Posted tagged ‘Joe Biden’

The Bloomberg Factor

November 10, 2019

Michael Bloomberg’s organization made application to take part in the Alabama Democrat primary.  This filing and any others that Bloomberg will subsequently authorize could position Bloomberg to become a full fledged candidate for the Democrat Presidential nomination. Will this new entry make a difference?

The current Democrat field of 17 Presidential candidates is quite large with a cluster around centrist values and two candidates pushing the bounds of progressive values.  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren currently occupy about 30-40% of poll results. More importantly, Sanders and Warren also represent the most liberal or progressive wing of the party,  Are these very progressive views salable to a majority of voters?

Of the remaining 60-70%, Joe Biden has about 25% of the polling data and is squarely a centrist.  The remaining 14 candidates register in single digits.  

So, what would the entry of Michael Bloomberg mean?

If one reads the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, or any other large city newspaper, Michael Bloomberg should be no stranger. Bloomberg is a self made billionaire and successful three term mayor of New York City.  Pragmatic on most issues, progressive in a practical manner on others.  Bloomberg would be fully capable of performing the Presidential duties on day one. But most Americans do not read newspapers and Michael Bloomberg may be a stranger. What obstacles lie ahead of potential Bloomberg candidacy?

For many Americans, Bloomberg will need to introduce himself and outline why he should become the Democrat standard bearer and receive their vote. (Need for national name recognition)

Candidate Bloomberg is 77 years old and would enter a field with Sanders, 78, Biden 76, and Warren 70.  President Trump weighs in at 73.  Hmmm. Age is usually associated with experience and maturity but also comes with concerns about mental quickness, stamina, and health.  At 77 and President Trump at 73, Bloomberg needs to make the case that his experience is more relevant and far better for voters than the current President’s.  (Is Bloomberg still alert and healthy?)

The President’s job, if properly performed, is a tough executive assignment with an extremely broad span of responsibilities both domestically and foreign.  Arguably Vice President Biden should be prepared having been in the White House for 8 years already.  Sanders and Warren are both Senators and lack executive experience.  Bloomberg is a self made $50 billionaire who lead New York City for 3 terms.  Bloomberg will need to convince Democrat primary voters that his executive experience is relevant and important.  (Can Bloomberg convince voters that his personal business and mayoral experience are relevant for the Democrat nomination?)

Bloomberg’s signal of possibly running for President comes with less than three months before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. And Super Tuesday (March 15, 2020) is about 5 months away.  News reports suggest that Bloomberg will intentionally skip the first four primaries and instead put his efforts on Super Tuesday. (Will Bloomberg try to win the nomination by primary votes or play for a deadlocked convention and being selected at the Convention?)

Money and “position papers” drive each candidate’s campaign.  With Bloomberg’s late entry what will he offer.  Money should be no issue but what policies will Bloomberg emphasize?  Bloomberg has been critical of Sanders and Warren, who he feels are promising goals they will be unable to deliver.  Never the less, Bloomberg will need some set of issue to run on other than I can do better than Trump.  (What Bloomberg select issues the average American can relate to?)

Finally news reports have suggested Bloomberg believe Joe Biden does not have enough popular support and financial backing from wealthy donors.  In such a situation the extreme progressive positions of Sanders and Warren might carry the day.  This worries Bloomberg because he believes Trump can beat such a left wing candidacy. Another factor to consider, as the other 17 candidates sooner or later drop their campaigns, would they support Biden, Sanders, or Warren, or would they back Bloomberg?   (Will Bloomberg ultimately back Biden if he does not run or can not win?)

What’s Happening With Pete?

October 21, 2019

Barack Obama had no right to expect he could land the Democrat Presidential nomination back in 2008.  Who was Obama, and what is there about a “community organizer” and first term US Senator that makes one worthy of the Presidential nomination?  Who knows, but it happened.  

President Obama certainly had a lot to learn when he not only received the nomination, but also when he beat Republican John McCain to become President.  

