The Corner


B-Team or Killer B’s?

Beto O’Rourke speaks with supporters in Dubuque, Iowa, March 16, 2019. (Ben Brewer/Reuters)

The opening joke in the new issue of National Review reads: “Bernie, Biden, and Beto? Intersectionality is the future of the Democratic party, and perhaps it always will be.” As it turns out, we are far from the first to notice the 2020 Democrats’ potential for alliteration; the field contains so many B’s that it’s starting to resemble one of my college report cards, even though Brown has dropped out and Buttigieg remains a boutique item.

In fact, a B at the start and a D at the end is about all these three candidates share; they have taken widely different paths to prominence, they hold differing philosophies (as far as that’s possible in today’s political world), and they vary greatly in age, campaign style, and popularity (Beto trails the other two considerably). But they’re all white males, so people on both sides lump them together. That’s progress, of a sort; it used to be that if you grouped together all the white male presidential hopefuls, the result would be called “the candidates.”

Is being a white male an advantage or a disadvantage in the 2020 Democratic race? My thoroughly unscientific view is that it will hurt Beto, because it allows his opponents to freely make fun of his kookiness, while Biden and Bernie will benefit from the Ralph Northam Statute of Limitations. Our Dan McLaughlin has analyzed the Democratic field as thoroughly as an NCAA bracket, and the Reader’s Digest version of the Reader’s Digest version of his analysis is that Kamala Harris is going to win. I’m not 100 percent behind Dan on that, but I agree with him that the three leading white males can’t all stay in the race for long once the voting starts. And that’s a shame, because journalists love saying “Bernie, Biden, and Beto” as much as FDR loved to say “Martin, Barton, and Fish.”

Fred Schwarz — Fred Schwarz is a deputy managing editor of National Review.

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