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Stan Laurel died on February 23, 1965, at the age of 74.
February 23, 2019
I know there are number of subscribers to This Here Newsletter who are not always enthused when it delves into the world of politics, and I find it difficult to blame them. I miss when politics was a low hum in the background of our lives, important, vital, but not as dominant and inescapable as it is now. Politics should be like oxygen: Essential for our survival but invisible, noticed only when it needs to be noticed. Right now politics doesn’t feel like oxygen. It feels like radon.
But. As I’ve written before, a large reason I started this newsletter in the first place, and a driving influence of just about everything I’ve done since the last Presidential election cycle began, was as a way to document this particular moment in human history and where I stood when it was happening. Someday my kids, and their kids, are going to look back at 2015-2020 (or later) and wonder, “What in the hell was going on back then?” And they’re going to want to know what their dad, a grown adult living through that time, thought about all that was happening. I can do my best to hide it from them now, turning off the television when the President’s on the screen. But eventually, they’re going to need to know where their parents were on this.
It is going to take years, decades to undo the damage that has been done in the last few years, and if there’s anything positive about it, it’s that it has exposed all the rot and cracks in the foundation that were already there in the first place that we’d all kidded ourselves weren’t. I am under no illusion that getting Donald Trump out of the White House is going to solve all our problems, or even a large percentage.
But it does seem like the most logical place to start. The best, cleanest way to start cleaving this daily nightmare out of our lives is to vote that dude out. I want him gone. We’re not going to begin healing until he’s gone.
I know our polarized political world will turn this into a Republican vs. Democratic thing, just another Media Elite Lib trying to take down The Real America, but, while I have my own political beliefs, this particularly bailiwick is about Trump and Trump only. I do not think that Mike Pence would be a good President; I disagree with him on just about every major social and financial issue. But do I think he would be an improvement on Donald Trump? I do. I would feel less worried that we’re all going to blow up if Mike Pence were President. I think it’d be less likely half the staff of the White House would end up going to jail if Mike Pence were President. I think it would be less humiliating as a nation on a daily basis if Mike Pence were President. I think there would be fewer Nazis if Mike Pence were President. I really do not want Mike Pence to be President. But I would support picking a name out of the phone book over Donald Trump.
And while impeachment seems more than warranted, I am not sure that’s the way to go. There needs to be a public rebuke for the world to see. Which means someone’s gonna have to beat him.
Thus, today, I’m introducing a new semi-regular feature to this newsletter: Get This Lunatic Out Of Here 2020 Presidential Candidate Power Rankings. It is my personal rankings of every Presidential contender, using a number of considerations, from personal politics to personality to readiness for the job to that ineffable thing that we want from our Presidents to whether they can beat this freaking guy. This is not limited to Democrats: If William Weld can beat him, he has my strongest encouragement to do so.
In future newsletters, these rankings will be part of the increasingly cumbersome ongoing features that run below this essay and all the stories and podcasts and shows I made in the previous week. I’ll be updating it every week until November 2020 — my god that’s a long time from now — as people enter the race, as people leave it, as candidates surge, as candidates wane.
This is my personal preference, and it should (obviously) be kept in mind that I am a straight white male homeowner in his 40s with two kids. If these are not the people you support, that’s fine! It’s not a personal insult! And my viewpoints will change and evolve and sometimes be inconsistent and will likely be wrong on several occasions. They are simply mine at this particularly snapshot of a moment. It is OK if you disagree with me. It is great! You’re a whole other human being! If we agreed on every issue, that would be extremely weird! This is just my way to publicly sort out my thoughts on the people who are trying to become President, in real time, as the race moves along. I’m eager, even begging, to have my horizons expanded. Because whoever emerges out of this muck instantly becomes one of the most important people in American history.
So. Here goes. Here are the first Get This Lunatic Out Of Here 2020 Presidential Candidate Power Rankings. We are not including people who have flirted with running but have not officially announced their candidacy: The dithering duo of Biden and Beto are not listed here and will not be until they fully get in. We also cannot include everyone who’s running because there are literally thousands of them. Did you know that you could declare your candidacy right now through the FEC Website for free? You can! Just go right here! Know that I would happily vote for you, whoever you are, for President over Donald Trump.
I am instead going off the Ballotpedia list of Notable Candidates who have filed with the FEC their intentions to run. This excludes Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Sherrod Brown, Howard Schultz and many others. Eventually there may be as many as 25 people running for President. But as of today, when I am beginning these rankings, there are 13. (Fourteen if you’re counting Trump, which we are not.) Here is the first batch of Get This Lunatic Out Of Here 2020 Presidential Candidate Power Rankings. Please let me know what you think at email@example.com.
13. Marianne Williamson
I will confess, I did not know who Marianne Williamson was until she ran for President, but apparently she is a beloved self-help guru. (Which immediately explained why I did not know who she was.) She is way too fortunate-cookie wisdom for me — a recent Tweet said, “The only way to defeat dog whistles Is to drown them out with angel voices ... Where there is love, miracles occur naturally. We must love more deeply and miracles will occur,” and I hope it doesn’t make me a jerk that I reading that made me barf a little (it might) — but her heart seems to be in the right place and I’m open to the idea that my own personal biases against airport-reading are standing in the way on this one. But I’m also not particularly eager to have someone who’s never held any elective office as my President. It hasn’t worked out well so far.
