• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Querelle de Femmes: Klobuchar and Warren

January 2020

In what’s come to be regarded, by both auditors and critics alike, as a singularly curious annunciation of a political preference, as an unprecedented declaration of commitment to a candidate, or, as it were, a pair of candidates for whom, separately, hardly a flicker of excitement exists and between whom, jointly, there’s nothing—beyond the generative organs with which they were born—remarkably stimulating or discernably common, the New York Times has announced its two preferred candidates for the upcoming Democratic primary election. In order of the paper’s most desired candidate, to that to whom it’ll resort if all else fails, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar have been named the paper’s two candidates of choice. These, as evidenced by the glowing affirmations and frenzied scribblings of the editors by whom they were selected, are the women about whom they’ll be—over the course of the next few months—most unabashedly sanguine. More than that, they’ll be the ladies behind whom the New York Times, America’s most influential (if no longer reliable) newspaper will now build and grow its weighty support.

An endorsement of not one but of two possible candidates—between whom, you’ll rightly notice, there’s to be, by the very nature of the competitive venture in which they’re jointly engaged, a phenomenon of “victor and loser” and of mutual exclusion—surely seems not only an indecisive and unhelpful act on the part of the Times’s editorial staff, but a rather lazy, feeble-hearted, and long-winded one as well. Perhaps, in relaying to you this, the New York Times’s unusualbipartite message in favor of Warren and Klobuchar for the election of 2020, you might attribute to me, humble messenger of this bewildering announcement though I admittedly am, an insensitivity to the Times’s actual point. Perhaps it was the paper’s intention to promulgate a novel idea, an interesting subtlety in the politics of this land of which, in the hands of an unrefined and sloppy reader like me, I couldn’t possibly be conscious.

I don’t think I flatter myself in thinking this not to be the case. That, coming from my own mouth, is quite a recommendation for me. And as for you, dear reader, I hasten to add, for your benefit as well as for mine, that this is no case of diplopia—however weary of eye and blunted of sense you may feel yourself to be. So far as I can tell, you aren’t seeing double.

From the pains of the political exhaustion by which you’ve been rendered breathless over the course of the past four years, you may very well be suffering from one or many disease, but the infirmity of double-vision isn’t one by which you’ve yet been infected. You haven’t yet succumbed to that giddy state of optical illusion and of visual disrepair, to that world of hallucinatory wonder and duplicate ideas where one sight is expected and two are received.

No, you aren’t seeing double, nor, as I can assure you, is this is an illusion of the Times’s contrivance into which you’ve once again susceptibly fallen. Nor is this an act of the legerdemain-mainstream media’s work in whose deceptive and constant trickery you’ve been, yet again, caught. In a most unusual way, in a maneuver—open and explicit for all to see—that’s demonstrative both of the paper’s dithering and of the bifurcation that yet exists between its moderate head and its radical heart, the New York Times has announced its endorsement of both Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

You might think, and rightly so, that so indecisive a “decision” does you—the wayward and harried voter, the average Joe and workaday Jane in search of clarity to whom this whole impeachment and primary season has been nothing short of a ball of confusion—very little good. You’d be not at all wrong, certainly not in the least blamable, for thinking such thoughts. You’d even be excused if it were resentment that burst forth from your soul as a visceral response to this whole unhelpful farce. If the New York Times was the chief and primary source upon which you relied for any consistency in your political guidance, erudition, and help (god help you, should you find yourself in so benighted a state), you’d be very little availed by the paper’s noncommittal approach to these presidential candidates between whom you’ll soon have to choose. The time for dithering will soon be done, and, when finally it is, one must be prepared to act on the ballot by which she’s confronted.

Certainly, the Times’s inability to choose just one candidate from a field of a dozen or more should inspire little optimism in what’s become a wavering, schismatic, and unmoored Democratic party (and, not to mention, a strengthening and confident President Trump). Thus far, in successive weeks, nearly every major candidate of whom that party is a sponsor seems to have held a small advantage in the polls—however transitory a bump it might’ve been. Variously, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders have all held, however marginally and tenuously, statistical leads in the earliest of the two primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire—only to watch these fugacious numbers change, and, with them, the prospects of their future success by which they were so justly enthused.

The New York Times, wanting not a reversion to the status quo ante Obama, a time during which, in the haut opinion of the bien pensant, such unfortunate things as oppression, misogyny, the patriarchy, and unmitigated white privilege were rife, is grasping for a candidate (in this case, for two candidates) of whose diversity—be it sexual or racial—we can all finally take note and be proud. It’ll be a diversity by which we can rectify ancient wrongs and soften modern shortcomings. Alas, the possibility of a racially distinctive candidate, with the expiry of Cory Booker’s political ascent, the floundering of Kamala Harris’ once auspicious campaign, the insensitivity to Andrew Yang’s very existence, and the general disdain for Tulsi Gabbard, renders only a sexually unique candidate as desirable.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is, therefore, a candidate of manifest undesirability. In the opinion of the New York Times and in that of the Democrat intelligentsia to whom its columns are devoted, he would be an insufferable choice. The reasons are clear: he’s an inescapably old, stubbornly moderate, and morbidly white man. Sadly, only one of those three characteristics (namely, his moderation) lends itself to any degree of mutability. It’s the only sliver of his portfolio to which an amendment might be made. All else, much to his chagrin, is ossified in its current, increasingly decrepit, state. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, also intolerable to the Times’s quite distinctly feminine taste, share two-thirds of those unprepossessing characteristics by which Biden is so obviously hampered: Sanders, elderly and white, is the first and third; Buttigieg, white and moderate, the third and second. They possess, however, qualities of redemption to which Biden, to his great frustration, has no claim: Sanders, if scratched just beneath the dander of his skin, is an avowed Marxist; Buttigieg is sexually inverted, to use an antiquated term, and—while on the topic of years—charmingly young, having not yet reached his fourth decade. Most importantly, though (or, in this case, most damningly) all three of them are men.

We’re left, then, in a situation to which the French might, with every ounce of their inveterate eloquence and tact, apply the phrase, Querelle de femmes. The New York Times, with its endorsement of Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, the two remaining and viable female candidates, of whom only one possibly will vie for the presidency in ten months to come, has presented before us its own iteration of this phrase, which we now translate in the tongue of our birth to mean the “Woman Question”. It’s a problem, much more than ever it was a question, by which a bevy of statesman, suffragists, philosophers, and kings were animated throughout so many years of our past, and for which we still seek an answer today. But, in the case of the New York Times, the woman or, better yet, the women question is not solved, and we’re led no closer to its resolution. Indeed, it’s only exacerbated, and toward the endeavor of its conclusion and of our choice for the presidential election of 2020 (perhaps, as we’re told by that same paper, the most consequential of our life), we’re given no help.

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