Where’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar? Last time I saw her, she was covered in snow like Nanook of the North announcing she was running for president.
She’s one of a critical mass of would-be female presidents, too many for the Hillary brush-off of “I’m all for a woman president, just not this woman.”
What will the excuse be this time? “There are so damn many, I can’t keep them straight.”
Klobuchar is, of course, in plain sight but not so you’d know it. She surfaced on Wednesday evening at Fox News’ second town hall, where she performed so well she’d be above her 2-3 percent if only more people could hear her. What’s the sound of two hands shaking if there’s no camera crew there to record it?
The cameras were at the Grain Building in Milwaukee, filled with friends and family including her 90-year-old Uncle Dick and a contingent of Teamsters. There were no trick questions from anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, and the audience queries were broad enough for her to drive her entire platform through. She got in some shots at Attorney General Bill Barr, but mostly reinforced her Senator Next Door pragmatism with Heartland Amy riffs to show she’s progressive in the sense she’s made “progress” and thinks health care is a right but not so much Trump will be able to label her a socialist. In her lane, everything gets paid for and there’s no Medicare for all. However Fox screens who gets in, a huge majority of them liked what they saw. She got a standing ovation.
Unfortunately for Klobuchar, she won’t get the attention she deserves because a man got there first. Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders stole her thunder with the element of surprise. The Fox crowd liked him, they really liked him. More shocking, when Baier tried to reclaim the audience, it backfired. After Sanders explained his health-care plan, Baier asked for a show of hands of those who had employer-provided insurance. Lots of hands went up. He then asked who in the audience favored Medicare for All. Even more hands shot up, accompanied by whooping and hollering. This on State TV, really? Trump complained afterwards. Sanders got days of free media.
This piece may be all the free media Klobuchar gets for the fine performance she turned in. If you can win a town hall, she did. But tomorrow she disappears again.
Like children going wherever the ball goes on the soccer field, the press will be over-covering Joe Biden and Sanders because they like binary contests and those two lead in the polls. And they’re going to keep leading if a woman has to jump on a table or pay off a porn star to get a camera crew to follow her around. The covers of Vanity Fair and Time can backfire but it’s a gamble any one of the women running would take.
Democrats like to fall in love, Republicans in line, but not this time. The anxiety over another four years of Trump is so high, the party just wants to get it over. A candidate who isn’t a straight white man can wait until after Trump’s been dispatched. This time, it’s not because of likeability but its insidious cousin, electability — equally hard for a woman to prove because 45 times we’ve sent a male to the White House.
Democrats look ready to settle for an arranged marriage to whomever they think can rescue them from our Grabber-In-Chief, embracing Biden with head-spinning speed, despite his trunk full of hard-to-explain votes and decades of over-jolly, credulous, across-the-aisle backslapping (see “Dick Cheney is a decent man"), and an inability to grasp the problems in our current system developed over decades of power within it.
Something bad has to happen to Biden and Sanders for something good to happen to Klobuchar. Meantime, if only one of the other women running could speak Norwegian, we might get to know her.
Margaret Carlson is a columnist for the Daily Beast. She was formerly the first woman columnist at Time magazine, a columnist at Bloomberg View, a weekly panelist on CNN’s "Capital Gang" and managing editor at the New Republic. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.