The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, America’s eminent expert in writing press releases for despots, has some thoughts about Joe Biden, and the Mueller report, and also electability, and American political discourse, and vaccines (???), and so he threw all of those thoughts in a blender, and out came his latest column.
The piece begins with the premise that Joe Biden is the best Democrat positioned to beat Donald Trump, and as columns of this nature so often go, it doesn’t actually offer any evidence up to support that theory other than it, you know, feels right:
As Democrats assess the dizzying array of 20 candidates, the first question they should ask is whether a nominee could gain a strong majority in the general election and defeat Trump. If the nominating process produces a candidate who appeals to the party’s base but can’t defeat the incumbent, it will have failed.
Progressive activists within the party are generating ideas and energy that could galvanize a country that wants a fairer economy and a cleaner government. But none of these ideas will matter unless a Democrat wins. The damage Trump would do in a second term might not be undone for decades. In thinking about their party’s nominee, paradoxically, Democrats must put the country first.
Before reading this, I thought losing the general election was actually good. I’ll reassess my beliefs accordingly.
What Ignatius and others who have written similar things appear to believe is that progressive activists operate under the assumption that centrist candidates are the most electable, but they want to see just how far left the electorate is willing to go before they snap and say, “No, this is too far left for me” and re-elect Donald Trump. The reality is that progressives believe the same thing that centrists do: that their ideas apply to a wider, albeit different, swath of the electorate.
After proselytizing about why a guy whose previous runs for president never went anywhere is definitely the best positioned to beat Trump, Ignatius moves seamlessly into talking about the Mueller report, and whether or not it would be politically beneficial or detrimental for the Democrats to impeach Trump (no one actually knows the answer to this and won’t know unless it happens), and lamenting that so many people on both sides are firm in their positions on Trump even though no one actually read the Mueller report, a nearly 400-page legal document. His solution? (Emphasis mine):
Positions about Trump have hardened so much that Mueller’s facts don’t seem to break through. It’s like trying to argue about vaccinations. Shouting isn’t an effective strategy. People just feel more defensive, and hold more tightly to their positions as a kind of self-defense.
Maybe we need a grass-roots movement, unaffiliated with any party, that’s just called “Read the Report.” People could hand out copies on urban street corners and at county fairs. The only message: Don’t let the cable news channels tell you what to think. Do your own research and make up your own mind.
One: No, it’s not “like trying to argue about vaccinations.” It’s like arguing about politics. Polls up until Richard Nixon’s resignation showed a country that was even more divided than we are now. And, beyond the fact that this might just be the lamest attempt at starting a “grassroots movement” ever published in a major American newspaper—you know, where all grassroots movements begin—“urban street corners”? Did you bring in Richard Cohen to punch up this blog?
Then Ignatius pivots back to Biden with this flawless transition (emphasis mine again):
Which brings me back to Biden. With all his blarney and sometimes tedious speechifying, he’s obviously, uncontestably a decent person. He would be far from an ideal president, let alone a Democratic candidate. Maybe in one of those blessed miracles of American democracy that produced our greatest presidents, someone else will emerge who’s younger, smarter, more representative of a diverse electorate.
But right now, Biden looks most like the person who could beat Trump. And that’s Job One.
Thank you, David. Thank you so much.