March 29, 2019

Joe Biden

“Former Vice President Joe Biden condemned ‘a white man’s culture’ as he lashed out at violence against women and, more specifically, lamented his role in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings that undermined Anita Hill’s credibility nearly three decades ago… Biden called on Americans to ‘change the culture… It’s an English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture. It’s got to change.’” AP News

A recent “poll found that 35 percent of Democratic voters are most likely to vote for Biden in the Democratic primaries should he jump in the race. That is more than twice the number of voters who pointed to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as their top pick.” The Hill

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of Biden’s recent comments, and argues that he will have to overcome several weaknesses in order to be successful in the Democratic primary.

The ‘white man’ “comment will leave a mark (toxic masculinity might have been a better framing). It is ready-made for Fox News and other conservative media, which have already pushed the idea that white men are under assault and that Democrats are particularly hostile to white men. The statement will also undermine one of his key selling points, which is that he has a unique appeal to white, working-class Midwest voters who feel alienated by the Democratic Party's progressive shift on racial and gender issues…

“Leave it to Joe Biden to trip -- and then trip again -- as he tries to navigate what might be called the woke era of the Democratic Party.”
Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN

“Biden has baggage, and cartloads of it. That’s no surprise for a 76-year-old career politician. But his biggest liability among progressives isn’t just that he made mistakes all those years ago. It’s also that he doesn’t believe he could have avoided them

“Biden argues that the attitudes of the day stopped him from demanding more respect for a woman who came forward to say that a powerful man, about to be made more powerful, had abused her. But bowing to the attitudes of the day ignores the need for progress. And progress is exactly what the Democratic candidate for the presidency has to be able to promise… The problem is not that Joe Biden owes Anita Hill an apology. The problem is he doesn’t think he does.”
Molly Roberts, Washington Post

“The former vice president might want to pause to consider an excruciating prospect: He could end up as this cycle’s Jeb Bush… The high points in Biden’s career tower over anyone who could be on the ballot in 2020. He wrote the Violence Against Women Act, he oversaw the implementation of the stimulus that prevented a depression, and he got out ahead of President Barack Obama to lead on same-sex marriage…

“But Biden also has a nearly unparalleled collection of Achilles heels… There’s his connection to Delaware’s financial sector… [and] Ta-Nehisi Coates recently said that Biden ‘has more than just criminal-justice baggage when it comes to race.’ Biden not only played a key role in the 1994 crime bill that helped lead to mass incarceration of African-Americans, he also was one of many Democrats of the last century who tried to neutralize conservative attacks by moving to to the right of Republicans on issues like busing.”
Jason Sattler, USA Today

“Biden would be betting that math—white and older voters still outnumber millennials—is stronger than cultural momentum, and that Democratic primary voters will value ‘electability’ against President Donald Trump above all else. But the longer he avoids joining the fray, the less confident Uncle Joe looks about his chances of winning the nomination.”
Chris Smith, Vanity Fair

“To state the overly obvious, we simply can’t be sure whether Biden would maintain his polling advantage until he actually enters the race and starts facing more scrutiny and the attacks from his competitors that come with a real candidacy. Hillary Clinton is the classic example of a politician enjoying soaring approval when they aren’t perceived as an active office-seeker and seeing that sky-high favorability rapidly tumble once they enter the arena… The real wild card is: What if Biden doesn’t run? Where does his 30 percent slice of the primary pie go?... nobody knows.”
Dylan Scott, Vox

Critics of the candidate argue, “Want to defeat Trump? Attack Biden… Many progressives are understandably fearful that attacking the presumptive frontrunner might weaken him and give Trump ammunition for the general election. But challenging Biden’s record is important. For example, his core base of support – older Democrats – needs to know what an unreliable defender of Social Security and Medicare he is. By challenging him on his record, especially in the eyes of older, traditional Democratic voters, progressives could break the myth of Biden’s ‘electability’. (A strange trope given that Biden has tried and failed to be a presidential nominee since the 1980s.)… Anyone angling to be the Democratic nominee should espouse a real progressive agenda – just being ‘anti-Trump’ isn’t enough.”
Bhaskar Sunkara, The Guardian

