Buttigieg vs Booker

Two youngish Rhodes Scholars turned mayors are getting covered differently.

Fans of Cory Booker are more than a wee bit upset at how much coverage Pete Buttigieg is getting early in the 2020 cycle.

One of the Democrats running for president is a youthful former Rhodes Scholar who speaks more than one language and cut his teeth as a two-term mayor. The other is Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg’s sparkling résumé has been the subject of countless profiles, powering the South Bend mayor to the top tier of the 2020 field. Sen. Cory Booker, however, hasn’t received nearly as much attention and remains mired in the middle of the pack in recent polls.

The similarities between their credentials — and the disparity between how their campaigns have been covered on the campaign trail — are frustrating Booker allies who question whether the media is giving the New Jersey senator a fair shot.

“He’s at a disadvantage anytime he’s not treated on the same playing level as all the other candidates,” said South Carolina state Rep. John King, who has endorsed Booker. “There should be a campaign where people start to question the process when there’s not fairness — and especially within the media.”

Some see echoes of 2016, when Donald Trump’s media dominance drowned out his Republican rivals en route to securing the GOP presidential nomination and later the White House.

In recent weeks, Buttigieg has been profiled, among other places, in Time magazine, New York magazine and Vogue, and his husband, Chasten, was the subject of a feature story in The Washington Post. Evenhis communications adviser was the focus of a POLITICO magazine story.

“I guess I’m a little gun-shy because I remember what happened four years ago when all of the attention was based on this guy from New York who happened to be a billionaire by the name of Donald Trump,” said state Rep. Jerry Govan, a senior legislator who serves as chairman of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.

“Nobody controls who the media covers but the media,” he continued. “It’s important for them to get it right this time. If folks got a good message, that message deserves to be covered. I think the American people deserve the opportunity to hear the truth, to have a clear understanding of where people stand on the issues that they care about, and the media’s the only entity that can do that, and that’s its job.”

—POLITICO, “‘The epitome of privilege’: Booker supporters seethe over Buttigieg mania

Now, the Trump comparison is absurd. He entered the race as a household name who had been in the national spotlight for three decades and continued to get coverage because he continually broke the norms of presidential politics. Buttigieg entered the race almost completely unknown outside Indiana and is getting continued attention because people are coming away impressed with his intellect.

Beyond that, so far as I can tell, Buttigieg isn’t spreading lies and nonsense. To the extent he’s getting coverage, it’s about his message.

Still, the disparity in coverage with Booker is noteworthy and, as one might expect, some suspect the difference in skin tone has something to do with it.

Other Democrats see Buttigieg’s rise as a reflection of entrenched racial and gender biases — that the Buttigieg bump would be impossible if he wasn’t a white man.

“What I hear from people is that they see the epitome of privilege,” said Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based strategist, who also credits the South Bend mayor for being an excellent communicator.

The frustration is closer to the surface in South Carolina, where African Americans cast roughly 60 percent of Democratic primary votes in 2016 and where Booker has been a frequent presence.

“I think Cory is just as accomplished,” said a senior Democrat in South Carolina, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the subject. “And I’ve heard grumblings from a number of people [who have asked], ‘Why hasn’t he gotten that type of exposure?'”

Race and sex are always a factor when non-whites and women are running. But I don’t think it explains the disparity in this case. Barack Obama was much more of a media phenom than Buttigieg when he launched his campaign in 2008. And Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are both getting significant coverage—and treatment as serious candidates—this go-around.

Still, it’s noteworthy that I knew about Buttigieg’s Rhodes Scholar credentials almost immediately and didn’t realize Booker had trod that path until someone pointed it out in the comments section here a while back.

My guess is that most of the disparity is simply a function of Buttigieg being the new kid on the block and Booker having been around awhile. When Buttigieg started testing the waters, people were naturally curious. Most reacted as I did: Who the hell is this guy and what makes him think he can be President?! Listening to him made many of us say, Hmm. Maybe he could.

As a mayor of a relatively modest-sized city, Buttigieg is something of a novelty in the race compared with Booker, who is one of seven sitting senators in the field. There’s a sense among some within Booker’s campaign that he’d generate more buzz if he were running for president as the mayor of Newark, his old job, rather than as a senator from New Jersey.

But it’s not as though Booker is a boring, standard-issue politician. He’s one of three African Americans in the Senate. He’s a former Stanford college football player who is dating actress Rosario Dawson. The 2005 “Street Fight” documentary chronicling Booker’s mayoral campaign against incumbent Sharpe James was nominated for an Academy Award, and news of his rescue of a neighbor from her burning home was picked up nationally when it happened in 2012.

