Labor Day marks the real beginning of the nomination campaign. And for all the talk of the crowds of candidates, the race has shaken out far more at this point that many of us expected.
The winner as of Labor Day: Elizabeth Warren.
And she's winning for all the right reasons. She has the most to say. Yes, she's that smart. You may not agree with her on many things — I certainly don't — but it's not because she hasn't thought it through. Imagine a president who actually knows what she's talking about.
Getting out there every day in Iowa is grueling. It looks easy until you try to put it together, day in and day out, the fundraising and the organizing, the mountains of information and infinite number of hands.
There's nothing wrong with Cory Booker. Beto was the party's bright light. Bennet and Gillibrand and Klobuchar — these are serious people, which would be easier to see if they weren't trying to figure out how to get a word in.
And yet they've fallen to the wayside, and it's not because the press never gave them a shot. If press love picked candidates, Mayor Pete would still be riding high.
Anyone who doesn't finish first, second or third in Iowa is going to have a hard time explaining exactly what they're doing in New Hampshire. And getting money for the plane.
The person most likely to lose Iowa is Joe Biden. As the national polls show, he's still holding the name-recognition lead but in states where the campaign has now been joined — he's running even with a 78-year-old socialist and a female Harvard Law Professor whom, until recently, Trump was causally dismissing as "Pocahontas." Pocahontas was tested, all right — she had a terrible opening because of the DNA stuff — but she got through that and, if you ask me, showed the "right stuff" in doing so.
Easy question: Say you're a Biden voter and your guy finishes third in Iowa. You gonna switch to Bernie? Really? Biden to Bernie? Because they're both old?
Another easy question: Say you're a Bernie supporter and your candidate is falling behind. You gonna go from Bernie to Biden? Race as far right as you can when Elizabeth Warren is the one who has actually put meat on the progressive agenda? Why?
The only reason I've heard why is because, having nominated one woman, that was enough. Lesson learned. Women can't win.
Of course, Democrats have fielded dozens of male candidates in recent years, and no one has suggested that we stop running men.
They just call it Tuesday.
And if you hadn't noticed, Massachusetts Democrats do very well with this screwy, confusing system of primaries and caucuses. We should, given how many of us were sitting around those tables where the rules were written.
"Work for the most liberal candidate with an actual chance of winning," my old friend and mentor Paul Tully used to say, every four years.
This year, I have to believe that somewhere in heaven, he's doing the targeting for Warren.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Warren