August 29, 2019

Good Riddance, Kirsten Gillibrand
Yesterday evening, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand ended her presidential bid after nine months of futile campaigning, failing ever to crest 3 percent in major polls. Her decision to bow out was precipitated by her failure to qualify for the third Democratic debate, slated for September 12. “Without it, I just didn’t see our path,” she said yesterday.The senator has a point. From the beginning, her upstart campaign was characterized by an enormous amount of virtue-mongering, insisting not only that her progressive bona fides made her superior to you, but that only she could help you comprehend exactly how backwards you are. In the last debate, for instance, she promised to traverse the suburbs explaining “institutional racism” and white privilege to white women.It was an interesting tactic from a candidate attempting to distinguish herself as a female candidate running for women, and it’s easy to see why the effort failed to gain much traction. The major policy centerpiece of her campaign was called “Fighting for women and families” and focused exclusively on issues like unlimited abortion rights, universal paid family leave, public education, and sexual harassment. Perhaps the most news attention she got all campaign came when she compared being pro-life to being racist. Light on substance, she needed a forum to peddle her platitudes, and without the debate stage, she had little hope of convincing Democrats to listen to her at all.The news that she had terminated her campaign came just a few days after a former Gillibrand staffer told the New York Post, “I don’t know that anyone even wants to see her on the debate stage. Everyone I have talked to finds her performative and obnoxious.”(Emphasis added.)The staffer noted, too, that the senator “comes across as an opportunist.” It’s a common complaint, and one I’ve made myself. When she ran for the Senate in 2010, for instance, Gillibrand achieved an A rating from the National Rifle Association. Immediately after she won the election, she reversed her stance on the Second Amendment to conform to her party’s position, and her NRA rating was downgraded to an F.Almost unbelievably, Gillibrand managed to turn herself into a champion of the Me Too movement, even to the point of losing the support of Democratic donors upset that she pushed former Minnesota senator Al Franken to resign last January after he was credibly accused of sexual misconduct.In reality though, Gillibrand waited nearly three weeks after the initial allegation surfaced to pressure Franken to step down, clearly wanting to see which way the political winds were blowing. Even as half a dozen additional accusations against Franken came to light, Gillibrand told reporters, “It’s his decision” when asked whether he should resign.It wasn’t until 20 days after the first claim had surfaced that she leapt out ahead of her colleagues to call for Franken’s resignation. Her statement was followed, within minutes, by similar calls from other Democratic senators. She’d like us to believe she was a hero demanding accountability from Day One; she was really just the first lemming to jump off the cliff.In a 2018 interview on The View, Gillibrand hand-waved away her long-time friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton, dodging a question about Hillary’s mismanagement of sexual harassment within her presidential campaign. She excused her own failure to condemn Bill’s sexual misconduct with this mealy-mouthed line: “I think this moment of time we’re in is very different. I don’t think we had the same conversation back then, the same lens.”“Do you regret campaigning with him, though?” Meghan McCain pressed.“It’s not about any one president, and it’s not about any one industry,” Gillibrand replied. “And if we reduce it to that, we are missing the opportunity to allow women to be heard, to allow women to have accountability and transparency, and to allow women to have justice.”Anyone who watched that interview — or Gillibrand’s uncomfortable campaign launch on Steven Colbert’s show — couldn’t be terribly surprised to see her presidential run begin with a whimper and end with a fizzle. It’s only a pity it took Gillibrand herself so long to figure it out.
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