Booker, in fact, has had a national profile for much longer than Buttigieg, who has run unsuccessful races for Indiana state treasurer and Democratic National Committee chairman.

But, again, that cuts both ways: Booker’s story is old news and Buttigieg’s is new to us. And, while they’re both young compared to President Trump (72), Biden (76!), Sanders (77!), and even Warren (69), Booker is 50 and Buttigieg only 37. That adds to the sense that he represents a generational shift.

“Pete Buttigieg, despite his staff’s good press work, doesn’t have that remarkable a story,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, a Democratic strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

She pointed to Booker and Julián Castro, the former Obama Cabinet secretary and San Antonio mayor, as better alternatives for voters who want a candidate with mayoral experience.

“Sen. Booker and Secretary Castro would both be historic presidents and have both presented clearer policy visions than Mayor Pete,” Rocketto said.

That strikes me as sour grapes but isn’t totally unfair.

A state legislator who declined to be identified because he’s aligned with a different 2020 campaign speculated that Buttigieg’s success in attracting media attention is more about the historic nature of his campaign than anything else.

“He would become the first openly gay person to become president of the United States. That’s big, especially in this era,” the lawmaker said. “Sen. Booker, we’ve seen that before. Even though he’s got his qualifications, we’ve seen black men that have run for president. We’ve seen a black man that’s already been elected as president. And so, it wouldn’t be unsurprising that he wouldn’t generate the same kind of momentum.”

I do think the novelty factor is important at this early stage. Then again, it’s more likely than not that his being gay will hurt him as the race goes on. Despite polling saying that a majority of Americans has no problem with a gay President, there’s deep-seated prejudice on that front.

Also, it’s worth noting that, despite the media boomlet over Buttigieg, the numbers here are small. As 538’s tally* makes clear, Joe Biden is dominating coverage with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris in the second tier. Booker and Buttigieg are getting mere crumbs by comparison:

Biden is getting ten times and Sanders five times the coverage of Buttigieg. So, he and Booker are just fighting for relevance at this point. The bottom dozen candidates, including the aforementioned Castro, aren’t even doing that so far.

*Hat tip: Chris Lawrence

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, Pete Buttigieg, Race and Politics, US Politics
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. MarkedMan says:

    I’m curious about Buttigieg and so read (past tense) about him more than Booker, who I’m more familiar with. Booker had more of a moment a few months ago before Mayor Pete became the shiny new thing, but his time seems to have faded, at least for now. Remember how this worked when the Republicans were running so many candidates? Each one got a week or two to be the “It Girl” and then they faded into the background.

    Nonetheless, for me, there is an important distinction between the two. Buttigieg is at the beginning of his career and is showing promise which may or may not amount to anything more than “excellent Mayor of a small city”. The most likely path is that he will fade in the polls, drop out and use the contacts and fame to become a congress member or governor.

    Booker has more on his resume and therefore more to judge. On the one hand he has shown himself able to move on from his position as mayor and won a Senate seat in a highly competitive state, and that’ s no small thing. On the other hand, although he has been a net positive and a breath of fresh air both as Mayor of Newark and as Senator, he doesn’t really have any big accomplishments or signature issues. He was a good and decent mayor, but I don’t think anyone can claim he had a major effect on the city other than doing a good enough job. Again, not a small thing, but nothing to show he has the oomph to lead the United States.

    As a Senator, well, I’m always skeptical of someone who heads their lists of accomplishments in the Congress by what they co-sponsored. Co-sponsoring is a good indication of what you are willing to get behind and that’s a good thing. But while co-sponsoring is a good indication of your values, the work of actually sponsoring a bill, i.e. creating, managing and pushing it through congress with all the wheeling and dealing demonstrates an ability to motivate others and move the needle. Bottom line, it demonstrates executive ability. I’ve disparaged Bernie before for having a 28 year record of co-sponsorships and no signature leadership accomplishment (beyond mundane State of Vermont “money for the courthouse” types of wins). Booker has only been there six years and so maybe he will eventually develop the chops to affect the agenda, but that just goes to show that, in my mind anyway, it’s too soon.

  2. Guarneri says:

    Keep it simple. Thracian gladiators are out this election cycle.

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  3. Joe says:

    Race and sex are always a factor when non-whites and women are running.

    OK, James, let’s try “Race and sex are always a factor.” That you don’t notice them without non-whites or women in the picture does not make them a non-factor.

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  4. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Guarneri:

    Ok, that made me chuckle.

  5. SKI says:

    I think that this is yet another example of the media preferring narrative to accuracy or truth.

