On one hand, Democrats have a scandal-tainted former presidential also-ran whom voters don’t trust. On the other, they have a 74-year-old self-proclaimed socialist who may drown all of their down-ballot candidates attempting to take seats away from Republicans without having a prayer of getting to the White House. What other options do Democrats have? Some are demanding that Vice President Joe Biden get sent to the bullpen to warm up (via Jim Geraghty):
Fox News has learned that a prominent backer of the “Draft Biden 2016″ movement, Tulsa businessman Bill Bartmann, fired off an email Friday afternoon to several dozen Democratic allies musing about the possibility of reviving the push for Biden.
“I would urge all of you to join me in ‘keeping our powder dry’ until we see if for the good of the party and the country, we should resurrect (sic) the Draft Biden movement,” Bartmann wrote to fellow Democrats who had been involved in trying to draft Biden last year.
“We cannot afford to lose the White House.”
In his email, Bartmann specifically cited as an impetus for his concern a new national poll showing a steep dive for Clinton, who just barely beat Sanders in Iowa and now trails him by double digits here in New Hampshire.
What has Bartmann worried? The polling that shows Hillary’s large national lead collapsing, for one thing. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows the race a dead heat, but that’s among registered voters. Quinnipiac’s poll, however, shows the same thing among likely voters. While national polling doesn’t necessarily translate to performance in specific primaries, Hillary needs that aura of invincibility to overcome her poor personal-quality polling. Now that Hillary doesn’t look inevitable, those qualities — especially trust and authenticity — have become millstones around the campaign’s neck, as the Associated Press notes in New Hampshire:
The private email server. The Wall Street ties. The evolving policy positions. The speaking fees.
The concerns vary, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, it seems the Democratic presidential candidate is having problems earning the public’s trust.
Ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, the former secretary of state is trying to convince voters that she is authentic. Rival Bernie Sanders is stepping up criticism of her financial industry connections and questioning whether she is a true liberal. …
“I have a harder time believing her sincerity,” said Suzanne Roberge, 32, of Rochester, who attended a Sanders rally. “I don’t have as much trust.”
Roberge added: “She’s changed her mind on different issues. Bernie Sanders has been so consistent.”
Added Sheila Kelley, 59, of Manchester, a Sanders supporter: “She doesn’t seem truthful. It seems like she’s trying to be everything to everyone.”
Yes, and she’s been doing that for 23 years at the national level. One component of the Reuters/Ipsos poll that should be noted is that Sanders has more upside among voters; about a quarter of voters don’t know enough about him to draw firm conclusions. Hillary, however, has total name recognition. She has nowhere to go on personal qualities.
For the Washington Post’s liberal columnist Colbert King, though, the issue isn’t electability as much as it is culpability. Unlike Hillary apologists, King agrees that the massive mishandling of highly classified material isn’t just business as usual, but demonstrates a pattern of irresponsibility and prevarication:
The Hillary Clinton email issue is developing into a real whodunit, complete with Clintonesque legal semantics. “I never sent or received any material marked classified,” she said with respect to the discovery of classified information on her private, unclassified email server. That surface denial nearly rivals Bill Clinton’s classic: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
But this is no laughing matter.
There is nothing trivial about a secretary of state having top-secret information on an unsecured computer in her home. That appears to have been the case, based on the State Department’s announcement last week that 22 emails, across seven email chains, containing top-secret information were on Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
At issue is whether the information in the emails was classified when it was sent to her unsecured server. It was, after all, the State Department, upon review of the content by intelligence agencies, that upgraded the emails to top-secret and ordered them withheld from the public.
We’ve covered this before, but it’s worth a brief review. The State Department and the Inspector General of the intelligence community found classified information in over 1500 messages on Hillary’s server, from the Confidential level to Top Secret/Compartmented, SAP, and HCS levels. The information has always been classified; the messages got classified because they were belatedly discovered to contain classified information. The classification dates are the same dates as the messages themselves, not the dates the messages were reviewed, which means that the information wasn’t “retroactively classified” at all. It means that the messages should have been classified at the time they were created because of the information contained within them. Hillary has attempted to muddy the water by claiming “retroactive” classification, but that’s a smokescreen for the ignorant.
Give King credit for recognizing the serious nature of this exposure, though. His solution for Democrats seems to be resonating, too:
Just a thought: As a precaution, the manager in the White House dugout might consider telling the bullpen to start warming up Joe Biden.
To call that a desperation move might be underselling the point. Joe Biden would be the worst of both worlds for Democrats.
Let’s take a look at the options. Hillary has hopes of appealing to the Obama coalition on the basis of history; she repeatedly and explicitly campaigns to become the first woman President. Sanders appeals to young, progressive idealists who want an authentic figure who will fight the power. Both at least have the potential for exciting key demographics in the Democratic base. Which of those demographics would Joe Biden excite? Biden represented Delaware and was a great friend to the financial and credit industries against which both Sanders and now Hillary rail to churn up progressive passion. He’s been in Washington for more than 40 years and has been part of the Democratic establishment for at least 30 of those years. The only people Biden could bring out would be the James Webb demographic … and look how well that worked for Webb in this campaign. Progressive energy would dissipate quickly with Biden as the nominee, and there wouldn’t be enough energy left in the Webb demos to replace it.
As a candidate, Biden would be a disaster on the campaign trail, too. He ran twice for president; his first attempt ended in disgrace after his plagiarism of Neil Kinnock’s speeches came to light. His second, in 2007, ran aground almost immediately. The only people who take Biden seriously are either named Biden or Obama. Finally, at this late date, Biden might make it through a primary without a ground organization if Democratic voters are desperate enough, but he’d get killed in a general election. There simply isn’t enough time for him to compete, especially with his electoral handicaps. Biden needed to start a year ago just to have a chance — when the e-mail scandal first broke.
In other words, Democrats had a chance to take national security seriously before it backfired on them. It’s too late now to cast lonely eyes to Joe, coo-coo-ca-choo.