On the morning of November 9, five hours after Hillary Clinton conceded, Seth Moulton’s closest political adviser called him with a suggestion.
“You should run for president in 2020,” Scott Ferson told the 38-year-old, second-term congressman from the North Shore of Massachusetts—one of the least liberal areas of the famously liberal state.
“That’s ridiculous,” Moulton said.
Ridiculous? “Donald Trump was just elected president,” Ferson said.
“Fair point,” Moulton said.
Moulton has three degrees from Harvard, and he did four difficult, decorated tours as a Marine in Iraq. But he’s still a neophyte in the House of Representatives, and in politics. This is the first office of any kind he’s ever held. In the wake, though, of last fall’s terrain-altering election, Ferson detected an opening. “This,” he told me, “is a moment in time where he is the exact right person to run for president.”
This conversation—reported here for the first time—is precisely the type of talk that’s currently causing disgusted eye-rolling among significantly more tenured Democrats in Massachusetts and Washington. They dismiss Moulton, albeit never for attribution, as gratingly ambitious, a grandstanding backbencher who has advocated for the ouster of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to make way for new, younger standard-bearers—like himself. They see Moulton’s message of country over party as not so much admirable as annoying. “It’s the supercilious, sanctimonious Oh, golly gee,” one longtime political observer of his district said of Moulton’s assertions of selflessness. Some of the opinions on Capitol Hill are even more scathing. “I don’t think I’ve seen a more opportunistic, duplicitous person serving in the House,” said a senior Democratic aide, blasting Moulton as somebody who talks bigger than he plays and who pillories Pelosi while almost always voting the same way. “He doesn’t do anything around here,” the aide said. Other members who are more supportive are reluctant to say so publicly—cautious about being seen as “giving him a bear hug,” as one Hill staffer put it, “while he’s knifing the leader.”
Nowhere in this article does it say what policies Moulton supports, or what he’s accomplished in the Senate. Doesn’t that even matter anymore?