Thursday, March 21, 2019


Axios's Mike Allen thinks this is a scoop:
Scoop: Biden advisers debate Stacey Abrams as out-of-the-gate VP choice

Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.
I don't get it. I told you this might happen two days ago, based on a CNN story posted on Monday:
As he prepares for a possible run, Biden has hunkered down for strategy sessions with a tight knit group of advisers and held meetings with top Democrats and elected officials. One subject of discussion has been the early selection of a running mate, which one aide said would help keep the focus of the primary fight on the ultimate goal of unseating Trump.

Last week, Biden stirred speculation as he met privately with Stacey Abrams....
So: not really a scoop.

Jonathan Chait thinks this is "a brilliant idea for both" Biden and Abrams. I think it might work, though I can't tell.

In the process of explaining why he thinks it's a genius move, Chait repeats some conventional wisdom:
The pairing would make Biden’s race feel more serious. Political reporters have approached a Biden race with the unstated assumption that his polling lead is an artifact of high name recognition. His best day will be his first, and he will slowly gaffe his way to irrelevance, as he has with every previous race. Paradoxically, he is a polling front-runner who needs to get the press corps to take him seriously.
What I've never understood is why smart people believe a Biden run in the aftermath of his tenure as vice president will work out exactly the way his previous runs did. He may be the same Biden, but his stature within the party is very different. To state the obvious, in 1988 and 2008, he hadn't spent eight years as the second in command to a president who's still extremely popular among Democrats. Now he has. How can that not make a difference in how voters perceive him?

Imagine if, instead of selecting George H.W. Bush as his running mate in 1980, Ronald Reagan chose one of the other people on the short list, which included such names as Howard Baker, Jack Kemp, Richard Lugar, and Paul Laxalt. Imagine if one of those men, or someone else on the list (remarkably, former president Gerald Ford was under serious consideration) went on to serve eight years as Reagan's VP. Do you think Bush would have secure the 1988 Republican presidential nomination with relative ease, winning 42 contests and 68% of the popular vote? Do you think Bush could have won at all?

In 1988, Bush had a stature he didn't have in 1980 -- he'd spent eight years as the loyal subordinate of a president Republicans greatly admired. You couldn't judge his chances in a presidential nominating contest simply by referring back to his failed 1980 run. But that's how many people assess Biden as a potential candidate.

Yes, but what about the gaffes? I acknowledge that there will be gaffes in a Biden presidential run. But isn't Donald Trump the best possible candidate to run against if you're gaffe-prone? Since 2015, Trump has, on a near-daily basis, set out to establish the proposition that there are no gaffes anymore in politics, at least if you're a white man with an ego -- you just ignore the horrified reactions and plow through as if nothing is wrong, and everyone eventually accepts the notion that you didn't do yourself any damage. Biden has a fairly outsize ego too, and if he's going to commit gaffes, or what used to be called gaffes, he might as well commit them running against someone who'll commit even more of what used to be called gaffes. In that way, if perhaps not in other ways, he really might be the right candidate for the moment.

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