12. William Weld
I can’t imagine a scenario where I vote for this guy — even in some insane universe where it came down to Williamson v. Weld, I can see talking myself into the fortune cookie lady — but man, do I ever encourage him to run in his primary. And run hard, Weld, run hard.
11. Tulsi Gabbard
Initially intriguing, she’s one of those candidates who has looked less appealing the more scrutiny she has received, from her past anti-gay views to an oddly Trumpian stance on refugees to the fact that her campaign director resigned before she even announced. Those are a lot of missteps for a campaign that has not even started yet. The good news is that there is, you know, forever left to go.
10. John Delaney
He’s a Congressman from Maryland and not, to my relief, the comedian responsible for Stefon. (Though John Mulaney has some smart ideas on secondary education funding.) He’s a moderate who has two ideas I like. The first is instituting national service for young people — it is good to feel connected to your government, to understand what it does well and what it doesn’t — and the second is instituting a regular public debate in the House of Representatives in which the President must defend their policies to Congress, not all that differently than the Prime Minister does in England. No one knows who he is, though, and that shirt, along with that “oh, why hello, you just happened to catch me at my truck!” is maybe not the best introduction.
9. Andrew Yang
I actually quite like his Universal Basic Income idea, but I’ll confess suspicion that he’s never run for office before and that he is still, after all, a tech entrepreneur. He might be the most likable tech entrepreneur there is, but that still puts him in the bottom 5 percent of humanity, I think.
8. Amy Klobuchar
I was as impressed with her during the Kavanaugh hearing as anyone, but after that story dropped yesterday, I’m pretty sure the word “comb” is going to be in the first two paragraphs of her obituary. I’m not sure how you recover from that. Even if this was a lot more alarming.
7. Bernie Sanders
I’m glad he’s in the race, and it’s clear he’ll go down as a massively important figure in American history, particularly if Trump loses this year. But honestly: I didn’t vote for him last time, and I have a lot more options now than I did then.
6. Cory Booker
Ten years ago, I was so thrilled about Cory Booker. A decade later ... I guess I thought I’d be more excited when he finally made his inevitable run for President than I am.
5. Julian Castro
He’s likable and exciting and seems like a guy who is just getting started. I wonder if he’d be atop this list if it were eight years from now. I’m not sure I’m ready for a President who has a twin, though. It’s like Dave, but in real life!
4. Pete Buttigieg
I have to say: I like this kid. And yeah: I like that I can call someone who is running for president “kid.” (He’s 37. He was 12 when Kurt Cobain died!)
3. Kirsten Gillibrand
The main accusation I see thrown at her is that she is “politically calculating,” which, uh, strikes me as a good thing? If the main thing people are mad at you about is Al Franken, this is not a terrible place to be in the current moment.
2. Elizabeth Warren
I think she’s kind of a badass? She’s basically Bernie without all the things that bother me about Bernie. And I think she can both take and throw a punch, which strikes me as something that’s going to be rather important in the next 19 months. And her universal child care plan is the best idea I’ve seen so far this election cycle. She also appears ready to meet this moment. I’m in.
1. Kamala Harris
She’s the clubhouse leader at this point. Her rollout has been fantastic, like she actually knows what she’s doing, like she had a plan and executed it flawlessly. I know campaigning isn’t governing, but I like someone who appears to be on her game from the get-go, because she’s going to need to stay that way. We have a long way to go: I am not ready for lawn signs yet. (Which is good, because they don’t even have a primary date for Georgia yet.) But she’s where I’m at right now.
I hope you have enjoyed my facile, three-quarters-ignorant political analysis. I promise not to make a habit of it. I just want the fixing of ... all this ... to start as soon as it can.
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. You may disagree. It is your wont.
1. Introducing “The Data Decade,” MLB.com. I’m going to be writing a bi-weekly series about the end of the decade for MLB.com throughout the season. It’s a big project, but I’m pretty excited about it.
2. Your AL East Preview, MLB.com. My optimism even extends to the Orioles, which literally means it has no bounds.
3. 2018 MLB Tortured Fanbase Rankings, Medium. Six years and counting.
4. Debate Club: Iconic Black Superheroes, SYFY Wire. We didn’t rank these, but honestly, Miles Morales might be my favorite.
5. Football Movies, Ranked, Men’s Health. Sure.
THE WILL LEITCH SHOW
We’re back! Season Two is here, kicking off with the great Andre Holland. Watch it on it on Amazon or on SI TV.
Grierson & Leitch, our big Oscar preview (you still have a full day to listen to it), along with “Alita: Battle Angel” and “Interview With The Vampire.” (Hoo boy is that movie bad.)
Seeing Red, off this week, but we’re back to weekly starting Monday.
Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, a big long show we taped Thursday night about a lot of things.
ONGOING LETTER-WRITING PROJECT!
I just filled my first full box of these. I have an actual Box Full Of Letters! You are the best. Keep them coming.
P.O. Box 48
Athens GA 30603
CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
“Rid of Me,” P.J. Harvey. I know “Let England Shake” is the big critical hit, but “Rid of Me” is the one I listen to a lot more often.
Also, go Illini!
Have a great weekend, all. Be nice.