The Irresistible Amy Klobuchar

I got the chance to meet and have a brief exchange with Amy Klobuchar in October 2016 when she and Cory Booker were the headline speakers at a Publishing People for Hillary event for which I was one of the organizers. Just a week or two before, I had ditched my business overhead so I could spend more time on climate change. I checked her website and, at that time, she had climate change buried under “environment”. It was made to appear a subsidiary issue.

So when I got a minute with her one-on-one, I made that point. Her response was “thank you very much. We are redoing our website copy right now and I agree with you. I’ll look at that.”

What was immediately apparent, from that exchange and a bit more backstage, and then from her on-stage appearance (which included her totally unselfconsciously waving a glass of wine as she stood up to applaud Booker’s remarks) was “this woman is SOOO likable!”

Booker also gave a boffo performance. I thought that night, “boy, would this be a great ticket for 2024!” But that was when it seemed obvious that Hillary would be serving eight years.

Since Clinton lost, Klobuchar has been my first choice to be the next nominee. I have followed her closely since then. I have made a point of seeing her on TV whenever I knew she’d be there, which included a number of appearances with Rachel Maddow before the one this past week. Every time I saw her she impressed me with her brains, her knowledge, her savvy, and her sense of humor. She was never “off”. She was always good.

Al Franken told the story that they agreed very early on that he would never write a joke for her. Because if he did, and she were ever asked if he wrote any of her material, she’d have to answer truthfully that he had. And, as he put it, “she doesn’t need any help. Amy Klobuchar is plenty funny on her own.” And she is.

But, as we’ve seen, particularly in the Kavanaugh hearings, she’s also tough and penetrating and flinty and determined.

Over the past two years, I’ve told countless friends that she’s my candidate for president in 2020. Most of the time, until the Kavanaugh hearings, people just didn’t know her. But then over and over again, people would come back to me and say “I’ve seen her now, and you’re right.”

I became convinced that the only people who didn’t love Amy Klobuchar were the ones who hadn’t seen her yet.

In June of 2017, I did my first Lobbying Day for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. (That’s a whole other thing to know about. If you care about the climate, Google it. And if you want to have an amazing time, sign up to do it.) All my appointments were to see House members in the afternoon, so in the morning I went over to the Senate side and went to Klobuchar’s office.

I went up to the reception area and said “I want to sign up for the presidential campaign.” They looked at me cross-eyed. But, of course, at that point, they were focused on winning reelection to the Senate in 2018. It was just Politics 101 that you wouldn’t distract the staff or the voters with the possibility that the reelection was a stepping-stone. But I always thought it was.

Last October, I was told by a very knowledgeable woman that I met through a group of Democratic givers whose monthly meetings I attend in New York City (and to whom I said “Klobuchar is my candidate”) that there were some nasty stories on the Hill about how she treated her staff. This was an informed person from an informed group, with no ax to grind. She was trying to “warn” me of a serious concern.

Then in January, a friend who goes back to my two years on the McGovern campaign (now nearly half a century ago!) independently — not knowing I had heard it elsewhere — told me the same thing. It was obvious then that, at the very least, this was going to be an issue she’d have to deal with. It bothered me for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that one of the biggest cudgels against Trump (if he’s the nominee of the GOP in 2020) is what a terrible boss he is and how nobody with any self-respect would want to work for him.

I never thought seriously about switching off my first choice (I have a lot of second choices: Kamala Harris, Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke…) but then I saw the “data” about staff turnover which ranked Klobuchar “high”, as in “she has a lot of it”.

Another close personal friend who has a lot of experience and knowledge about the Hill had never heard these rumors and, furthermore, made the point that SOME turnover results from the fact that staff is poached or moves on to better jobs. Well, wouldn’t you know that turned out to be part of the explanation Klobuchar offered to Maddow? The Obama Administration recruited more than 20 of her people. That’s a lot of “turnover”.

But she also didn’t apologize for being a tough boss. It happens that I had the good fortune to have a very professional mother — the first woman to graduate with a degree in physics from Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) and then for decades a management consultant. SHE was also a very tough boss. She yelled at people sometimes. She nitpicked EVERY mistake. She also has legions of people older and younger than I am who acknowledge that she bruised them every now and then, but feel definitely that they are better for it. They learned. They loved her.

She was my first boss too (I kept the books for her business when I was in high school, among other things) and she taught me so much that I never really had to have any others. I’ve had lots of clients but I never had to have a boss. I learned how to run my own business. From my demanding Mom.

Not only is Klobuchar almost obviously the most electable Democrat, she is just about perfect on the issues. My own opinion is that two stand out as the most important: climate change and Russian interference in our civic affairs. And she hit both of those hard and clearly in her Maddow interview as well as in her Snow Speech.

Amy Klobuchar is just about irresistible. As the country gets to know her, as they are doing now — starting with her announcement — she is going to just pile up support.

It looks to me like she’ll be the frontrunner by March of 2020 and the acknowledged nominee long before the convention. I only knew this sooner than most because I got to meet her briefly and see her in action sooner than most. It’s obvious.

Klobuchar for President in 2020!

I normally try to resist publishing self-referential posts but in this case there was really no choice. If you want to know more about me and evaluate my credibility, you can find tons of material about my “digital change in publishing” life on my website, see this about my new book coming out, and explore other Medium pieces I’ve written about climate change.