Friday, December 06, 2019


The Biden video makes me cringe -- but does it matter what I think?

I'd regard this as an unmitigated disaster for Biden except for one thing: The crowd at the gathering vigorously applauds him, starting at 1:15 in the clip. The ovation comes in response to one of the most cringeworthy aspects of the clip: Biden's fat-shaming of his questioner.
BIDEN: ... And you want to check my shape on, let's do push-ups together, man, let's do -- let's run, let's do whatever you want to do. Let's take an IQ test.
Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in part because he speaks with a non-elite accent and says things politicians aren't supposed to say. Bernie Sanders is a Democratic front-runner for a second time not just because he excites young people and the left, but because some voters who find other Democrats off-putting, even Elizabeth Warren in this contest, respond to the working-class accent and simple words of Sanders. Americans disagree on who the elite are, but an awful lot of them agree that elites are bad and they'd prefer a president who's plainspoken and doesn't act like part of the elite class.

Matt Yglesias puts this somewhat differently:
Stylistically, Biden reminds me here of John McCain, whom I always found incredibly annoying but was generally very popular and well-liked.
I'll stick with the Trump analogy. We all know that Trump said many things after declaring his candidacy in 2015 that appeared to doom his candidacy, and he survived all of them. What if Joe Biden is a non-criminal, non-predatory, well-informed, reasonably intelligent, and liberal-if-not-progressive Trump? What if the gaffes are actually endearing him to much of America, because he's clearly not slick and focus-grouped?


I essentially agree with Yglesias that Biden needs a better answer to questions about his son. Yglesias writes:
Now, what I would say about Hunter is that Burisma, the energy company that gave Hunter a seat on its board, did not get any favors from Biden or the Obama administration. It would have been better for Joe, better for Obama, and probably better for America had Hunter refused to trade on his father’s name for personal gain — but Hunter is also an adult, and there’s actually nothing Joe can do to prevent his son from doing that.

More broadly, it’s pretty obvious that Hunter is an all-around mess. He got kicked out of the Navy Reserve for using cocaine, and divorce papers filed by his then-wife in 2017 alleged Hunter had a pattern of “spending extravagantly on his own interests, including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations.” He later started dating his brother’s widow, and seems to have fathered a child with another woman during this same period. Given the full picture of Hunter’s conduct, it’s pretty obvious he does lots of things his dad probably wishes he wouldn’t, though on some level, that just shows you can’t control your kids.

It’s obviously asking a lot for a father to publicly denounce his son, especially given that his other son died recently and their mother had passed away when they were very young. It’s an extremely sad family story that must hang like a cloud over Biden’s successful career in politics.
I don't believe Biden needs to go into detail about Hunter. He just needs to say that the Obama administration always made policy based on what was in the best interests of the United States and global security, not what was in the best interests of Hunter or any other individual. He should dare Rudy Giuliani or anyone else to find evidence to the contrary -- real evidence, not fake evidence cooked up in some basement in the Kremlin.

And maybe after that he should challenge Rudy to a push-up contest, or Trump. Some people really seem to like that sort of thing.

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