Amy Klobuchar is Temperamentally Unsuited for the Presidency

And I'd still prefer her to Donald Trump.

Amanda Terkel‘s declaration that “Exposing Amy Klobuchar’s Mistreatment Of Staff Is Not Sexist” is so obvious that it shouldn’t require explication. Yet, clearly, many believe it does.

Since launching her presidential campaign, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has faced questions about her mistreatment of her staff, as reported by HuffPost and other outlets. Former aides said she berated them, physically threw objects at them, made them do her personal chores, undermined their advancement to other jobs and created an anxiety-ridden workplace that led to high staff turnover and trouble hiring new talent.

The political world has largely received these stories as sexist criticism, dismaying and infuriating former aides who experienced Klobuchar’s fury firsthand.

[…]

“None of what we are saying has anything to do with Amy being ‘likable’ or ’emotional’ or whatever other nonsense people throw out at women,” said a former female staffer. “It’s that she is a terrible manager and abusive to her staff. I can’t emphasize enough that there is a big difference between being demanding and being abusive.”

On Friday, The New York Times also published a new report with additional details on Klobuchar’s conduct, including her tendency to blame her aides for all of her problems, such as stymied political ambitions and the state of her marriage.

Klobuchar has responded to the reports by saying she is tough, not abusive. On Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, and in similar comments at a CNN town hall, she said, “I’m going to take the high expectations and bring them out to the country because if we want to really get these things done, some of these things should happen.”

[….]

Particularly frustrating for some of these staffers have been the charges of sexism. Many of the aides who spoke with HuffPost are women, who consider themselves feminists and have worked for other strong female politicians.

One former staffer called the Palmieri op-ed “offensive as fuck.”

“It’s not that there’s not merit to the argument that other men have been abusive and gotten away with it,” she said. “It doesn’t make it OK for anybody. We don’t say, we haven’t held men accountable in the past for this on Capitol Hill, so why start now?”

Indeed, the Klobuchar coverage has set off a discussion on whether a male presidential candidate would be getting the same media attention. While there’s no doubt that for years, working for a male politician with a temper was considered something of a badge of honor, that conception has been shifting. Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), for example, was shamed in the press for misusing and mistreating his staff last year. There are plenty of other cases as well.

This is what I was getting at in my recent post “Can Coverage of Women Candidates Be Non-Sexist?” It’s undeniable that there are double standards—sometimes applied unconsciously—when it comes to how we treat women candidates. We should recognize that and work to avoid it. But that doesn’t mean women who seek high office shouldn’t be subjected to high scrutinty.

Based on what I know at this juncture, I’d say Klobuchar’s temperament is sufficiently awful to render her unqualified to serve in the United States Senate, much less be elevated to the most powerful executive office on the planet. That’s not sexist. Indeed, I currently know of no reason why Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren,  or Kirsten Gillibrand are tempermentally unfit. (Tulsi Gabbard strikes me as a nut, but that’s a whole separate topic.) Further, based on what I know now, I would vote for Klobuchar if my only alternative were Donald Trump, whose temperament is far more unsuited for the Presidency.

Amy Klobuchar is relatively unknown on the national scene and campaigning to have us trust her with an enormous amount of power. It’s sexist to argue that she shouldn’t be subject to the same scrutiny we routinely apply to men seeking the office.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Gender Issues
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Based on available reporting (indeed, I just read the NYT this morning), I have to concur with your assessment.

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Is any of this on record or is it all anonymous sources at this point? I’m taking these stories with some salt at this point. If it’s accurate, I agree. But some of this stuff sounds a bit crazy.

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  3. I’m not sure I agree with you that Klobuchar is “temperamentally unsuited” to be President.

    The allegations about how she treats staff are concerning and would be even if she was a man, but they are just allegations. Klobuchar deserves a chance to respond in full. That being said, she does need to address this issue early. Otherwise, she will become defined by it and that will likely be the end of her as a potentially serious candidate.

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  4. Mary says:

    I am so d*@m tired of people talking about anything but the issues. Please, this election cycle, can we focus on what’s important.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    I gave her some money, but that was before these stories started coming out. I despise people who punch down. Certainly I’d take her over Trump – he punches down and adds racism, misogyny, ignorance, criminality and stupidity. But that said, I won’t actively back her in the primaries.

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  6. James Joyner says:

    @Hal_10000: @Doug Mataconis: I’ve only been aware of the allegations for a couple of weeks now BUT: they’re 1) extremely prolific, 2) mostly coming from other women, and 3) have apparently been well known among the sort of women likely to work on a Democratic staff for quite some time—meaning this isn’t something that’s been ginned up to derail her Presidential bid.

  7. SKI says:

    It’s sexist to argue that she shouldn’t be subject to the same scrutiny we routinely apply to men seeking the office

    While I do not disagree with your main point, I challenge your assertion that we routinely apply the same scrutiny to male candidates.

    Stories of Bernie Sanders temperament and mistreatment are legion on the hill but never made front page stories in 2016 (or today).

