket is so not happening, and it’s impossible to believe anyone in the White House is losing a moment’s sleep over it. Next, someone will tell us an all-billionaire ticket of Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg (with first and second places TBD) would surely rout the MAGA hordes. It’s about as likely.

Buttigieg-Gabbard 2020? Give Me a Break.