In today’s newsletter: Elizabeth Warren’s political conversion. Plus: Is Eric Garcetti, Rhodes Scholar, mayor, and one-time 2020 hopeful, just “kicking himself” now?
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She used to be a Republican—a staunch one.
Now she’s … Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Russell Berman writes:
Hers is the story of a convert, not a zealot. The decision to become a Democrat was anything but a default choice; she came to it only after years of study that challenged her more conservative assumptions about how the economy and the government worked. And as Warren seeks to expand beyond her liberal base, that rarely mined part of her past could serve as a comfort to Democrats who worry about her electability, or as a point of connection with independents and moderate Republicans who may not know that, for a long time, she was actually one of them.
A Ukrainian airliner—a Boeing 737-800 plane—crashed outside Tehran shortly after takeoff on Wednesday, killing everyone aboard. Alexis Madrigal writes:
Beyond and next to the tragedy, it felt as if reality had melted and balled up together in one news story. The U.S. strike on an Iranian general last week had tilted the world toward a new precipice. Boeing’s problems with a different model of 737 have been global-headline news. And, of course, Ukraine is also at the center of geopolitics (not to mention American campaigns).
+ Somewhat surprisingly, another fringe(ish) candidate did just make this month’s debate. Is the first billionaire in the 2020 race a Very Serious Candidate now?
2. “The Iranians … chose neither to fold nor to fight. They took a narrower path.”
Who won this round in the decades-old conflict between the U.S. and Iran? Tom Nichols argues that Iran made the smartest moves:
First, they satisfied the domestic need for immediate action. There was no way the Iranians could promise covert or proxy action as a response to the killing of someone as prominent as Soleimani. They had to demonstrate to loyal citizens that they would act, and to dissident citizens that they did not fear the Americans. The United States directed the killing of Soleimani, and so the missile strikes were directly and publicly attributable to Iran—as the Iranian regime intended them to be.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2019. (LUCY NICHOLSON / REUTERS)
The Other Other Rhodes-Scholar Mayor
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, had decided the time wasn’t right for him to make a run for president. Now he’s watching another mayor, of a far smaller city, take a spin in the Democratic-primary spotlight. And this week, he endorsed Joe Biden.
Edward-Isaac Dovere recently spoke with the other, other mayor in a juice bar in Southern California (pardon the cliché):
Now Garcetti is telling me that Buttigieg’s unexpectedly strong showing in the polls so far is vindication of his own almost-candidacy. “It’s nice to have Pete be like my mayoral avatar, to show that the theory was correct and that there is, I think, a hunger for a new, outside-Washington mayoral leadership,” he said.
Which is a sort of self-flattering thing to say. In the meantime, Buttigieg—who responded to the Los Angeles mayor in Iowa by saying, “I’m happy to be known as the younger, gayer version of Eric Garcetti anytime”—was preparing to walk out onstage at the December presidential debate, while Garcetti was failing to be recognized by patrons at the juice bar.
“Garcetti must be kicking himself” is something I’ve heard a lot of Democratic observers say to one another.