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Barack Obama, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen held a rally in Philadelphia last night. At the end, Hillary Clinton showed up and ruined the vibe.
As pretty much everybody noted when the images started swimming through Twitter, it looked pretty cool:
Neat, huh? But, watching it this morning, a thought occurred to me: This might be the last period for a while during which the Democratic party is cool. In two months, Barack Obama will be an ex-president, and, if today’s polls are correct, his replacement will be a septuagenarian Nixonian whose aides have spent the best part of three decades trying to make people like her. Although President Obama has been a poor salesman for his ideology — there are few ideas he has made more popular during his presidency — he is generally liked and admired, and he has been for a long time. Hillary is not, and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. That matters.
Clinton aside, the Democratic party is in an odd position. Who are its leaders? Elizabeth Warren, one of the “radicals of the future,” is 67. Bernie Sanders, that inspirer of youth, is 75. Nancy Pelosi, the would-be Speaker of the House, is 76. Chuck Schumer, the would-be Senate Majority Leader, is 65. All of them are old. All of them are white. All of them are out of ideas. None of them is Barack Obama. The White House to one side, the last six years have taken a serious toll on the Democrats’ bench. Looking at the party’s future prospects, a handful of names come to mind — Cory Booker, Kirsten Gilibrand, Tammy Duckworth, the eternally over-hyped Castro Brothers — but one cannot help but be impressed by how limited the selection is.
The Republicans, by contrast, are younger, more diverse, and come from a broader collection of states. The GOP is never going to be cool — a certain squareness is in the nature of conservatism — and, if the party continues as it has this year, it is never going to be taken seriously, either. But if it does decide to change, it seems well-set to do so nevertheless. Who are its leaders? The Senate Majority Leader is 74, so we can put him in the same camp as Warren, Sanders, Clinton, and co. But Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, is 46. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the runners up in this year’s primaries, are both 45. And, going forward, the GOP has a strong range of younger guns just waiting to take the reins. Among them are: Cory Gardner (42), Tim Scott (51), Nikki Haley (44), Susanna Martinez (57), Tom Cotton (39), Dan Sullivan (51), Ben Sasse (44), Joni Ernst (46), Rand Paul (53), Scott Walker (49), Brian Sandoval (53) — and, for now, Kelly Ayotte (48). The oldest governor in the country is a California Democrat; the youngest is a Southern Republican. The oldest senator in the country is a California Democrat; the youngest is a Southern Republican. All is not as it seems in paradise.