Democrats finally noticed what Joe Biden has been doing his entire political career (and likely longer), which is being way too comfortable with random women’s personal spaces. This is damaging his brand right before his not-yet-announced presidential campaign, and it’s presenting Democrats with a bit of a conundrum: Is Joe Biden worth saving? After all, there are 17 Democrats running for President who are considered serious candidates, but only one is a former Vice President, and a former Vice President to one of the most popular presidents among Democrats since FDR.
First, the case for Biden. He is by far the most experienced candidate in the race. He was a Senator for 36 years, and a Vice President for 8. He was a Judiciary Committee for 8 years and Foreign Relations chair twice. He is more moderate, and if he wins the nomination, he will undoubtedly gain the support not only of the entire Democratic Party, but of many left-leaning independents who have felt pushed out by the new direction of the party thanks to new Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib and others. And he is running over Donald Trump in hypothetical polls.
Over the last four polls, Biden beats Trump by 8.7 points nationwide. The largest margin is 13 points (Biden 53, Trump 40) according to Public Policy Polling, and the closest was 5 points by Rasmussen (Biden 49, Trump 44). By comparison, the second-place Democrat, Bernie Sanders, leads Trump by only 4.3 points over the last three polls. Sanders leads by 8 points (Sanders 49, Trump 41) according to Public Policy Polling, and 2 points (Sanders 51, Trump 49) according to Emerson. If Biden really can perform better with blue-collar voters than Sanders or the rest of the socialists, as is commonly believed, then that difference could hold up in the critical states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and decide the entire election.
Next, the case against Biden. First, the “allegations.” I put allegations in quotes, because, well, we’ve all seen the photos. To say he’s “affectionate” is to put it nicely. It was only a matter of time until someone came forward and said it made them uncomfortable. And now it’s five or so someones, changing by the hour. There is reason to be skeptical of the timing, as he was already the second most powerful man in the country when these events occurred, but there’s little doubt on whether these events did occur. Democrats have all pretty much come to the same conclusion: these allegations are concerning, but not disqualifying. It’s not hard to see why they’re saying that (after all, he could end up the nominee whether they like it or not), but it’s not hard to agree, either. To say it’s a result of an older and more personal style of politics is, frankly, believable. There are some other rumors on the internet that are much, much more concerning, but they’re just rumors, and likely won’t affect his campaign at all. There is one allegation that should be much more concerning, and that is Caitlyn Caruso’s. Caitlyn is a sexual assault survivor who had just finished telling her story when Joe Biden placed his hand on her thigh and kept it there through obvious discomfort, according to her. However, Caruso says this alone isn’t disqualifying, though she does take other issues with him, including his handling of the Anita Hill hearing.
Among Biden’s qualifications is former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, this leads to one of his biggest criticisms from the left, which was his handling of the Anita Hill hearing while he chaired the committee in 1991. Hill, for the unfamiliar, accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. The hearing was brought back into the public eye during the Kavanaugh hearings. Biden is criticized for allowing intense cross-examinations of Hill, the accuser, by Senators. This, combined with the recent allegations of harassment against Biden himself, present a man who has been passed by the political culture.
There is one more criticism of Biden, but it is not being brought up by the left. As Vice President, Joe Biden helped tighten the policies around sexual assault on college campuses, and since leaving office, he has been a vocal critic of Betsy Devos’s undoing of these policies. While certainly well-intentioned, these policies left many young men without any due process or recourse when accused. As The Atlantic contributing editor Emily Yoffe writes, “Biden is now living in the world of accusation he helped to create.” Of course, as such a wealthy and powerful man, Biden may well end up president, instead of expelled.
Biden also has his flaws as a candidate. This “creepy Uncle Joe” schtick isn’t going away. He does not campaign well, and often has racial slip-ups on the campaign trail with Barack Obama, most infamously telling a largely black crowd in Virginia in 2012 that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.” He is 76 years old. He supported the Iraq War. He is way right of the rest of the candidates. And, worst of all to Democrats, he’s already a fantastic punching bag for Donald Trump.
“I felt like Joe Biden,” Donald Trump joked, retelling a time he wanted to hug and kiss a general after being told the military could defeat ISIS far ahead of schedule pic.twitter.com/UK0W0bWLgV
— POLITICO (@politico) April 3, 2019
So is Biden worth saving? I don’t know. I don’t expect Republicans to bring up much of the allegations after the primary, as they will be old news, and I don’t expect the media to give them much air time, as they would help Republicans. I don’t know if “dumping” him would work, and the last thing Democrats want is to divide their base against the eventual nominee. I can’t even say for certain that he will run, though it seemed all but certain a week ago. He could be a great Trump-slayer. He could be a great Trump-target. I don’t know. But I bet we’ll find out.
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