Laura Hollis / Mar. 5, 2020

Biden Gambit Reeks of Desperation

After Super Tuesday, all the headlines are heralding former Vice President Joe Biden's remarkable "comeback" from dead in the water to front-runner and presumptive Democratic nominee.

After Super Tuesday, all the headlines are heralding former Vice President Joe Biden’s remarkable “comeback” from dead in the water to front-runner and presumptive Democratic nominee.

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni called it “some kind of miracle.”

Please. It was anything but. It was a calculated, collaborative, last-ditch, no-holds-barred effort by the Democratic National Committee to take the wind out of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ sails. Conveniently, for Biden’s “miracle,” other contenders former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (who had potentially diluted votes for Biden in earlier primaries) dropped out the two days before the Super Tuesday primaries. And this followed at least two weeks of a full-court-press onslaught of negative media coverage on Sanders, obviously intended to turn Democratic voters against him.

There was also an equally obvious campaign of high-profile endorsements of Biden. What I noticed is that the talking point for Biden seems to be “decency.” Former national security adviser Susan Rice tweeted her endorsement, saying that Biden would lead America with “compassion and decency.” Former CIA Director John Brennan said that Biden is “one of the most honest, decent, practical, & experienced individuals” he has ever worked with. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano endorsed Biden, praising his “intelligence, kindness and decency.” A Twitter search for “Biden” and “decency” brings up similar statements from actress Mia Farrow, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.

It’s true that Biden seems an affable fellow (despite an odd penchant for sniffing women, girls and babies). But he does have a history of falsehoods; one video making the rounds shows Biden claiming that he graduated in the top half of his law school class, received an award for being an outstanding political science student and earned three undergraduate degrees.

None of those claims are true.

Then there was the matter of Biden having stolen speeches wholesale from Britain’s Neil Kinnock and former U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, and having plagiarized others’ work when he was a law student.

Still, many politicians have the skill of selective memory, strategically phrased denials and embellishment of their records.

But what used to be the occasional gaffe for Biden seems to have morphed into daily misstatements (and just plain odd statements) that legitimately call into question his cognitive health. Just in the past few days, Biden called journalist Chris Wallace “Chuck,” mistook his sister for his wife (and vice versa) and botched one sentence from the Declaration of Independence. Previously, he called an attendee of one of his rallies a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier”; misstated the states he was in; claimed to be running for U.S. Senate; bragged about appointing the first African American woman to the Senate; and gave some inexplicable ramblings about a “bad dude” named Corn Pop, someone named Esther, his leg hairs, roaches and children in his lap.

The media’s dogged refusal to ask hard questions about the possibility of dementia or other physical failings is reminiscent of their deliberate ignoring of Hillary Clinton’s obvious health problems during the 2016 campaign. Wild theories circulated precisely because the media glossed over the glaring evidence of Clinton’s issues — the coughing fits, her unkempt appearance at times, her collapse at the 9/11 remembrance ceremony. It was as if they feared that any admission of Clinton’s weakness as a candidate would strengthen Donald Trump’s hand.

But the voting public had its own views about Clinton’s weaknesses.

Similarly, the Democratic Party’s need to prop Biden up as a dreadnought to stop Bernie Sanders will not keep the American public from noticing and asking hard questions about Biden’s suitability to be president. Joe Biden is well liked, and I suspect that people mostly feel sympathy when they view his frequent confusion. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, I don’t think most Americans are going to vote for the president of the United States on the basis of sympathy.

Nor are they going to vote in large enough numbers on a platform that largely consists of the notion “Vote for us because we hate Donald Trump.” What are Democrats offering Americans? Open borders? Higher taxes? Bans on large sodas and plastic straws?

Joe Biden has an impediment that Hillary Clinton did not have. She was running against an unknown. But Biden is running against Trump’s record. And in spite of 24/7 negative media, the two-plus-year-long Mueller investigation and Congress’s impeachment debacle, Trump has produced for Americans. Voters are going to look at the data — a booming economy; strong job creation; record-low unemployment; increased wages for middle- and lower-income Americans; and reduced regulations that translate to flourishing businesses.

This includes minorities, who have benefited from the Trump economy, whether as employees or business owners. Particularly, it includes African Americans, many of whom are tweeting that they are tired of being pandered to and want real results — results they see Donald Trump producing, both in terms of economic growth and other issues that matter, like prison reform.

If Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee — and if his performance at rallies and the primary debates are any indication — a debate between Trump and Biden will be a bloodbath.

But that’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen on Nov. 3.

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