- - Thursday, May 16, 2019


Running for president has replaced baseball as the national pastime. (We liked baseball better.) Every day there’s a new rookie up from South Bend or Cedar Rapids of the Three-Eye League, or an equivalent, armed with his newspaper clippings about his prowess in the minors. (“Good field, no hit.”) As we went to press, 24 Democrats think they can hit major-league pitching. There may be more tomorrow.

You don’t even have to be a bush-league phenom to come up to the majors for the traditional cup of coffee. Michael Bennet, 54, emerged from relative obscurity in Colorado a few weeks ago, waiting for lightning to strike. Lightning struck him once, when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacancy. Nobody in or out of Colorado knew very much about him, and still don’t. The New York Times says he is “moderate and studious” and “known for his work on immigration and education reform.” His work on immigration and education reform, however, has come to naught. His only distinction so far is that he’s missing a “t” on his surname. (Copy Desk, please note.)

It’s not clear why Mr. Bennet is running for president. Perhaps he heard that summer in Washington is not like summer in the Rockies, and New Hampshire is lovely, even with presidential candidates creating traffic jams at every crossroads. It’s certainly lovelier than July in the swamp. His brother, James Bennet, is the editor of the editorial page of The New York Times, and he has recused himself from having anything to do with coverage, if there is any, of his brother’s campaign. There’s something in the cool, clear water of Colorado besides trout, because Mr. Bennet joins John Hickenlooper, a former governor, in the run for the poses. Every candidate must strike a pose early.

A few days after Mr. Bennet entered the hustings, Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, said he, too, is running. He’s the popular Democratic governor of a state that Donald Trump carried easily, so he can boast of “electability.” Nevertheless, he, like Michael Bennet and the other host of candidates, struggles to say just why he’s running. When reporters asked what he’s proudest of after nearly seven years of governing Montana, Mr. Bullock replied, “Um … I am happy that hopefully my kids still know that my most important job is being their dad.” A little later he came up with something about health care policy, but stumbling with softball questions reveals a man who may not be ready for prime time. You’re not in Helena anymore, Mr. Governor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City is running for president, too. Perhaps he’s jealous that back home in Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of America’s 301st-largest city is making his mark in the public-opinion polls, and he wants in, too. Mr. de Blasio’s candidacy, which his hometown New York Post calls “ridiculous,” is probably pointless besides. If he thinks the race was waiting for a down-the-line liberal, he overlooked Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. There may be other down-the-line liberals, “progressive” even, but nobody will know until the field is further scrutinized. By then some will have dropped out.

His Honor the Gotham mayor entered the race too late with too little support. The problem, as New York Post columnist John Podhoretz observes, “is that by this point in 2019 entering the presidential race without much money or support is a little like getting a last-minute e-vite to a birthday party to which everyone you know — including people you are sure are dumber and less attractive and have less right to attend than you — has already received a hand-delivered, calligraphed invitation on 140-pound stationery with raised lettering.” The latest three to join the parade of also-rans includes Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.

There’s something odd afoot in the higher and not-so-high precincts of the Democratic Party. Running for president has become something to do. They don’t actually think they have a shot of winning. But it’s more fun than doing the job they were elected to do.

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