    @MarkedMan:

    On the other hand, although he has been a net positive and a breath of fresh air both as Mayor of Newark and as Senator, he doesn’t really have any big accomplishments or signature issues

    With all due respect, this isn’t true. Booker’s primary focus has been on justice – economic, environmental and criminal. He was a prime mover in getting the First Step Act passed – no small feat in this bitterly partisan and divided Senate. He has been a advocate for cleaning up the food industry and the environmental impact created – particularly on poorer who bear the environmental costs (See, e.g., this story and his discussions of the impact of ag industry on the environment and poor families in North Carolina). There is also his Baby Bonds initiative. You can like or dislike any of these but to say he has none isn’t accurate.

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  6. Jen says:

    “There should be a campaign where people start to question the process when there’s not fairness — and especially within the media.”

    When I worked in politics, almost every conversation with a candidate started out with “Forget fairness. Life isn’t fair, and there’s a reason they call it ‘earned media.’ Get out there, meet the voters, and STICK TO YOUR CAMPAIGN PLAN.”

    Novelty is absolutely a factor, and probably *the* factor driving a great deal of the coverage. The other is Twitter. Buttigieg has Chasten, and a very social-media savvy team. A lot of reporters are on Twitter, and they see that coverage, it does draw attention.

    Booker has been in DC for a number of years now, and isn’t shiny-new. He doesn’t have a partner actively amplifying his message.

    I am starting to lose my patience with Democratic friends who are incessantly fussing about how the media coverage of their chosen candidate isn’t “fair.” It won’t be. Ever. Get out and do the work, it will come or it won’t.

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  7. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    Booker is a Senator. When he was mayor of Newark he was a political sensation, but every interesting politician that becomes a senator becomes bland and uninspiring. Mark Warner was pretty interesting as governor of Virginia, now, he is just meh. Even Joe Manchin was something of interesting as a governor.

    A great asset of Buttigieg is that as a mayor he has to deal with reporters and citizens. Senators have to deal with other Senators.

    There is a reason why so few Senators had been elected to the White House, and why only one of them as reelected and finished his two terms.

  8. SKI says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: I don’t see how this makes any logical sense from a voter’s perspective. They aren’t magically different people. The only thing that is different is how the media chooses to cover them.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @SKI: Thanks for the links. I hadn’t realized that he was a prime mover on the Last Step Act, and that really is a major accomplishment. Criminal justice reform is a very difficult thing to do since a Congress critter can always avoid risk with an easy cop-out (“I am 100% in favor of reform, but this particular bill (insert every-bill-ever here) has a flaw that prevents me from voting for it”). The fact that he was part of the team that got it over the line is a big win and shows that a) he can be a team player (I am not surprised by that), and b) that he has taken a big political risk and pushed it through. I am also not surprised by the fact that he did so for a cause that will not net him a lot of votes, as he has demonstrated his decency many times.

    The Ag bill, on the other hand, shows his values are good, but I never had much doubt about that. It hasn’t been passed and appears to be stuck in committee, so I don’t think it can be fairly chalked up as a win.

    But you’ve given me food for thought. I haven’t been very invested yet in any candidate as I think they all still need to demonstrate they can succeed as a candidate. Up to now the only strong impressions I’ve formed wrt to a winning candidate is that I’m OK with Biden but worry about him melting down and that I like Harris and feel she’s tough enough to take it and dish it out without becoming an a*hole. But I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Booker.

  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    In many ways Boot-edge-edge candidacy is being kept alive by the press, otherwise he’d be following Beto into oblivion. The shots he has taken at Christianists and social justice warriors have grabbed headlines and the howls from the aggrieved have kept the coverage going, but I don’t have a sense of what he wants to accomplish, unlike Warren, Harris and even Booker.

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  11. Kylopod says:

    Other Democrats see Buttigieg’s rise as a reflection of entrenched racial and gender biases — that the Buttigieg bump would be impossible if he wasn’t a white man.

    Ironically it reminds me of some of the criticisms leveled against Obama in the 2008 cycle, except the racial perspective is reversed: there were people who said Obama was only getting all the attention over better credentialed candidates because he was black; now they’re saying the same about Buttigieg as a white male.

    In both cases, I think the criticism is overly reductive and made by people who seem intent on overlooking the individual qualities of the candidates (which are about more than just on-paper qualifications).

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  12. SKI says:

    In both cases, I think the criticism is overly reductive and made by people who seem intent on overlooking the individual qualities of the candidates (which are about more than just on-paper qualifications).

    Other than Millenial vs Gen-X and the racial aspects, what do you see as the differences in the “individual qualities” between Buttigieg and Booker?

