Joe Biden should run for president, vowing to serve only one term as a bipartisan healer, and training his veep to take over in 2024.
I know this sounds nuts, but there are far more preposterous scenarios — like electing a clownish autocrat who reveres Russia in part because it supposedly has the most beautiful hookers in the world.
Barring a miracle, it’s unlikely that Trump will be impeached and ousted (there won’t be enough Senate votes to convict), and the 25th Amendment makes it tough to remove someone who’s manifestly unfit. So it appears we must set our sights on 2020, and hope that someone with gravitas and grassroots prowess can dethrone the demagogue and end this national nightmare.
Biden signaled again last Sunday that he’s weighing the race. He also tops the 2020 Democratic polls, as expected. Early front-runners are typically the best-known people; 45 years on the national scene, capped by his current gigs stumping for Democratic candidates, have made Biden virtually ubiquitous.
That in itself means nothing. He’s a two-time loser on the presidential trail (1988 and 2008), his old Senate record is studded with stuff that turns off the liberal litmus-testers and Bernie Bros (his ’94 crime bill, which exacerbated an era of mass incarceration and disproportionately hurt racial minorities; his championing of laws that favored credit card companies at the expense of debt-ridden consumers; he voted to authorize the Iraq war), and he’d be 78 years old on the next Inauguration Day.
But a Biden candidacy seems eminently feasible for three reasons:
He has crossover appeal to sane Republicans. In stark contrast to the most inexperienced and polarizing “president” in anyone’s lifetime, Biden by instinct and long experience has the ability to reach across the aisle and attract Trump-weary Republicans who couldn’t abide voting for Hillary in ’16. Biden’s current argument, at fundraisers and on the trail, is that many Americans are pining for a return to civility and compromise. Biden, who hails from the era when compromise was not a dirty word, can pitch himself as a national healer. In the words of conservative analyst Matt Lewis, “There is a sense that the best way to stop Trump would be to form a coalition between ‘Never Trump’ Republicans and Democrats.”
He can talk to blue-collar and low-educated whites. Hillary lost in ’16 for lots of reasons (the Comey letter, the Russians working for Trump), but her disastrous tallies in the depressed small cities and towns of the Rustbelt fatally breached the Democratic “blue wall.” Biden, raised in Scranton, instinctively connects with the white denizens who, in many cases, voted twice for Obama before switching to Trump. Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg says in a new report that Hillary would’ve won easily in ’16 if she’d performed only five percent better in the downscale white world; in other words, Greenberg says, “There is a relatively simple path to victory for Democrats if they improve their margins among these voters.”
He’s a fighter who gives it as good as he gets. He is who he is; it’s not a pose. Biden was widely criticized last month when he said of Trump, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” OK, the macho rhetoric was a tad light on cerebral reflection. But, like it or not, optics are important in politics. Trump is a brawler who has cheapened the rules of engagement; he thrives on bullying and bulldozing his opponents. Biden, by dint of his background and experience, has the thickest skin of anyone in the sprawling Democratic field. Biden’s gym remark was infelicitous, but so what. He signaled his readiness to expose the bully’s weakness.
I know what you’re probably thinking: The last thing Democrats should do is tap an aging white guy.
But Biden can turn that to his advantage, by pledging to serve one term as a bipartisan healer, and picking a female running mate — Kamala Harris? Kirsten Gillibrand? Amy Kobuchar? — whom he could tutor as a president-in-training, especially on the foreign policy front. This kind of Democratic ticket can meld the Obama coalition (educated white professionals and minorities) to the Biden crossovers in blue-collar communities and sane Republican circles.
Desperate times require us to think outside the box. Anyone have a better idea?
In other news, poor Melania Trump will attend Barbara Bush’s funeral, joining the Clintons and the Obamas. No word yet on whether she’ll seek political asylum.