Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Biden Watch: Is He Done?

Will he or won't he?

For at least two months now, media frenzy has focused on whether or not Vice-President Joe Biden will enter the race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination.

Joe Biden as found at 

The story is that Biden's dying son Beau's final wish was that his Dad run for President. Supposedly Beau said to his Dad that "The White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” 

This was somehow "leaked" to long-time Clinton critic Maureen Dowd, an Op-Ed writer for the New York Times. Sometimes conservative Dowd reported this "leak" back in late August, but last week it "leaked" that Biden himself may have been the source of this "leak".

In the meantime, the campaign moves on...

Hillary Clinton's strong debate performance on Tuesday night may have put the "Bring On Biden" movement to bed. Hillary Clinton AND Bernie Sanders, as well as the other candidates, sounded like good spokespeople for the Democratic platform and for Democratic attitudes, positions, and policies. There doesn't seem to be any room for Biden. 

When I try to envision Biden up on that stage, well, how and where does he fit?

I LIKE Biden.

Let me make my position clear: I LIKE Biden; I've followed his career since I was a young woman and he was one of the most handsome dashing liberal politicos on the scene. I remember reading of the young man who had just been elected as one of the youngest Senators in history. I remember reading of the horrific accident that took the lives of his wife, his infant daughter, and injured his two young sons.

Through the years he seemed to always be there, no longer as young, but remarried, working hard as a Democrat to represent the people of his state of Delaware and the people of the United States, particularly the working people, the union people.

Yes, I really do LIKE Biden.. but I'm annoyed.

So I like Biden; I thought he was a great choice as Vice President; I've liked him as the Veep.. and I'm annoyed.. perhaps even angry that he is floating this Long, High, and Extended Presidential trial balloon. His status as a lurker non-candidate is hurting the Democrats, possibly hurting Hillary Clinton the most. Perhaps he really dislikes her and that is his intention. But he is a Democrat, and would Biden do something to hurt the Democrats and invite the Republicans to move into the big White House? It hardly seems likely. So it may be time for him to just bow out of this race for good.

Ongoing Speculation for Months Now:

I came across an article that said that Joe Biden was "taking a new look at a Presidential run". That article was dated August 1. That article claimed that "Confidants say they expect him to make something official by early September." Well, early September has come and gone. Early October has come and gone as well.  Nothing official. 

Two months later, last week, October 6, we see an article at CNN entitled Biden sounding more like a candidate to friends:

As the logistical deadlines for decision-making approach, the timing for an announcement is likely within the next two weeks, several Democrats believe. He is not planning to attend the party's first debate next week, but one date on the calendar could be enticing to have made his intentions clear: A Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner speech in Iowa on Oct. 24.

But, well, there is a big but there:

While several outside friends believe Biden wants to run, there are a number of his associates and allies who caution that a candidacy is not yet a done deal. His own camp is filled with conflicting views. 
Biden could decide, at any time, to pull back. Just a month ago, one cautioned, it looked as if he might not do it. And while some say they have sensed a shift toward "yes," nothing is definitive until Biden himself starts calling influential Democrats in early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire to tell them he is running.

The situation, another Biden ally says, is "changeable and fluid."

Then, last week, CNBC speculated on Why Joe Biden should delay his decision
But from a media perspective, the ambiguity on his intentions could work in Biden's favor. It gives him an opportunity to stay above the fray and out of the debate while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continue to take punches from the right.

When your enemies are fighting, step aside and let them battle it out. By not formally entering the race, Biden maintains a mystery that keeps him in the conversation without having to enter the ring.

But that only works if your opponents are really damaging each other. If they still look like leaders, like strong leaders, then nobody is going to miss Joe. 

Politico claims that "Biden eyes weekend decision":

Several people who have visited the vice president recently said he seems to be leaning toward 'yes.'
He’s finally close. Confidants of Vice President Joe Biden expect him to make a decision next weekend, or shortly thereafter, on whether to launch an epic battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Except that the "weekend" (Columbus Day weekend) discussed in the Politico article has come and gone and... nothing?
Well.. maybe they are talking about the WRONG weekend. The trashy Murdoch-owned New York Post proclaims:
Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with friends and family this weekend to discuss a potential presidential run, but likely won’t announce a decision until well after the Democratic debate Tuesday.
In a sign pointing toward yes, Biden’s aides met with DNC staffers Thursday to discuss filing deadlines, according to a New Yorker report.

Finally, thanks to Dana Milbank: "Biden is in, unless he isn't."
But Dana Milbank, in a piece at The Washington Post entitled Joe Biden’s never-ending delay is the man who really does get it right:
Finally, it can be reported: Joe Biden is running for president, unless he isn’t. He will announce his decision this weekend, unless he doesn’t.

Biden's polling numbers as a lurking non-candidate:

In early to mid September, when the Biden whispering was the loudest, Biden's numbers were pushing up from the 12% range of early summer into the low to mid 20's, challenging Bernie Sanders' numbers on some polls.  He's been polling between 18% and 21% on national poll averages for the last month.

But over the past week or two, his averages have moved down a percent or two; on some polls, he is down in the mid teens.  (See the green line below.)  Perhaps the time for Joe was a few weeks ago. Perhaps people are bored with the whole off-again/on-again thing.  Perhaps Hillary's email "scandal" may actually help her now that is becoming clearer and clearer that the Republicans don't care about Benghazi or the four Americans killed there; they just care about destroying Hillary. 

30-day polling averages for the Democratic Nomination (national) from Real Clear Politics.
Mid-September to mid-October.

And after Tuesday's debate.. Well, Biden may have just "waited" himself out of contention completely.

Here's my bottom line on Biden, and some may consider it cruel:

Do we really want a President who can't make a decision quickly even during difficult personal times? I understand that he needed SOME time to process this decision after his son's death.  But his son has been gone for five months now, and Biden knew the start of the 2016 elections was coming fast and furiously for years now.  Would Biden put off a decision that he needs to make as President due to a personal tragedy for months? 

As I said, I have also always liked Joe, but I am annoyed, perhaps angry, that the man has not either entered or declined to enter this race by now. His wishy-washiness, if it is genuine, does not make him seem like a decisive leader. And, if his wishy-washiness is contrived wishy-washiness, as some think, it doesn't make him seem like the decent man that I have always felt that he is.

But everything I've seen and heard him say-- not his "people", but Joe himself-- SEEMS to indicate his heart really isn't in it.  

So it's time for Biden to just say NO and end the speculation.

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