  13. Gustopher says:

    “Pete Buttigieg, despite his staff’s good press work, doesn’t have that remarkable a story,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, a Democratic strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

    Buttigieg and his husband and his staff have been amazing with their press work. Maybe Cory Booker should just try being amazing?

    It’s catty and snide, but I mean it. Booker should be a much more formidable candidate than he is. If I were his campaign manager I would give him one piece of advice: “fire your campaign manager.”

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  14. michael reynolds says:

    Buttigieg is interesting, Booker is not. That’s all this is. Claiming that the gay mayor is up because he’s white is asinine. Booker reads as sincere but too soft, too vague, too kumbaya. Mayor Pete reads as smart and that is catnip for the intellectual portions of the Democratic voter base. He also comes off as very unlikely, an outlier, and that is catnip to reporters. It’s not Buttigieg’s fault Booker is uninteresting.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Remember how this worked when the Republicans were running so many candidates? Each one got a week or two to be the “It Girl” and then they faded into the background.

    Remember 2012, when they settled on Romney after carefully examining every other candidate and finding them lacking, and Romney was just there going “What about me?”

    Not every candidate, as they didn’t bother with Ron Paul, but even Rick Santorum lead the field for a while. They really did not want to settle on Mittens, but they ran out of other candidates.

  16. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: As mayor, Booker ran into burning buildings to save his constituents. He saved a couple more in various other ways. He shoveled an old guy’s sidewalk so the city wouldn’t fine him or something. He was hands on, and kind of amazing. He’s not uninteresting, or if he is, it’s a learned trait.

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  17. SKI says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Buttigieg is interesting, Booker is not. That’s all this is

    That is a truly remarkable statement that I find to be 100% backwards and unsupported by reality.

    What on earth makes Mayor Pete interesting? his obsession with Big Data – like every other McKinsey consultant? I’m far more interested in Super Mayor and how a African-American football star ended up partying with Chabad in Oxford on Purim

    And if folks think Buttitieg “reads as smart” and Booker doesn’t? Well, that may have something to do with their own biases…

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  18. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @SKI:

    They aren’t magically different people.

    They are. Everyone complains about bland centrism, but an efficient senator – think of Ted Kennedy or Everett Dirksen – has to use some type of bland centrism to pass legislation.

  19. Kylopod says:

    @SKI:

    and how a African-American football star ended up partying with Chabad in Oxford on Purim

    In fairness, I think that says more about Chabad than it does about Booker.

  20. Gustopher says:

    @SKI:

    What on earth makes Mayor Pete interesting? his obsession with Big Data – like every other McKinsey consultant?

    Chasten makes Mayor Pete interesting.

    Also, randomly speaking Norwegian, strolling by the hospital to translate Arabic, his quiet “I’m smarter than you” persona, giving up McKinsey to go do something that matters, the one-eyed dog, doing the military thing,… he’s pretty interesting even without Chasten.

    Cory Booker, also interesting. I don’t know what the hell his campaign team is doing, but they aren’t doing much. Maybe he doesn’t want to peak early.

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  21. SKI says:

    @Kylopod: Maybe but it takes two to Horah…

  22. SKI says:

    @Gustopher:

    Chasten makes Mayor Pete interesting.

    How so? I know that is his spouse but what about him is interesting? You are the second person I’ve seen cite Chasten without explaining why.

  23. Davina Gilbert says:

    @Sleeping Dog: ironically, a lot of Pete’s “direction” is in the very same mass media plasterings many don’t take the time to view. He has a plethora of town halls, rallies, speeches, interviews that are at a minimum of 45 minutes plus. Sad that today’s society doesn’t value personal interaction as much as they value 30 second sound bytes.

  24. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    If Pete Buttigieg were elected to the Senate he would become boring and bland, like most Senators are. Booker was Buttigieg when he was just a mayor.

  25. Jen says:

    @SKI:

    You are the second person I’ve seen cite Chasten without explaining why.

    If you’re referring to me, I stated very clearly why. He has a knack for finding fun and witty things on social media and sharing them, he is doing the candidate-spouse thing just about perfectly from my observations. It allows for Buttigieg to be amplified and made less like a walking list of desirable traits in a candidate–more human.

    Booker has himself and his staff–that’s no knock on him, but spouses/significant others do play an important role on the campaign trail (if they wish to). Chasten’s also a former drama teacher, which means he’s probably pretty good with timing and reading a room. These are things that shouldn’t matter, but do when you are in front of an audience–which, these candidates are a lot of the time.

    I do think there’s a bit of a curse in being a Senator. You’re on the national stage enough to become a known quantity, but not enough to *really* be known. People think they know who you are because they’ve heard of you.

