Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Former New York Governor George Pataki may choose to enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination in the near future, and the popular reaction to the news can be summed up in one word: why?

The 66-year-old Pataki has not held elected office in five years, and he has not played a public role in national politics since leaving Albany. He has little to no campaign infrastructure, and will be at a financial disadvantage to candidates who have spent years planning their presidential bids. Furthermore, Pataki’s record as Governor of New York — which includes an expansion of Medicaid, generous deals for municipal unions, and support for marriage equality and abortion rights — is completely out of step with the ultra-conservative rhetoric that has dominated the presidential race so far. As one GOP insider told the New York Daily News, “Among a lot of New York Republicans the general sense is that [Pataki running for President] doesn’t make sense.” There’s no question that Pataki would be the longest of longshots to capture the nomination.

Why, then, would he bother to run at all? Longshot candidates often hope to bring attention to an important issue that they feel is being overlooked, and that may be Pataki’s motivation; last month he told AOL that he wanted to be “actively involved in the race” so that he could start a meaningful debate on America’s energy policy. Pataki hopes to give states greater freedom to set their own policies on natural gas hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”). It will be difficult, however, for Pataki to steer attention towards fracking and away from more explosive issues such as the war in Afghanistan, a potential repeal of the healthcare law, and the looming battle over what to do with the Bush tax cuts.

Pataki may be trying to drum up business for Chadbourne & Parke LLP, the powerful New York City law firm at which Pataki currently practices energy, environmental and corporate law. Debating America’s energy policy on the national stage promises to raise Pataki’s public profile and increase the credibility of his private law practice.

It is also possible that Pataki genuinely thinks he can win. Recent statements by Mitt Romney and Jon Hunstman reflect a growing sense that the controversial views of Tea Party favorites Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry may leave an opening for a moderate Republican to surprise everyone and steal the nomination.

In any case, the most important question surrounding Pataki’s potential candidacy might not be the one that pundits are asking — “why?” — but rather the one that voters will be asking: “who?”

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps, like Republican reps, going on Sunday shows is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide full-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and just from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I also understand he is in disagreement on that issue.

Tapper wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turnout in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, she sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. ... If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the vice president wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe that we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but again, the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.