Monday, May 06, 2019


Many Trump opponents are backing Joe Biden because they believe he's the most electable Democratic candidate. But I wouldn't count on his electability. It will continue to be threated by news coverage like this New York Times story, which portrays him as a tired old retread and thew second coming of the last loser:
... the opening days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s third presidential campaign are giving some Democrats flashbacks to another presidential front-runner: Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Biden’s first fund-raiser? Hosted by a Philadelphia-area donor who did the same for Mrs. Clinton four years ago. His early policies? Embraced by Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton, for years. A decades-long record in Washington? Mrs. Clinton had a similarly lengthy résumé. And a tortured, drawn-out apology as the first controversy of his campaign? Remember her private email account, former Clinton aides shudder.

... Even as he structures his campaign around an implicit critique of her general election effort, offering a full-throated appeal to working-class voters at his opening event in a Pittsburgh union hall, Mr. Biden has embraced the kind of incumbent-like, establishment campaign that left Mrs. Clinton open to a fierce primary challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders.

Like her, he touts his decades of government experience, intimate knowledge of world leaders and close relationship with former President Barack Obama.
The mainstream press hated Hillary Clinton. Biden gets a bit more respect:
Supporters say Mr. Biden, who frequently highlights his working class background, has a far deeper connection with voters than Mrs. Clinton, whose struggles to connect left her vulnerable to Mr. Trump’s attacks.

“He’s running the way he’s run for 40-some years and that is focusing on the middle class,” said [former Biden chief of staff Ted] Kaufman. “That is the way he views himself and the people he identifies with.”

His gender may also help Mr. Biden appear more relatable than Mrs. Clinton: Research has found that it is much harder for female candidates to be rated as “likable” than male candidates — and that they are disproportionately punished for traits like ambition that voters accept in male politicians.

“He’s a strong candidate in support of the little guy,” said Dan Buser, 56, a lieutenant in the Iowa City fire department. “You didn’t know what to believe there at the end with Hillary Clinton.”
Yet the sense of been-there-done-that is clear:
But sandwiched amid the “folks” and “malarkey” sprinkled throughout Mr. Biden’s stump speeches, the former vice president has largely embraced the same traditional Democratic Party policies as Mrs. Clinton....

As his opponents begin testing arguments against Mr. Biden, rivals from both the left and the right find themselves turning to some of the same kinds of attacks they leveled against Mrs. Clinton....

During his first swing through Iowa as a candidate, Mr. Biden largely avoided the press, as Mrs. Clinton once did....
If mainstream journalists settle on a story they like about Biden -- that he's Hillary 2.0 -- it could stick. By the time we're ready for the general election, he may have secured the nomination but lost a lot of goodwill, just like Clinton, in large part because the mainstream media will have portrayed him as yesterday's man. The MSM might also pounce on pseudo-scandals ginned up by the GOP, like the recent stories about Biden and his son and their dealings with Ukraine.

The worst-case scenario is that press coverage sours much of the country on Biden but leaves him popular enough to secure the nomination. That actually could make him Hillary 2.0.

Biden now seems like a strong general election candidate, but he also seems like easy prey for a media that would enjoy taking him down a few pegs. A year from now, he might not seem so electable.

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