If the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination is going to be such a riot of contenders, then I get to make a riot of remarks. That’s what follows: not a seamless, thematically unified weave of elegant insights but a ragtag patchwork of stuff on my mind. Here goes:
Why does Bernie Sanders decide to be a Democrat when that’s convenient and decide otherwise when it’s not? I ask now of course because he just threw his hat — again — into the ring. And he’s not pursuing an independent candidacy, which is doable and done all the time. He still wants the Democrats’ top prize.
He’s not a Democrat when he insists that he deliver his own response to the State of the Union speech rather than let Stacey Abrams, whom the party chose for that task, have that spotlight. He is a Democrat when he’s complaining, as he did during and after his 2016 candidacy, that the party’s nominating process was unfair to him and must be changed.
The constant is self-interest. But if that disqualified candidates, we’d have approximately no one to vote for.
Amy Klobuchar turned in an excellent performance at her CNN town hall in New Hampshire on Monday night. She knew the issues. She knew her audience — but didn’t pander to it. She was personal, personable and relatable, readily trotting out stories about this family member or that acquaintance to prove her sensitivity to people’s struggles. She did about as well as she could in answering the inevitable question about her reputation as a terrible and terrifying boss. She said that her standards are high and her character imperfect.
She was upbeat. But most of all, she radiated a practicality that distinguished her from, say, Elizabeth Warren, who can seem so fiercely ideological, or Cory Booker, who can seem so maddeningly ethereal. That was clearly deliberate, but it’s also consistent with her political record to date. A brand works best for a candidate when it’s not too far from the truth.
I think she could be even braver and morepointed about what she feels the government can and cannot afford and what’s doable in the short term versus dream-able in the distant future. She tried to muffle words that she knew would disappoint ardent progressives. Look at the length of her journey to “no” when one of the attendees asked her for a blunt, clear answer about whether she’d support free four-year college for all. I’ve taken straighter, quicker routes across countries.
But in the context of so much Democratic groveling, she was practically the Grinch. Minus that sickly chartreuse tinge.
Just minutes before her town hall, I shared a stage with another Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind. For about 45 minutes, I asked him questions in front of a packed house at the Brooklyn Public Library. He also answered different questions for a Times Opinion section Instagram story.
At 37, he’s the longest of long shots. It’s not just hard but scary to imagine him vaulting from stewardship of a city of about 100,000 residents to leadership of a country of more than 300 million people.
But he’s thoughtful and deft, with ideas and observations worth listening to. We agreed that the nation could use some sort of compulsory public service — like military conscription but not military conscription — so that Americans of wildly different backgrounds can converge and so that the lines between various economic, educational and ethnic subgroups can blur.
He said he’s mulling what forms that service could take. I am, too. Feel free to chime in.

Frank Bruni

Opinion Columnist

New York Times

Kazan- Kazan National Research Technical University Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева he graduated in Economics in 1982

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