Well, discretion is the better part of valor. We’ll have lots and lots and lots of dunking on Barack Obama for his very belated endorsement of the man who served him for eight years, but much of it will miss the point. His lack of public support may have contributed to Joe Biden’s swoon last fall, but Biden more or less recovered after Democrats realized that the only other candidate with enough ground organization to win the nomination was the socialist crank who endangered their entire down-ballot election.

Now that Bernie Sanders left on his own and endorsed Biden, Obama has finally condescended to give Uncle Joe his official blessing. One reason he can now endorse Biden is that Obama helped push Sanders into withdrawing, reports the New York Times:

For months, he had kept in close contact with senior party officials, in hopes of preventing a repeat of the protracted and nasty 2016 primary race.

Then, in the weeks after it became clear that Mr. Biden was the party’s near-certain nominee, Mr. Obama — telling a friend he needed to “accelerate the endgame” — had at least four long conversations with his former vice president’s remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Obama’s efforts to ease the senator out of the race played a significant role in his decision to end his bid and, on Monday, endorse Mr. Biden, according to people close to the Vermont independent.

By that time, Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama had already begun hashing out the thorny questions of how, when and where to deploy a former president thrust into an unfamiliar role as his sidekick’s sidekick.

Mr. Obama will endorse Mr. Biden in an online video on Tuesday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the plans — including one who said the goal was to make it “not look like a hostage video.”

You mean like yesterday’s endorsement video with Sanders? Unfortunately, that one did have that hostage-video quality, only it appeared that the hostage was Biden, who seemed to be reading rather stiffly from a teleprompter. Obama’s got more talent than Biden when it comes to these types of productions. The more this features Obama, the better, and this is all Obama. No taking a chance with a call-in to the Uncle Joe Show for this task:

As for the late date, it’s clear that Obama didn’t want a replay of the 2016 debacle with Sanders and the DNC. That left progressives angry and alienated after the primaries, perhaps contributing to Hillary Clintons’s loss, although the problem was more located in suburbs and rural areas in the Midwest rather than the progressive urban centers. The Bernie Bros were wary to the point of paranoia about the Democratic establishment forcing Biden down their throats (or even worse, Michael Bloomberg), and that required a light touch from Obama, who has become an eminence grise within the party, as one would expect in a former two-term president.

Besides, Biden’s been around for nearly 50 years. If he couldn’t make it to the finish line on his own, what good would it have done to have Obama drag him across it?

For as much dunking as we do on Obama for other reasons, he’s still a first-class electoral strategist. Democrats didn’t need another blah blah blah endorser in the primaries — it needs a unifying figure after them. His ostensible neutrality in the race allows Obama to now play the role of eminence grise in full, healing the party and reaching out to all wings to promote unity.  Had he endorsed Biden any earlier, his political capital would have been significantly reduced with progressives in the Sanders wing. It might be the biggest moment for Obama outside the White House — the moment in which he truly becomes the establishment for good and displaces the Clintons once and for all.