Saturday, March 30, 2019


So now we have our first #MeToo account of what is usually referred to as Joe Biden's "handsiness," from Lucy Flores, a formeer candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada:
As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”

I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
We're being reminded that Biden has a documented history of doing this sort of thing. We've also been reminded recently that Biden's record is antithetical to the values of most Democrats now.

And we're regularly reminded that Biden is a terrible campaigner. Savvy people tell us that his fall is inevitable -- the often-repeated elevator version of this is that Biden's first day as a candidate will be his best day. He'll announce with great fanfare, he'll shoot up in the polls, and then, as the days go by, he'll become his own worst enemy, losing ground and ultimately failing again.

But a lot of what's supposed to make Biden fail is already known, and he still has an impressive lead the polls. (His only rival right now for the top spot is Bernie Sanders -- another candidate who's widely assumed to be headed for a fall, but that's a discussion for another day.) The polls suggest that Biden is the strongest candidate against Donald Trump, and the strongest in a three-way race with Howard Schultz.

I'm sure the savvy people believe that the #MeToo stories might persuade Biden not to announce his candidacy, or will sink him once he's in the race. But what if they don't? What if Biden has Trump-like Teflon and can survive all of this?

I don't think Joe Biden really is our Donald Trump. I think Biden would like to be the decent guy he is in his descriptions of himself. I think his ideas have evolved over the decades. I think he could be a sexual predator who's a strong champion of women's rights, like Bill Clinton. He's not Trump, who not only relishes revenge and divisiveness but wants to rally his voter base around revenge and divisiveness. Trump wants to make America a nastier, meaner place. Biden, I think, believes his own recent liberal rhetoric, even if he frequently hasn't lived up to it.

What if a large percentage of the Democratic electorate doesn't care? I don't just mean older white voters. I mean older non-white voters as well.

Notice who's most supportive of Biden in the latest Quinnipiac poll:

In a massive field, Biden has nearly half the black vote. He's at 44%; the two African-American candidates in the race combine for only 9%.

And I've told you several times about a recent focus group of black female voters in South Carolina, in which one participant described nominating Biden as "the closest we can get to a 3rd term for Obama w/o electing Michelle," and others were very dismissive of negative information about Biden.

I think older and less ideologically fervent Democrats of all races might be more forgiving of Biden. They didn't come of age in the 21st century; they may not on board with the idea that past sins are unforgivable.

And if we're talking about black voters, we should recall the polls showing that they were less likely to want Virginia governor Ralph Northam to resign after a blackface photo of him surfaced than white voters were.

I don't believe that every Donald Trump supporter is a racist, though I agree that every one is accepting of racism, by definition. Every one is also accepting of mean-spiritedness and corruption and treason. Trump takes no pains to conceal these aspects of his presidency and his life. And yet his fans believe that they're not supporting all this.

I don't believe that every Joe Biden supporter is a part of an anti-liberal, racist, sexist backlash. More significantly, I think Biden, unlike Trump, has been trying since 2008 to paper over his worst offenses. If Biden voters behave like Trump voters and tell themselves that he's never been the person he clearly has been, it's more understandable, because, in public, he's trying not to be that guy.

Thus, I believe it's possible that every bad thing about Joe Biden will come to light and his fans still won't abandon him. They'll be like Trump's fans after the many incidents that should have ended his campaign. And there may be enough of them, in a huge primary field, to win him the nomination, and to leave us with a tainted candidate going into the general election.

So what do we do if none of this drives Biden out of the race? What do we do if Biden gets a pass from his voters the way Trump did, or the way Northam has?

It might not happen, but it's a possibility we shouldn't rule out.

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