I’m not exactly disappointed that Biden passed on challenging Clinton and Sanders for the Democratic nomination, in part because if I ended up having to vote for him next November, I might have gone directly from the voting booth to the bridge. Still, ol’ Lunchbucket Joe would have offered some hope that a presidential candidate would emerge in this election cycle that it wouldn’t be historically irresponsible to vote for.
Conservative pundits keep writing that Biden would be identical to Obama, his third term. In our history, do you know how often that assumption has proven accurate.? Never. Van Buren was supposed to be Andy Jackson’s third term; Taft was Teddy’s, Bush was Reagan’s. The only difference now, and it is significant, is that in those three instances, the previous POTUS was strong and effective. Obama, on the other hand, has been weak, ineffective, destructive and incompetent. It is difficult to imagine how Biden could be worse.
Forget about Obama, though: why would Biden have been preferable to the Democrats who are serious candidates? Chafee and O’Malley aren’t worth discussing; they aren’t going to be on the ballot. As for the rest…
Clinton vs. Biden? Not even close. Clinton is corrupt, cynical, vindictive, dishonest and false. We have to go all the way back to Aaron Burr to find a more dangerous presidential candidate. Biden’s character, in contrast, is well within the natural range for career politicians. He appears to be a genuinely nice guy. He is not a sociopath, a psychopath or a narcissist, like Obama. He is more or less normal, and in this crowd, that’s a real virtue. I’m sure Hillary is smarter, but Biden is a better politician, more likable (who isn’t?) and has more real and relevant experience, prime among them being Vice-President for two terms.
There is a reason why most of the Veeps who have made it to the White House have shown good skills and instincts: they know the job and hit the ground running. Since the 19th Century, all the Presidents who achieved the top job have been at least competent, which means “better than Obama”—Teddy Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, the first Bush. Biden would have kept up the string.
In Presidential contests, I have what I call the Lawn Chair Test. The question: would you vote for this candidate if the opposing candidate was a lawn chair? Hillary doesn’t pass that test. Biden would.
Sanders vs. Biden. Bernie Sanders is living in an alternate universe, one where socialism, mass income distribution, a nanny state and government management of all things works. It doesn’t work. It also is counter to the founding principles and philosophies at the core of U.S. culture. Joe is just an old school, pro-labor, working class warrior Democrat. We know the country can survive a term or two of such a President. Bernie also hasn’t been paying attention to this administration, which should have convinced anyone with an open mind that the government needs fewer responsibilities, not more of them to screw up.
Sanders is honest. He has never led anything, however, and we have no reason to believe he has untapped skills.
Biden may not understand the real world, but at least he’s living in it.
Okay, now Joe has the nomination.
To which Republican adversaries would he be superior?
First, let’s eliminate the non-starters. Jindal, Graham, Pataki and Santorum aren’t getting nominated absent some mass extinction. Mike Huckabee flunks the lawn chair test: he wants a theocracy, and opposes the rule of law. Rand Paul also flunks it; no libertarian as extreme as he is can be a responsible or competent President. None of these has a chance of being nominated. That leaves Cruz, Bush, Kasich, Fiorina, Carson, Christie, Rubio and Trump.
Cruz vs Biden. I could conceive of some horrible scenarios where Ted Cruz would be nominated, though they are unlikely. He is a bully and a demagogue, a smarter and more skilled Donald Trump without the charisma. He is every bit as dangerous as Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t want to live in a country that had Ted Cruz as President, and I wouldn’t like a country that would elect a man like him to office. Luckily, this isn’t one.
Bush vs Biden. Jeb’s a lousy campaigner, he’s a Bush, and he appears feckless. I’d vote for him over a lawn chair, I guess: I don’t trust his judgment at all, and my guess is that he’d be a weak President. Biden also would probably be a weak President. Biden would have beaten Bush, I think. Both are nice guys, both are decent and for politicians, ethical. ( It does bother me to hear, over and over again, that Biden is “authentic” when he’s the only politician at a national level who stole another politician’s life story for a speech.) The progressive movement has essentially beclowned itself in the last seven years, and with a GOP President, maybe journalists would start being journalists again.
I’d have to vote for Jeb. I pray that it never comes to that.
Kasich vs.Biden It says something that I had to add this after posting because I completely forgot about Ohio Governor John Kasich—-and he’s one of the better candidates. He’s a good, solid politician who as no major character blots on his record, he has both legislative and executive experience; he appears to have a brain, a heart and courage; and beats the lawn chair with ease. And Biden. That’s all it takes. He would get my vote over Biden, in the universe where both of them get nominated. That isn’t this one, though.
Fiorina vs Biden. Oh, Carly has about 60 IQ points on Joe, but brains aren’t everything. She has no government experience whatsoever, and the Presidency, as Obama proves every day, is no place for amateurs, especially cock amateurs with a superiority complex.
I’d vote for Biden over Carly.
Carson vs Biden Same as above, but Carson wouldn’t get my vote over the lawn chair. He lacks leadership experience and government experience, making him worse than almost any one. He may be brighter than Biden, but he says things that even Joe, in the throes of his worst brain cramps, would know enough to avoid.
Christie vs Biden Christie’s a smart man, a good speaker, a skilled leader, and should be a formidable candidate. I think he would be the most effective President of the field. However, he’s also a narcissist, and there are a lot of hints of corruption in his resume. This is what comes of being raised in New Jersey, Christies ceiling is much, much higher than Biden’s. I’d vote for him over all the candidates, now that Webb is out of the race.
No, he has no shot.
Just like Jim Webb…
Rubio vs Biden Rubio seems earnest, intelligent and young. He has presence and charisma. But he would also be another Obamaesque gamble, another inexperienced Senator without executive experience who skipped too many votes and whose main assets are speaking skills, personal charisma and minority status. Yecch. If there was ever a time when the nation didn’t need a Jack Kennedy type, this is it. We need some stability and savvy desperately. Still, Rubio also has a high upside, and he’s no lawn chair. It would be a toss-up, but I’d probably vote for Rubio in the end.
Trump vs Biden. This still holds.
Essentially, my preference for Joe Biden over must of the current candidates comes down to this. Biden isn’t smart, but he’s probably not much dumber than Harry Truman, and his record is more impressive and promising than Harry’s was. Truman was a surprisingly strong leader. That means that Joe had at least a chance to be survivable, which puts him ahead of Hillary and Bernie, and all but a couple of the Republicans. That’s something.
The United States is really in a mess.