aNewDomain — Joe Biden isn’t running.
Not that he couldn’t have made a good president, though.
Certainly, the vice president would have been better at the job than U.S. President Barack Obama has turned out to be, and on every front: Biden has more legislative experience, a big vision for policy, a natural, undeniable warmth, a love of people you just don’t see in Obama (rightly nicknamed “Spock” by New York Times columnist-snarkmaster Maureen Dowd).
More often than not, when the Congressional Record coughs up a passionate, brilliantly argued, forward-looking speech from 20 or 30 years ago, it turns out to have been delivered by the then-senator from the miniscule state of Delaware, known primarily for its many P.O. boxes.
And now, just two days before today’s Rose Garden announcement that he isn’t going to enter the 2016 race for the Democratic nomination for president, Biden drew comparisons between him and Hillary Clinton, the current frontrunner.
I wasn’t much impressed — not favorably anyway — by Biden’s claim that, as veep, he spoke for the president (as though the secretary of state does not?) when he meets with foreign leaders. I was even less favorably disposed to his claim that he and President Obama have never disagreed about anything from a policy perspective.
And I was downright nauseous at his bragging about his role in the rubout of Osama bin Laden, a nasty business that no nation that claims to respect the rule of law ought to be involved in, much less crow about.
But Biden was better than Hillary …
All that said, Biden really is better than Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This is true even though he replicated her worst foreign policy blunders: voting to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and then lied about it.
Biden is a better person and a better politician because, despite his running off at the mouth and his bumbling demeanor and an almost Boehner-like inability to maintain personal composure, he is — unlike Hillary — obviously human. And, this is no small thing, Biden appears to be in the game not entirely for himself and his own personal gain.
This probably is why he has one of the lowest personal net worths in Washington: between $500,000 and $600,000. Many middle-class Americans have that much equity in their homes.
And compare that net worth figure to Hillary Clinton’s $45 million.
Not bad for someone who left the White House “dead broke.”
As Balzac said, behind every great fortune is a crime, and in Hillary’s case, it’s a series of them: conflict of interest and shitloads of influence peddling via the benighted Clinton Foundation, which watchdogs have called basically a personal “slush fund.”
There are two reasons why Biden will not be president.
As it turns out, Biden wanted no part of that noise. Respect. And so he will not be president.
There are two reasons for that, one tactical, the other the result of a moral choice.
Tactically, Biden’s big mistake was waiting too long. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is spoken for by Biden’s colleague from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.
Supporters simply are not going to desert the only mainstream American politician to put income inequality front and center for year after year in favor of a man who says he never disagreed with Obama about anything. (Really?)
That leaves the mainstream, which mainstream pundits say is his natural constituency (though I don’t buy that for stylistic reasons) but in any event is already bought and paid for by Hillary and her SuperPACs.
This year, there isn’t anyone left along the wall for Joe to dance with.
But the bigger moral quandary for Team Biden was his decision to serve as vice president and to do so faithfully, in the old tradition of complete loyalty.
It’s an admirable personality trait, one I look for in my friends above all else. Coming out of eight years of a presidency that managed to drive Republicans insane while still failing to deliver much substance by way of policy to liberal and progressive Democrats — pretty much the worst possible outcome of a presidency minus impeachment — a vice president would only have stood a chance at the No. 1 job by carving out a separate identity from The O.
Biden never did that.
Just two days ago, Biden was still marketing himself as Mini Barack.
Even Al Gore didn’t go this far. A Bill Clinton loyalist, even he had his government efficiency initiative and his focus on climate change to differentiate him.
But here’s the real reason
If Biden really had wanted to be president in 2016, he should have announced pre-Bernie, right after Elizabeth Warren bowed out, and come out strong as the liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton. It was the only possible play.
But he didn’t make it.
So why did Biden give it all away?
Why’d he waffle and stall?
Two days ago, Biden said he spends many hours each day meeting with Obama.
This is what happens when a good person hangs out with a bad influence. Too bad he and his advisers couldn’t see that.
Image one: TheFederalist.com, All Rights Reserved; image two/cover image: Patheos.com, All Rights Reserved; image three: Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann). This official White House photograph is available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. All Rights Reserved.