The top of the Demcrat primary field is mired in the low double digits. As it becomes obvious that #OrangeManBad is not sufficient to break out of the pack, the knives are being sharpened for use on fellow socialists.
On Monday, a long time Sanders crony and campaign surrogate, Zephyr Teachout, had an op-ed appear in the leftwing British rag, The Guardian, lambasting Joe Biden. Now leave aside the fact that this was done in a foreign newspaper and one that basically was a Soviet cheerleader during the Cold War and look at the substance. The op-ed is ‘Middle Class’ Joe Biden has a corruption problem – it makes him a weak candidate.
But Biden has a big corruption problem and it makes him a weak candidate. I know it seems crazy, but a lot of the voters we need – independents and people who might stay home – will look at Biden and Trump and say: “They’re all dirty.”
It looks like “Middle Class” Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans. Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn’t being “moderate”. It is the kind of transactional politics Americans have come to loathe.
But here’s the thing: nominating a candidate like Biden will make it far more difficult to defeat Trump. It will allow Trump to muddy the water, to once again pretend he is the one “draining the swamp”, running against Washington culture. Trump and the Cambridge Analytica of 2020 will campaign, as they did in 2016, on a message of radical nihilism: everybody lies, everybody is corrupt, nothing matters, there is no truth.
Corrupt politicians always use whataboutism. With Biden, we are basically handing Trump a whataboutism playbook. The comparison won’t be fair, but if you think he won’t use Biden’s closeness to donors as a cudgel to try to keep people home, you haven’t been paying attention. Unlike Democrats, who must give voters a reason to come out, Trump doesn’t need voters to love him. He just needs to convince people the whole game is ugly.
The Sanders campaign immediately disavowed the op-ed, but to think they weren’t behind it is staggering naivete. The instances of corruption that Teachout enumerates are Biden’s support of the credit card industry; his taking money from the pharmaceutical industry; and taking money from the fossil fuel industry and thus being insufficiently green to be acceptable.
These are only corrupt in the sense of progressive politics. Both the credit card and pharmaceutical industries are legal, highly regulated, useful to America, and have a disproportionate presence in Delaware. Oil companies donating money is hardly news. What is not mentioned is Biden getting huge personal monetary gifts from the credit card industry disguised as loans that were eventually forgiven. The op-ed doesn’t mention his influence peddling on behalf of his sociopathic kid and amoral brother. It never breathes a word about China or Ukraine or Iraq or diverted US aid or demands to fire prosecutors. In short, the sole purpose of this was to get the “Joe Biden is corrupt” headline into play. Then to let Sanders pile on in the guise of apologizing:
“It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.”
Note how Sanders not only repeats the allegation but how he repeats it. Instead of saying “Joe Biden is not corrupt” he says “Joe Biden is corrupt,” the negative refers to his view not to Biden’s character.
And Biden had to accept the apology, probably drawing more attention to the op-ed than it would have otherwise received (confession: I found the op-ed by seeing Biden’s acceptance of Sanders’s apology).
Thanks for acknowledging this, Bernie. These kinds of attacks have no place in this primary. Let’s all keep our focus on making Donald Trump a one-term president. https://t.co/tmFbLm98xd
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 21, 2020
Note that even if you didn’t know what the apology was about, the tweet from the Biden camp helpfully informed you.