I just turned 60 in January, so as you might expect I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with the few measly years I have left. Regrets? I have a few — OK, actually, there’s not enough space to list them all. I have a resume that’s long but spectacularly unspectacular. What I lack in charisma, I make up for in dullness. Taking long walks with my dogs Daisy and Bella and listening to the newest audiobook about the 1960s isn’t just my most interesting non-work activity — it’s my only non-work activity. Even my mediocrity is kind of mediocre.
What possible Act II is there?
OK, I know what you’re thinking and to be perfectly honest I’ve been thinking the exact same thing. I should declare my candidacy for the presidency and enter the 2020 Democratic primary field. This is clearly my year! Democrats, I keep hearing, are looking for four basic things in their next nominee: A white man who is not Donald Trump and has a pulse.
Check, check, and an emphatic check! (I’ll have to get back to you on No. 4.) Therefore, I today am announcing that I have formed an exploratory committee to run for president ... yes, of the United States. Let me be perfectly clear — I don’t mean that I’m creating an “official” exploratory committee and filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. That would be waaaay too much work, and not in keeping with the low-energy “White Dude 2020” nature of my campaign. My exploratory committee consists of the editors off whom I bounced off this column idea, who inexplicably refused to kill it.
I’m sure readers have some two questions. 1. What distinguishes me from Tim, Seth, Jay, Eric, Joe, Michael, and at least a couple of Johns (stop snickering, Beavis)?, and 2. Just who exactly are Tim, Seth, Jay, Eric, Joe, Michael and these various Johns of whom you speak?
As for No 1., I’m just like those guys — white, male, nominally Christian, performatively heterosexual, a baby boomer with a thinning hairline and a monotonous speaking style, mediocre with a capital “M.” So I could just slip right into the Democratic field — inconspicuously, with few questions asked. (Do primary voters really need to know that I burned my Democratic voter registration on my gas grill in 2016 ... or about “The Peoria Incident”?)
As for No. 2, I’m afraid I can’t help you.
Indeed, when I looked at the rising sea of bland white faces entering the 2020 contest, like the framed, faded Class of ’79 group shot in the stairwell of a Dartmouth fraternity, an idea suddenly came to me for a Twitter hashtag to define my campaign: #MeToo. What do you think, ladies? I also have a motto, in the spirit of my Phillies: Why Can’t Me?
The thing that really pushed me into race was last week’s news that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is (probably) throwing his faded 1980s Sandinista hat into the ring. Of the people who actually know who Bill de Blasio is — i.e, residents of New York City — a whopping 74 percent do NOT want him to seek the White House. But reportedly, de Blasio is seething over the fact that a white dude who runs a city barely 1/100th the size of the Big Apple — South Bend’s Pete Buttigieg — is doing so well so far in the 2020 race.
Well, guess what? I’m seething over the fact that a different failed-too-late-'80s-hippie — with maybe 100 times the baggage — like de Blasio thinks he’d be a better president than ME. The nerve! I’m not the guy who did nothing while your No. 3 subway ran 45 minutes late and then watched it lose power between stops. I never murdered a groundhog. I don’t have my security detail drive me to a faraway gym. I don’t even go to the gym! That’s how mediocre I am! Why Can’t Me?
What are my ideas for America? Well, here I’m taking inspiration from the white-ist, dude-ist candidate of them all — and thus, understandably, the Democratic front-runner — Joe Biden. The other day in Iowa, a voter had the temerity to ask Biden about his health-care plan, and he said he doesn’t “have the time” for the details.
Damn right! He’s got too many guy-candidate things to do, like eating bad firehouse chili and slapping other guys on the back of their union windbreakers, or slipping checks from Comcast execs in the pocket of his manly overcoat. When the debates come in June, I’m sure Biden will do what any red-blooded male candidate would do: Listen carefully to Liz Warren’s answer, wait 10 minutes and simply regurgitate it with a few macho buzzwords thrown in. The audience will surely cheer Biden’s spur-of-the-moment brilliance!
In fact, one reason I feel so confident about entering the race is that I watched Warren and other women like Sen. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand enter the race weeks before any of the male candidates in order to be better prepared than all the guys. They’ve worked five times as hard to come up with detailed policy papers to prove their seriousness, and — when they’re ready to collapse from exhaustion — to learn how to chug a beer or pick at fried chicken the right way, to somehow prove that they’re “likable.”
What I like is that these gals have done something amazing: Creating reams of policy papers for the Only Candidates Who Can Beat Trump™ with their incredible Y-chromosomes to later tweak into their own “unique plan.” Meanwhile, no one has ever asked John Delaney or John Hickenlooper or Tim Ryan or Seth Moulton where they’re “likable enough.” Maybe “Which one are you, again?” — but not whether they’re likable enough.
And when I’m in the Democratic race, no one will ask me whether I’m likable, which is awesome because my co-workers could tell you that I’m not very likable. But I have what it takes to beat Donald Trump: Testosterone. (Although after watching an ad on late-night cable TV I’m not sure I have enough ... maybe I’ll consult my physician when the primaries are over.) I’ll have to shave my beard, of course, lest I differentiate myself from the rugby scrum of other bland white guys, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice because my nation clearly needs me.
At the end of the day, not only is my chance of taking the oath of office on January 20, 2021, every bit as good as that of Eric Swalwell or Jay Inslee or all the other not-so-young dudes, but I share the same vision: An America where I’m in the running for a lucrative job as a cable-news commentator, a six-figure book deal or university speeches paid for out of your kid’s tuition — not because of the content of my character or the luminescence of my ideas, but because a 20-something CNN producer can put the words “Former Presidential Candidate (D)” under my name.