As I posted on Monday, what was once just a lot of talk has turned serious, and people are starting to give off the impression the Vice President Joe Biden is running for president. Biden officially has President Obama’s “blessing” to jump in, and the pundits are starting to chatter about the highly likely contentious battle that he would have with Hillary.
Writing at The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky believes that Biden would get in the way Hillary becoming the first woman president, which in turn would upset Democrats’ inability to make history twice (the first being electing President Obama as the first Black/African-American president). Tomasky also believes that Biden will portray Hillary as corrupt and unable to sufficiently combat income inequality, something that has become a pillar for the Democratic Party as of late. Tomasky also believes that the media will capitalize on the inevitable nastiness and inflate the rivalry between Biden and Hillary, thus making both Democratic candidates look disunited and irrational.
Writing at Salon, notable liberal pundit Joan Walsh lists her reasons why Biden would not be a good nominee for the Democratic Party. Walsh likes Biden personally, but she notes that if Hillary is getting questions about her past support for bills that progressives hate, Vice President Biden will get those same questions from progressive activists as well. Biden not only supported the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the bill which Black Lives Matters activists are demanding Clinton recant her support for, Biden took part in writing the damn thing. Furthermore, Walsh states that Biden “…worked with Sen. Strom Thurmond and the Reagan administration to pass the bill that expanded civil asset forfeiture, now controversial for the way local police departments share in captured assets. [Biden] was behind the law that made sentences for crack cocaine higher than powder, which targeted blacks more than whites.” Biden has also long supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans taxpayer money from being used for abortions (which means poor women are virtually unable to get abortions that wealthy women can access).
Finally, Jamelle Bouie at Slate also condemns Biden for his championing of the War on Drugs and harsh police policies that have led to increased incarceration among minorities (notably Black/African-American males). Bouie calls Biden the “Democratic face of the drug war” and follows this up with what I believe is a very likely scenario in which “[h]is opponents—whether Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley—will use his record against him, and millions of Democrats will begin to see him… as someone who widened the path to prison for countless young men of color.” Bouie predicts that a presidential run will severely damage Biden’s political career (of which he is obviously at the end of) and that his campaign is not likely to go well at all.
I find myself agreeing with the above pundits, and not just because I’m a staunch Hillary supporter. Sure, Biden is effusive, gregarious and loves people. Biden is folksy, he relates to blue-collar whites very well (something that the Democratic Party has sacrificed in order to expand the racial demographics of their base) and he is a lifelong politician who has done wonderful things with his career (i.e. the Violence Against Women Act, which several Republicans, including presidential contenders Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio recently voted against). Moreover, the story of how Biden rebounded after the tragic death of his wife and family in inspirational and simply amazing.
However, having a loose cannon run for president is not exactly appealing to me. Moreover, I have been very critical of Joe Biden recently because he sided against President Obama’s decision to increase troop presence in Afghanistan in 2009 and was skeptical of the president’s order to permit the raid that killed Osama-Bin-Laden. I do not believe that Biden will continue President Obama’s moderately hawkish approach to foreign policy and will be far less hawkish than Hillary. Furthermore, it is not evident to me (yet) that Biden understands the current economic landscape. I do not fault him for this, as he comes from a town (and a time period) known for manufacturing. But that economy is gone and unlikely to reproduce. I am sure that Vice President Biden would support an increase in the minimum wage, support increased spending on U.S. infrastructure and support a monetary policy that Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellan advocates for. Moreover, I am sure that Biden would be great on social issues, as he vigorously supports gay marriage, women’s abortion rights and would likely be okay with expanding the welfare state to cover maternity leave and universal pre-K.
All in all, should Biden jump in the race, I won’t exactly be devastated. After all, the media may finally turn away from the cavalcade of clowns that makes up the Republican presidential race and finally give some attention to the Democratic side of things. But realistically, this is not a good move for Biden. He’s had a laudable career as a public servant. Biden should just leave it at that and call it a day.