George Will: Klobuchar could break Minnesota’s presidential losing streak
Surely the silliest aspirant for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination is already known: “Beto,” aka Robert Francis, O’Rourke is a skateboarding man-child whose fascination with himself caused him to live-stream a recent dental appointment for — open-wide, please — teeth cleaning.
When Democrats are done flirting with such insipidity, their wandering attentions can flit to a contrastingly serious candidacy, coming soon from Minnesota. The land of 10,000 lakes and four unsuccessful presidential candidates (Harold Stassen, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale) now has someone who could break the state’s losing streak. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the person perhaps best equipped to send the current president packing.
Klobuchar satisfies the 2020 Chromosome Criterion: The Democratic nominating electorate is disproportionately female and eager to achieve what they came tantalizingly close to in 2016, a female president. Now, about politics and policy.
She is from a state contiguous with Iowa, whose caucuses might, or might not, be as big a deal in 2020 as they have been since Jimmy Carter’s 1976 success in them propelled him toward the presidency. Minnesota also borders Wisconsin, one of the three Rust Belt states (the others are Michigan and Pennsylvania) that Donald Trump took that had voted Democratic in at least six consecutive presidential elections. She is from the Midwest, where Democrats need help in Michigan, Iowa and Ohio.
Minnesota has voted Democratic in 11 consecutive presidential elections. It has more electoral votes (10) than swing states such as New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and Colorado (9).
Klobuchar, who will be 59 in May, went to Yale, then to the University of Chicago Law School, then to a law firm. Then to a maternity ward, where she was provoked: Her infant daughter had a serious problem, but the rule at the time was that new mothers should be out of the hospital in 24 hours, which kindled her interest in public policy. After a stint as the elected prosecuting attorney of Hennepin County (Minneapolis-St. Paul), she won an open Senate seat in 2006. Last year, she won a third term by a 24-point margin.
Her state has a significant farming population and agribusiness, so she has had practice speaking to populations and interests that Democrats need, and speaking against trade wars in which farmers quickly become collateral damage. She has become informed about what could be one of the most salient issues in 2020 — the high costs of prescription drugs. In the Almanac of American Politics’ most recent (2015) vote rankings, she was the 27th most liberal senator, liberal enough to soothe other liberals without annoying everyone else.
Her special strength, however, is her temperament. Baseball, it has been said, is not a game you can play with your teeth clenched. That is also true of politics, another day-by-day game with a long season: It requires an emotional equipoise, a blend of relaxation and concentration, stamina leavened by cheerfulness. Klobuchar laughs easily and often. If the nation wants an angry president, it can pick from among the many seething Democratic aspirants, — or it can keep the one president it has. If, however, it would like someone to lead a fatigued nation in a long exhale, it can pick a Minnesotan, at last.
George Will writes for
The Washington Post.
George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and can be reached via email.