Run, Joe Biden, run!
Not counting rumors that Anthony Weiner's marriage has hit a rocky patch, it might be the worst-kept secret in politics: Joe Biden wants to be president.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the vice president's inner circle is swabbing the decks, battening down the hatches and hoisting the mainsails for USS Bidenpalooza 2016. “Everyone involved in his world,” a Democrat official told The Journal, “is engaged in taking all the steps that make sense to prepare for a run, if he does run.” Biden's people are apparently willing to go for it even if the allegedly inevitable nominee, Hillary Clinton, decides to run.
Why is this happening?
It's a difficult question to boil down to a single variable, given the swirling maelstrom of egos, agendas and issues at play. Still, one answer does seem to cover the waterfront: because ours is a just and generous God. From my admittedly selfish perspective, a Biden candidacy would be great for everybody — and by everybody I mean people who would like to see the Democratic Party descend into a chaotic food fight.
Indeed, while most of the punditocracy is obsessed with turning the mostly trivial sniping between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., into proof of a bloody civil war on the right, the Democrats are poised to descend into a family squabble of historic proportions that will amount to a riveting political reality show.
The important distinction between the GOP's internal disagreements and the Democrats' is that the Republicans are divided over issues and philosophy. Where should we make trade-offs between national security and domestic liberty? What is the proper role of government in domestic affairs? How do we cut the Gordian knot of immigration?
Almost all of the Democratic Party's disagreements revolve around tactics, personalities, loyalties and aesthetics rather than principles. (The big exception is the fight over NSA domestic surveillance, which divides both parties.) And that means things will get personal — fast.
Ask a loyalist why Clinton should be the nominee or president and the response invariably boils down to some claim that she “deserves” it:
She's a woman!
She put up with so much!
It's her turn!
The case for Biden also often boils down to entitlement:
He's been around a long time.
He's the vice president so it's his turn.
What else are you gonna do with him?
Both Clinton and Biden would run as Obama loyalists. That'll be great with the base, particularly the all-important black bloc. But it assumes that Obama's marginal popularity extends to a general election, where independents matter. Republicans will be giddy to watch Clinton and Biden duke it out over who is the more deserving heir to stagnating wages, the ObamaCare debacle and waning global prestige.
But here's the really fun part — Biden has a good shot at playing the spoiler. Because there's a fact that Biden's detractors and Clinton's groupies are loath to acknowledge: Biden is the much better politician. It's not that Biden is a fantastic politician; it's that Clinton is a very boring one.
But that's not all. Vice presidents have a terrible record of getting elected to the Oval Office on their own. George H.W. Bush was the first president since Martin Van Buren to be elected straight from V-POTUS to POTUS. (Also ominous for Democrats: 1988 was the only time in the last half-century that a party has won the White House three times in a row, a fact attributable to Ronald Reagan's popularity and Michael Dukakis' Dukakisness). But vice presidents have more success securing the nomination. You have to go back to 1952 and Alben Barkley to find one who sought but failed to win his party's nomination.
I'd be stunned if Biden actually beat Clinton in the primaries. But he doesn't need to win to ruin things for her. Simply by running, Biden would contest Clinton's claim of entitlement and light a match on the Hindenburg that is her “inevitability.” He would encourage others from outside the establishment to run against them both as a pair of old-guard retreads who want the presidency out of a sense of entitlement.
And that has the makings of a divine comedy.
Jonah Goldberg, editor at large of National Review Online, is the author of “The Tyranny of Clichés,” now on sale in paperback.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins acquire defensemen Lovejoy, Cole in deadline deals
- No tag for Worilds; Steelers cut Moore
- Pittsburgh’s Downtown tops ranking of small to midsized cities
- Wagner shocks Robert Morris women’s basketball team at Sewall Center, 66-60
- Pirates special instructor Tekulve taking second chance to heart
- Interstate smash-and-grab jewelry ring may be operating in Pittsburgh area, Altoona
- GM Rutherford not counting on Dupuis’ return
- Defensive woes resurface for Pitt men’s basketball team
- Gorman: McConnells owned ‘The Pete’
- Wolf to outline charter school plan in budget address
- Rangers up ante in Metropolitan Division with trade acquisitions