LA Times Columnist Plays Unlikely but Interesting Game of Democrat Party 'What If'

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Part of the fun of the election cycle, at least for political nerds, is sitting around with other political nerds playing "what if." What if this or that candidate wins? What if this or that person is selected as a running mate? "Fill in the blank" would be great as Secretary of "blank." It is the preeminent political nerd drinking game. But Democrats have some serious problems. Number one, President Joe Biden has some obvious concerning cognitive issues, and a majority of Democrats think he is too old to run. Then there is Vice President Kamala Harris. The fact that she is a diversity hire is not the problem for Democrats, but her job performance, or the lack of it, (see "border czar," incessant cackling, and never-ending word salads) prove why, when she ran for President, she came in last in every poll in her own state.

There are some other dilemmas as well. Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, like Joe Biden, has trouble speaking, but he is not the leader of the free world and can attribute his troubles to having had a stroke. Then, there is 90-year-old Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein recently signed over power of attorney to her daughter Katherine. She battled a severe case of shingles earlier this year, and there is growing concern over her physical and mental capacities. 

So with such a full plate, Democrats may be looking for some solutions. Columnist for the Los Angeles Times, George Skelton, was inspired by a scenario given by a reader, and may just have the answer. It is an answer that is highly unlikely, but is a perfect fit for a game of "what if." Sometimes, you are willing to give even the ridiculous a try. Here's how it would go: Democrats would have to whip out a bit of tough love on Dianne Feinstein. Despite her lingering effects of shingles, and colleagues having to tell her to "just vote aye," during a military budget vote last month, she has stated that she plans on staying on until her term ends in 2025. Joe Biden is unlikely to be able to carry a tough conversation with Feinstein about retiring, and convincing her it would be "for the good of the party," and maybe even her roughly 40 million constituents. So that dirty work would most likely have to be left in large part to the head of the DNC, Jaime Harrison, with Biden's assistance, speaking to her as a former Senate colleague and longtime friend.

Then, of course, there is Kamala Harris. Presidents have changed their Vice Presidents prior to a second White House run before. This would be where California Gov. Gavin Newsom would come in. Should Feinstein be convinced to retire, Newsom would appoint Harris to finish out her term that ends in 2025. There are a lot of land mines here that even the smooth dulcet conversational stylings of Gavin Newsom might not be able to overcome. For Harris, this would be seen as a demotion. And on a bigger level, might even be seen as the party not only dumping the black woman, but as Newsom somehow clearing the way for himself to advance in national Democrat politics. Not a good look for the diversity, equity, and inclusion crowd. 

For the sake of conversation, Newsom may also be required to paint Joe Biden's reelection chances in a negative light, and put Harris' dismal poll numbers in front of her, in order to assure Harris that she would be the savior of the Democrat Party, retaining the sliver of a majority Democrats have in the Senate. Could Newsom pull it off? Stranger things have happened, and remember, we are playing "what if." But, should Harris decide to run again for her own Senate term, she would be up against the likes of Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Katie Porter (D-CA), who have all declared their candidacy. That could make California politics ugly for a while.

The end game is to bring someone on the Democrat Presidential ticket that can somehow prop up Biden if he manages to be dragged across the finish line to the Democrat nomination. But with the state of Biden's own mental acuity and mounting scandal, even that is on the table. The whole caper is a tall order even for Democrats. But given their penchant for political gymnastics, it might just go beyond a simple game of "what if." 



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