Last night's town hall on CNN, devoted exclusively to the climate crisis, seemed a perfect venue for auditions. I took to You Tube and watched ten Democratic candidates, each appearing separately for about a half hour, as they answered questions from the audience and CNN personalities. Here are capsule reactions, recorded while wearing vintage, wrinkled Inslee gear:
2) Amy Klobuchar. Also speaks well of dearly departed Jay Inslee. Calls climate change a "monumental crisis" but comes off as barely energized, even when criticizing Trump. Which is strange, because she's supposed to have a nasty streak. Makes a few rehearsed, corny jokes. Hits peak-animation when telling us that "Granpa was an iron ore miner" and we'll need Minnesota iron to build all those newfangled batteries. Old-school Amy uses Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. Meh.
3) Beto O'Rourke. Gangling, glib, garrulous. Says all the right things. Still, don't trust him. No way.
4) Andrew Yang. An awesome appearance. Innovative thinker, teller of "brutal truths," slinger of technocratic solutions cutting across conventional policy grain. Wants constitutional amendment to safeguard the environment for future generations. Calls for serious consideration of ocean seeding (with iron, to promote CO2 absorption) and other geoengineering tricks. CNN's Wolf Blitzer mournfully asks if people will "have to drive electric cars." "You'll love driving them," shoots back Yang. So maybe...
5) Kamala Harris. Tough, intense, engaged. "Look at the babies in your life," she lectures climate deniers and Republican Senate colleagues. Prepared to kill the filibuster to pass a Green New Deal. "Leaders have to lead." Fight, fight, fight. Quotes Jay Inslee (everyone loves him now) about how wind turbines don't cause cancer, they cause jobs. You see, Trump said they cause...anyway, Kamala's impressive. One suspects she gets equally worked up about potholes and lunch. Another maybe...
6) Elizabeth Warren. Tough, intense, manically engaged. Bounds off chair, bounces on toes, looks ready to shadow box CNN's Chris Cuomo. Very articulate, oddly folksy for Harvard professor. "Washington is corrupt!" she hollers. Knows her stuff and then some. Praises Inslee, of course. Lizzie turns questions around artfully, especially when Cuomo obsesses about Americans' inalienable right to buy polluting, incandescent light bulbs. "Oh, come on, Chris. That's what THEY want us talking about." And yet, I can't quite commit.
8) Bernie Sanders. Just came out with $15 trillion plan to address the "egg-stential threat" of climate change. Bernie's a weirdly gruff yet lovable man, especially when he assures those fretting over the Senate filibuster that we won't need "sixty votes to save the planet" because he'll use the Budget Reconciliation Act. Oh, right, the good old BRA. CNN's Anderson Cooper frets that electric cars are "slower and less powerful." Get a grip, AC, my EV is a rocket! As for Bernie, probably not.
9) Joe Biden. The way he talks, the way his mind leaps about as it marshals thoughts and the poor, sad words burdened with carrying them, I can't help but think of my 96-year-old mother. Joe says "here's the deal" a lot. Okay, Joe, here's the deal: you try, but you don't quite get it. Low point occurs when he spars with audience member about taking money from some fossil-fuel-loving rich guy. Mentions Obama a lot. And issues this mixed metaphor: "You can't sing to the choir if you can't sing." I suppose you can't. No, and no.
10) Cory Booker. Passionate, informed, idiosyncratic. Admitted when he didn't know something, which makes him unqualified to be president. Kidding, sorta. Cory speaks with rhetorical ease and impact, promising the equivalent of a "moonshot" to tackle climate change. "Everything I do will be through a green lens," he tosses out, almost casually. Doesn't mention Jay Inslee and doesn't pander to the people: "I'm going to ask more of you than any other candidate on this stage." Wants to revive FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps and, for a Jersey guy, is surprisingly knowledgeable on farming and food. Says he's competitive, "a baller." Nimbly quotes Brene Brown on engaging opponents and mentions that he likes Star Trek. Mostly importantly, he seems to really care.
Yes! I have a new candidate. Time to order the t-shirt.