In the era of “Resist!” there seems to be a competition to see who can oppose, obstruct and defy president Donald Trump more than everyone else. For the folks out in the streets with their pre-printed signs and genitalia themed headgear it’s probably hard to pick a winner. Not so in the halls of Congress, however. Democratic Senators are lining up to lead this parade and one of the best measures they have in demonstrating precisely how willing they are to defeat the new president at every turn is the frequency with which they vote against the confirmation of his cabinet nominees. It should come as no surprise that the leaders in this race include some of the same people who are already being quietly discussed as possible presidential nominees in 2020.
So who’s in the lead so far? As The Hill reports, it’s a tight race in a fairly crowded field, but we do have one leader who is out in front by a nose.
Democratic senators with White House ambitions are leading the charge to sink President Trump’s Cabinet picks.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is at the top. The New York senator has voted against 12 of Trump’s Cabinet picks and is the only Democrat to vote against Gen. James Mattis, the president’s pick to lead the Pentagon.
Kirsten Gillibrand might seem like a surprising choice to some. She’s young in comparison to the rest of the field (which we’ll get to a moment), and that works in her favor. But by the same token, she doesn’t seem to have the same national name recognition as the people who were most often mentioned during last year’s Democratic primary or the ones who soak up the most time on cable news shows. Still, she has a very ready for television face and a loyal following in the Northeast.
I have a bit of history with Gillibrand, given that she is one of my Senators, and I find myself wondering how well she will stand up to scrutiny by a very energized and hard left leaning base if she decides to toss her hat in the ring. Before she reached the Senate and completed her conversion to ultimate progressive status, Senator Gillibrand was a local figure from the upstate area who had to win a contentious fight for her seat in the House. That means that there are all sorts of quotes and clips hiding out there in the media vault where she speaks warmly of things like gun rights and other conservative issues while being somewhat lukewarm at best on abortion, among other things. She also has a background as an attorney who was, shall we say, rather friendly with the movers and shakers on Wall Street.
So who else made the list for the Obstruction Hall of Fame? It should come as no surprise to see the names of Bernie Sanders, Corey Booker and Elizabeth Warren. Sanders and Warren are ideologically naturals if they are looking toward a 2020 run, but they’re both getting a bit long in the tooth. This could play against them both in terms of health concerns and the aforementioned image problem of being part of the old guard. I suppose Booker is someone with real possibilities in the minds of many, assuming by “many” your name happens to be Corey Booker. Frankly, he’s always struck me as far more of a show pony than a workhorse (to borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton’s campaign).
There aren’t too many more on the list who seem like likely prospects, at least at this early juncture. But even if they are, do the Democrats really want to run a senator? That worked in the case of Barack Obama but it was clearly the exception rather than the rule. I still have to wonder if any of the remaining Democratic governors might take a more aggressive approach next time, assuming that Hillary Clinton remains out of the way. It’s just a pity that they don’t have the opportunity to go vote against all of Trump’s nominees this month.