Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test

lawn chairs

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.

And finally,

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.


17 thoughts on “Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test

  1. I think the comparison between Biden and Harry Truman is flawed for a number of reasons: First, Harry Truman served honorably as a captain in an artillery company during ww1. Biden on the other hand sought a deferment for asthma which he had as a teenager even though later he was a star football player in college. Harry Truman was supported by the corrupt Tom Pendergast but never drafted legislation to please Pendergast if it conflicted with his own values. Biden freely plagiarized during his law school studies and got caught doing it. Biden strikes me as a vain and narcissistic person . He should never become president.

    • The point is that somebody has to be President. Biden’s no narcissist. Like Truman, he’s limited, he knows it (that’s a good thing)and he has cut corners or tried to, to succeed. That means he will have advisors smarter than he is. Of course he shouldn’t be President, but almost none of these people should.

  2. It’s even worse than you think.
    You have most of it right, but anyone who would consider voting for Biden over a lawn chair has blinders on. Although I was once groped by a lawn chair, so there’s that.

    • And check Biden under Search—I’ve barely said a good thing about him. But if you lined up Truman and Biden at the same ages and pre-1944, I’d have said Biden was a better bet. Prendergast was a crook, and so, at that point, was Harry, who serviced a crook. The lawn chair test simply asks if the candidate is over the line. Biden makes it on leadership skills: I guarantee he’d have a relationship with every legislature, and would not govern by executive action. That’s a low bar, but he crawls over it.

      He’d have to stop groping, though.

  3. Ron [sic] Paul also flunks it; no libertarian as extreme as he is can be a responsible or competent President.

    I don’t think that’s a typo or a momentary lapse in concentration; judging by the description, that’s a genuine confusion of father and son. Even stipulating for the sake of argument that that criterion provides a sound measure of future competence, it simply doesn’t apply to the son as he has famously fudged his position quite often in a “Paris vaut une messe” way.

    • No, it really isn’t. Rand is much dumber than Ron, but I’d vote for him over his father, and vote for a broken lawn chair over either. They are filed together in my brain, that’s all, and I grabbed the wrong one. But thanks—I read the thing four times and didn’t pick it up—or the fact that I initially left out Ron Rubio and Ron Kasich.

      • There’s an interesting distinction to be made: which is more disqualifying, the moral lapse of someone who compromises his principles to get in, or the lapse in competence of someone who adheres to dysfunctional principles regardless? Given the choice of a knave or a fool, and no option to find yet another, what would you prefer? And these days, that is all there is; the advice “if you don’t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen” is misdirection away from the fact that the heating of the whole house is controlled from the kitchen.

        • If forced to choose between a fool and a knave? I think there an argument, especially in the long term, that a fool does less damage.

  4. I am looking at the problems the US will face in the next term and they are daunting. Things weren’t great when Obama became president, but he didn’t have to follow Obama as president. Obamas policies have created a lot of problem that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, I fear that Biden’s position on these problems is that he is in favor of them.

    -massive debt
    Bush added about $5 trillion to the national debt. Obama unbelievably added $10 trillion more. We need a leader who can work with Congress to reduce this debt, not spend wantonly.

    -Corruption and incompetence in government agencies.

    It isn’t hard to see the corruption and incompetence in the DOJ, the Secret Service, the EPA (recently confirmed to have massively polluted western waterways), the State Department… Forty seven of the 78 Inspectors General wrote a letter to Congress complaining that they are unable to do their jobs because of President Obama. Our President has decided (by Executive Order) that the IG’s can only have access to the documents that the head of the department they are investigating will allow. That’s right, IG’s only have access to the material that the people they are investigating will allow. Homeland Security has over 53,000 employees who have been on paid leave for more than a month and 100 for over a year (up to 3 years). These are people on leave because of misconduct, insufficient security clearance to do their job, or unfit to do their job. We need someone who can make the government functional again and understand that these agencies exist to perform a function and not to employ federal workers.


    We have reached the point that judges in California will change the birth certificate and name of a US citizen to that of an illegal immigrant to allow them collect food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security, while turning the citizen into a nonperson. It also appears the judge changed the name on the Social Security file. When convicted, the illegal immigrant was sentenced to 1 night in jail.

    Who is going to challenge the notion that people who walk across the border to take advantage of this countries social programs are a privileged class of people who have superior rights to US citizens?

    -The world around us is falling apart.

    Our current president has ceded the role of “Leader of the Free World” to Europe, since they are better than us. This has led to sheer chaos. Europe is now accepting all the people of Darfur, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan as refugees and pressuring us to do the same. People in Germany and even Sweden are setting the refugee centers on fire at such a rate that they are running out of placed to put people. Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and probably others have stopped shipping AK-47’s to the US civilian market because the Middle East is paying more for them and their own governments are demanding large shipments to expand their armies. Iran has already tested a ballistic missile in violation of their current sanctions and also violating President Obama’s heralded new agreement before it even begins. Who is going to rebuild our military and our world prestige to counter the chaos that is likely in the near future?

  5. Well, Biden is no longer an issue. The bigger issue here, however, is the character and ability of the next president. Being a nice guy and an able politician doesn’t cut it this time around. Not after Obama. The next president will be faced with a huge job in stopping and rolling back Obama’s attempt to deliver America into an oligarchic socialism in subservience to a globalist domain. He needs to be a man of deep Christian faith, of impeccable integrity and a solid constitutionalist with established credentials of leadership. In other words, it needs to be Ted Cruz.

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