An interesting, if somewhat obvious question from John Ziegler at Mediaite this week. Joe Biden is currently coming under fire from a number of his own allies as multiple women are coming forward with totally shocking, “nobody could have seen this coming” allegations that the former veep had, at a minimum, made them uncomfortable by invading their personal space.
Perhaps this was a plan hatched by Bernie Sanders or one of the other 2020 hopefuls who are still trailing Biden badly in the polls. Maybe it’s a genuine complaint from one offended female that prompted others to break their silence. We may never know. But the desired downstream effect is obvious. Get Biden to take on some water early and either convince him to stay out of the primary race or damage him enough that he becomes more beatable. The question Ziegler poses is… what then? If you take out Biden – arguably the guy with the best chance of beating Trump, a prospect supported in many polls – who do you replace him with? Who else could actually win the general election?
Over the weekend, as controversy began to swirl around prospective Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, I wrote that the #MeToo attack on him was both absurd and self-destructive to the effort to oust President Donald Trump. I also predicted that this would open up the floodgates for similarly benign allegations, and that Trump would be laughing at all of this because, if Biden is badly damaged, the president’s re-election chances increase rather dramatically.
Since then, Biden has gotten some significant support, even from people that one might not expect (though, interestingly, not yet from Michelle Obama), while also being criticized by some whose condemnation was surprising. In short, the jury is still out on whether this situation will cause Biden to refrain from getting into the race, or if it could, theoretically, inoculate him from this problem very early in the process.
After I laid out the case that Biden, assuming age hasn’t completely robbed him of his fastball, is clearly the Democrat with the best chance to beat Trump in a two-person race (two new polls continue to strongly back that assertion, with Biden’s unique appeal among Republicans being a key factor), the feedback I got, while purely anecdotal, was telling.
The polls Ziegler references back up the gut instinct I’ve had and have been writing about here since last year. Of all the people under discussion as possible Dem candidates, Biden is almost undoubtedly the biggest threat to Donald Trump in 2020. He’s a known quantity with the perfect resume for the job. That’s assuming you can get past the age thing, but President Trump is no spring chicken either so that winds up being a wash.
Perhaps far more to the point, people really seem to genuinely like Joe Biden. Heck, even I wouldn’t mind sitting down with him for a cocktail. (Not that I’d vote for him, mind you, but he just strikes me as a nice guy.) Who else in the field has that going for them? Maybe Mayor Pete from South Bend. In the early going he’s scored pretty high in the likability derby. I used to think the same thing about Amy Klobuchar, but her penchant for throwing office supplies at her underlings may have shattered that illusion.
But we’re talking about more than just personality and resumes here. The biggest thing helping Donald Trump at the moment isn’t the people who want to run against him. It’s the Democrats’ platform. They’re going all in on every flavor of crazy under the sun. Socialism as far as the eye can see, spending programs and free stuff for everyone that will bankrupt us and let’s not forget infanticide. If they come out of the gate next year with one of the hot, new socialists spouting those types of plans, they’ll probably scare off the middle so badly that Trump will actually do better than last time.
Biden has the cure for all that. He can nod his head and smile at the young folks during the debates. He can describe things like the Green New Deal as “very interesting” without committing to them. And then, if he wins the nomination, he can go back to his usual, middle of the road policies that voters are comfortable with hearing. And they’ll be hearing it from a candidate that doesn’t scare them off.
This is a case of the Democrats needing to be careful what they wish for. They just might get it. And if you blow a hole in the hull of the S.S. Biden now, you may be sinking your own chances next November. (Which is precisely why I hope they wind up nominating Bernie Sanders. Sorry, Joe…)