I don’t like to start a post with the phrase “as a Mexican-American,” because as we all know the the only good identity politics are white identity politics, but still as a Mexican-American I find this both appalling and infuriating:
Last week, after a candidate forum in Las Vegas, Telemundo reporter Guadalupe Venegas sat down with three democratic presidential hopefuls: Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, and Pete Buttigieg. Most reporters who cover presidential politics tend to stick to questions that closely follow the campaign’s usual agenda: health care, the economy, etc. Venegas was smart enough to choose a different route. He asked about Mexico.
The question itself—“Who is the president of Mexico?”—made sense: The Nevada caucus is Saturday, and 78 percent of the state’s roughly 800,000 Hispanics are of Mexican origin.
The candidates, however, were ill-prepared. And that’s putting it mildly.
Steyer couldn’t remember Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president since late 2018. “I forget,” Steyer acknowledged. That Steyer, a billionaire who has never held elected office, could not recall the name of a foreign leader might be forgivable, but Amy Klobuchar, a sitting U.S. Senator, is another matter. “I’m sorry to ask this,” Venegas told Klobuchar. “But do you know who he is?” Klobuchar hesitated, looked to her right (perhaps in search of a lifeline), and tried to respond. “I know that he is the Mexican president,” she said, awkwardly. Venegas would not relent. “But would you tell me his name?” he followed up. Klobuchar was forced to admit that she couldn’t, even though she had recently voted for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade treaty Mexico’s president had lobbied for. Pete Buttigieg fared better, sweating through the correct answer. “President López Obrador, I hope,” he said, blushing slightly.
Wow, that’s a real gotcha question there. Who could have anticipated that a reporter from one of the nation’s two major Spanish-language networks would expect you to delve into a super esoteric matter such as “who is the most important politician in a country of 130 million people, with which the U.S. shares a thousand-mile border, which is the top foreign destination for American travelers, and also currently it’s number one trading partner, as well the ancestral home of a huge percentage of one of the Democratic party’s core constituencies?”
This is at the same time both shocking and totally unsurprising. Klobuchar is a US senator, not some vanity candidate poor man’s version of Michael Bloomberg, although Steyer’s ignorance is no more excusable for someone in his position.
Good on Pete for at least doing a little homework.