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  8. I find this bit of empirical evidence lends credence to the narrative:

    This much is not in dispute: For years, Ms. Klobuchar has had among the highest rates of staff turnover in the Senate, according to a review of congressional offices from the website LegiStorm. Over much of her Senate career, no one outpaced Ms. Klobuchar on this score; in 2017, two freshman senators, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, surpassed her.

    Source: NYT.

    It isn’t everything, but it does suggest some veracity to the overall story.

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  9. drj says:

    Klobuchar has responded to the reports by saying she is tough, not abusive.

    This is a giant red flag. This is how abusers speak.

    Still, it would be nice to get some actual names on record.

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  10. @drj: The way she has responded to the allegations to date have reinforced them, not allayed them, in my mind. She seems to acknowledge the basic story but wants to control the interpretation thereof.

  11. @SKI: The press gets remarkably locked into specific narratives. In 2016 Bernie was the only alternative to HRC and was the cranky old-man socialist with the crazy hair that the kids supposedly loved. That was the narrative and they were sticking to it.

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  12. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Sanders was crotchety old grandpa with (supposedly) the heart of gold. Of course the kids loved him.

  13. Mary says:

    If the media had focused on Trump’s (lack of) command of issues, policy ideas, and understanding of history, he would not be president, in my view. Anyone who wasn’t a Fox News junkie knew he was venal and probably criminally-minded, let alone a Russian stooge. These were important to know, but if he had been pressed continually on his lack of knowledge, I think more people would have come to accept what a complete fraud he is. So, I plead, please press candidates on their policies. They will crack and show their personal vulnerabilities much more credibly if than if the media focuses on their personalities. I’m not saying emotional IQ isn’t relevant, but it will come out “in the wash.”

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  14. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The way she has responded to the allegations to date have reinforced them, not allayed them

    Yep. While I don’t know, of course, the flags are so red they remind me of a Moscow May Day Parade back in the day.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Mary:

    Anyone who wasn’t a Fox News junkie knew he was venal and probably criminally-minded, let alone a Russian stooge. These were important to know, but if he had been pressed continually on his lack of knowledge, I think more people would have come to accept what a complete fraud he is. So, I plead, please press candidates on their policies. They will crack and show their personal vulnerabilities much more credibly if than if the media focuses on their personalities. I’m not saying emotional IQ isn’t relevant, but it will come out “in the wash.”

    Maybe. I think I prefer going at it directly. Temperament and emotional IQ are ultimately more important than command of the issues—and I say that as someone who’d fare better on the latter test than the former—in our system. Were we electing a Prime Minister, issues might be the key. But the Chief Executive in a system of divided government like ours has to build consensus with the Congress and manage a staff.

  16. dmichael says:

    Hold on folks. We don’t know the specifics such as who, what, when and where. NONE of us do. To Steven: The staff turnover rate, by itself, is not determinative of Klobuchar’s handling of staff. To James: What is it with you and women? Please note that, as an example only, Bernie Sanders has had numerous complaints about his treatment of people around him from the time of his being a local official in Vermont to Senator. Why isn’t he “temperamentally unsuited for the Presidency” according to you folks?

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  17. @dmichael:

    To Steven: The staff turnover rate, by itself, is not determinative of Klobuchar’s handling of staff.

    Clearly not. BUT, take the stories themselves, add in the non-denials (she herself wants to debate intensity, not veracity), and notice the turnover rate and you have a story that has some credibility.

    We are to the point where presumption of innocence does not seem appropriate and, instead, the question is one of wanting to see counter-evidence.

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @dmichael:

    Bernie Sanders has had numerous complaints about his treatment of people around him from the time of his being a local official in Vermont to Senator. Why isn’t he “temperamentally unsuited for the Presidency” according to you folks?

    He may well be but 1) the details of his alleged misdeeds aren’t nearly as well publicized at this juncture and 2) this is essentially our first introduction to Klobuchar as a national figure, so it’s naturally going to get more attention that rumors about an already-well-vetted candidate.

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  19. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “it’s naturally going to get more attention that rumors about an already-well-vetted candidate.”

    Part of the problem is that Sanders was not well vetted. He has numerous red flags (ranging from still not releasing his tax returns to statements about Russia during the Cold War) which the media never bothered to mention, and which Hillary did not want to bring up as she knew she would need support from Sanders voters in the general election and did not want to alienate them.

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’m having this moment of despair wherein I admit that while that’s a temperament I don’t think is suitable for the Oval Office, I look at the current occupant. Maybe my rules about what’s “suitable” are just completely out of step with the voting public?

  21. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I gave her some money, but that was before these stories started coming out.

    And this is why you shouldn’t be too wowed by how pols act at Congressional hearings… It’s performative, not authentic.

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  22. gVOR08 says:

    I would vote for Genghis Khan if he somehow became the D nominee in 2020. The allegations are disturbing and detract from her MN nice image. But she’s apparently been quite effective in the Senate , so I’m not sure this much affects her ability to make coaltions and get things done. (IIRC. Efforts to find a link to buttress that impression run into a wall of staff abuse stories.) In any case, someone trying a bit clumsily to do the right things is infinitely preferable to someone trying to do the wrong things. But I’m afraid NYT will treat this like they did the Clinton Foundation. We may be about to find out the Cinton Rules are really Democrat Rules.

