Dick Morris: Bye Bye Biden


Joe Biden has the misfortune to be vanilla in the Baskin Robbins/Democratic Primary field, facing almost 20 specialty flavors. Vanilla always begins with a sizable market share because of its familiarity, but its edge usually fades as ice cream lovers indulge their more exotic tastes.

Biden might be liberal enough, but if you want a real leftist, there’s socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Want a populist edge to your ideology? There’s Elizabeth Warren.

Determined to strike a blow against sexism? There’s Kirsten Gillibrand.

A black candidate? There’s Cory Booker. A black woman? Try Kamala Harris. A Latino? There’s Julián Castro. For the LGBT crowd? Pete Buttigieg.

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An ingenue? Check out Beto O’Rourke.

There’s something for everyone in the current Democratic field. Sure we all like vanilla, but wait till we meet those other flavors!

Biden seems to have decided to run saying he will continue Obama’s programs — Barack’s third term. But for an insurgent, who has to run on change, basing his candidacy on the remembrance of things past is a bad idea. Nostalgia won’t get you the nomination. Not with the current leftist, restless, angry, dissatisfied young Democratic electorate.

Hillary Clinton tried to run as Obama’s third term and the fell between a rock and a hard place. She wasn’t up to proving herself Obama’s equal — or sequel — and she needed to embrace change to outdistance Sanders in the primaries.

Besides, Obama never succeeded in running on his actual record of achievements. So why should Biden?

Does he want to run on Obama’s economic record? A stat sheet that alternated between mediocre and disaster for eight years. And how to explain how the economy snapped out of its doldrums even as Donald Trump took his hand off the inaugural Bible?

Or on health care? Very possibly, Obamacare is about to be thrown out by the courts and it has attracted only 11 million signups, despite heavy federal subsidies. That leaves 181 million who have chosen to stay with their employer-based private health insurance, 56 million on Medicare, 63 million on Medicaid, 51 million with direct purchase private insurance and 5 million covered through the military. Obamacare, a drop in the bucket, remains undersubscribed because it is such a bad deal.

Or on his foreign policy? As we watch Trump’s reimposition of economic sanctions bring Iran to its knees and erode the basis of Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuelan dictatorship, we see Trump win where Obama lost.

Or trade? Trump’s tough negotiating stance wins concessions from Europe, Mexico, and, increasingly, China that Obama could only dream about.

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Immigration? Obama’s policy was, effectively après nous le déluge as Central America tries to move, en masse, to the U.S.

Biden is the pace horse early in the race. Running comfortably in first — or is it second to Sanders? But not moving so fast as to exhaust the rest of the field as they wait for the final laps to turn it on.

While the allegations of hugging, touching and everything else women have leveled against him have not knocked him out of contention, they did lower his “very favorable” rating from 45 percent to 35 percent, a drop that illustrates his vulnerability.

I doubt that Biden will even make it to the final duo that will square off once the field clarifies.

Harris and O’Rourke enjoy a huge advantage because of the addition of their native California and Texas to the list of early primaries. In these huge states, Harris’ and Beto’s pre-existing bases of support should provide them with lopsided margins early in the process. The mountain of money needed to compete in those two key states is too tall for outside candidates to scale it so early in the process, before victories in the early primaries can add to their momentum.

The odds are that Sanders will make it to the top two. He has been very successful in retaining his base of support and is distinctly ahead of the rest of the crowded field.

Sanders is what he is and everybody knows it. An unabashed socialist, he runs to the left of everybody. Those who support him know what he stands for and like it. There are no surprises in store for them. And nobody is about to flank Sanders on the left. So his runoff berth is all but assured.

They say Sanders lacks charisma. But he can easily sell himself as Uncle Bernie, whose kindly visage makes it easier to morph our country into socialism. No Lenin or Trotsky is he.

Sanders’ runoff opponent could be either Harris, O’Rourke, Warren, or, perhaps Booker. The new phenom, Buttigieg, won’t make the final cut. Supported and promoted by a sycophantic media, he will fade. It does take some qualifications to be president. It’s a tough job. Two terms as mayor of a small town of 100,000 people won’t cut it.

We don’t know who will battle with Bernie in the final round, but bye bye Biden.

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Dick Morris is a former adviser to President Bill Clinton as well as a political author, pollster and consultant. His most recent book, "50 Shades of Politics," was written with his wife, Eileen McGann.