Bidenwatch: He might make a decision this week ... maybe

At what point does indecision about whether to be a leader of his party, if not his nation, become self-parody? CBS News reports this morning that this will be the week that the man who can’t decide whether to run for the Democratic nomination for leader of the free world will finally make up his mind. Or it might be next week. Who knows?


Vice President Joe Biden is nearing a decision on whether to run for president, and it could come as early as within the next seven to 10 days, according to three people familiar with his deliberations. …

Even if Biden decides to seek the Democratic nomination before the party’s first debate on Oct. 13, he likely would not participate, sources told CBS News.

They said he’d need time – perhaps a couple of weeks – to put together the foundations of a campaign and raise money looking ahead to several ballot deadlines. States like New Hampshire, Texas and Florida have deadlines beginning in November.

If it’s not this week or next week, it’ll be the week after that. Maybe:

One source said that by the second half of October, Biden will have definitely made up his mind.

Well, no rush, or anything. It’s easy to lose this point in the Byzantine strategies of launching presidential bids, but let’s not forget that one of the qualities needed in this position is decisiveness. A President faces a lot tougher decisions than whether to challenge Hillary Clinton directly for the Democratic nomination rather than wait for her to pull out. Biden has dragged this out longer than a feud on Survivor.


Not only that, but let’s assume Biden does jump in and manages to displace Hillary in the primaries, which seems unlikely but perhaps not impossible. Biden has done nothing to organize his campaign, to hire key staff for winning primaries, and get donors on board for a general election run. That last point is actually the least of the worries Biden has (if he wins the nomination, he’ll get the donors), but organizing is paramount for 2016. It took Barack Obama months to build an organization that could compete against the Clintons, a point people seem to forget. Hillary started out with a big institutional advantage in 2007, and Obama didn’t begin challenging it until the fall. It wasn’t until December 2007 that he overtook Hillary, thanks to the impact of a long effort to beat her on the ground. That laid the groundwork for his general election campaign.

How does Biden compete in this scenario? It’s true that Republican candidates are too focused on the primary to effectively organize for the general election, but it’s also true that the RNC is working on that ahead of the primary schedule, too. They are conducting a month-long test in October of their new organization built from the “autopsy” of the 2012 election, while the DNC does not appear to be mirroring that effort — perhaps expecting Hillary to do the work on her own, as Obama did. If Hillary isn’t the candidate, Democrats will be in a very deep hole, especially if it turns out to be the unorganized and indecisive Biden who gets the nomination.


So when does it become self-parody? If Biden hasn’t made a decision by the October 13th debate, it’s officially a joke. Unofficially, its status has been established for months.

Update: According to Mike Allen at Politico, even some Democrats are getting tired of Biden’s act:

A former Senate colleague of Biden’s said, after visiting the vice president, “He loves what he does, and he has a great deal of confidence that he could contribute in a meaningful way. He’s willing to face, ultimately, having his final political expedition be a defeat.”

It’s just that possibility that has some friends telling POLITICO that they hope he’ll ultimately decide to take a pass.

One person who’s in the “bearish” camp said he thinks that testing the waters has been its own therapy after Biden’s loss of his son. The vice president has been showered with love and attention, and should declare victory and avoid a likely political debacle.

One longtime friend said the long windup — and the fact that no staff has been hired — tells its own story.

“If you’re going to run, you run,” the friend said. “Every time he pushes back a decision, that’s the ultimate tell.”

A third recent Biden visitor said: “I can’t see how he can wake up one morning and think some big tidal wave sweeps him in. The raw politics just aren’t there.”


It seems unlikely that Biden will jump in while Hillary is still in the race. This whole exercise feels like a reminder that he could be a Plan B in case of disaster, but that’s it.

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