This weekend, the Washington Post Magazine published a puff piece on Kirsten Gillibrand. It’s called, “Overlooked: America is ignoring Kirsten Gillibrand, is it her fault — our ours?” The Post teases the story, by Anna Peele, with this:
Kirsten Gillibrand is accomplished and experienced. For Americans in 2019, that’s no longer enough.
Peele is inclined to blame sexism for Gillibrand’s inability to poll better than 0-1 percent. So is Gillibrand. She moans:
There’s certainly been many studies that said, ‘This is a picture of an ambitious woman, do you like her? This is a picture of an ambitious man, do you like him?’ With a woman, it’s generally seen as a negative.
But wait! Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are both polling well, and there’s about a 50 percent chance that the Democratic nominee will be a woman — just as in 2016.
Gillibrand can’t rationally blame her woes on sexism.
Moreover, the fact that Gillibrand is experienced and accomplished doesn’t distinguish her from most of the competition. Warren is as experienced as Gillibrand, and at least as accomplished. Same with Harris. Joe Biden is more experienced and more accomplished than Gillibrand (though not as intelligent).
Indeed, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar are as experienced and accomplished as their Senate colleague from New York. They have as much right as Gillibrand to wonder why they haven’t managed to gain traction in this campaign.
It’s true that Pete Buttigieg, the boy mayor of a small city, has at least five times as much support as Gillibrand. But by virtue of his sexual preference, he has considerable appeal to gays. Plus, unlike Gillibrand, he has managed to make his leftism sound relatively fresh.
Then, there’s the fact that Gillibrand used to take some conservative positions, most notably on guns. Pleading Gillibrand’s case, Peele asks:
Would it really be the worst thing in the world for the next president to be reasonably flexible? To occasionally change her mind in response to growing awareness of previously unexplored crannies of this mortal realm, or tangible shifts in reality?
The answer is no, and the next president will change his or mind about things, as the current president has.
But when all of a presidential candidate’s changes of mind and heart coincide with what’s best for her political interests at a given moment, voters have reason to wonder whether that candidate is simply an opportunist. And they are well-advised to prefer candidates who have held the preferred positions throughout their political careers.
With the exception of the blatant nature of her opportunism, the only thing that really distinguishes Gillibrand from the field is the size of her biceps, over which Peele seems obsessed. Other Democrats shouldn’t feel at all guilt about overlooking, or simply rejecting, Kirsten Gillibrand.