Joe Biden isn’t officially running for president, but he’s still leading in most of the polls.
According to Politico’s Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo, the former vice president’s incipient “campaign in waiting has ramped up over the past several weeks — calling donors across the country and tapping decades-old friendships to line up support from major Democratic Party figures, organized labor, members of Congress and elected officials from early presidential states, according to people with direct knowledge of Biden’s campaign strategy.”
That blitz might not be a bad strategy — considering it would help primary voters forget about the fact that for a front-runner, Biden doesn’t seem to be a man of the moment.
If Biden were to look in his rearview mirror, what he would see is a crowd of extremists tailgating him pretty hard.
Right behind him is an avowed socialist in Bernie Sanders. Then there’s “Beto,” who thinks court packing and abolishing the Electoral College are both good ideas, inasmuch as he thinks both would be politically advantageous to him.
Behind that, Kamala Harris, one of the first major candidates to embrace the idea of reparations. Behind that, Pete Buttigieg, who seems to embody the same vague mulishness that Beto does, only in an amplified fashion.
This is a political motorcade that doesn’t just loathe Trump, they loathe the very idea of bipartisanship. Once they got around Biden, it would be a race to the left, pedal to the floor.
And that’s where Joe Biden doesn’t fit in. Witness, for instance, what he had to say about current Attorney General William Barr — the first time Barr was up for the attorney general job.
Those of you familiar with Barr’s resume will know that he originally held the nation’s top law-enforcement post at the end of the George H.W. Bush administration.
Those of you familiar with Biden’s resume will also know this was the period when he was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the committee that passes on attorney general nominees to the full Senate for a vote, inter alia.
Here are just a few headlines about Barr after special counsel Robert Mueller report was released last week: “William Barr threw his credibility in the gutter” (CNN), “In Bill Barr, Trump Has Finally Found His New Fixer” (New York Magazine), “Barr’s reputation as battered as Trump’s after botched Mueller rollout” (USA Today). The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson said his “title really should be Minister of Spin.”
Granted, times are different now, but nobody seems to even attempt to reconcile Barr’s relatively blameless execution of his duties during his first stint on the job — and indeed, throughout most of his career — with the fact that, as far as liberals are concerned, he’s now a dead-eyed Trump apparatchik, shuffling around the White House thinking of ways he can help a justice-obstructor con our beloved country.
Nor do they mention the fact that, when his nomination was first put before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, Joe Biden called him “a heck of an honorable guy.”
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, not a Biden fan, posted the video to his Twitter account on Sunday:
Here’s Joe Biden heaping praise on William Barr, when he presided over the Senate Committee that unanimously voted to confirm Barr in 1991 as Bush 41’s Attorney General: pic.twitter.com/3BekEDSVRY
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 21, 2019
“It’s a presumptuous thing for me to say, but I personally like you. I think you’re a heck of an honorable guy,” Biden told Barr.
“I think you’re a person I can work with, and you’ve demonstrated that. When I say ‘can work with,’ I don’t mean you do it our way. I mean you — when you sit down and negotiate, you genuinely negotiate.”
The committee voted unanimously to pass Barr’s nomination on to the full Senate, where he was confirmed by a voice vote, according to a CBS News biographical report. Those, indeed, were different times.
Never mind the fact that Biden’s praise of Barr will play about as well to Democratic primary voters as his tough questioning of Anita Hill, it’s also not the only time Biden has effusively praised Republicans.
As Emily Larsen pointed out at the Washington Examiner, Biden called Jeb Bush “a hell of a governor,” called Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with” and said this January that “(o)ne of my problems, if I ever run for president, is that I like Republicans.”
I wouldn’t uncritically give Biden that (remember when he told a majority-black audience that Mitt Romney was “gonna put y’all back in chains” back during the 2012 presidential campaign?). But the point is that he was willing to say that.
In 2020, with an activist base demanding a hard left turn and #resistance over bipartisanship, that’s likely a bigger liability than his “creepy Uncle Joe” persona.
Biden can blitz all he wants, run up the scoreboard on fundraising and get a whole truckload of endorsements, but he’s clearly not the kind of candidate that the party base seems to want right now — and there’s nothing he can do now to change that.
Maybe he can count on a Democrat “silent majority” to come out and support him. If it’s there, however, it’s keeping very silent.
Biden had better watch that rearview closely. There’s a lot of traffic behind him, and nobody will hesitate to wreck the former vice president for deigning to make common cause with the enemy.
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