Historians are still measuring the Obama years before assigning Obama some ranking from our best President ever to our worst President of all times.  It is safe to say that wherever President Obama’s years land, the Obama years were more successful than George W Bush even though both Presidents were at their hearts “good persons”. 

Comparing President Obama and President Trump will unlikely test historians.  Up to this point, President Obama showed more character and executive skills than we have seen from President Trump.  President Obama did not get every one of his foreign policy decision right but  preliminary comparisons with President Trump are favorable.  And domestic policies favor President Obama even more.  Fast forward to 2019 and one might responsibly conclude that most Democrat candidates should have good chance running against President Trump. 

Democrat Presidential candidate leaders, Joe Biden (age 76), Elizabeth Warren (age 70) and Bernie Sanders (age 78) collectively score about 70% of the preferences expressed in polls.  South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has about 6% popularity.  Does this suggest that when the dust settles, the Democrat nominee will be someone 70 years or older?

Some say age should not be a factor but too often what they actually mean is former Vice President Biden, Senators Sanders or Warren are not too old to become the Democrat standard bearer.  I wonder whether at age 37, Mayor Pete is not too young but just right to snatch the nomination?

Why would anyone speculate about Buttigieg when there are seasoned pros to pick from?  Age, personal energy, and perceived electability might become factors.  Like goldilocks, however, “not too old, not too progressive, not same old, same old” might just be the most attractive in the end.  

There are still too many Democrats in the field in order to make a clear call on where the crowd will go when (and if) Biden or Sanders or Warren cannot make the sale for themselves as the nominee.  But in 2008 candidate Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses against most expectations.  Will Mayor Pete do the same?

Joe Got It Right (Or I Should Say, Correct)

October 14, 2012

A late in the Presidential debate question cast a clear view of the half baked Catholic Church complaint about religious freedom.  Martha Raddatz asked both candidates about how their Catholic faith informed their public views.  This was a thinly veiled question which was really about the candidates position on abortion.  The answers informed the public about both the candidates and real religious freedom.

Paul Ryan answered first.  He looked seriously into the camera and said his catholic faith was fundamental to his thinking.  He then snatched the bait and said he opposed abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s life.  This was a reversal of previous Ryan proclamation but that fact passed without comment.

Joe Biden then drove the important point home.  Looking just as pious, Joe said Catholic faith was also central to his life.  He said as a result he personally accepted the catholic doctrine on abortion.  Joe paused, and then delivered the clarifying information.  Biden did not believe his faith should be imposed on anyone else.


This strikes at the heart of the bogus Catholic argument about religious freedom.  How can anyone claim a freedom at the expense of others?  No one asks that catholics or the Catholic Church urge the practice of birth control or to practice it.  Rather, the fallacy of the church argument is that they insist they have a right to deny secular (non-catholic) individuals birth control options.

The religious freedom argument is similar but different.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan says the Affordable Care Act which includes birth control as part of a complete women’s health coverage an assault on religious freedom.  When the government said ok, you a religious organization don’t have to pay for coverage.  Instead the insurance company must provide it free.  The church objected.

In part defense of their objection, the church said it was self insured so it didn’t have an insurance company to hide behind.   Hmmm.

The answers seems simple… obtain health care insurance from a private provider instead of self insuring.  Why should a school teacher in a Catholic school not receive the same benefits as one teaching in the public school system?  Do we have two classes of teachers?

The religious freedom complaint runs deeper than just birth control.  The same argument is also applied to adoption by gays and lesbians and most recently to the accordance of the same rights of heterosexual couples in civil unions and in some States marriage.

Ryan, in breaking with the hard line “no abortion under any conditions”, is an attempt at a political compromise.  Ryan, however, opens himself to “if it is ok under those circumstances, what about these”?

A far safer, fairer, and more defensible position might be for the Church to say “this is our faith but we respect your right to believe differently.

Joe Biden got it right from an American perspective.  Paul Ryan might have gotten it right from a church going no place point of view.

The Second Debate – From Too Little To Too Much

October 12, 2012

Last evening Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan met in the first and only Vice Presidents debate.  The debate featured grimaces, interruptions, and strong assertions.  In the end, Martha Radditz, the moderator,  was the winner.

