Well, it’s here: an op-ed, published by The Daily Beast, politely wondering whether Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is “too transparently opportunistic to be a viable candidate” in 2020 “after the rejection of another New York politician criticized for basing her positions on supposedly canny calculations rather than on from-the-gut convictions.”
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting this slow, creeping feeling of déjà vu quite so soon, were you? Can you physically bear the possibility of watching the precise gender politics of the 2016 election play out again? I’m not sure if I can.
“Back when she had an A rating from the NRA, Kirsten Gillibrand used to brag that she and her family shot their own turkeys for Thanksgiving,” writer Ciro Scotti, a contributing editor at the Fiscal Times, begins. “But in her relentless positioning for a possible presidential run in 2020, was she too quick on the trigger when she hit fellow Democrat Al Franken with a blast of buckshot and drove him to resign his Senate seat?”
Scotti then goes on to posit that Gillibrand’s vote against Mattis’s confirmation was a cynical one, set up for an applause line down the road, though Gillibrand stated at the time that she voted against the waiver for Mattis—who had not technically been out of uniform for a long enough period of time for confirmation—because “civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy.”
Kirsten Gillibrand, of course, was advocating for sexual assault victims long before it became politically expedient; her firm stance on Franken’s resignation, while upsetting to some (men, mostly), reflected the will of a majority of voters. It’s worth noting, of course, that this is by no means the first article to suggest that the New York senator has a tendency to flip-flop. She has changed her position on a number of issues—she used to be a conservative Democrat, now she’s one of the most liberal; she used to take money from the Clintons, now she thinks Bill ought to have resigned. And it may very well be that some political calculus played into Gillibrand’s decision to vote against Mattis’ waiver.
But the last time I checked, a 75-year-old Joe Biden—who still, to this day, cannot admit that he mishandled the Anita Hill testimony literal decades ago—has been honking off endlessly about running in 2020, yet his massively egoistic internal machinations remain largely uninteresting to most. And Al Franken, while we’re on the subject, used his prime Judiciary Committee position questioning Trump nominees to help sell his very popular book, but again—so? The notion that Gillibrand is somehow unique in all this—that she alone, and not literally all politicians, is guilty of political maneuvering—is astonishing. Particularly when it’s backed up with points like these:
The word that defines the zeitgeist is “genuine,” and one big reason Trump retains a core of support is that whatever you think of him, what you see is what you get.
I don’t know if Kirsten Gillibrand is the right candidate for the Democrats in 2020, and frankly, right now, I don’t particularly care. The election is nearly three years away, and if I have to spend that time reading about whether Gillibrand or Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren are “authentic” enough to beat a drooling psychopath who lies every time he remembers how to speak, I’m going to find a nice spot and dig a hole and get in it and stay there forever. Until “authenticity” becomes a quality achievable by power-seekers of all genders, this conversation only drags us backwards.