    We’re seeing it across the board, I think. Warren, Harris, Booker–all senators, and all are having trouble with their press coverage–not because they aren’t substantive, but because they ARE.

  26. SKI says:

    @Jen:

    If you’re referring to me, I stated very clearly why. He has a knack for finding fun and witty things on social media and sharing them, he is doing the candidate-spouse thing just about perfectly from my observations. It allows for Buttigieg to be amplified and made less like a walking list of desirable traits in a candidate–more human.

    Ok, I guess. Hasn’t penetrated by social universe so I have no idea what those fun and witty things are or why that make Buttigieg a good candidate for POTUS when he hasn’t run anything bigger than a hamlet.

    Maybe I’m getting old but it strikes me as stereotypically millennial to immediately expect to be made CEO without having any relevant experience. I can’t figure out why anyone is talking him seriously.

  27. Jen says:

    @SKI:

    …it strikes me as stereotypically millennial to immediately expect to be made CEO without having any relevant experience. I can’t figure out why anyone is talking him seriously.

    As an elected official, who had to respond to a constituency and work with local, state, and federal regulators, Buttigieg has more relevant experience in government than Trump.

    Unfortunately, the “experience” factor has been thrown clean out the window. Conservatives railed for years about Obama not having sufficient experience, and then they elected…someone with even less relevant experience.

    That ship has sailed, for better or worse (I think worse, but as I noted in another thread, if Buttigieg somehow manages this–and I don’t think it’s likely, but for argument’s sake if he does–he at least would bring on talented people and listen to them. Obama did, Trump does not because he thinks he knows everything already.)

    People are taking him (Buttigieg) seriously because he comes across as talented. I think that one thing that the rise of people like Mark Zuckerberg has done is to show that there are talented young people out there, and that we’re not confined to just looking at the Olds anymore.

    Speaking personally, I’m about done with Baby Boomers as president. I’ll vote for Biden if he’s the nominee, but he’s nowhere near my top choice (I don’t really have a top choice yet, but I do take Buttigieg seriously, along with Harris, Booker, and others.)

  28. SKI says:

    @Jen:

    As an elected official, who had to respond to a constituency and work with local, state, and federal regulators, Buttigieg has more relevant experience in government than Trump.

    True but irrelevant. Still no where near enough experience to do the job competently – something Trump isn’t doing.

    Unfortunately, the “experience” factor has been thrown clean out the window. Conservatives railed for years about Obama not having sufficient experience, and then they elected…someone with even less relevant experience.

    Totally disagree with this. Just because the GOP elected a moron with no experience, doesn’t mean that we should elect a smart person with no experience.

    Experience isn’t everything, attitude and aptitude matter but substance still counts.

    Speaking personally, I’m about done with Baby Boomers as president. I’ll vote for Biden if he’s the nominee, but he’s nowhere near my top choice (I don’t really have a top choice yet, but I do take Buttigieg seriously, along with Harris, Booker, and others.)

    I’m pretty sure I’d vote for a lobotomized parakeet over Trump but I don’t want to see either a Boomer (so done with that) or a millennial (none with enough experience yet). I’m leaning Harris but also like Booker.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    @SKI:

    Ok, I guess. Hasn’t penetrated by social universe so I have no idea what those fun and witty things are or why that make Buttigieg a good candidate for POTUS when he hasn’t run anything bigger than a hamlet.

    South Bend is three times the size of a hamlet! Recent McKinsey analysis shows it at 3.2 times the size of a hamlet.

    Pete, on his own, is a bit over-intellectual. Chasten adds adorable and silly, and makes Pete show that when they are together.

    For better or worse, personality is part of what people look for when voting. They want someone who is like them, or someone who they want to have a beer with (and then choose George W. Bush and Donald Trump, despite the fact that neither drinks…). Chasten brings that warmth out in Pete. Sure, he’s a McKinsey consultant who will use big data to show how his faith informs his progressive values and that sewer system, but he’s also totes adorbs.

    Maybe I’m getting old but it strikes me as stereotypically millennial to immediately expect to be made CEO without having any relevant experience. I can’t figure out why anyone is talking him seriously.

    Fair. He would argue that most Senators have no executive experience, and haven’t managed anything larger than an office staff. Up to you whether you buy that.

    I would say that there are two jobs any nominee has to be good at — appealing to enough people that they can get elected, and actually doing the job of president. That first job requires handling the media, and there the Buttigieg team has been fucking brilliant. The fact that Boy Genius Mayor Pete is taken seriously at all is a testament to how well that his team is doing that. With his experience, he should be a joke candidate with a silly name.