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  23. steve says:

    “If the media had focused on Trump’s (lack of) command of issues, policy ideas, and understanding of history, he would not be president, in my view.”

    Nope, these were actually assets for him with his base. For the very small percentage of Republicans who are not part of his base they just didn’t matter. James says it more like a politician sci professor, but command of facts and policy, simple things like telling the truth, character, etc were not important. Trump perfectly reflected what the low brow media Republicans consume had been saying for a dozen years. He made fun of cripples to prove that it was OK to not be politically correct, and they ate it up. He said mean things about liberals and women. They loved it. Plus, he wasn’t Hillary.

    Steve

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  24. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @dmichael:

    Please note that, as an example only, Bernie Sanders has had numerous complaints about his treatment of people around him from the time of his being a local official in Vermont to Senator.

    We’ve never heard these complaints in 2016 and to be fair Sanders’ campaign never had the type of staff turnover that Amy Klobuchar’s office faced(Sanders kept his campaign manager, for instance). Trump, that did not manage to keep most of his cabinet in merely two years is a horrible example.

    Not that everyone here likes Bernie.

  25. Kathy says:

    There are many ways a boss can mistreat employees without bad temper. They can be a nice person and a complete jerk, too.

    For instance, suppose you need to do something, very urgent, but the outcome doesn’t depend entirely on what you do. You do everything right, and in a timely manner, but the outcome is not as desired. You get criticized and lectured for that. Does it matter if the boss screams and insults you, or whether they deliver the rebuke calmly? This happened to me not two weeks ago.

    Or when you have a stressful time at work and the boss piles on more work, though they know your load is already high.

    Or when you inform the boss about a problem or issue with a project, they tell you it doesn’t matter and just ignore it, then go ballistic at you when they realize the import a week later. They claim you never informed them, even after you show them the email you sent and the acknowledgment of it.

  26. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Klubacher sounds like the type of person I would like to work for.
    Genghis Khan would be fine, but my personal choice would be Attila.

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  27. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @gVOR08:

    But I’m afraid NYT will treat this like they did the Clinton Foundation. We may be about to find out the Cinton Rules are really Democrat Rules.

    Nope. The problem is that finding candidates that can have a personal connection with voters is important. The Republicans fail badly when they nominate people that does not have this personal connection.

    These type of personal issues are not trivial, and if Democrats think like this they’ll lose.

  28. Mary says:

    @steve: I agree with, “Plus, he wasn’t Hillary.” But that anti-Hillary sentiment was fueled by the media’s constant “both sides” coverage–reminding the public incessantly of “her emails” and the Clinton Foundation in order “to be fair” to Trump. Again, I believe that if the media had focused even 50% of the time on the issues rather than click-bait that sold their publications, we’d be in a better place now as a nation. And don’t forget, Hillary did win the popular vote. Comey largely to blame for the outcome, as well. Plus, Hillary didn’t campaign to win the electoral college.

  29. Gustopher says:

    There are too many anecdotes like this to make me comfortable: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/us/politics/amy-klobuchar-staff.html

    In private, she could deliver slashing remarks without particular provocation. Parched one day in the Capitol, she turned to a member of her team and said, “I would trade three of you for a bottle of water,” according to a person who witnessed it.

    Anonymous source, describing something that was not meant literally, where it could either be a joke about her thirst, or a comment about the uselessness of her team.

    And I find the salad comb story just funny. Including telling the staffer who forget to pick up the cutlery to clean the comb.

    It all depends on the tone. She may be more of a peculiar boss than an abusive boss — someone who rubs some people the wrong way, but gets amazing loyalty out of those who she doesn’t.

    I am unconvinced about the underlying charges, but she isn’t putting it to rest. Killing nonsense scandals is probably the most important skill of a politician at this level.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am troubled by these allegations because she can’t give her best work if all the good people can’t stand working for her. Just look at what surrounds trump and you’ll know what I mean. Is it dead certain sure that she is the Boss from Hell? No, but it appears more and more that she is a boss from hell.

    @Jay L Gischer: Here’s the deal tho, the choice at this time is not Amy or trump, it’s Amy, or Warren or Harris or Booker or Gillibrand or Sanders or Buttigieg or….

