This sounds like part of the origin story for the worst superhero movie ever, Captain Hairsniffer versus Lord Pussygrabber.
On the call [with fundraisers], an upbeat Biden said his candidacy was a calling, a duty — and that it’s not just Democrats or Americans who want him to run to stop President Donald Trump.
“I get calls from people all over the world — world leaders are calling me — and they’re almost begging me to do this, to save the country, save the world,” Biden said. One of the participants on the call stressed that Biden wasn’t making it sound as though he has a messiah complex, but rather that world leaders are looking toward the Democratic Party to defeat Trump, whether it’s Biden or another Democrat.
Let the battle be joined:
Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2019
It’s odd that Trump would do Biden a solid there by implying that he’s not one of the “demented” candidates in the race but every good superhero movie involves some grudging respect between the two adversaries. If you believe the reporting, Trump does respect Biden — not his intellect or his politics but for his ability to compete for votes among parts of Trump’s own base. This new poll from Morning Consult won’t do anything to dissuade him:
Much has been said about Biden’s ability to compete with Trump in the Rust Belt but more should be said about his appeal to older voters nationally. He leads consistently in Democratic primary polls among senior citizens, a group that’s reliably GOP in the general election. If Biden’s old-school Democratic politics can peel off older voters who normally lean Republican, Trump has a problem.
Various media types have noted this morning how Biden’s launch video makes Trump the focus in a way that’s unusual by the standards of the rest of the Democratic field. Biden really is treating this election as a sort of superhero movie in which the good guy rises to restore order amid the chaos being wreaked by the bad guy:
The Biden launch video gets to something I’ve noticed for the past two years: Biden centers Trump in his messaging more than any other post-Hillary Dem. Other Dems talk about Trumpism growing out of policy failure. Biden describes one aberrant leader who must be replaced.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) April 25, 2019
Most Dems, from Bernie to Buttigieg, deride Trump personally but treat his election as an understandable, almost foreseeable consequence of deindustrialization and stagnant wages. The so-called deplorables aren’t deplorable, they’re just frustrated that the government isn’t doing more for them. Democrats can fix that. Biden, however, describes Trump’s presidency as an “aberrant moment in time,” even beginning his video with a reference to Charlottesville. There is a deplorable element that’s driving Trump, he implies, and he and the rest of the country are going to defeat it and get things back to “normal.” That’s a predictable message from a guy who served as VP before Trump took over, who’s aiming for the center of his party, and whose core demographic is older liberals. (Of which he’s one himself, of course.) It’s really no joke to say that Biden’s message is … make America great again.
His pitch will have two parts: (1) He’s Barack Obama’s true son and heir, which he’s counting on to win over black voters, and (2) he’s the only candidate who can beat Trump, which he’s counting on to win over all Democrats. (With good reason.) He’s led in almost every primary poll thus far, and not with the sort of paltry 15 percent topline that Jeb Bush had early in the 2016 race. Biden’s often up around 30 percent, a decent place to be in a field with 17 candidates; if he were to gain, say, 10 points over the next month as Democratic voters took a good look at him, he’d suddenly look formidable. He’s planning to roll out a bunch of endorsements this week too, believing that the support of big-name elected officials will build a sense of consensus around him early that’ll be hard to shake.
His biggest enemy early, and maybe for the duration, will be the media. My sense of them from social media, and there are a lot of them on social media, is that they’re itching to write a “Biden falls on his face” storyline. That’s partly ideological, as many would obviously prefer a more left-wing Democratic party, but mostly it’s driven by journalistic impulses about narratives. The “Biden crumbles” narrative practically writes itself — hubristic former VP who could never hack it as a presidential candidate swoops into the race as a frontrunner, is quickly buried under past ideological sins against wokeness and his own gaffes on the trail, and fades pathetically as it becomes clear that he’s badly out of touch with what his party has become. It’s the Jeb story arc but on a grander, sadder scale. The Bushes are American aristocrats and had two presidents in the family by the time Jeb ran; his failure was more about the exhaustion of a dynasty. Biden’s failure would be the failure of a nice working-class guy who achieved great success in politics but lacked the special mix of ideology, charisma, and timing that would have lifted him to the greatest success.
Plus, how boring would be a “Former VP wins presidency” storyline be to write compared to “Sanders victory ushers in new era, brings socialism to America after a century of trying”? The media will spend the entirety of his campaign looking for evidence to support that irresistible prefab “Joe Biden, tragic bridesmaid” narrative and the fact that he leads in all the polls right now will make the impetus to take him down a notch even more irresistible. I hope he’s prepared.