Unlike the first debate (between the Presidential candidates) where Jim Lehrer did as little as possible to moderate, Ms Radditz was firmly present without dominating.  When the inmates tried to leave the reservation, she caught them by their ears and brought them back to the question asked.

Biden spoke with a clear command of facts and never shied from calling out Ryan on unsupported claims.  Ryan for his part was calm and measured in responses.  He never showed any signs of irritation even thought he could have.

Ryan might as well have been Mitt Romney.  His answers as well as his statements which had nothing to do with the question, were restatements of Romney’s first debate positions.  Ryan offered no indications on how Romney could reduce tax rates 20%, reduce the deficit, and not increase the burden on the middle class.

Ryan huffed and puffed on Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Afghanistan without saying what he would do differently from the current Administration.  Most dramatic was the double talk associated with what red line must be crossed in order to put US troops on the ground.

Biden gave a convincing performance on questions asked and follow-ups to Ryan statements.  But as most things to do with Joe Biden, he went too far with theatrics associated with his statements.  He laughed at Ryan statements, he interrupted, and he even whined to Raddatz about how much time he was going to get to rebut a Ryan statement.  No one, however, can say that Joe Biden did not show up to debate.

When the stage lights went dark and one reflected upon the evening, somethings have not changed.

The Romney tax cut plans seems as unsupported as ever and clearly aimed at another freebie for the wealthy.  Romney’s foreign policy command is next to nothing.  And the middle class better hope that in some magical way their jobs will suddenly pay a lot more because the middle class is going to bare the brunt of Romney’s solution to the deficit crisis.  (Someone who is cynical might argue that Romney has no interest in really attacking the deficit for four years and will blame the $1 trillion levels on President Obama.)

As far as political promises go, Biden assured Americans that the middle class would not be targeted without first forcing the top 1% (those earning over $1 million) to pay more in taxes.  Beyond that, there was no further information on how the deficit would be reduced, how Medicare and Medicaid would be sustained, or how the economy (and associated jobs) would grow.

In the first debate, President Obama showed too little emotion and conviction that he was the better alternative.  In the second debate (for Vice President candidates), Joe Biden probably showed too much energy.  On balance if one added the two debate performances, the Democrats got it as right as they could.

Martha Raddatz seemed to be the only one in the room who was interested in learning the real facts supporting each candidate’s position.  Hail the winner, Martha Raddatz.


The Hillary Rumor

October 8, 2010

This week Bob Woodward launched another round of rumors about Hillary Clinton. I really should say, “relaunched”, since the idea of her running as Vice President was floating around before.

Interesting as it is, it is hardly good timing to discuss this possibility. Secretary of State Clinton has been doing a superb job as Secretary of State. She has presented a statesmanlike image and handled tricky situations exceedingly well. She is principally responsible for having gotten the thankless Israeli-Palestinian talks to the verge of reaching some agreements (nothing is assured). Why switch out of that role to run as President Obama’s Vice President nominee?

The most obvious two reasons is that (1) this is the best way to test whether Hillary could win the Presidency by herself, and (2) it might be the only way that President Obama gets reelected to a second term. Two good reason, but what would be the cost?

Anyone with an ounce of common sense watching this years mid-terms must come to the conclusion that our election rules are broken. Faceless wealthy individuals can donate unlimited sums of money that in turn go into negative misleading advertisements. The public is served very poorly but no one seems to care. Democratic favorable ads, although not as numerous, are too often as one sided. There is not a single clue in any of the ads on how the serious problems facing the US might be solved. So much for good government.

Again, why Hillary? Hillary is a competent woman, and men have had enough chances to straighten things out and have come up short. A side, but meaningful, benefit for a Hillary elections (first as VP, then as President) is that during this period (ten years from now), there would be a steady hand on the Supreme Court nomination process. The current activist majority are totally out of touch with reality (unlimited guns and no restrictions on campaign financing) and must be tilted back to the progressive side as soon as practical.

Welcome Joe

March 12, 2010

Vice president Joe Biden must not have heard the polite request that he not visit Israel. If he had heard the request and had abided by it, he would not have been embarrassed when the Israeli Government announced new apartment construction in East Jerusalem. The timing of the announcement could not have been better if the purpose was to stymie once again the restart of peace talks with the Palestinians.

To Vice President Biden’s credit, he spoke as an adult and called Israel’s actions “unhelpful”. He could have easily stormed back to his plane and left Israel to live with consequences of its foolish policies. He did not but the world took notice of what is becoming a dysfunctional State.

And why should Israel not become dysfunctional (with respect to its relations with its neighbor countries)? Israel is constantly the target of outrageous rhetoric from Iran and surrogates sponsored by Iran. And it does not stop there. Hamas and Hezbollah are constantly at the ready to send suicide missions into Israel aimed at killing innocent civilians as well as military targets.

Building in East Jerusalem, however, is like defecating in your own home. Sooner or later you will have to clean it up.  Most world opinions accept the 1967 boarders as the ultimate target for a negotiated peace, and that shows East Jerusalem to be Palestinian.

It would be one thing if, at a more appropriate time, Israel announced it was planning to build further in East Jerusalem unless the Palestinians agreed to restart talks. Or if the Israelis had said that they would occupy this land but were perfectly willing to swap it later in a comprehensive peace agreement. Instead we are left with ultra conservative faction’s argument which claims there is no issue with East Jerusalem because god gave it to the Israelis three millenniums ago.

The Obama Administration needs no more domestic problems than it has already. Praising Israel as a strong democracy does not include, however, endorsement of delusional aspirations. While President Obama may be unable to speak as boldly as I write, maybe he could quietly send a little less aid. When the Israelis ask why, he could say that god told him to give it instead to less fortunate Palestinians.

“W’s” Administration probably concluded early on that it would be a waste of time getting involved with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and chose to do nothing. Actually it almost nothing. “W’s” gang kept the arms and money spigot wide open to the Israelis, and chose not to play an honest broker. President Obama has several options but I hope he maintains the honest broker role even if the results are negligible. History will record that this was the proper path.

Was Biden Right?

April 24, 2009

I do not mean “right” in the usual sense of being conservative.  I mean it in the sense of being correct about US foreign policy during the last Administration.  The detour through Iraq is looking like it will continue to be a costly and dangerous mistake (aside from its illegality under International Law).  The danger Afghanistan posed for its neighbor Pakistan were obvious to those who looked and accepted reality.  US policy makers took their eye off this dangerous region and now we must pay.

In one of the early Democrat Party Presidential debates, Joe Biden interrupted the sand box argument amongst the other candidates on how tough they were going to be with Iran.  Biden laid out their mistaken focus (which was also the previous Administration’s) and explained the place they should be concerned about was Pakistan.  Pakistan was of questionable stability and it already possessed nuclear weapons!

Today President Obama finds himself with his first real and untimely problem.  The Taliban are having their way in the northwestern provinces of Pakistan in open defiance of the Pakistani Government.  It has been reported that the local inhabitants see no alternative and would prefer some type of order to the lawless rules that exist today.  It may still be a stretch to foresee the Taliban taking over the entire country of Pakistan but it makes you wonder about the functioning capability of the Pakistani Government and whether their existing nuclear weapons and technology remain safe.

The answer to this dilemma is not obvious.  The Taliban’s acceptance of al Qaeda and allowing the use of Taliban controlled territory for planning, training, and staging terrorist activities makes it clear that they can not be allowed a safe haven either.  But I have read no reports of any weapons or munitions factories within Afghanistan or the border regions of Pakistan.  So where are the Taliban’s heavy weapons coming from?

President Obama must move this situation to a place of high US Government priority even though other domestic issues would be preferred.  I suspect that his already started initiatives with Iran, Russia, and China could prove very helpful since the Taliban with nuclear weapons would be in no ones best interest.  A coordinated effort to reduce (and best eliminate) the flow of funding and weapons to the Taliban would go a long way to bringing this situation under control.