Is Joe Biden’s political career over? At 74 years of age, despite his seemingly excellent health, one might expect that it is. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have some “regrets” about not running for the presidency when he had the chance. He chimed in on Friday night about the idea, and while not regretting his choice to spend more time with his son Beau before he passed away, it’s clearly difficult for him not to occasionally dwell on the path not taken. (The Hill)
Former Vice President Joe Biden late Friday night voiced regret about his decision not to run for president, predicting if he had secured the Democratic nomination he could have won against Donald Trump.
“I had planned on running for president and although it would have been a very difficult primary, I think I could have won,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe not. But I thought I could have won.”
“I had a lot of data and I was fairly confident that if I were the Democratic Party’s nominee, I had a better than even chance of being president,” Biden continued.
Some of that still sounds speculative, but it was this next comment which really put the icing on the cake. (Emphasized)
“But do I regret not being president? Yes,” Biden said. “I was the best qualified.”
Huh. I’m not going to dispute his claim (a matter I’ll get to in a moment), but by saying you were the best qualified, you’re indicating that you were indubitably more qualified than… somebody else who wound up running in the general election. If Hillary Clinton had any big ticket defenders left they’d probably be up in arms over that one. But let’s return to the substance of what Biden was talking about.
Now that the dust from the 2016 battle has settled we have the opportunity to ponder some things which would have been more difficult to wrestle with during the heat of the campaign. With that in mind, it’s confession time. I don’t think I ever came out and said this last summer, but of all the people on the Democrats’ bench the one I was most afraid of seeing the GOP run against was probably Joe Biden.
Sure, we make a lot of jokes about Joe and he’s been the subject of endless hilarious memes. And why not? The guy was prone to more than his fair share of memorable gaffes and awkward moments, but they were relatively benign for the most part. He has a strange but infectious sense of humor which prompted many observers to think of him as crazy Uncle Joe. But underneath it all there was a powerful political force.
I take my own wife and some of her other liberal Democratic friends for prime examples. She was a Bernie supporter with zero interest in Hillary Clinton, but when it began to become obvious that Sanders wouldn’t be the nominee she was loudly pining for Joe Biden to ride to the rescue of the party. I mean, she loves the guy. In fact, I don’t know any Democrats who don’t like Joe Biden. Yes, he might not have been “in touch” with the Black Lives Matter movement or any of the pet causes of the Elizabeth Warren / Bernie Sanders wing of the party and could definitely be seen as a figurehead of the old guard establishment in the DNC, but people liked him. Heck, I know a lot of Republicans who will admit that they like and admire Joe, even if they wouldn’t have actually voted for him.
And it wasn’t just personality either. Underneath all the jokes and golly gee shtick, Biden was easily the most qualified Democrat (or perhaps person of any party) looking at a potential White House bid. Years of experience in the legislative branch followed by by nearly a decade of actually helping to run the country alongside Barack Obama left him with a resume that made Hillary Clinton’s list of precisely zero significant accomplishments wither in comparison. Could he have actually defeated her in the primary when the Democrats were obviously hungering for the historic first female president? Tough to say, but you couldn’t rule it out. Biden’s list of “scandals” (such as they were) was nothing compared to the septic tank which was continually engulfing Clinton Incorporated.
If he somehow managed to secure the nomination, could he have won the White House? I can think about that question six days a week and come up with alternating answers every day. There are times when I believe that pretty much nobody could have beaten Donald Trump in that moment because critical portions of the nation were all shifting his way at precisely the right moment. But then I have days when I can seriously convince myself that scandal plagued Hillary Clinton might have been the only person who couldn’t have beaten Trump. Thankfully we’ll never know so we don’t have to let hypotheticals keep us awake at night.
So back to the opening question. Is Biden done? Looking at Trump’s current approval rating and the paucity of viable contenders currently on the Democratic bench, he’s got to be tempted to consider one more battle. But he’ll be turning 78 years old a few days after the next presidential election. That would put him at 82 for a reelection bid. I’m sure he’s in wonderful shape for his age, but that sounds like an awfully big hill to ask him to climb.