Friday, September 11, 2015


This morning I watched Stephen Colbert's interview of Joe Biden. As Michael Shear of The New York Times notes, Biden seems doubtful about running for president, although he seems to be trying to talk himself into it. Before the interview, I thought Biden was likely to run. Now I don't think so.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an emotional, wide-ranging interview on Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” on Thursday, expressed doubt about the likelihood that he would run for president, saying that “I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there.”

Repeatedly touching on his parents, his faith and his emotional fragility from the recent death of his son Beau, Mr. Biden told Mr. Colbert that no “man or woman should run for president” without being able to promise voters that “you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion.”

“Nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Colbert....

“I find myself ... you understand, sometimes it just sort of overwhelms you. I can’t. ...,” he said, trailing off. Mr. Biden then told a story about how he broke down when he was greeting members of the military and their families at a rope line in Denver and one of them mentioned Beau.

“It was going great,” Mr. Biden recalled, choking up. “All of a sudden, a guy in the back yells, ‘Major Beau Biden. Bronze Star, Sir. Served with him in Iraq.’ I lost it.”

“How can you? That’s not .... You can’t do that,” he said.
That's in Part 2, below.

Elsewhere, Biden talked about his Catholic faith and patriotism and coping with life after adversity. He recalled a lot of things members of family had told him -- his father, his mother, his son.

You know -- he was Joe Biden.

Plain-talking white guys weren't always Republicans. When I was a kid, especially up in the Northeast, a lot of them were New Deal Democrats. Some believed in FDR economics while harboring some ugly, narrow-minded attitudes, but narrow-mindedness wasn't an inevitable part of being that kind of guy.

I think there's a certain craving for this in the electorate right now. You can draw your own conclusions regarding the reasons.

To a certain extent, I think Bernie Sanders comes off as an old-fashioned regular guy. And maybe Trump, with that you-tawkin'-ta-me? accent, has some of that as well. Trump is certainly doing better in the polls than candidates who, unlike him, meet all the litmus tests but have a professional-pol affect -- Rubio, Walker, Jindal. (Then again, I can't explain where Ben Carson fits in all this, or Barack Obama in the last two election cycles.)

I think Biden would be a strong presidential candidate in part because of the way he carries his tribal affiliation -- he seems the most likely candidate to win votes outside the Obama coalition while holding voters within it. Me, I just want anyone who represents left (or even left-centrist) values and who can hold the line against the particularly virulent strain of conservatism that's abroad in the land right now. Hillary Clinton connected on this level for a while when she was running against Barack Obama in 2008, but she's struggling now. Maybe she'll be okay if she can hold the Obama coalition, but that's not certain.

My guess: Biden won't run. Maybe that's a good thing. But I'll be sorry if we never get to see him debate the GOP nominee, who, I'm more and more convinced, will be Trump. Biden can seriously talk policy, but I wonder if the quantity of blarney he tosses into the mix, and especially the quality of sentiment, could be the magic bullet against Trump. Watch the Colbert interview -- when Biden talks about his son, you can hear a pin drop. I don't think Trump's bombast would be a match for that.


flipyrwhig said...

Is Hillary Clinton "struggling"? Liberals have always been lukewarm about her and Republicans have always hated her. That doesn't seem to require a lot of explanation. Had Elizabeth Warren run against Hillary, I think she'd be doing as well as Bernie Sanders, and she doesn't hit many of those "regular guy" buttons. In fact she ran against one of the modern archetypes of Regular Guyness, Scott Brown, and whupped him.

How is "regular guy" different from "sincere" or "says what s/he means"? I can think of many ways, but in your analysis they seem very similar.

flipyrwhig said...

Also, Trump isn't a Regular Guy. Trump is a bully and an asshole. That's why he's doing well with Republicans, who have a worshipful attitude about dominance displays. I wonder what would happen if Cheney ran. He's a hard-hearted cold-blooded bastard _and_ a trash-talking fear-mongerer.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I love Joe Biden, but I think it is clear that he is not going to run and I think he ought to put the issue to bed. He is a hell of a debater and would wipe the floor with Trump. But everybody's going to wipe the floor with Trump in a one on one presidential debate, though, because Trump hasn't got anything but bullshit. You can get by with bullshit when there are 10 people on the stage and all you get is time for soundbites anyway.

