It turns out that Barack Obama isn’t the only member of the executive branch living in denial. Vice President Joe Biden hit the media circuit after his boss’ disconnected-from-reality SOTU claims last night, where George Stephanopoulos asked the question that’s on almost no one’s mind. Is there a chance, the Good Morning America host asked Biden, that he’ll challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination? Any chance at all?
Oh, sorry, wrong video:
With the 2016 presidential election season heating up and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton considered the presumptive front-runner for the Democratic nomination if she decides to jump into the race, Vice President Joe Biden is sending a clear message: Don’t count him out.
“Yes, there is a chance,” he would challenge Clinton, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview on “Good Morning America” today. “But I haven’t made my mind up about that. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then. There’s plenty of time.” …
Biden said he didn’t have to make up his mind until this summer about whether to launch another White House bid.
“I think this is wide open on both sides,” he told Stephanopoulos. “Right now my focus is getting implemented what the president talked about last night: to nail down this recovery and get the middle class back in the game.[“]
Actually, there isn’t plenty of time for Biden to decide, in part because it’s not wide open on the Democratic side. There’s Hillary Clinton, and … no one else, except for a badly damaged Martin O’Malley, whose home state just went Republican after two terms of O’Malley’s leadership in what is usually a Democratic bastion. Progressives keep trying to pull Elizabeth Warren into the race to push the Democratic Party farther to the left, while the rest of the party looks for a Jim Webb-like candidate to re-engage with working-class voters in middle America whose name is anything other than Jim Webb. If the big donors — on whom Biden would be more reliant than an emerging grassroots candidate — don’t see someone on the horizon by April, they’ll start throwing in with Hillary in order to get in near the ground floor. That’s one reason Obama himself announced at about this time eight years ago, in a successful attempt to keep Hillary from cornering the market on donors and campaign talent.
In an earlier era, that candidate might have been Joe Biden, but Biden’s older than all of them, with a track record of gaffes and plagiarism that would sink any serious bid for the top spot. He has become a leering national joke, tolerated because he’s mostly harmless. He gets the kind of softball interview we see here for that reason. If Biden actually attempted to challenge Hillary, the media would sharpen its attacks at warp speed, especially an old Clintonista like Stephanopoulos.
Who might challenge Hillary from the working-class populist perspective? It would have to be a middle America governor with a track record of winning that demographic. Until Ferguson, that could have been Jay Nixon in Missouri. John Hickenlooper might have had a case, except that he barely survived his re-election bid after getting a wee bit too enthusiastic about gun-grabbing in Colorado. Except for his age, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear would be a possibility, but he’s also older than Hillary. Jay Inslee in Washington and Andrew Cuomo in New York are too progressive for that middle-America demographic, plus Cuomo’s got some scandal issues that would hobble him on a national scale. That doesn’t leave too many options, unless West Virginia’s Earl Ray Tomblin tosses his hat in the ring — and he’s only governor because Joe Manchin resigned to be US Senator after Robert Byrd’s death.
So yes, Biden has a chance of tossing his hat in the ring. But his odds of putting up a serious challenge to Hillary are worse than Lloyd’s chances with Mary.