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Sanders kept his campaign manager, for instance

    But Sanders’ campaign manager is not coming back and in fact is part of the problem. Here’s a quote from a CNN story:

    Weaver had been an occasionally divisive figure within the 2016 campaign but more often in the aftermath, when he first took over as the leader of Our Revolution.
    But according to a source, Weaver has been reaching out to former Sanders staff members, including those with whom he had clashed in the past, as part of an effort to repair those relationships and potentially bring them back into the fold ahead of what, should Sanders run, would be a much larger operation than in 2016.
    Shortly after Our Revolution launched, staffers who had key roles on the campaign’s digital and organizing teams resigned from the group amid a lingering differences with Weaver.
    Kenneth Pennington and Hector Sigala, two of the staffers who left, went on to co-found the digital strategy firm Middle Seat, which advised former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke during his unsuccessful but captivating 2018 campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

  32. Sleeping Dog says:

    The question of staff abuse will haunt Klobuchar much more than Warren’s Native American heritage claim will bother her.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    the details of his alleged misdeeds aren’t nearly as well publicized at this juncture

    I gotta call you on this. It has been well publicized for decades that Bernie doesn’t cooperate or get along with anyone, and is uncomfortable in any role other than lecturer from on high. If what you mean is that the media didn’t take this up as a meme, then, sure. But you are part of that media. And, as someone pointed out above, Bernie has never released his past tax returns but the media, including you and the other bloggers on this site, bizarrely give him a pass on this. Would you have given Klobuchar a pass? And we probably will never know but I’m willing to bet the people working the phones to spread this meme are divided equally between Trump’s people and Bernie’s. It has Bernie’s MO. Just look at how the Bernie Bro’s initially took to the blogosphere to call Kamala Harris a skank.

    The bottom line is that the stories that have come out so far have exactly one assertion really germane to a presidential run, if it is true. It said she is having trouble attracting the highest level of people to her campaign because of her reputation. If true, then this hurts her. But there is reason to be skeptical. John McCain had an even worse reputation for flying off into spitting tantrums, and he had no trouble getting the best Republican operatives. Even Obama had a reputation for losing it when he felt staff were underperforming, as did Bill Clinton, and they certainly got the best and the brightest. In any case, this will become apparent when we see who is on her staff.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Bernie has never released his past tax returns but the media, including you and the other bloggers on this site, bizarrely give him a pass on this. Would you have given Klobuchar a pass?

    Bernie Sanders was never going to win the nomination, so he got a pass on a lot of things. Did Vermin Supreme release his taxes?

    Klobuchar is actually a reasonable contender. It’s a more open field, and she’s not a cranky old socialist.

  35. Gustopher says:

    With the amount of random rat-copulation out there, I really don’t trust anonymous sources on things like this. Go on the record, or leak corroborating evidence.

    Has she not sent out abusive emails? Did no one catch any of this on their phone? Is there contemporaneous documentation? Did no staffer text her wife “running late, Klobucher is having a temper tantrum again” back in 2015?

    I want a smoking gun. Partly just because it is fair. Partly because it will be an enjoyable spectacle.

  36. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It has been well publicized for decades that Bernie doesn’t cooperate or get along with anyone, and is uncomfortable in any role other than lecturer from on high. If what you mean is that the media didn’t take this up as a meme, then, sure. But you are part of that media. And, as someone pointed out above, Bernie has never released his past tax returns but the media, including you and the other bloggers on this site, bizarrely give him a pass on this.

    I’m not a reporter. I’m a political science professor who delivers commentary on news items that interest me.

    I don’t recall hearing about Sanders’ staffing issues in 2016 but he was never really a serious candidate in the sense of having a chance of gaining the nomination but rather a curiousity. I’m not sure tax returns are an issue before becoming the party nominee. I don’t think Klobuchar is going to be the nominee but there’s no obvious frontrunner, either, so it makes sense to subject her to scrutiny.

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  37. Jen says:

    I’d vote for her over Trump, for the same reasons Michael articulated above.

    During my career, I’ve worked in no fewer than three workplaces where my immediate boss was a screamer/thrower of things. Two were men, the other was a woman. There’s a particular dividing line in my mind: despite the stressful and toxic workplace this creates, I can honestly say that not one of them ever threw something *at* me. None of them ever berated me in public, as has been alleged here (in which case there are other witnesses out there). There is a clear difference in my mind between being an annoying hothead and being an abusive employer. Neither is really acceptable for work, but the former–which I’ve worked under–is vastly different than the latter. People saying that the employees just don’t get that DC is high-stress themselves do not seem to understand the difference.

    Her “I just have high standards” is bullsh!t. That’s not how employee motivation works.

    The question should not be “Is it sexist to cover this if the candidate is a woman?” it should be “are there male candidates who similarly treat their staff this way, and are getting a pass?”

    We can and should expect more from leaders. That the bar has fallen so low that this is being discussed is disturbing.

  38. wr says:

    Amy is mean.
    Elizabeth lied about being Indian.
    Kamala isn’t black enough, plus she lied about what music she listened to while smoking dope.
    Bernie is too old.
    Biden is too old.
    Beto is too inexperienced.
    Booker was pompous during the Kavanaugh hearings
    Kirsten is insincere because she eats chicken the wrong way.
    Sherrod is too close to Wall Street.

    There, I think we’ve ruled out every serious Democratic contender, and we haven’t needed to do anything more than listen to gossip about them. Well done, guys!

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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Bernie Sanders was never going to win the nomination, so he got a pass on a lot of things.