I think Trump is going to fade when actual votes are tallied and he doesn't meet/exceed expectations. Expectations that he, himself, has set as high as possible. If he doesn't blow away the field in Iowa, he's a big time loser. Jeb!, on the other hand, can be the comeback kid if he places 3rd, maybe even 4th. I think Iowa will be the beginning of the end for Trump. And the thought of it makes me sad. I want so much more from Trump. I want him to at least have enough leverage to get a prime time slot at the convention and reprise Buchanan '92.

Steve M. said...

I want that too -- and I think you've really nailed it regarding the expectations.

On the other hand, what if Carson starts passing Trump in the polls? Seems as if it could happen.

Philo Vaihinger said...

All good points.

Sweet Sue said...

Steve, a lot of women have a very different view of the possible candidacy of the Chairman of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings.

Unknown said...

"I can't explain where Ben Carson fits in all this"

I think I can, but you don't need to trust me:
I have the world's leading expert right behind this fern ... and podium in the lobby of a gaudawful commercial complex. Ask him: assuming you catch him in one of his frequent bouts of mood-swinging between gaffing and brutal candor, he'll tell you it's BECAUSE Carson is a non-threatening Stepinfetchit expert in child neurosurgery.

Pax Obama the GOP can't resist including a black stereotype in their clown car contests. Last time they went with Cain's lobbyist-tested Pigmeat Markham corporate spokesnegro. Cain's Pigmeat broke up EVERYONE, with his "nine, nine, nine"; hw actually led in the polls briefly. Then Cain's fundamental ignorance of everything hooked up with tales of his libido.

Just this week, Trump took the little exploratory shot across Carson's bow: called him "an okay doctor".

Trump knows how much of polling is made up of conflating fish caught dead in a net with those nibbling at worms on the hook. With Carson, the hooks are obvious & unbarbed & the worm is fat & wiggly: his flat aspect and day job as a neurosurgeon.

That combo helps out white bigots mightily, by being the black dude they point at while saying "THAT'S what I'm talking about", as they explain they're not supremacist, racist, or even bigots, cuz they sure don't hate all blacks, just some folks who happen to BE black.

They sure don't hate nice quiet dedicated helpful never-challenging Negro gentlemen like Dr. Carson. Then they can admit, Yes, I DO hate scary loud uppity big huge layabouts, looters pimps, welfare bums and troublemakers, with their always raping folks and provoking police into shooting them. Also, uppity know-it-all Islamofascist commie dictators like Obama.

Trump knows - if Carson comes across as "just" a doctor, rather than a kid-caring brain surgeon, several electrons critical to holding in whatever allure Carson presents for one GOPer in 5 or 6 starts to stray a bit and soon GOPers wake up and realize, Christ, he's BLACK - and that's it for Doctor Ben.

But Trump doesn't need to do anything big, or anything at all, really; just like he didn't really need to engage with Jindal: this modern GOP is nowhere near offering up their tribe's crown to one of yer brown types.

Unknown said...

Steve M., you left out what Joebiden said back to Colbert when he asked the Big Q: Joebiden said he wanted Colbert to run again and to be HIS veep.

Okay, joke, but not entirely or even mostly: besides supporting your main thesis, it's like Joebiden sees no big difference between being veep to the current guy and being veep to this guy. And good for Joe: he's always been able to identify AND credit the more gifted.

Roger said...

I admit I just don't get it. Do a lot of people really believe there's a huge number of Democrats to the right of Hillary? You really think positions to the right of Hillary are going to appeal to a huge slice of independents? In my old age I've become more of a Revolutionary Socialist but I used to be a New Deal Democrat, and I think Hillary is about as far right as a Democrat can get.