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Lusting For An Election

Richard Blumenthal speaking at a podium
Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Photo courtesy Western CT State University.

Forgive me, reader, for I am about to sin. It has been three weeks since my last inauguration.

The temptation to think impure thoughts is just too strong. So here I go again, daydreaming – lusting, even – about the presidential election. Not the one behind us; the one to come in 2020. Specifically, I cannot resist wondering: Who is the Democratic front-runner for the campaign that seems to have already started?

It could be Connecticut’s Sen. Richard Blumenthal. He couldn’t wait to run in front of television cameras to disclose, after a private session with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, that the appellate judge found President Trump’s criticism of fellow jurists “demoralizing.”

Not that Blumenthal cares about the morale of Gorsuch, who was merely paying a courtesy call because Blumenthal sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Such private conversations are traditionally, well, private – and the polite thing to do would have been to allow Gorsuch to decide if, when and how to make his views about Trump’s tweets known. In fact, Blumenthal himself later said that he asked Gorsuch to state his concerns publicly, but Gorsuch declined.

In any event, as a member of the Senate panel that will hold public hearings on Gorsuch’s nomination, Blumenthal would have had ample opportunity later to ask the appeals court judge to expound publicly on his views about Trump’s tweets. But that would not sufficiently serve the purpose of raising Blumenthal’s profile with the Democratic base and, more importantly, the party’s donors.

Those donors might have been bleary-eyed from staying up late the previous night to hear Sen. Elizabeth Warren attack Trump’s attorney general nominee, fellow Senator Jeff Sessions, on the Senate floor. Warren scored big points when she goaded Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans into censuring her for violating Senate rules with personal attacks on another member. She showed excellent strategic thinking by using a 30-year-old letter from civil rights icon Coretta Scott King as the final straw before getting herself removed from the rest of the debate on Sessions’ appointment.

Sympathetic senators then lined up to read the very same letter on the floor. This was meant as a show of support for Warren, in the same way that wearing the same gown that a celebrity wore on a red carpet shows support for that celebrity. Sometimes imitation is flattery, but often it is just imitation.

Warren’s imitators included Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose presidential aspirations may or may not have burned out last year; Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, who has dedicated his life to proving that a diehard liberal can get elected in his state; and Tom Udall of New Mexico, who stands for the proposition that a Udall is always available to serve Democratic interests in any Western state. Sanders just does whatever he wants, but Brown and Udall were probably sending a message to Warren that they would be perfectly happy to become her 2020 running mate.

Far from the District of Columbia, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is courting the millions (or at least many thousands) of women who recently marched against Trump by promoting a state constitutional amendment to preserve and expand abortion rights in the event a future Supreme Court ruling nixes Roe v. Wade.

Out on the opposite coast, California’s Democratic-led Legislature has hired former Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder for representation in legal battles against the Trump administration. The legal battles at this point are merely hypothetical, but rest assured that the billable hours are real. This is a true win-win, because it keeps Holder on stage (don’t count him out as a candidate) and also helps the state legislators who hired him. They are not ready for prime time just yet, but remember that Barack Obama was serving in the Illinois Senate when was invited to speak at the 2004 Democratic convention.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, anyone? Fuhgeddaboudit. Although I am sure he’s tempted, a Brooklyn vs. Queens presidential campaign is just too strange to contemplate. His eyes are probably fixed on McConnell’s job, not Trump’s.

Okay, I have to stop, or we’ll never make it through the next four years. Or four months. Can it really have been less than four weeks since we were debating the size of Trump’s ... inaugural crowds? (Come on, what did you think I was going to write?)

I appreciate your prayers. May they deliver me from my addiction to presidential politics – but not yet. Everyone seems to agree that this nonstop grandstanding just feels too good to give up, no matter how unhealthy it is.

Larry M. Elkin is the founder and president of Palisades Hudson, and is based out of Palisades Hudson’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida headquarters. He wrote several of the chapters in the firm’s book, Looking Ahead: Life, Family, Wealth and Business After 55. His contributions include Chapter 1, “Looking Ahead When Youth Is Behind Us” and Chapter 4, “The Family Business."

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