    I guess I understand this logic, but I have seen article after article saying that Bernie is the frontrunner for the 2020 Dem nod, and not a single one mentions this tax problem. I honestly don’t understand why Bernie is getting a pass on this and so many other things.

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not a reporter. I’m a political science professor who delivers commentary on news items that interest me.

    Fair enough.

    I’m not sure tax returns are an issue before becoming the party nominee.

    I’m pretty sure that every other candidate who primaried in multiple states released their tax returns for at least 5 years. If any did not, they were minor players. And there were reporters who pressed him on this. Here’s an excerpt from a politifact check on him during the 2018 race:

    In other words, among the candidates still in the race, Sanders’ releases are less extensive than anybody’s but Donald Trump. (Trump, too, has faced criticism for refusing to share his returns.)

    And Sanders’ shortcomings are actually bigger than the screenshot above would suggest. The 2014 filings Sanders released consist of just the first two summary pages of his Form 1040 and the equivalent summary pages from his home-state Vermont tax form.

    Sanders repeatedly claimed that he had released stuff and when challenged his consistent tactic was to play the bumbling professor and claim that it was his wife that did their taxes, and to ask her. She in turn played the overwhelmed spouse and kept promising that she would dig around and find them the next time she got home. This has been some Trump-level obfuscation and the press has reacted pathetically. He’s going to keep smearing other Democratic candidates and tearing them down until the scandal finally hits. My guess? He didn’t file for years. But consider his wife financial mismanagement of the University she was associated with, I wouldn’t rule out fraudulent returns that he can’t make public less someone out the lies.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    Sorry, here’s a link to the Politifact article mentioned above.

  41. Gustopher says:

    @Jen:

    During my career, I’ve worked in no fewer than three workplaces where my immediate boss was a screamer/thrower of things.

    We can and should expect more from leaders. That the bar has fallen so low that this is being discussed is disturbing.

    The bar is low in politics because it is low in the rest of life. Abusive bosses are a problem everyone has dealt with. And incompetent bosses.

    I don’t know that the claims about Klobucher are true — I eagerly await a humiliating video or something — but the problem is more fundamental than her, and not just politics.

    I also think that this will hurt her more than it would hurt a man, and more than it would hurt a Republican. Democrats care about workers more, and are less likely to take surviving a bad boss as a bage of honor, and more as a “why am I putting up with this shit?” And, a bad male boss is a jerk, while a bad female boss is emasculating.

  42. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    Did Vermin Supreme release his taxes?

    Mr. Supreme has stated he would release his taxes, were he ever to reach the $5000 donations threshold that triggered FEC reporting requirements.

    Unfortunately for America’s dental health and pony requirements, he hasn’t yet.

  43. @MarkedMan:

    I have seen article after article saying that Bernie is the frontrunner for the 2020 Dem nod

    I have seen some implications of this as well. IMHO it is nonsense. It is lazy analysis based on the notion that he was second place (in an effectively 2-person race) last time, ergo he must be a contended this time. I don’t buy it.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: This! Nice observation!

    And alas “would prefer to Donald Trump” is a bar so low that an earthworm cannot tunnel under it. It is a bar so low that it needs to look up in order to see the Marianas Trench.

    Had no opinion on Klobuchar before, still don’t. Too early in the race for me to care about the pre-sort. There will be lots of debris before this is over and 70-80% of Republicans still think Trump is the greatest thing since Twinkies. And they may be living in 270 Electoral Votes worth of the country.

  45. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But Sanders’ campaign manager is not coming back and in fact is part of the problem.

    I don’t know. Campaigns does not generally use the same campaign manager in different campaigns. Obama did not use the same guy to manage his two presidential campaigns.

  46. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: Yes, of course. And, it’s probably worth noting that in my case one was an elected official (at the state level), one was the president of a trade association, and the third was a private-sector family-owned company. Full range.

  47. Blue Galangal says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Weighing in here to say that the story published in Yahoo News as well as the original story on this reported anonymous sources but were verified by the reporters (e.g., seeing the emails that were sent around). Second, she was rebuked for her treatment of staff in 2015 by Harry Reid. Third and last, the staffers who maintained that she torpedoed their new job offers by calling their new employers had their account corroborated by a Congressional staffer; the inference here was that this staffer had personal knowledge of a job offer that was rescinded following Klobuchar’s interference.

    Too many red flags; and as others have noted, she’s not arguing the facts, just her interpretation of the facts. Let’s hope she’s not the nominee. I won’t work for her or contribute to her, and I certainly won’t vote for her in any primary.

  48. gVOR08 says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    The problem is that finding candidates that can have a personal connection with voters is important.

    Yes it is. But Hillary’s charisma, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with NYT’s obsessive coverage of the Clinton Foundation or her emails. Nor is Klonuchar’s degree of charisma likely to have much to do with how much attention the supposedly liberal MSM pay to this story.

  49. I am not sure why some folks are so defensive about this discussion, BTW. This is what happens in campaigns–dirty laundry is identified and weighed in contrast to whatever positives the candidate may have. Not to mention we are at the early stages of the primary process is a field in the double digits. If the reports are true, it does sound like a problem.

