Bidenmania shows the utter weakness of the Democratic Party's bench

How is it that the big potential wild card in the Democratic race is a man who has run two presidential campaigns that were not at all successful? Let’s go through the record: Joe Biden had a plagiarism scandal derail one campaign, and he never got off the ground in 2008. Although he has proven himself reliable enough on abortion rights, the feminist left considers him a squish because he has given succor to those who believe taxpayer money should be quarantined from abortion. He’s also supported late-term bans on the procedure.

On foreign policy he’s all over the map. He supported the Iraq War, ruining any chance of going to the left of Hillary Clinton on that score. He also supported the partitioning of Iraq. Superficially, that may look prescient now that Iraq is tearing itself to pieces. But the truth is that a partition could only have been accomplished by sectarian war and bloodshed, and it would have inevitably created several zero-sum conflicts over the oil resources that are the only economic lifeline of any Iraqi state.

Besides, Joe Biden is a gaffe-prone, awkward man. That’s part of what makes him lovable — at least when he is removed from the direct heat of political combat. In a world where every politician’s word feels like the result of a focus-group test, Biden is refreshingly human. And as vice president, he hasn’t been one of the chief antagonists of Republicans in the Obama administration. But Democrats must dread the possibility of him repeating those classic Biden moments, like when he told a wheelchair-bound Missouri state senator to stand up or when he stereotyped a large and growing American ethnic population.