To run or not to run — that is the question that Joe Hamlet Biden has been beating to death for the last three-plus years. As the Democratic field swells with A-listers and lower every week, American media outlets keep telling us that the former veep is almost ready to announce his presidential bid. Today the New York Times picks up the Bidenwatch duties, reporting that Biden’s thisclose to launching his presidential bid — hitting 95% on the Bidenometer:
The pieces for a Joseph R. Biden Jr. presidential campaign are falling into place: His nucleus of advisers has begun offering campaign positions to seasoned Democratic strategists. They are eyeing a headquarters in Delaware or nearby Philadelphia and a launch date in the beginning of April. Mr. Biden’s family is on board — his wife, Jill, enthusiastically so.
Mr. Biden has also been privately reaching out to a range of influential Democrats, including party donors, members of Congress and allies in the early primary states, to gauge their support. A pillar of organized labor, the International Association of Fire Fighters, is prepared to support him in the Democratic primary.
And in recent weeks, Mr. Biden’s strategist, Steve Ricchetti, has called a handful of would-be candidates and their aides to signal that the former vice president is likely to enter the race and of late has been telling Democrats that he’s 95 percent committed to running, according to officials directly familiar with the discussions.
So what’s the other 5%? It’s, um, the candidate:
Yet while Mr. Biden is plainly further along in preparing for a White House bid than he was four years ago, when he grudgingly deferred to Hillary Clinton after months of consideration in the aftermath of his son Beau’s death, there is still one crucial element that’s outstanding: full and final consent from the former vice president himself.
This juxtaposition — an eager cadre of supporters laying the groundwork for a campaign they assure is all but certain while the would-be candidate publicly vacillates — has effectively kept the nascent Democratic race on hold.
No one begrudges Biden the vacillation in 2015 after the death of his son. Although Biden could have easily beaten Hillary to the nomination and likely would have beaten Donald Trump, piling the pressure of a presidential campaign on a grieving father’s shoulders would have been cruel. However, it’s been two and a half years since Trump beat Hillary in the general election. How much more time does Biden need?
All of this constant dithering and leaking about Biden’s angst is not just tiring, but also ultimately damaging. First, people elect executives to act, to make decisions. They want Captain Kirk, not Captain Navel-Gazer. Biden’s inability to make even the basic decision to run might have been cute a few months ago as a tease, but it’s starting to look pathological now. Fish or cut bait, man.
Second: People sometimes forget that Biden already tried this twice and failed miserably both times. His first campaign ended in scandal in 1987 when it turned out that Biden plagiarized some of his speeches from British politician Neil Kinnock, nor was that the only example of his arrogance and dishonesty. In 2007, Biden jumped into the Democratic primary by fumbling praise of his future running mate Barack Obama, calling him “clean” and “articulate,” which would have buried a Republican in that cycle (or now). His partnership with Obama was successful and Biden delivered the best speech at the 2012 convention, but a campaign genius he ain’t.
All of this “will-I-or-won’t-I” build-up therefore runs a big risk of disillusionment. Right now Biden rides high in polling mainly because of name recognition and sympathy. If he actually hits the campaign trail and returns to his gaffe-mastery and fumbling, the glow will rapidly dissipate and voters will be left with the real Biden — gaffe-prone, handsy with women, and a 50-year denizen of the Beltway.
Here’s NYT reporter Alex Burns explaining the science behind the Bidenometer. Be sure to join us in a couple of weeks when it hits 98.6% and includes Biden’s two arms and perhaps a foot.
Joe Biden is “95 percent” likely to run for President in 2020, his strategist tells The New York Times.
— New Day (@NewDay) March 7, 2019