The following from Hendrik Hertzberg is, um, curious.
A footnote: Hillary Clinton’s prominence points up the remarkable shallowness of the Democratic bench. Whether or not she chooses to run, the supply of plausible alternatives is shockingly thin. The Republicans have an ample roster of men (and only men) who are readily imaginable as nominees, even if thinking about some of them as Presidents (step forward, Ted Cruz) requires contemplating about the unthinkable. On the other side, there’s Joe Biden, our septuagenarian Vice-President. There’s Andrew Cuomo—another legacy case. After that, the list drops off rather sharply. Martin O’Malley, governor of Maryland? Sherrod Brown, senator from Ohio? Alec Baldwin? Who else?
Anyone? The floor is open for nominations.
I couldn’t disagree more. Imagine that Hillary Clinton had some health issue and couldn’t run for president. Who might step up and fill the void? As Hertzberg mentioned, Vice-President Joe Biden is waiting the the wings. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is chomping at the bit. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has made no secret about his ambitions. I’m not sure where Hertzberg got Sherrod Brown, though. He doesn’t strike me as a presidential candidate. If you are looking for someone who has the money, the ambition, the resume, the regional strength, and the look of a presidential candidate, you can hardly do better than Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who has already contemplated a run. Another senator who has attracted some buzz is Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She might not fit our preconception of what a president looks or acts like, but she definitely has a winning personality and the ability to make people like her. Another charismatic woman is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. I can imagine Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick attracting much of the Obama coalition. I suppose 2016 is too soon for Cory Booker to make a run, but he’ll be around as a potential running mate. If we want to talk about people who, perhaps, have the intelligence and seriousness to be a good president but lack the profile and connections to raise the money they would need, we can mention Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. The Democrats have a very full roster of quality people who could present themselves as plausible presidents.
However, on the Republican side we have an almost bare cupboard. The fact that Jeb Bush is probably their most electable politician is telling. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a surface appeal, but he couldn’t even pass Mitt Romney’s vetting process. He’s a paper tiger. And what do we have after them? Please don’t bore me with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. If you mention Bobby Jindal, I will laugh in your face. Govs. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Rick Scott of Florida won’t be reelected. Govs. Rick Snyder of Michigan and John Kasich of Ohio could make a case if they win reelection, but that is far from assured. Maybe Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is best positioned right now, but even he is vulnerable if a viable opponent emerges. David Petraeus has been disgraced. Maybe Sen. John Thune of South Dakota could take advantage of his knack for not alienating people, his good looks, and height advantage to play the role of a serious person. No one else from Congress on the Republican side strikes me as remotely plausible. Paul Ryan? Please.
I’ll take the Democrats’ bench over the Republicans’ bench. It isn’t even close.