Joe Biden. Moderate. Doddering. Avuncular.
That’s the package being sold by the Democrats right now. Sure, it may not be inspiring, but you market the product you’ve got.
He’s oatmeal with a dollop of Mott’s applesauce. He’s a sleepy late-autumn afternoon in America. He’s a slightly-above-mediocre comedy you’ve watched 62 times but that you watch a 63rd time because, hey, at least you know you’ll mostly like it.
In a tumultuous time, this could theoretically work. Remember Warren G. Harding’s “Return to Normalcy” campaign? Biden does; he was in high school then (just kidding).
Harding is a man who, when elected, once said, “I am not fit for this office and never should have been here.” He said it, one guesses, out of false humility — but it was a pretty accurate statement.
Still, in the turmoil after World War I and during the debate over whether the United States should join the League of Nations, a “Return to Normalcy” sounded pretty good, no matter how mediocre Harding was.
Biden isn’t using that exact campaign slogan, but it’s close enough to the image the former vice president is trying to project that the parallel is worth noting. (It’s also worth noting that in two separate presidential campaigns — 1988 and 2008 — America already decided Biden wasn’t fit for that office. And that’s back when he could remember where he was.)
Sen. Tom Cotton says you shouldn’t buy it. Appearing Monday on Fox News, the Arkansas Republican said Biden is getting pulled far to the left by the party’s far left.
Cotton made the remarks after being asked about a statement from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has essentially been suggesting to his supporters that while Biden might not have been their choice, they could hash out their differences after the election.
“Well, Bernie Sanders just acknowledged the reality. I mean, Joe Biden’s campaign really is a Trojan horse for the far left of the Democratic Party,” Cotton said.
“Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote his criminal justice platform, which is going to let violent felons out of prison, which is going to eliminate the use of bail so violent felons are going to get out … of jail while they are pending their trial for violent crimes,” he continued.
Beyond those “reforms” was the issue of gun control, which is something that Biden has promised to outsource to someone far from moderate.
“I mean, look at what Joe Biden himself said on the campaign trail, that Beto O’Rourke is going to run his gun control policy, which is going to be gun confiscation.
“They’re going to give amnesty to millions and millions of illegal immigrants, so they can take your jobs and also get their health care funded by you.
“They are also going the take radical steps, like turning Washington, D.C., into a state or packing the Supreme Court to rubber-stamp their left-wing agenda,” he concluded.
He also forgot that Ocasio-Cortez — the progenitor of the Green New Deal — is the co-chair of Biden’s climate task force, an appointment CNN described as “a move that adds progressive credentials to the former vice president’s effort to unify the party ahead of the general election.”
And there’s the problem, which Cotton touched on: “Unity” requires breaking bread with the most unequivocally left-wing members of the Democratic Party. Or, in the case of Sanders, an independent socialist.
Back to the O’Rourke thing, for instance. When O’Rourke endorsed Biden in early March, Biden seemed to promise to put him at the forefront of a potential Biden administration gun control effort.
“I want to make something clear, I’m going to guarantee you this is not the last you’ve seen of this guy,” Biden said at a Dallas rally. “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re going to be the one who leads this effort.”
O’Rourke’s truncated campaign for the presidency will best be remembered either by that uproarious Annie Leibovitz photo during his dumpster conflagration of a Vanity Fair campaign rollout (“I’m just born to be in it“) or his take on your Second Amendment right to own certain rifles: “Hell yes, we’re going to take you’re AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore,” he said during a September debate.
How much of this was about Joe Biden making Beto O’Rourke feel good about himself? Probably not an insubstantial amount when you consider that assuaging Beto O’Rourke’s ego is an important component of ensuring he would campaign with you. (This was during the quaint days when we assumed there would be something resembling a traditional campaign.)
However, this was clearly a signal Biden’s gun policy isn’t just going to tilt to the left but go full-bore to port.
Packing the Supreme Court? Biden says he’s against it. Then again, the odds-on pick for his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, has said she wouldn’t rule it out.
Sadly, it’s also easy enough to do if your party has control of the Senate and decides to remove the filibuster. Same thing with the criminal justice platform, health care reform, environmental legislation and amnesty. Washington, D.C., statehood is a much harder thing to accomplish, but the odds that it’ll be on the agenda are nearly 100 percent.
Joe Biden may, at some point, have been the kind of guy he’s being marketed as. At this point, he’s a tabula rasa, a slate which can be drawn on by the most radical elements on the left.
This isn’t a return to normalcy. This is fundamentally changing the country as we know it, except that change would be a lot more fundamental than it was under the Obama administration.
This isn’t President Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden. It’s Trump vs. a locomotive full of far-left voices Biden is willing to let pull the train, understanding it’s his only way of securing victory.
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