  30. Jen says:

    @SKI:

    Just because the GOP elected a moron with no experience, doesn’t mean that we should elect a smart person with no experience.

    Experience isn’t everything, attitude and aptitude matter but substance still counts.

    I agree with you there, especially the last line.

    I’d note that Buttigieg’s military service is worth wrapping into things too. I like that he’s served. Another millennial political “one to watch” on the D side is Jason Kander from Missouri. Red state Dem, was elected to statewide office, and has also served in the military. I like these kids. 🙂

    Over the years I’ve worked with a number of people much younger than me who have exhibited talent, leadership, and smarts well beyond their ages. I guess I’m just not that hung up on it, because I’ve seen young people–in particular millennials, but also younger-than-me Gen X–do amazing things. Run-large-company amazing. So, perhaps I’m just primed to accept that it’s possible.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @SKI:

    I’m pretty sure I’d vote for a lobotomized parakeet over Trump but I don’t want to see either a Boomer (so done with that) or a millennial (none with enough experience yet). I’m leaning Harris but also like Booker.

    I like Booker. I liked him when he was a mayor, and I like him as a Senator, and he would probably make a good President.

    I think he hasn’t caught on because he hasn’t made a case for himself to prospective voters. He might have made a case for himself in an empty room somewhere, in the basement of a town hall, down some broken stairs, behind a door marked with a sign that says “Beware of Leopard”, but that doesn’t do him any good.

    His job right now is to find a way to make his case in front of people. If the world is a bit racist, sexist, angry-at-bald-people or whatever, he has to figure out how to get past the gatekeepers. And, if he can’t, he would make a disastrous nominee. The world isn’t fair sometimes.

    The whole “And if folks think Buttitieg ‘reads as smart’ and Booker doesn’t? Well, that may have something to do with their own biases…” argument is loser talk. Worse, it’s self-reinforcing loser talk. It suggests the argument of “I’m a pretty open-minded guy — if I don’t think Booker reads as smart because of my biases, what will less accepting people think? Better not to take a chance on it.”

    I don’t think it’s race, or at least not insurmountably so. Harris is a solidly second tier candidate, behind Biden and Bernie, and has both race and gender working against her. Booker is around the novelty candidates. Any fault here is Booker’s. And his team’s.

    Beto is trying to reintroduce himself (now with electrolytes!). As he has fizzled, he’s right to do so.

    Booker should be asking some hard questions about what is and isn’t working, and be making big changes, whether to his campaign or to the existence of his campaign. It’s early, he has months. He can probably get two to three shakeups in before voting starts.

  32. wr says:

    @SKI: “How so? I know that is his spouse but what about him is interesting? You are the second person I’ve seen cite Chasten without explaining why.”

    I take it as a sign of the great strides forward our society has made in some areas that you can ask with a straight face what makes it interesting that the spouse of a plausible male candidate for president is a man.

  33. Matt says:

    @SKI:

    Maybe I’m getting old but it strikes me as stereotypically millennial to immediately expect to be made CEO without having any relevant experience. I can’t figure out why anyone is talking him seriously.

    You know what millennials are tired of your boomer shit too. We get blamed for everything while receiving utterly no credit for anything. We’re taking him seriously because we’re tired of the Boomers fcking everything up and blaming us. Pete is smart as a whip and has vastly more experience than Trump or even Obama at this point.

    @SKI:

    I’m pretty sure I’d vote for a lobotomized parakeet over Trump but I don’t want to see either a Boomer (so done with that) or a millennial (none with enough experience yet). I’m leaning Harris but also like Booker.

    I’m 100% sure that Pete has more experience than your boomer ass. I’m utterly tired of boomers having one standard for themselves and another standard for Millenials. We’re reaching our 40s now and you boomers are still busy calling us undisciplined spoiled participation trophy waving little brats.. Never mind that the reason Millennials are so fcked over is because of you and your generation…

    BTW Kamala Harris IS a boomer….

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Matt:

    I’m 100% sure that Pete has more experience than your boomer ass. I’m utterly tired of boomers having one standard for themselves and another standard for Snake People. We’re reaching our 40s now and you boomers are still busy calling us undisciplined spoiled participation trophy waving little brats.. Never mind that the reason Snake People are so fcked over is because of you and your generation…

    Every once in a while I forget that I have a chrome extension that replaces “Millennial” with “Snake Person”. It is the best extension.

    BTW Kamala Harris IS a boomer….

    Depends on the definition — some use 1961 as a cut-off, others use 1965. Harris was born in 64, which makes her either a very tail end Boomer, or a Gen Xer. But, you Snake People never remember Gen X, do you?

