Age Before Beauty? Not a Bad Idea

Becky O'Malley
Friday January 04, 2019 - 05:31:00 PM

Well, we can all take a deep breath, and maybe even a short nap. Granny’s back, and she’ll take care of everything now.

I’m glad Paul Krugman said it first, so I don’t have to be embarrassed to admit that seeing Nancy Pelosi sworn in surrounded by all those kids brought “una furtiva lagrima” to my eye.

He said he was especially moved by the shot of the new, diverse Congress: “If you don't tear up a bit at this image of a better nation, you don't get what America is all about.".

We’ve had a two year look at what we don’t want America to be about, so the image of a better option which the group photo of the House provides is a blessed relief.

Fifteen tedious twerps, conservatives putatively in the Democratic column, voted against Pelosi as Speaker. Progressives on Long Island are already gunning for one of them for the 2020 primary, and the rest had better watch their backs.

I won’t reprise all of my 11/30/18 editorial to make the point that a grandmother-in-charge is exactly what we need to get this mess cleaned up. But the manifest wisdom of bringing Nancy Pelosi back in 2019 should tell us what we’re going to need for a presidential candidate in 2020.

Another grandmother, of course.

A passel of pretty faces are being paraded in front of us by a media whose slogan should be “let’s you and him fight”, based on their futile attempt to create a fine old conflict over the speaker’s job. It didn’t work then, and it shouldn’t work now.

When you compare Elizabeth Warren’s qualifications with those of the cast of dozens who might like to become the Democratic candidate to take down whatever will be left of the Trump administration, it’s not even close. She’s a giant among shrimps. 

Or maybe puppies. Several of the wannabes have the potential to grow up to be somebody, but Senator Warren is already somebody.  

It’s very tempting to want to see a younger person playing the role of President again. But as much as I love and admire Barack Obama, in retrospect he might have gotten more done if he’d had a bit more experience before he took the job. The Affordable Care Act, the major accomplishment of his administration, is often called Obamacare, but it should really be called Pelosicare, since she’s the one who made it work. 

(And here let’s insert a raspberry for some of my buddies on the left, who seem prepared to go to their graves arguing over the nuances of differences between Single Payer, Medicare for All, the National Health Service and god knows what else. There’s no agreed-on definition of any of these, but there is a tangible identifiable ACA, and guess what? It works. Not perfect, but damned good. We all know lots of people who didn’t have health care pre-ACA and do now.) 

The major problem right now in this country is the huge gap between the rich and the not-even-making-it. Elizabeth Warren has had a whole career of trying to close that chasm, to deal with all the inequities in the way the country is structured. 

A California friend who came here from the Northeast, a good lefty Dem at heart, said wistfully that she just couldn’t stand Warren’s voice. There we have another reason that Warren would be a good choice: She talks like the forgotten flyover state folks, odd though she may sound to the urban elite. 

Once I participated in a recorded debate, and listening to it afterwards I was shocked to discover that I sound a lot like Harry Truman, a Missourian, as I was until I was 13. There’s an unmistakable South/Midwest twang that stays with you, and it sounds authentic in much of the middle of the country. We need those folks on our team.l 

The great advantage of Senator Warren's age (70ish) is that she’s had time to accumulate a whole lot of different kinds of life experiences. She’s waited tables to make the rent, raised children, run a major part of the federal government, taught law school and been a senator. Most of the younger people who’ve been mentioned as competitors for the nomination have had much easier paths in their shorter lives and have accomplished less. 

Oh, and she’s still the smartest kid in the room, isn’t she? Though many in the Senate could say that about themselves, but smart is not the whole story. Life counts too. 

Cory Booker, for example, is the son of two IBM executives. He went to Stanford and probably doesn’t have much student debt. He was later Mayor of Newark, and is now a senator, but he hasn’t authored much significant law. He’s an “eligible bachelor”, whatever that means. That’s not to say that someday he might not make a fine candidate, but he’s not there yet, despite his skill at prosecutorial questioning. All of the other potential candidates I can think of at the moment are similarly limited. 

Democrats enjoy nothing so much as a shooting match, preferably one in a circle. The Berniecrats have already resumed taking potshots at the Democratic Party and each other. Sanders, Joe Biden and several others are semi-plausible, but Warren is head and shoulders above them. 

And what about those of us, the majority of us actually, who still want to see a woman as president, all other things being equal? Warren lacks most of Hillary Clinton’s negatives: the philandering husband, the Wall Street speechifying, and the rest, and she has all of the same positives and more. 

Is it even remotely possible that just this once Dems and their fellow travelers could skip the sniping and unite quickly behind Elizabeth Warren? Let’s hope so. 


Full disclosure: The name my parents gave me at birth was Elizabeth Warren Peters, but we're not related.