Andrew Sullivan’s “Intelligencer” column is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly woke New York Magazine. His Friday pieces are usually in three parts, and this week’s (click on screenshot below) is no exception. The three topics are, in order, the progress we’ve made in gay rights and women’s rights, and those who deny it (Sullivan doesn’t mention the demonization of Steve Pinker for his progressivism), the Democratic candidates with Sullivan’s assessment, and a bit of “shade” thrown at Meghan Markle for marrying into the royal family, knowing what she was getting into, and then kvetching about it. (“Sorry, but if you choose to marry into royalty, you have to take the rough with the smooth: The fame and luxury of being a princess comes packaged with bad press, intrusive photographers, and constant public duty. If Meghan didn’t expect this, it’s hard to understand how not.”)
Surprisingly, Andrew, who still calls himself a conservative, seems to favor Bernie above the others, but is down on Warren and Buttigieg (who, like Sullivan, is gay) and has mixed feelings about Biden. But Sullivan is still pledged to vote for the Democrat. Here are his takes on Warren and Sanders:
The Democrat I think is most likely to lose to Trump is Elizabeth Warren. I admire her ambition and grit and aggression, but nominating a woke, preachy Harvard professor plays directly into Trump’s hands. And picking someone who has bent the truth so often about so many things — her ancestry, her commitment to serving a full term as senator, the schools her kids went to, the job her father had (according to her brother), or the time she was “fired” for being pregnant — is an unnecessary burden. The video she produced insisting that she was partly Native American, using genetic markers, should have been a disqualifier by itself. The lack of judgment was staggering.
. . . Which leaves us with Bernie. I have to say he’s grown on me as a potential Trump-beater. He seems more in command of facts than Biden, more commanding in general than Buttigieg or Klobuchar, and far warmer than Elizabeth Warren. He’s a broken clock, but the message he has already stuck with for decades might be finding its moment. There’s something clarifying about having someone with a consistent perspective on inequality take on a president who has only exacerbated it. He could expose, in a gruff Brooklyn accent, the phony populism, and naked elitism of Trump. He could appeal to the working-class voters the Democrats have lost. He could sincerely point out how Trump has given massive sums of public money to the banks, leaving crumbs for the middle class. And people might believe him.
. . . On two key issues, immigration and identity politics, Bernie has sensibilities and instincts that could neutralize these two strong points for Trump. Sanders has always loathed the idea of open borders and the effect they have on domestic wages, and he doesn’t fit well with the entire woke industry. He still believes in class struggle, not the culture war. But he doesn’t seem to be trying to capitalize on any of that. Take a look at his immigration proposals.They are the most radical I’ve seen: essentially an end to any control of illegal immigration, with enforcement of the law at the border solely for human traffickers and gun smugglers; a moratorium on all deportations; an end to any detention of illegal immigrants; an open-ended amnesty for basically anyone who has gotten here. How you distinguish these policies from the “open borders” Sanders used to oppose is beyond my understanding. I believe that immigration control will matter in this election. The Democrats don’t. That’s their gamble, and Sanders is doubling down on it.
. . . So where am I? Not thrilled, I have to say. Bernie has the edge on energy and populism, but he’s so far to the left the Democrats could end up where the British Labour Party just found itself: gutted. Biden has an advantage because of Obama, his appeal to the midwestern voters (if he wins back Pennsylvania, that would work wonders), and his rapport with African-Americans. But he also seems pretty out of it. The others are longer shots. Bloomberg? The ads are good, but a billionaire who helicopters into a race late isn’t the right messenger in these times.
I guess I’m not that thrilled either; none of the candidates spark me the way Obama did. But, like Sullivan, I’ll vote for whichever Democrat survives the primaries. Since the Washington Post poll shows me as a Left-centrist, I lean away from both Bernie and Warren, but I’d be glad to have either as President, particularly considering the alternative.