    No one even bothered to give Gen X participation trophies. They just didn’t care enough.

  35. SKI says:

    @Matt: hey punk! I’m not a Boomer. The world isn’t confined to Boomers and Millennials. Maybe if you had more experience in reality you’d realize that. 🙂

    Oh, and Harris is just young enough to be Gen X, not a Boomer.

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  36. SKI says:

    @wr: touché but I’m pretty sure that it isn’t the spouses gender but the candidates orientation that is “interesting”. Just as I’m pretty sure from context and comments that the posters I referenced weren’t focusing on that either.

  37. Matt says:

    @SKI: Your attitude is entirely boomer.

    Harris is a boomer according to standard dates used to define generations. Granted the whole concept is a bit silly as my birthdate straddles one of those grey areas. Depending on who you talk to I’m either a late gen X or a very early Millennial. Regardless I’m tired of the crap talking towards millennials because most of it isn’t even their fault. It was gen X and boomers that created the debt/participation trophies and all that shit. Meanwhile it’s millennials who have built the internet into what it is today. Zuckerburg and others like him are younger than Pete and have done far more than you could ever hope to achieve. Yet you tut tut them as if they are children who have no experience because they are millennials…

    @Gustopher:
    Well I was born in 1980 so I’m even forgotten by the gen Xers too….

    I received participation trophies growing up even though the people who handed them to me would whine about them a decade later….

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  38. Gustopher says:

    @Matt:

    Zuckerburg and others like him are younger than Pete and have done far more than you could ever hope to achieve.

    Given that ISIS was using Facebook for recruiting, Russians used it for disinformation campaigns to suppress Clinton’s vote and the Myanmar Buddhists were using it for organizing the ethnic cleansing of the Rohinga, maybe Zuckerberg shouldn’t have done so much…

    A bit of experience, and maybe he would have thought a bit about how these tools would be used badly.

    Fvcking Snake People…

  39. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Matt:

    Harris is a boomer according to standard dates used to define generations.

    She is. She was born in 1964, in the end of the post-war baby boom in the United States.

  40. Moosebreath says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    “Harris is a boomer according to standard dates used to define generations.

    She is. She was born in 1964, in the end of the post-war baby boom in the United States.”

    The problem with the standard dates is that the experiences of kids born in the early 60’s are so different than those born in the 50’s.

    The cohorts born in the early 60’s had no worries about going to Vietnam, as the draft was ended long before they would have been eligible. They were not part of the pre-AIDS sexual revolution of the 70’s, but bore a disproportionate share of the cost of it as they were still minors during the era when divorce rates skyrocketed. They entered the job market during the high-inflation, then high unemployment period in the late 70’s and early 80’s, which hurt their lifetime earnings significantly.

    Obama was our first (and hopefully won’t be the only) X’er President.

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  41. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Obama was our first (and hopefully won’t be the only) X’er President.

    Obama was born in 1961. By almost all definitions, he’s a Boomer.

    Many researchers and demographers use dates which correspond to the fertility-patterns in the population, which results in a Generation X starting-date of 1965, such as Pew Research Center which uses a range of 1965–1980,[15] Australia’s McCrindle Research Center which uses 1965–1979,[16] and Gallup which also uses 1965–1979.[17] PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services network headquartered in London, describes Generation X employees as those born from 1965 to 1980.[18]

    Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe define Generation X as those born between 1961 and 1981. They argue that those born between 1961 and 1964 are part of Generation X rather than the Baby Boomers because they are distinct from the Boomers in terms of cultural identity and shared historical experiences.[19]

    Some researchers use dates similar to Strauss and Howe’s such as the University of Michigan’s Generation X Report, a quarterly research report from The Longitudinal Study of American Youth, which defines Generation X as those born between 1961 and 1981.[20]

    Author Jeff Gordinier, in his 2008 book X Saves the World, defines Generation X as those born roughly between 1961 and 1977 but possibly as late as 1980.[21] Canadian author and professor David Foot divides the post-boomer generation into two groups: Generation X, born between 1960 and 1966; and the “Bust Generation”, born between 1967 and 1979, In his book Boom Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift.[22][23]

    Those who start it before 1965 are decided outliers.

    I find this somewhat persuasive:

    The cohorts born in the early 60’s had no worries about going to Vietnam, as the draft was ended long before they would have been eligible. They were not part of the pre-AIDS sexual revolution of the 70’s, but bore a disproportionate share of the cost of it as they were still minors during the era when divorce rates skyrocketed. They entered the job market during the high-inflation, then high unemployment period in the late 70’s and early 80’s, which hurt their lifetime earnings significantly.