    Also: the digs on anonymous, but otherwise seemingly properly reported stories rings a bit hollow given how much of the ongoing discussion of the Trump WH has relied on the same.

  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    If she’s this volatile someone is going to come up with a recording. And if we get video of Klobuchar screaming at someone it’s going to be game over. It’s too off-brand for her.

  51. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also: the digs on anonymous, but otherwise seemingly properly reported stories rings a bit hollow given how much of the ongoing discussion of the Trump WH has relied on the same.

    Sources have their own agendas, and when they are allowed to remain anonymous, we don’t have a way of knowing what that agenda is.

    With the Trump White House, everyone’s motivation for leaking seems to be that they hate everyone else there. And, there is such a flurry of it that the big story — it’s complete chaos — is clear. Are all of the smaller stories true? Does Donald Trump refuse to let anyone other than himself remove the sheets from his bed? No idea. I take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes we get some truly wonderful supporting documents, other times, it’s just an anecdote.

    With Klobuchar, we have a bunch of bizarre reports, without any of the smoking gun documents you would expect to come out. I either want to see more information, or to know who these people are — at least up to the point where we know what their motivation is.

    Are these three disgruntled employees who were fired for cause, who have signed onto the Hickenlooper campaign, and are trying to undermine her to benefit Hickenlooper?

    One of the claims is that she sabotages employees who are looking for work elsewhere by badmouthing them. How can we judge whether that is true, or whether she just gave someone a crappy reference because they were crappy? The former employee is going to see it as sabotage one way or the other.

    The NY Times is better than most other papers, but we have seen them get used before to push an agenda. The run up to the Second Iraq War, for instance.

    And, they tend to settle on a narrative quickly and never deviate from it. Hillary was unlikeable and was perpetually dogged by email issues. Al Gore sighed too much and was a compulsive liar. Mitt Romney was a human being…

    If Klobuchar is as awful as they are saying, some hard evidence will come out. Someone will have a recording, or there will be an email sent to the office belittling someone, or something. The lack of hard evidence at this point is unexpected.

    That said, a major part of any candidate’s job is going to be dealing with bullshit scandals, and so even if she is a fine boss and this really is all bullshit, we have to judge her by how she deals with it.

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree that in general opinion pieces are not very useful in determining who has a real shot. The articles I referred to above are based either on polls, which show Biden and Sanders well ahead of the pack, and on his fundraising ability. His campaign raised $6M from 224K individuals in the first 24 hours of his campaign. Those are front runner numbers by far. He should be vetted in the same way as any other front runner.

  53. dennis says:

    The sooner there’s a global freeze, ocean deluge, nuclear conflagration, or other environmental or man-made catastrophe, the better. We have shown ourselves unworthy and undeserving of this life. We are … deplorable.

  54. dennis says:

    @James Joyner:

    meaning this isn’t something that’s been ginned up to derail her Presidential bid.

    Of course it was, James; otherwise, we STILL wouldn’t have heard anything about it. Timing is everything, and I’m suspicious of the revelation. The reports may be exaggerated. They usually are.

  55. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner: @James Joyner:

    “I don’t recall hearing about Sanders’ staffing issues in 2016 but he was never really a serious candidate in the sense of having a chance of gaining the nomination but rather a curiousity. I’m not sure tax returns are an issue before becoming the party nominee.”

    “He may well be but 1) the details of his alleged misdeeds aren’t nearly as well publicized at this juncture and 2) this is essentially our first introduction to Klobuchar as a national figure, so it’s naturally going to get more attention that rumors about an already-well-vetted candidate.”

    So Sanders wasn’t really vetted in 2016, because “he was never really a serious candidate”, but his issues don’t matter this time because he is “an already well-vetted candidate”. Wow. Just wow.

  56. Tyrell says:

    @Mary: “The media”: right there, is the problem. What are your news sources? The controlled main stream news today is engaged in deception and and propaganda. It’s all “Trump”. Turn on some of the news networks and just see how much time they give to other news events – about 2%. Major things happen and they ignore them. Could they go one whole day, even a Sunday, and not mention Trump one time? And their demeanor and manner is hollering at people, worse than Springer’s shows.
    I dropped the msm some time ago and went to sources that are informative, educational, balanced, and optimistic. I feel a lot better.The msm tries to get people’s attention away from certain events for a reason. Think about it.
    The msm is in decline. The American people are not dumb: they are seeking out alternative news.
    “It’s not news” Ted Turner

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  57. In re: Bernie:

    -It is too early, and there are far too many legitimate candidates running, for “front runner” to have much meaning at the moment.

    -I agree that we was not vetted fully in 2016.

    -To that last point, he really wasn’t fully attacked by his opponent, because she never felt fully threatened by him. She risked turning off support she needed. This time will be different: on race, on staff issues, on taxes, on whatever.

