The unbearable persistence of Joe Biden

It gives me no great pleasure to point out that Biden remains the overwhelming favorite to win his party’s nomination. Biden has never been my favorite Democrat; he certainly wasn’t Wednesday night — which happened to be his 77thbirthday — when he struggled, as he always does, to complete coherent sentences. That matters to me. But does it matter to most Democratic primary voters? I see no evidence that it does — any more than it matters that pundits like myself swoon for Harris and Booker and Klobuchar, with their well-formed arguments and turns of phrase, month after month, debate after debate, while they barely manage keep their campaigns running and funded.

I also worry about Biden, in his fragility, fighting and failing to hold his own on a debate stage with Donald Trump repeatedly taunting and insulting him to his face. But what do I know? I thought Hillary Clinton bested Trump hands down all three times they faced off in the fall of 2016, for all the good that it did. Maybe in 2020 it will be enough for the Democratic nominee to be known and familiar, a trusted emissary from the level-headed sobriety of the Obama era, promising a restoration. Heck, maybe it would be enough for the nominee to be anyone other than someone who can be plausibly tarred as a socialist.