War Hero Moulton's Authenticity Will Keep Fueling Hope about a Presidential Run

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It’s outlandish of course that people were talking not so long ago about Seth Moulton, a two-term member of the Congress from Massachusetts, as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, and yet another sign how poorly we select presidential candidates since the emasculation of political parties half a century ago.  In any case, Moulton has repeatedly stated that he will not run for president; however, one must still acknowledge that speculation regarding a Moulton White House run is not at all unreasonable or delusional, and that, were he to run and be nominated by his party in the summer of 2020, and were he to face President Trump in the final, assuming Trump stays in office for four years and is able to obtain the Republican nomination a second time, Trump could well have a hard time beating Moulton.

In a blog post of February 1, Lauren Johnson of the Washington, D.C. firm Speak Strategic, laid out the reasonable case for Moulton as Democratic presidential nominee thusly:  “Though somewhat new to politics, Moulton found great success in his first term.  In his first two years, he introduced 10 bills – 3 of which passed the House, 2 which were signed into law – including the Essex River Dredging and Faster Care for Veterans bills which drew bipartisan support.  In this time he also co-sponsored 270 bills.  After retaining his seat in the 2016 election, in which he ran unopposed, he has expressed opinions of Democrats changing the ‘status quo’ in order to win back seats in 2018 and 2020, pledging to ‘continue to work with both Republicans and Democrats to ensure Massachusetts remains at the forefront of progress and opportunity.’ ”

Johnson continued, “In looking to 2020 and no clear frontrunner on the Democratic side, a young, charismatic Marine Corps veteran with the ability to reach across the aisle who is willing to stand up to President Trump may be just what Democrats are looking for. So, why not Seth Moulton?”

Moulton, Johnson was saying, is at least as good as any other prominent Democrat now being mentioned as a possible candidate.  She was right.  You have not heard anyone say, for example, that Moulton would have a terrible time in a match-up against former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.  Nor have you heard anyone say this or that incumbent Democrat governor would be an obviously stronger candidate.  (Only 16 governorships are currently held by Democrats.  Those governors are, in alphabetical order: John Bel Edwards, Louisiana; Jerry Brown, California; Kate Brown, Oregon; Steve Bullock, Montana; John Carney, Delaware; Roy Cooper, North Carolina; Andrew Cuomo, New York; Mark Dayton, Minnesota; David Ige, Hawaii; Jay Inslee, Washington; Jim Justice, West Virginia; Dan Malloy, Connecticut; Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island; Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania.)  In recent decades, governors seem to do better than U.S. senators in presidential elections. 

What you have heard people say about Moulton is they like that he had the gumption to call for Nancy Pelosi to step aside as the House minority leader and for the minority party to give new, younger leaders more chances.  If Moulton did run for president, and if Moulton wedded this JFK-like call for new leadership to a Sandersesque populism, he could become a powerhouse.

There is no instance in modern times of a U.S. representative, like Moulton, even winning his party’s nomination for president, and you have to go back to the election of 1880 to find the last time a House member, James Garfield, went from the House to the White House.  Notably, Garfield was like Moulton in that Garfield served with distinction during war, the Civil War, although not as distinctively as Moulton, an active duty Marine officer for five years who fought on the front lines in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor.  According to citations accompanying the medals, Lieutenant Moulton “fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire” while leading his platoon during several pitched battles.

That war record immunizes Moulton permanently against reflexive Republican assertions that lefty Democrats are weak on national defense and cannot be entrusted with the presidency at a time when terrorists want to destroy America.  Such claims would have seriously hurt Bernie Sanders had he been the Democrat nominee last year.  Similarly, strength on national defense is a glaring weakness for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat whose star power and money-raising ability outshine Moulton’s, at this point in the game at least.

It would be amazing if someone who grew up in Salem, MA and earned three degrees from Harvard (a bachelor’s, a master’s in business, and a master’s in public administration) became the first member of the House to be elected president in 140 years.  The unique historical chance to become that person is certainly reason enough to encourage Moulton to run compared to why Trump was initially encouraged, i.e., he was good at kicking butt on reality TV, ergo, he would straighten things out in D.C. in no time.

Too bad Seth Moulton has sworn off running for president.  I think he’d do fine against either Trump or Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, should Trump quit one night in a fit of rage and frustration or be impeached for any number of good reasons already on the table, first and foremost, violations of the constitution’s emoluments clause. 

Moulton’s no actor.  He never played up his medals when running for the Congress.  His parents did not even know he’d won those medals until a week before the Boston Globe’s Walter Robinson wrote an article on Moulton’s war record, “Seth Moulton underplays military service,” 10-18-14.  At that point, Moulton had been out of the Marine Corps for six years.  In an interview with the Globe prior to the article’s publication, Moulton asked Robinson not to describe him as a hero. 

When a guy who’s no act goes against a guy who’s all act, the voting public almost always sorts it out correctly.













No comments:

Post a Comment