Nate Jackson / October 21, 2015

Biden Takes a Pass

“The window on mounting a realistic campaign for president has closed.”

Despite a couple of well-placed endorsements from Barack Obama, Joe Biden passed on a presidential run in a Rose Garden speech Wednesday. That huge sigh of relief you heard was from the Hillary Clinton campaign. After the May death of his son, Beau, Biden wrestled with the decision and ultimately decided against it, concluding that “the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president … has closed.” Another way to look at it is that Clinton’s debate performance cut off Biden a day after Jim Webb quit the race. It solidifies her iron grip on the nomination.

As Obama did in distancing himself from Clinton over her email server, however, Biden implicitly repudiated the Democrat frontrunner for her political divisiveness. “I believe we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart. … It’s mean-spirited, it’s petty and it’s gone on for far too long. I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our opposition. They’re not our enemies.” That was a clear reference to Clinton’s debate remark that Republicans were her most notable enemies. But it’s ironic that Biden made his comments while standing next to Obama, who has done more to make enemies of his political opponents than anyone.

Many thought Biden would be a Plan B for Democrats if Clinton is indicted by the FBI — and it’s a remote possibility that he will remain so, as his remarks were basically an “I’m running” stump speech minus the “I’m running.” Obama’s recent dismissal of any national security implications from Clinton’s careless handling of classified material makes an indictment even less likely, and Biden’s stepping aside may indicate Obama knows it. We don’t anticipate that a Democrat president is going to allow the Democrat frontrunner to be indicted, even if there’s no love lost between the two. Finally, while we’d never support Biden, we will miss the hilarity he would no doubt have brought to the campaign trail.

And here’s Charles Krauthammer with a final word: “What he did with that speech, which was essentially an announcement speech, was to say, ‘I’m ready, I’m tanned, I’m rested, and if lightning strikes Hillary’ — meaning if the Department of Justice indicts her or something really out of the ordinary happens, and somehow she disappears — ‘I just bought myself a stand-by ticket on Air Force One.’ So he’s first in line. There’s nothing he could have done as a candidate to depose her, particularly after the debate. It was a 13-point swing in her standing against Sanders. But right now he’s waiting in line. If something happens, he’s just announced that he’s ready, and I think he would be the logical candidate. So he’s got the best of both worlds. … I think she has the nomination. I think the race ended in the debate when Bernie Sanders said, ‘We’re tired of hearing about your damn emails.’ That was a concession speech. He handed over his sword, it was over. It remains over. And Biden understood that. He’s not a dummy. He understands how the forces here work and he knew he had zero chance. I think this is all in the hands of the Department of Justice. It’s not in the hands of the Benghazi committee. [The DoJ] will determine the 1 in 100 chance that she falls — otherwise, she’s the nominee.

(Revised.)

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