Peter Cavanaugh

They’re off and running. Breaking down the presidential contenders

Fifty dead and counting.

A would-be Vito casts a veto.

Roger again dodger.

Manafort gets seven.

Winter’s going.

Mueller’s not.

That was last week’s world.

As investigative pincers pull tight around the offal office, persistent patience remains a prerequisite as most Americans wait for the inevitable fall of Trumpty-Dumpty off his Mexican wall.

But that’s enough of The Trump for today.

We’re starting the 2020 races with as many announced Democratic presidential candidates as horses in a Kentucky Derby.

This seems the current viable lineup – enhanced by my own humble first thoughts on each – at least as they come out of the gate.

Let’s start with a leader on the inside track according to recent polling – former Vice-President Joe Biden. After almost 50 years in politics, “Uncle Joe” is personally worth less than a million dollars. It means he’s never been on the take and this goes a very long way with me. Joe also served Barack Obama with unquestioned loyalty and admirable distinction. On the other hand, I’ve never found playing hard-to-get particularly enchanting. Come on, Joe. Risk or get off the lot.

Coming up fast on the left is Bernie Sanders, my birth brother (Sept. 8, 1941) and democratic socialist. Mark Twain was a socialist. So were Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Oscar Wilde, Helen Keller, Pablo Picasso, George Orwell, Nelson Mandela, Spartacus and Francis Bellamy -- who wrote The Pledge of Allegiance and meant every word.

I like California’s own Kamala Harris, especially since Attorney General Jeff Sessions, trembling under a barrage of heavy Kamala questions in a congressional hearing, whimpered: “You’re making me nervous!” She kept at him. Senator Harris is smart, articulate and street savvy. She seems to be building national momentum, but we’re not even up to the first turn.

Similarly, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar demonstrates the poise and posture of a proven winner in the center of the field representing her Midwestern middle ground. And she made her debut in a blinding Minneapolis blizzard on national TV. Brrrrrriliant!

I find New York State’s Kirsten “Pixie Dust” Gillibrand cloying and annoying. She’s Goldie Hawn without the charm. In the first days of the “Me Too” movement,” she cost Al Franken his job. He was a fine Senator. She’s not.

Elizabeth Warren has always been a personal favorite and identified as such in April of 2015, opening a column with these exact words – “It’s time we put a lady in charge. She’s not named Hillary.”

Elizabeth Warren is not horsing around, but she might be terrifying the timid with her intelligence and intensity. This thoroughbred won’t fade quietly. Warren’s biggest foe is a debilitating degree of political correctness -- unwelcome and unnecessary. Native Americans are offended she is being called ‘Pocahontas’? Warren’s not ‘Indian’ enough? It’s my sense that any claiming of ancestry due to a family fable was done of pride, not pretense. As Chief Thunderthud used to say when I watched “Howdy Doody” in the early ‘50s – “Cowabunga!” The Howdy Doody Show was the first regularly scheduled program broadcast in living color on NBC.

Cory Booker is galloping for future name recognition and/or a possible V.P. shot behind who knows whom.

Ditto Julian Castro, Jay Inslee, John (don’t laugh) Hickenlooper, Tulsi Gabbard, Pete (laugh) Buttigieg and Tom Wheeler. Whoops. Wrong party.

Beto O’Rourke charged into Iowa Saint Paddy’s Day weekend like a wild leprechaun, dominating statewide media coverage with explosive energy, charismatic commitment and rap moves like Snoop Doggy Dogg. Snoop is worth $135 million and change. Beto might be on to something.

They’re off and running.