  58. Moosebreath says:

    This Vox article” is a good counterpoint on the Klobuchar narrative. The conclusion:

    “Philosopher Kate Manne offers a way to consider this dynamic in her book Down Girl, the Logic of Misogyny. Manne argues that when a woman steps out of her expected role of “caretaker,” she’s attacked. In Klobuchar’s case, her critics describe a boss who expects them to put her work and her ambitions first. She is not concerned with their feelings, clearly. She is not going to hold their hand through writing a policy brief or a press release. She expects them to do excellent work — for her.

    We do not expect a man to put others first, certainly not a powerful politician. Assertiveness, decisiveness and command of others are all considered positive qualities. These fit the role men are expected to play in the same patriarchal system that punishes women for stepping out of their expected role.

    Klobuchar critics are angry about emails and binders and forks — and whether or not they admit it to themselves, they are angry about something more fundamental. Klobuchar is breaking the rules. She puts her ambitions, her work and herself first. And as she pushes ahead in her ambitions, the criticism has become more ferocious. As Palmieri puts it, “nothing draws fire like a woman moving forward.””

  59. Jen says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I am not quite as surprised about the defensiveness. I think Democrats are sick of being held to a much higher standard.

    That said, I view this as positive. I am not wild about having a large field of candidates, and really do want any weaker ones weeded out *before* Iowa and New Hampshire, because a bigger field gives Sanders a greater opportunity to come out on top in those two contests. The more the Democratic primary vote is fractured, the greater the likelihood that Sanders’ supporters will be able to use that to their advantage. Sanders remains a favorite here in NH, and there continues to be this ridiculous notion that the person who came in second last time should get a chance.

    I think he’d be a disaster as a candidate, but even if he just wins IA and NH, his ego is such that I don’t see him being graceful if he isn’t. In other words, I view him as a real threat to beating Trump, so yes, I want to see a fairly tight field by the NH primaries.

    I know a year is a long time in politics, but there is so much at stake (including likely more Supreme Court seats) that I am sufficiently concerned about Sanders.

  60. Teve says:

    @dennis: it is time to panic about global warming

    FWIW I don’t think humans acting as a group have the brains to successfully deal with global warming and the next hundred years will be one calamity after another.

  61. Jen says:

    @Moosebreath:

    “[…] her critics describe a boss who expects them to put her work and her ambitions first. She is not concerned with their feelings, clearly. She is not going to hold their hand through writing a policy brief or a press release. She expects them to do excellent work — for her.”

    Anyone who works for a politician knows and understands this dynamic. You’d have to be a complete idiot to not realize that your job is entirely dependent on your boss’s success.

    What people are objecting to here is classically ABUSIVE behavior. You do not throw things AT people. You do not vindictively sandbag their opportunities when they leave your office. You do not berate them for your own shortcomings.

    This has nothing to do with the “women aren’t allowed to be tough bosses” narrative people are trying to spin.

    I am curious if any of those who are defending her behavior have ever worked in an office like this. Not a “my boss once yelled” but a “have a drywall repair person on speed dial” environment.

  62. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: We’re defensive about this because of the environment we’re in as revealed by recent history. It sounds too much like “Hillary’s unlikeable”. The really disturbing thing about the Trump investigations is that they’re just piling up detail on stuff that was known before the election. Trump is a sexist pig, he’s up to his eyebrows in Russians and Russian money, he was always a lousy businessman who is rich only because he hasn’t quite destroyed the family business, his foundation was corrupt, he’s racist, he’s connected to mobs, foreign and domestic, he cheated his subcontractors, he could only get loans under shady circumstances, and he lies about everything. This was all knowable, but only if you paid attention and dug a little. The MSM, especially Trump’s hometown paper, FTFNYT, barely mentioned this stuff. They were too busy writing deep dives into the theoretical possibility of issues with the Clinton Foundation, beating to death every detail of her damn emails, to coin a phrase, and analyzing her lack of likeability. This just feels like we’re headed back down the same stupid path.

    This story is disquieting and may be a factor in voting for someone else in the primaries. Even taken at face value, saying this is automatically disqualifying bespeaks attitudes and priorities we don’t all share. How different would the world be had we elected unlikeable Al Gore instead of deciding we wanted to have a beer with W? This is picking at a scab that hasn’t healed since 2016 and before.

  63. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen:

    I want to see a fairly tight field by the NH primaries.

    Yes. The GOPs went into ‘16 with a large, undifferentiated field. The results are befoe us.

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  64. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also: the digs on anonymous, but otherwise seemingly properly reported stories rings a bit hollow given how much of the ongoing discussion of the Trump WH has relied on the same.

    People who are saying what we want to hear under the protection of anonymity are “whistleblowers.” They’re not the same as “anonymous sources”–who tell nothing but lies and made up stuff–at all.

  65. Let me be clear on a few things:

    1) I am wholly open to Kloubacher redeeming herself on this topic. It is just to date, I see a lot of red flags that have not been adequately addressed and I do not want the general election to become about Democratic nominee Kloubacher’s treatment of her staff.

    2) I am cognizant, and cautious, about stories like this and the way they can play into gender issues.

    3) I am concerned about a repetition of the HRC e-mail monomania by the press.