    But the problem with that is that the experiences of those of use born a few years later (November 1965 in my case) is very much different. Then again, that’s true for those of the tail-end of the traditional definition born in the late 1970s. Which speaks to the silliness of the “generations” construct.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    To me, the big takeaway from this conversation is that there is no official or correct starting or ending date for any of the generations, be they boomers or Xers or Millennials. And this feels correct to me. I think there were two major societal trends that drove boomer attitudes: the fact that there was sh*t-ton of them all young together at once, and the fact that the boys and young men could be sent to die in Vietnam if their number came up. Born in 1960, I certainly was a part of the first – my neighborhood was simply overflowing with kids, every where you looked. But by the time I was 15 or so, I knew I wasn’t going to Viet Nam and so never had that hanging over me. By the time I was in college some of the hastily built grade schools were getting converted to senior centers, because there were literally half the school age kids in the neighborhood, so that was definitely a different life experience for those students.

  43. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    I tend to accept the Strauss and Hahn model of generations, they are shaped by experiences, not sheer numbers. By temperament, Obama is an X’er, not a Boomer.

    “But the problem with that is that the experiences of those of use born a few years later (November 1965 in my case) is very much different. Then again, that’s true for those of the tail-end of the traditional definition born in the late 1970s.”

    I will agree that late-70’s births are somewhat different (though I think they are still more similar to other X’ers than to early 80’s births). Can you illuminate on the differences in life experiences you see between a member of the 1961 cohort and the 1966 one?

  44. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I will agree that late-70’s births are somewhat different (though I think they are still more similar to other X’ers than to early 80’s births). Can you illuminate on the differences in life experiences you see between a member of the 1961 cohort and the 1966 one?

    I think the experiences of someone born in 1961 and 1966 are more similar than those of someone born in 1966 vs 1979, so, again, the “Generations” thing is kind of weird. Still, those born in 1961 were born into the optimism of the postwar era in the same way as other Boomers whereas those born in 1966 were born into the malaise of the post-Kennedy assassination, post-Gulf of Tonkin era.

    If susceptibility to the Vietnam draft is the main qualifier, you’d need to go back to 1958 and, realistically, 1955.

  45. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Moosebreath:

    The problem with the standard dates is that the experiences of kids born in the early 60’s are so different than those born in the 50’s

    .

    These standard “generations” are as reliable as sun signs in astrology(Or even less reliable). On the other hand “baby boomer” is a type of thing that makes sense because there was a Post-war baby-boom in the United States.

    On the other hand one could argue that there are too many old people in the political leadership, and that new faces could be helpful.

  46. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Still, those born in 1961 were born into the optimism of the postwar era in the same way as other Boomers whereas those born in 1966 were born into the malaise of the post-Kennedy assassination, post-Gulf of Tonkin era.”

    True, but since they were toddlers as of the time Kennedy was assassinated and Gulf of Tonkin occurred, they have no memories of a time before then. Indeed, Strauss and Hahn specifically cite the impact of the Kennedy assassination as the reason they draw the line between Boomer and X at 1960/61. People born on one side of the line have memories of it, while people who were born on the other do not (similar to them placing the line between Silent and Boomer at 1942/43, based on people having memories of WWII, and not the typical 1945/46).

  47. Jen says:

    These standard “generations” are as reliable as sun signs in astrology(Or even less reliable)

    I tend to think of them as cultural pinpoints that link people during formative years. I think it’s worth recognizing that kids who grew up with a similar set of cultural touch points will have some indicators that group them with one another, and that it affects worldview.

    This hits home for me most when I’m with a group of age-related peers and they all start talking about something–usually TV, but sometimes it’s food or whatnot–that I completely missed because I was living overseas. I am absent a cultural reference that has, in some way, shaped their collective zeitgeist. Are there always clear lines? No, of course not. But I think that it’s instructive on some level.

    For Boomers v. GenX & Millennials, I think one of the defining divisions will be the switch from pensions to 401K–and all of the ramifications that fall out from that. Those of us who entered a workforce without pensions being an option (or very soon phased out) are also the generation for whom Social Security will start paying out at a less than full rate.

  48. Matt says:

    @Gustopher:Wow that has to be the dumbest post I’ve ever seen you make. You could leverage those same complaints against litterly every invention ever. If you create something someone somewhere will figure out how to use it in a bad way. To pretend that some sort of “lack of experience and thought” caused all that is just stupid.

    I seriously expected vastly better from you.

    EDIT : The internet itself is what you are actually complaining about as Facebook was only a small part of what those people used. The internet of course was created by people with experience and lots of thought on the subject….