With Donald Trump shaking up the GOP Presidential primary scene, Vice President Joe Biden ponders whether he should enter the Democrat race. Should he, or should he stand to the side?
Comparing Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be a mistake. Their candidacies, however, could have similar effects upon who ultimately is selected as their party’s standard bearer. Both could dislodge the consensus pick.
Before Trump entered the race, the GOP presumed nominee was Jeb Bush. He had credentials, well known name, and access to lots of money. Opponents like Scott Walker or Marco Rubio, while attractive in their own right, could not match Bush’s overall offering and pundits felt, would need to wait for their turn (or maybe accept the Vice Presidency). The rest of the GOP field simply were losers and in time would have had to make a concession speech.
Trump has changed all that. Trump’s fiery speech has highlighted the GOP positions on women, immigration, and indirectly on evangelical obsessions. Trump enabled some candidates to hang themselves by agreeing with some of the Donald’s positions and a few others to put down place holders that show them as thoughtful, genuine candidates. Jeb Bush, however, while trying desperately to be viewed in the latter camp, has stumbled and made to appear irrelevant.
Thank you Donald.
On the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders has done an outstanding job of articulating the concerns of many progressives. While he has underscored many legitimate American concerns (like healthcare costs, abuses of large financial institutions, and protection of entitlements for the elderly and poor), the majority of Democrats (and all Americans) appear not ready for stepping whole heartedly into the socialist pool. The primary is Hillary’s to lose and as things stand now, Hillary Clinton will become the Democrat nominee.
So what happens if Joe Biden enters?
Strategically, Biden is looking up a steep hill. He has less resources (money and staff) and will be challenged on how to gain sufficient attention to win primary votes. It is not that Biden is necessarily a bad candidate, but from a Democrat perspective, the party already has a candidate who could win the national elections.
In all things in life there is always “what might happen next”?
Hillary will continue to be hounded by GOP controlled investigative committees. These investigations could raise a negative cloud and infer that Clinton is unfit (untrustworthy) for office. Worse, while the charges fly, Clinton could inadvertently say something that begs more questions. Consequently, the race would then be over Hillary’s worthiness (not competency), and not over the GOP’s platform. This focus will enable the GOP candidate to escape defending their platform around women’s rights, immigration, healthcare, and foreign policy. Hmmm. So is Biden the better choice.
He might be but not at this time.
With Biden entering the race, the Democrat Party will be emulating the GOP with one more white male candidate. In addition, there is the risk that in order to win, Biden might think he has to destroy Clinton’s reputation (zero sum game) and will plant the seeds for a GOP victory. And, while Hillary can be characterized as “ice cold”, Biden, on the other hand, lives in the moment and can be expected to say all sorts of things. Those “unpresidential things” could come back to haunt Biden if he were to somehow win the nomination.
The reality that both parties are facing in 2016 is that neither national party truly control the nomination process. Big money and big egos are far more dominant in the section process. This would suggest that Biden will declare his candidacy and the Democrats will have race too.
So for full disclosure, I have a dog in this fight. It is Hillary Clinton, for better or worse. She is a centrist, maybe even a little right of center and can be expected to keep government out of our personal lives. She is a woman and after a black President, the country should be ready for a woman. Hillary will come with a lot of Clintonesque baggage (secrecy, triangulation) but otherwise she is a very competent person. She will be boss.
The question of should Biden run or not is nearly impossible to answer. His candidacy could put Hillary in a better light or if she were to faulty, Biden would be in an excellent position to win the nomination and enter the Presidential race on a strong basis (not the second pick). Hmmm.
I guess we have let Joe be Joe and honor his choice.