As predicted: Biden eyeing Stacey Abrams as possible early VP nominee

I have little to add to this post from Tuesday except “Told you so.”

Oh, and to reiterate that this would be a bad idea, possibly as much for Abrams as for Biden.

Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president…

But the decision poses considerable risk, and some advisers are flatly opposed. Some have pointed out that in a Democratic debate, he could be asked why no one on the stage would be a worthy running mate…

Biden has discussed selecting a running mate early, a move that one senior Democrat said could hurt him by feeding “an air of inevitability,” CNN reported.

The NYT hears that Biden is considering two gimmicks, the early-VP play and a vow to serve only one term — another terrible idea. As Jeryl Bier put it, “What kind of message is it to say, ‘Yes, I am too old and decrepit to handle eight years, but I think I can swing it for four’?” And why would any new president want to diminish his own influence on day one by declaring himself a lame duck? That’s not a candidate you gamble on, especially if his second-in-command is someone who hasn’t held public office above the level of state representative.

Abrams isn’t the only candidate, though, according to the Times. Team Biden is allegedly also looking at Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke, although I can’t see either becoming an early-ish VP pick. O’Rourke is a nonstarter unless somehow he and Biden are the last two candidates standing in the race and the Betomaniacs demand he be chosen in the name of party unity. Even then, it’s impossible to imagine that a guy who’s already being quizzed about his “white privilege” by reporters will be selected to balance a ticket with another white male candidate. And if Beto isn’t one of the last two standing, if he flames out early, what’s to be gained by making him Biden’s VP? His failed run will have proved that there’s no great appetite for him among Democratic voters.

Harris is a strong potential VP candidate for Biden, probably even the frontrunner, although there’s no scenario realistically in which she exits the race early barring major scandal, which would ruin her chances of landing on the ticket as well. Harris is a good fit for voters in two early states, California and South Carolina; no matter how lukewarm her polling is, she has every reason to hang around into next year and hope she catches fire before those states vote. She’d be a smart, obvious choice for VP if Biden does go on to win the nomination, but that’s just another reason to dislike the idea of him naming a vice president early: It would eliminate the possibility of a Biden/Harris ticket next year.

Imagine, in fact, that Biden and Harris are the last two candidates standing, a not unlikely possibility, and the party is split among age, race, and gender lines. The obvious way to heal that rift if Biden emerges as the winner would be to name Harris as his running mate. If he chooses Abrams or (gulp) Beto early, he can’t.

And what does Abrams get out of this? Right, granted, it would elevate her to political superstardom overnight, but think of the predicament she’ll be in. Biden wants her by his side because he’s guilty of various sins against leftism and expects that naming her VP will be treated as absolution. As chief surrogate, though, Abrams would be expected to defend him nonstop from leftist critics — over his racial transgressions (writing the mid-90s crime bill), his sexist transgressions (not championing Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing), and his ideological transgressions (various neoliberal affronts to progressivism, starting with his support for the Iraq war). If you’re a young pol like her with a bright future in the party, how eager are you to make your debut on the national stage apologizing to your progressive allies for the misdeeds of your old, white, male, centrist running mate? If Biden ends up losing the race — and he’s lost badly the two times he’s run before — what’s left of Abrams’s brand among the left?

Even if Biden wins the nomination with her help, what’s left of her brand if he loses the election to Trump? Sanders fans will instantly revert to “Bernie would have won” form, possibly adding this time that Bernie could have won if only Stacey Abrams hadn’t been there to supply Biden with various forms of cheap leftist cred. She’s better off declining to be Biden’s early pick but promising him that she’ll have warm words to say about him during the race when she’s asked, then hanging back to see how things shake out. She could be a VP to Sanders or to O’Rourke potentially. Why gamble on Biden before he’s proved that he’s not a paper tiger?