“For Warren or anyone else to prevent the uniquely depressing experience of a Biden ‘national unity’ campaign, specifically targeted at a tiny cadre of wobbly Trump voters and Jeff Flake-style dissident Republicans, something has to change before next winter. Democratic voters and the media and basically everyone else must get over their skittish, fearful response to the Trump presidency, and their based-on-nothing certainty that nominating a progressive or a woman or a socialist or anybody who isn’t an avuncular white man with a vaguely reassuring demeanor and no discernible ideology will once again lead to disaster.”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

From the Right

The right is critical of Biden’s attempts to pander to progressives, and argues that he should be apologizing to Clarence Thomas, not Anita Hill.

From the Right

The right is critical of Biden’s attempts to pander to progressives, and argues that he should be apologizing to Clarence Thomas, not Anita Hill.

“As an old white guy whose political career dates back to the early 1970s, Biden adopted many positions over the years that put him at odds with the younger and much more diverse modern Democratic Party… Biden's biggest problem in the primaries isn't necessarily his age but the fact [that] he's outdated in a party that looks a lot different than the one in which he spent his formidable political years. The fact that he's spent the run-up to any announcement apologizing for his past is not a good long-term sign for his candidacy.”
Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

Biden’s “gestures toward woke culture have won him few friends. Many Progressives can’t forgive him for not being able to stop Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court three decades ago. His paeans to diversity only remind Democrats of his age, sex, and pallor… Biden is reminding Democrats of his flaws, when he should be using this time to make an affirmative case for his candidacy that goes beyond airy assertions of ‘electability.’”
Matthew Cotinetti, National Review

“He’s an experienced Democratic politician with a resume most candidates can only dream of. And he’s from the moderate, old guard of the party. Turning around now and talking about the ‘inherent problems of whiteness’ or toxic masculinity is going to come across as pandering… he should probably just focus on letting Joe be Joe. It’s served him well over the years and the early polling seems to indicate that his voter base isn’t holding his past, his skin color or his gender against him.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

Regarding Anita Hill, “though history remembers [her] as having been scorned, the senators did not, in fact, treat her discourteously. They did question her closely about her charges. They demanded details. They probed for inconsistencies and asked reasonable questions about her dealings with Thomas and how and why she had stepped forward to accuse him. That was enough to raise doubts about her testimony in the minds of the public and the committee…

“The reckoning for a culture in which sexual harassment and even assault were not treated as serious crimes was long overdue. But the idea that those who make such accusations should not be questioned closely or that the accused have no right to defend themselves or their reputations against what they consider to be false charges is not consistent with American traditions of justice no matter who is placed in the dock.”
Jonathan Tobin, National Review

“‘English jurisprudential culture’ is, of course, the foundation of American governance and our Constitutional rights. It’s unlikely any culture in history has brought more freedom and prosperity to more of humankind… Those who demand acts of contrition over ‘English jurisprudential culture,’ seem to have a problem with ideals of blind justice and due process that stop us from sacrificing people to the whims of an aggrieved mob…

“It was Biden, with the assistance of a bunch of other white men, [who] helped smear a black man with an impeccable record and no corroborating evidence of wrongdoing simply because he held the wrong kind of views. It was to Biden that Thomas was responding when he famously called the hearings a ‘high-tech lynching for uppity blacks’... If anything, Biden should be apologizing to Thomas.”
David Harsanyi, The Federalist

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

A libertarian's take

“The relevant question is not the nationality of a source offering ‘oppo research’ but the accuracy and relevance of the information. Another consideration is whether the information was obtained illegally—by hacking emails, for example. While the Supreme Court has said people have a First Amendment right to share illegally obtained information if they were not involved in the lawbreaking (something that news organizations frequently do), you might reasonably argue that they should also report such crimes when they become aware of them, which may be what Trump had in mind when he said he might contact the FBI ‘if I thought there was something wrong.’”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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