    Having said all of that, what I find unpersuasive about the defenses of Kloubacher in this thread is that none of them are based on evidence. They are either dismissals of what what has been reported, or they are concerns about meta-narratives.

  66. Also: a lot of people are confusing primary politics with general election politics.

    Indeed, all of the critics of Kloubacher in this thread have stated or implied that they would vote for an alleged binder-throwing Kloubacher over Trump.

    But if she is a binder-thrower, who could get us into an endless string of stories about her temperament, better not to nominate her, yes?

    It is primary season, not general election season.

  67. al Ameda says:

    Here we go.

    Not that it’s relevant but, 62 million Americans voted to elect arguably America’s worst boss, with as terrible and malignant temperament, to the presidency.

    Also, in another not that it’s relevant but, Lindsay Graham’s Senate colleagues just confirmed to the Supreme Court a judge who demonstrated that he most likely did NOT, by past standards, have the temperament necessary for confirmation to the Supreme Court.

    Before we settle on a determination theres’s nothing we can do about Republicans with bad temperaments and Democrats with bad temperaments are unacceptable, that is …. before I resign Klobuchar to the ‘Candidacies Over Before They Started’ File … what I wan to see is a thorough background check of every congressman and senator to ascertain who or whom has the requisite temperament to represent the people of their respective districts or states.

  68. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    To that last point, he really wasn’t fully attacked by his opponent … She risked turning off support she needed. This time will be different: on race, on staff issues, on taxes, on whatever.

    I wish I could be as confident as you. Remember all those Republicans not directly challenging Trump’s background because they knew he wasn’t going to win and they feared alienating his supporters?

  69. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    what I find unpersuasive about the defenses of Kloubacher in this thread is that none of them are based on evidence. They are either dismissals of what what has been reported, or they are concerns about meta-narratives.

    I guess I let my tangent on Bernie overwhelm my main point on defending Klobuchar, which is: I don’t think she needs defending, even if all the stories are true. In fact, I accept that they are.* Look, I’ve spent a lot of time in surgeries. I’ve watched two different thoracic surgeons humiliate an underling in front of both me (an outside observer) and the rest of the staff. I didn’t like it and I don’t think it speaks well for the type of people they are as individuals. But they are #1 and #2 on my choices for surgeon if anyone in my family every needed an operation in their specialty. And I’m pretty sure that everyone present feels the same way, including the people they lit into.

    Klobuchar’s way of dealing with subordinates may mean she will have a cold and lonely old age, but it doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t be an effective president. Driven leaders are often jerks. Taking just one example: Steve Jobs. The stories about him tearing a subordinate down over what he perceived as inadequate work are endless. And by all accounts Jobs had a lot of trouble forming and keeping personal relationships. But more importantly to the hundreds of thousands of employees earning a paycheck as well as the shareholders, he took over a company that had serious people literally calling for him to shut the doors and distribute the leftover cash to the investors and turned it into literally the most valuable company on earth. For important work I choose effective over nice every time. And it’s not just about the money. Apple is almost without a doubt the greatest force for improved working conditions in their vast supply chain. And it is by far the greenest major company in the world and continues to drive relentlessly towards a negative carbon footprint. That culture was driven by Jobs. Even an *sshole can move us forward.

    Klobuchar needs to do exactly two things: First, attract top talent to her campaign. This is where her behavior may hurt her. Second, she needs to show that she can get past this type of stuff. Every Democratic candidate is going to get dragged through the mud by their Dem opponents and, if they are lucky, by the Republicans. The winner better be able to punch their way past this stuff.

    *It’s worth reading the original story. Some of the anecdotes made me think, “What a petty jerk”, but I felt others made the tellers look equally bad.

  70. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I believe Im on record saying Klobuchar has no shot. That’s proving true by the day.

    On top of the fact she can’t deflect this softball of a hit piece, shes:
    a. from Minnesota which means she’d come across as weird to non-Minnesotans
    b. looks like the human version of Princess Fiona from Shrek
    c. has a terrible tone to her voice
    d. has a typical politician conversational style which is entertaining.

    She won’t make it past the primaries so its not a big deal.

  71. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Klobuchar’s way of dealing with subordinates may mean she will have a cold and lonely old age, but it doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t be an effective president.

    We don’t know. Klobuchar never held any job in the Executive, so, her aides are the only subordinates that she ever had in the public service. You don’t throw objects at your cabinet, but dealing with the cabinet, with Congress and foreign leaders is complicated. Pretty complicated.

    Maybe Klobuchar is just horrible to little people, we don’t know.

    Besides that, if you don’t think that wouldn’t be toxic for voters that had toxic bosses, well, I imagine that voters in Wisconsin and Michigan have news for you. Note that Republicans lose when they can’t establish a personal connection with voters(Just ask President Mitt Romney)

    By the way, there is a popular 2011 comedy with bad bosses that became extremely popular. Ironically, the only woman among the “horrible bosses” is Jennifer Aniston, that basically sexually harass(In a non-threatening way) an aide.

  72. Lynn says: