The Best Candidate for 2020
Just Dropped Out of the Race
In his way, he was the consummate political paradox. And I knew he was dead in the water the minute he came out hoisting the colours for “Climate Change” as his Prime Directive. His passionate pleas for our dying planet, and the ecological initiatives he’d put in place as Governor of Washington were “pearls before swine” cast before an indifferent, dumbed-down TMZ saturated America that has no concept of the fact that Rome (as in our planet) is burning, soon to become a wildfire. And in a Democratic Party already drunk on the squalid rhetoric of a “Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Hate Trump, Neo-socialist,” caucus race replete with poseurs and pretenders elbowing each other out of the way to see who could come off more progressive than the other, he was a calm, confident voice of reason that just got lost in the White Noise of politics as usual.
There he was, Governor Jay Inslee—leading with his heart and his truth—so very much ahead of the curve with his message and yet oddly anachronistic and looking a bit lost in the politically correct obsessions of the modern Left. This rough hewn, clean cut, square-jawed handsome All-American jock with collegiate good looks would on the surface seemed to have had it all. He was also, a middle-aged white guy who bore too close a resemblance to the Aryan archetypes that often come out of the GOP.
Thirty years ago, this same man would have had political strategists and Democratic party hacks salivating over his Kenndyesque persona, his imposing physique and his easy grasp of issues—not any more. In today’s hyperbaric climate of strident protest and combative demagogic rants, Jay Inslee simply comes off as staid, workmanlike and lacking that intangible called Charisma.
I watched Governor Inslee during the two debates almost deliberately shunted off to the side of the speakers’ platform, answering every challenge with skill and aplomb, clobbering the other candidates with his resume, and a long list of accomplishments—of “We’re already doing that”—in answer to the half-baked, often flimsy, demi-hysterical screeds of the frontrunners. He had an answer for everything and a system set in place in Washington State—ranked Number 1 in the nation as the “best state to live” and in the Top 10 in all 10 Quality of Life categories (all while on his watch)…and nobody cared.
His delivery during the two-hour madcap cluster-bomb of soundbites—riddled with rude moderator cut-offs—was civil, articulate, substantive, and preemptive…and nobody cared.
When Elizabeth Warren banged the drum for universal health care without condition, Jay pointed to the #1 Rated health care system in Washington State with an 86% approval rating. When Bernie Sanders winged-on about the need for prison reform, Inslee cited Washington’s record of having one of the top ten best prison systems in America as well as exponentially improved cop/community relations. When Corey Booker decried Trump’s racism and draconian immigration policies, the Washington governor calmly noted that his was the state that successfully used court orders to block the White House travel ban on Muslim countries, including Syrian refugees. When Joe Biden opened the gaping wound of this administration’s climate denial, he played into Jay Inslee’s wheelhouse. And all the governor had to do was flash a long list of accomplishments, pointing to his state’s very progressive environmental initiatives in a new wave of “enviro-capitalism” that could quickly become the next trillion-dollar industry.
In fact, Inslee’s only outbreak during the two debates to even mention the POTUS by name was to denounce Trump’s plague of criminal rollbacks at the EPA and his insane betrayal of America’s role in global Climate Change initiatives.
That outbreak in itself was striking in both its force and passion, and yet—to Jay Inslee’s detriment—it was his only passionate moment of Debate Night Number 2. If one were to simply look at the debates in terms of substance (and we do not), when drenched in the frantic back-talk and verbal cannibalism typical of most gangplank debates, all the good governor had to do was flash his Curriculum Vitae. And he did. In eight years at the helm of Washington, he had already created an Armada of constructive-progressive accomplishments. (And he was the only candidate able to say “progressive” without making it sound like a dirty word.) He was the perfect “been there, doing that already” candidate…and yet all this barely moved the needle.
In the beginning and even now, Jay Inslee was the recruitment poster Marine for what most political analysts know to be true—that governors tend to make the best presidents. In fact, it is commonly acknowledged that four of the most effective US Presidents in the last 100 years have been state governors. Both the Roosevelts (Teddy and Franklin), Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all got top grades during their tenures for solid, savvy administration and political pragmatism. And Jay Inslee was cut in that mold: a consensus-builder, a winner! Unfortunately, it is a mold that—on the left side of the aisle at least—has probably been broken forever.
For now, the Democrats already have an old white guy running for POTUS, and his name is Joe Biden. And though he has exhibited all the mental dexterity of your uncle Fester high on a six-pack, he is still the only candidate polling with numbers strong enough to beat Donald Trump head-to-head. There simply isn’t enough room for anyone else from the left who is allowed to fit that description. At a DNC, still smarting from its wounds in 2016, the survival manual dictates that they have to find a candidate or even ticket that satisfies that Big Tent media cliché that the Dems have touted so strongly.
In a political climate and a public IQ that is coming perilously close to a WWF ringside smack-down, the Democrats have to come up with a PC candidate omelet that is racially-balanced, gender-emphatic and LGBTQ friendly. Stopping just short of a freak show, it has to load up with appeal to Millennials. And to fit that obsessive kind of political cynicism, moderate mainstream candidates like Jay Inslee were bound to become collateral damage.
In the final analysis, at least in the Democratic demographic, Jay Inslee has quite probably proven to be a political dinosaur. He is, after all, quiet, competent, confident, manly (perhaps a little too manly) and ultimately… (what is now political cyanide to the Left) wholesome.
He is also not dead. Jay has decided to run for a third term as Washington’s governor and is virtually assured of a smooth path to re-election. It is only my hope that he takes another run at POTUS in 2024…simply because the job will likely still be up for grabs.
Meanwhile, the Dems remain in a mad scramble 24-7 to find the silver bullet that will take down the Madman in the White House. The clock is winding down. And now more than ever, good men are hard to find.