The Comedy Stylings of Alex Burns: Democrat Presidential Field Full of Centrists!?

The put some style of Onion-esque parody on the front page of Thursday's New York Times. National political reporter Alexander Burns penned a story headlined "Measuring Room for Centrists In Democratic Field for 2020." That doesn't seem to match the current candidates rushing to endorse "Medicare for All," no money for The Wall, and abortion on demand. But Burns suggested there's a pile of moderate white guys, especially Joe Biden. Remember the very moderate Obama presidency?? The one with trillion-dollar deficits, Obamacare, suing Catholic nuns, and gay marriage in 50 states?

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is allegedly running on "a distinctly white-collar blend of conservative fiscal instincts and liberal social values," but Burns insists so are "eight or nine" Democrats: 

They call themselves moderates and problem-solvers, consensus-builders and pragmatists. Monochrome and male, they do not embody social change and few hold out the promise of making history. Among them are former mayors, like Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans; current and former governors, including John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia; Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado; and a smattering of House members. Atop the pack is a former vice president: Joseph R. Biden Jr.

You might argue these "pale stale males" may represent more "incremental change" in turning America into a libertine socialist Sweden, but that doesn't make them "moderates." It makes them "to the right of the radical left." 

A Michael Bloomberg -- who disparages talk of Ending Billionaires -- is "closer to the center," and certainly you can call that the "pragmatic lane": 

“We believe that there is a clear and sufficiently wide lane for a pragmatic candidate, and that the progressive lane is really crowded,” [Bloomberg adviser Howard] Wolfson said. “The pragmatic lane is relatively free.”

But promising to "work with Republicans" instead of shutting down the government now makes you "relatively centrist." 

Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg, both 76, have defended their relatively centrist approach in recent weeks, calling it the best way to win and govern. Mr. Biden described working with Republicans as a first principle...

Then the Burns article turns comical again as it explains Amy Klobuchar (American Conservative Union lifetime score: 4.7 percent) and Beto O'Rourke (ACU lifetime score: 8.09 percent ) could run in "the middle." Based on their past votes?

Two wild-card Democrats who could run toward the middle, strategists say, are Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Senate candidate. Both are widely liked by liberals but have shown a preference for conciliation and compromise. It is unclear how they would present themselves, ideologically, if they run.

This Burns line only makes sense in the same way that ultraliberal journalists like Dan Rather insist that he and The New York Times are firmly in the political center. It's not a "Facts First" approach.  


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Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential New York Times Alex Burns
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