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Lewis Morris / August 14, 2015

Hillary Panic Might Be Opening for Biden

The blowback over Clinton’s servers might be just the opportunity Joe needs.

The escalating troubles that Hillary Clinton’s campaign faces over her email server sure can’t be explained away as another vast right-wing conspiracy. After “giving” the email server to the FBI earlier this week, Clinton faces potential blowback from voters and shaky support within the Democrat Party — so much so that the sitting vice president is looking to some like an attractive alternative.

U.S. intelligence Inspector General I. Charles McCullough told Congress this week that some of the emails on Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured server contained “information classified up to ‘TOP SECRET//SI/TK//NOFORN.’” In other words, really secret information passed through Clinton’s home-brew email system — a felony. If it was that easy to find evidence that Clinton was inappropriately handling sensitive material while serving as secretary of state, then this may be only the beginning of her troubles.

It’s worth noting that whether the FBI can find what they need to find is one thing, but what they don’t find may be the more important story. The more evidence of how deeply reformatted certain sectors of her server are is evidence in itself of how much has been removed. The more technical that scrubbing was, the more it implicates Hillary and the large number of people who may have been involved in covering her tracks. The better she scrubbed, the worse it might be for her.

Clinton spun the FBI’s seizure of her email server as voluntarily handing over the evidence in the spirit of transparency, but the truth of the matter is that the feds came knocking and they were going to leave with the server whether she approved or not. And in classic Clinton fashion, her team is now circling the wagons and lawyering up in preparation for a multi-pronged offensive that will include legal action and a public relations campaign to deflect the damage and blame others. Don’t be surprised if heads roll at Team Clinton. They are not above sacrificing their own for the greater good.

As yet another Clinton scandal brews, it’s worth wondering if the public has finally grown weary of all the drama. Hillary’s slide in the polls relative to socialist rival Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire and relative to Republican frontrunners in key battleground states suggest this to be the case. Hillary’s stock has also fallen when it comes to earning the trust of voters. It’s about time.

Clinton’s latest troubles don’t bode well for Democrats. Unlike the GOP, which has a deep roster of candidates and can weather the storm that is Donald Trump, the Democrats don’t have that luxury.

If Clinton’s campaign should flounder because of this email business, who’s left? There’s Bernie Sanders, a self-professed socialist, and Martin O'Malley, whose name recognition is so poor that most people don’t even know that his résumé is headlined by his tenure as mayor of the sorry city of Baltimore. Oh, and some guy named Lincoln Chafee. Sanders may be popular now among the party’s left wing, but in the general election, he would be eaten alive. He is a fringe candidate who, like Trump, is articulating a popular rage in the electorate against the status quo.

It is rare indeed to see a candidate ride public outrage all the way to the White House. The broader electorate usually doesn’t like to gamble their votes on someone without a real track record for governing. The glaring exception was in 2008 and look where that got us.

Nevertheless, the Democrat Party’s ruling class is nervous. Recognizing the fact that they have basically put the fate of their 2016 chances on Clinton alone, a slow, but steady clamor has risen for a more established candidate to enter the race.

Enter Joe Biden. The vice president has been quietly seeking the advice of many within his circle for weeks now, and he is expected to make a decision in September.

Biden is a viable alternative to Clinton from a political standpoint. He is the sitting vice president, he has solid favorability among Democrats, and he would likely have Barack Obama’s backing if he should run. If Obama has to choose whom to support, he is unlikely to side with the Clintons, given their sometimes acrimonious relationship. He likely doesn’t trust Hillary with his legacy.

The downside to a Biden candidacy is that he would come into the game without any real organization in place. Clinton has already picked all the low-lying fruit in terms of fundraising, consultants and high-level supporters. Biden is also an old white guy in a minority-focused party.

But if Hillary’s legal troubles over the email scandal continue to mount, there would be nothing to prevent her current supporters from walking away to avoid being tarnished by association.

Right now, it all hedges on what the FBI finds, or does not find, on her email server.

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