Walter Mondale was the Democrat Party “sacrificial lamb” to Ronald Reagan in 1984. Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro in a move to try to shake up what seemed to be the ignoble destiny of anyone who had the dubious distinction to have been Jimmy Carter’s Vice-President. Geraldine Ferraro changed nothing and became just a footnote to the historic landslide re-election of Ronald Reagan.
More significantly, no one in the Democrat Party went searching for Ferraro to lead them when 1988 rolled around.
For the Democrats 1988 turned out to be a wide-open primary fight to become the nominee in an election year with no Republican incumbent.
Joe Biden may be the least successful Democrat candidate for President in the history of the Democrat Party.
He first ran for President in 1988, announcing his candidacy on June 9, 1987. He was initially considered among the stronger entries in that wide-open field that I noted above because of his “moderate” image and his speaking ability on the stump which some described as second only to Jesse Jackson in the race. But considering that the other leading candidates in the race were Michael Dukakis, Richard Gephardt, and Al Gore, it didn’t take much in the “charisma” department to separate himself from the field in that regard.
But only three months later, on September 17, 1987, Biden withdrew from the race on the back of personal and academic faux pas from both the campaign and his past. A general sentiment had developed that Biden lacked both the mental and verbal discipline for the spotlight of the campaign – but more importantly for the pressure of the office.
Biden seemed to be relegated to lifelong tenure in the Senate. But with non-politician Hillary Clinton looking to be the leading candidate in the Democratic field for 2008 — again with an open White House and no GOP incumbent to beat — he was once again bitten by the bug of his Presidential aspirations.
Even though Barack Obama announced himself as a political force with his keynote speech at the 2004 Democrat Convention, most prognosticators thought he was still too young and inexperienced to make a real run for the Presidency in 2008, having spent only 2 years in the Senate. Biden, on the other hand, saw himself as the senior Democrat Party official in line for the nomination. He tried to get a jump on the field to freeze out other potential candidates before they could gather support, announcing his candidacy in January 2007 on Meet the Press. Even with that early announcement, Biden had been talking about his intention to run for months before making his announcement.
But even with a solid year to campaign and build his network of support in the early primary contests, Biden received less than 1% of the vote in Iowa. He withdrew from the race prior to the New Hampshire Primary.
What modern candidate for the Democrat Party nomination for President had performed so horribly in two separate primary campaigns? The general consensus has always been that Joe Biden simply isn’t smart enough for the job. Period.
So, when he came from behind to lap the Democrat field earlier this year, some of the vanquished losers must have wondered in astonishment as to how a man with so little in his past to recommend him could have succeeded in winning the nomination almost by acclamation. That would have been the case had Bernie Sanders not doggedly refused to give in.
I think there are some in the Democrat Party who expect to be around when 2024 rolls around — Joe Biden won’t be — and they want a wide-open field just like 1984. I think the more shrewd members of that political class sized up the Biden campaign as a very likely loser. Next, they tried to figure out which potential 2024 aspirant would be most damaged by having around their neck the anchor from the SS Biden-20. Not just to handicap that aspirant, but to eliminate that person from the field entirely.
Kamala Harris has no Washington DC constituency. She is a creature of the California state Democrat Party, and there are other members of that state party hierarchy who would be happy to see her career peak out and fade — starting with the current Governor, Gavin Newsom. As a sitting United States Senator, a former State Attorney General, and a member of that sacrosanct class “Woman of Color”, she nevertheless enjoyed almost no support as a Presidential candidate from the State Democrat power structure. Nancy Pelosi rules that roost, and she very purposely pushed a loyal lieutenant of her’s, Karen Bass, for the Vice President slot. If that doesn’t reveal the depth and width of the fissure between Harris and the California Democrat power structure, then nothing does.
I suspect that Harris’ actual performance in the Democrat primary process — as opposed to the fawning press coverage she received — was not a big surprise to the Pelosis of the California state party. Nothing in the electoral history of Harris has ever suggested she was the second coming of Barack Obama as a political phenomenon. Her only contested election with a significant opponent produced a sub-50% election victory — by less than 1% — in a year when California Democrats swept every statewide race.
Harris cannot escape her past as San Francisco DA and California Attorney General. In both positions, she took official action anathema to today’s Democrat Party orthodoxy. There is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube on things she has done. No “woman of color” could have garnered a less enthusiastic response from the left-wing-nuts who currently have the biggest megaphones in the party. And her history is the reason why.
At 55, she is already a generation too late to the party to satisfy the AOC wing. Democrats have always been a party that preferred younger candidates on the rise to the wisened old-guard. Biden is an anomaly who only finds himself where he’s at by default. When 2024 rolls around, the vanguard of the Democrat Party will all be under 5o — just like Barack Obama when he emerged, and Bill Clinton before him.
Donald Trump has suffered from the single worst avalanche of biased media coverage in the history of politics for more than 4 years. His Administration was kneecapped in its infancy by a planned inside/outside attack claiming he was the stooge of a hostile foreign power. The Democrats in the Senate have waged a historically unprecedented campaign to deny him the ability to fill federal agencies with appointees by refusing to cooperate in the process of “advise and consent.” Hostile politically activist judges appointed by Democrat Presidents have entered nationwide injunctions at historically unprecedented rates in an effort to suffocate conservative policy initiatives in their cribs. He has battled not only the Democrats in Congress and liberals in the Courts but also elements of the GOP establishment who see him as an existential threat to their control of the Republican party agenda.
Media pollsters have declared his campaign for re-election dead on arrival, and pinned historically high voter disapproval numbers on him which reflect the onslaught of negative media he has received.
He’s now suffering through a global pandemic for which he bears no responsibility, and which would likely be markedly worse had he not taken steps early on for which he was roundly criticized by those who now blame him. The pandemic has cratered an economic expansion over the first 36 months of his Presidency that would have ushered him to re-election on a red carpet.
Yet, through all that, I’m quite confident that the selection of Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate for Vice President was the “white flag of surrender.”
They are two horrible politicians who only exponentially double their horribleness in tandem. Neither can save the other from their foibles.
The true head-to-head match is only now truly beginning. The Trump campaign will now begin to carpet bomb dementia-addled Joe with a political ad campaign that makes him look like Aristotle in 1988 when compared to what he is now.
Harris has no capacity to save him. Will it be 1984 all over again? We shall see.