Outwardly, President Joe Biden appeared his usual cheery and jubilant self in Iowa on Thursday. Inside, however, the vice president was racked with regret and consumed with introspection as Barack Obama’s presidency comes to a close.
With the House firmly in Republican control and political analysts beginning to wonder whether Democrats will be able to retake the Senate in 2016, only the White House stands as a bulwark preventing the reactionary forces of the GOP from rolling back the work of this administration. Tormented by the prospect that it might all have been for naught, Biden urged his fellow Democrats to stand firm. Though their instincts may be telling them to run screaming from this White House and its record, Biden beseeched his colleagues to ignore their guts.
Via The Des Moines Register, Biden reportedly asserted that the belated economic recovery should make all Democrats reconsider before they try to “distance themselves from what we have done.” He added that it would be a “terrible mistake” for the party’s 2016 nominee to brand him or herself a post-Obama Democrat.
His voice soft and earnest, Vice President Joe Biden pleaded for future leaders to not undo “all of our hard work,” referring to what he and the president have done since they took over the White House in 2009.
Without naming the most likely Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, he said he has a message for all Democratic candidates.
“Run, yes, run — on what we have done,” Biden said in Iowa. “Only what we have done. Stand for what we have done. Acknowledge what we have done. And be judged on what we have done, if we have any chance for resurgence — continued resurgence — in 2016.”
He added: “Some say that would amount to a third term of the president. I call it sticking with what works.”
Tragic, isn’t it? And it’s only going to get worse.
It was easier for Republicans at this point in 2008. With George W. Bush’s popularity entering a terminal tailspin, the GOP was resigned to the inevitable distancing process. The only internal debate was over the most organic method by which GOP candidates could create some daylight between themselves and the unpopular Republican commander-in-chief.
By contrast, Barack Obama enjoys a relatively high floor of support – there are a significant number of Americans for whom the president can do no wrong. For this reason, there will be a large Democratic constituency that will chafe at the prospect of Democratic presidential prospects repudiating Obama’s legacy, implicitly or otherwise.
Maybe a contested Democratic primary isn’t such a great thing for the president’s party. If it results cementing the impression in voters’ minds that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for Obama’s third term, maybe it won’t be so healthy for the party after all.
Then again, who knows how many Democrats follow Biden’s advice these days: