Hillary Clinton’s anticipated 2016 coronation ceremony has so far gone as disastrously as a Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl halftime show performed aboard the Hindenburg. As Hillary finds herself modeling prison orange pantsuits during the middle of a possible criminal investigation of her email practices, the façade of her invulnerability has crumbled to dust. Her prospects have faded so thoroughly that she now finds herself in a competitive race with the charismatically challenged Bernie Sanders, who is the pastiest and crustiest Presidential candidate either party has flirted with in recent memory. Moreover, adding insult to injury, Sanders – as an Independent Socialist – is threatening to win the Presidential primary of a party he does not even belong to, over the party’s anointed candidate.
Only this series of events could cause a nation’s Democratic Party to turn its wistful eyes towards Joe Biden. As someone who has endured the heartbreak of the great Republican false hopes of the last two elections (Rick Perry and Fred Thompson, respectively), allow me to save the Democratic primary voters of 2016 some heartbreak: Joe Biden isn’t the savior you are looking for.
In the first place, Joe Biden is fantastically terrible at running for President. It has become received wisdom that Joe Biden’s 1988 Presidential campaign was derailed because he plagiarized speeches. However, that narrative ignores that Biden – who was virtually anointed at the beginning of the campaign – had already flagged in the polls and fallen behind both Dukakis and Gephardt when the infamous plagiarism scandal broke. In fact, Biden’s precipitous pre-Iowa drop in the polls was the reason Biden felt compelled to plagiarize Neil Kinnock’s speech – and to completely fabricate details of his personal life to match the speech copy he was plagiarizing.
The reason was very simple: although people tend to like the affable and always-smiling Biden as a person, the thought of him with his hands on the controls of the United States military is a positively terrifying prospect.
Practice did not make Joe Biden any better at running for President, as his 2008 campaign was even more disastrous and completely insignificant than his 1988 campaign turned out to be. Although Biden now had the alleged gravitas associated with spending over 30 years in the United States Senate, he raised about ten dollars throughout the course of the campaign and suffered the indignity of finishing fifth in Iowa, behind even historical footnote Bill Richardson.
The great political truth of Joe Biden is that any time he faces the voters outside his deep blue home state of Delaware, he gets roundly and ignominiously trounced, and for good reason.
See, the primary resume item for Joe Biden as a Presidential candidate is that he is “experienced,” and is in particular said to be an expert in areas of foreign policy. Truly, the extraordinary length of time that Biden has been in Washington has allowed him to accumulate an impressive record in the foreign policy arena.
Problematically, Joe Biden’s record is mainly impressive for the fact that he has been on the wrong side of literally every major foreign policy decision he has voted on over the years. Biden’s foreign policy voting record reads like that of an idiot savant who has miraculously pointed the wrong way on everything of interest to the United States, like a gimmicky weathervane that somehow points into the wind instead of away from it.
In the 1980s, for instance, Biden was in favor of the nuclear freeze movement, which was exposed by declassified cables as a movement largely funded by the KGB and which attempted to derail the program which ultimately caused the fall of the Soviet Union. He was in favor of sustaining the communist dictatorship in Nicaragua and against supporting a nascent democracy in El Salvador. He was against the development and deployment of MX and Trident ICBMs. He was against the first gulf war in 1990, but for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
After voting for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Biden consistently voted for the wrong path out of Iraq. He was a vocal proponent of balkanizing Iraq and leaving prematurely, and a vocal opponent of the troop surge that temporarily stabilized Iraq before Obama administration took over and the situation really went sideways. Biden came by his opinions on the balkanization of Iraq honestly, though, as he was one of the leading boosters of our national Clinton-led misadventures in Bosnia in the 90s.
Of course, coming into the 2016 elections, Biden will also own all of the Obama administration’s manifold foreign policy blunders, including the not-wars the administration has waged in Libya and Egypt which have severely contributed to the destabilization of the region, their incoherent Syria/Iraq policy which has led directly to the rise of ISIS, and their open and flagrant disrespect for our only ally in the Middle East, Israel.
And we haven’t even touched upon the most obvious and glaring fact about Joe Biden – which is that, when he is left free to speak for himself, he is the most gaffe-prone politician of the entire modern age. Some of his gaffes are merely embarrassing, but others hint at ugly underlying racial biases, such as his 2007 braggadocio that he would do well in the South because he came from a “slave state,” or his praise for the people of India for their expertise at running Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, or of course his backhanded praise for Obama as someone who was “clean” and “articulate.”
For a Democratic Party that relies increasingly on the enthusiasm of minority voters to offset the probably permanent erosion of their white blue collar rust belt voting base, a Joe Biden candidacy threatens to alienate large portions of their constituency and to turn 2016 into a historic rout for the GOP.
It’s understandable, given Hillary’s problems, that the Democrats are hoping that someone can ride in on the proverbial white horse and save the Party from imminent disaster. That person may yet arrive for the Democrats, but their name will not be Joe Biden.