Via Jeff Dunetz, I’d rate this half-true. On the one hand, Biden is reputedly cordial with Republicans and has traditionally been the guy dispatched by Obama to Capitol Hill whenever the White House needs a liaison to Mitch McConnell. On the other hand, if this is how he treats his friends, what does he do to his actual enemies?
Let’s not overthink it, though. This remark is obviously a rejoinder to Hillary’s stupid reply at last week’s debate when asked which enemy she’s proudest to have made. Biden’s positioning himself contra Clinton as someone with enough goodwill among congressional Republicans to make compromises happen as president. Which, actually, I think is true. If you want the parties to work together, you’ve got a better shot with President Biden than with President Herself.
But is that what Democrats want? Philip Klein wonders.
My impression is that right now, the Democratic electorate believes that Republicans are intransigent, that they cannot be worked with, and that Obama’s presidency was at its weakest when he tried to deal with GOP leaders in Congress. They thought he caved into Republican hostage takers with the debt limit deal, that he extended too many of the Bush tax cuts, and that he wasn’t assertive enough in pushing for more stimulus. They were happiest with Obama’s presidency when he drew a line in the sand in dealing with Republicans and began taking more aggressive executive actions.
Right now, as I wrote in my latest column, liberals believe that the demographics of the nation have changed to the point at which the country is moving much closer to them ideologically, and thus, they are not in a mood to compromise.
Could be, but I don’t know that Biden and Clinton are really competing for the left-wing vote. The bulk of Sanders’s voters are going to hang with him for awhile. Biden’s aiming for the mass of Democrats in the middle who prefer Hillary to the hard-left guy but might very well be open to an alternative who seems like he could broker a grand bargain or two with the GOP. What Biden’s saying here, as I understand it, isn’t that he’s going to cave to Republicans so much as he’s going to break the culture of obstructionism by building on relationships that Obama never managed to establish. If that tactic works, he becomes the centrist choice in the primaries while Sanders remains the left-wing choice. You know who is left out in the cold.
This wasn’t the only shot he took at Hillary today either, claiming that she was far less decisive than she now purports to be about the Bin Laden raid. Which is interesting, because Biden’s own personal history of where he stood about that operation has since changed.