April 26, 2019

Joe Biden 2020

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Thursday, “Former Vice President Joe Biden formally joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest.” RealClearPolitics

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From the Left

The left is divided, with some arguing that Biden is the best chance to beat Trump, and others critical of his messaging strategy.

Biden joins “a cast that includes six senators, five other past or present members of the House and five people who are or have been mayors or governors. Plus two folks who have never been elected to anything and are safe to ignore unless one of them saves a drowning puppy… No wonder Biden is leading in the polls. Potential campaign theme: ‘Vote for Joe — You Can Already Spell His Name.’”
Gail Collins, New York Times

“As Democrats assess the dizzying array of 20 candidates, the first question they should ask is whether a nominee could gain a strong majority in the general election and defeat Trump… [Biden] would be far from an ideal president, let alone a Democratic candidate. Maybe in one of those blessed miracles of American democracy that produced our greatest presidents, someone else will emerge who's younger, smarter, more representative of a diverse electorate. But right now, Biden looks most like the person who could beat Trump. And that’s Job One.”
David Ignatius, Washington Post

“A lot of the attacks on Biden are, from an electoral angle, silly. Going after Biden for his lack of liberal wokeness, for example, seems destined to fail, given that the polling shows that Democrats want the party to move in a more moderate direction. Biden's age is more likely to derail his candidacy… The fact that Biden is called ‘Sleepy Joe’ by Trump and is known to make gaffes may open the age question more than polling indicates right now.”
Harry Enten, CNN

Meanwhile, critics assert that “while most Democrats like Barack Obama personally, the party has lurched left since he left office, and many of its activists now take a dim view of policies that Democrats once deemed mainstream. Thus, if Biden had entered the presidential race with a standard biographical video describing his many accomplishments in public life… he would have immediately prompted a debate about all the positions he once took—on crime, financial deregulation, Anita Hill, and the Iraq War—that Democrats now scorn…

“Biden evades that problem in his announcement video, but at a cost. He bathes the past in a warm glow without defending it substantively. And in so doing, he offers a deeply unconvincing historical narrative in which Trump lands upon the American political scene from outer space.”
Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

“There’s plenty of reasonable debate over whether Democratic candidates should focus on Trump in mounting their arguments, or if they should focus on what they want to do for voters… I suspect this is a bit of a false choice, as what we need is a little bit of both. But if we’re going to talk about Donald Trump, I think we need to acknowledge that he wasn’t created in a vacuum. Our systemic racism and sexism, coupled with our economic insecurities, built a world in which Trump could come to power. Biden’s announcement seems premised on the idea that we need to revert to the world we had before Trump, rather than dramatically rethink the world that produced him.”
Dara Kass, Slate

Minority view: “Biden's presidential announcement video… did something urgently needed in the 2020 race: put President Donald Trump's history of hate front and center. By doing so, Biden acknowledged the pain -- the real pain -- that so many marginalized communities have felt since [2015]… We deeply feel the impact of Trump's attacks. And we want to know that the 2020 Democratic candidates understand that and are willing to respond accordingly.”
Dean Obeidallah, CNN

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) “insisted the president couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong because, in the end, Ukraine got its money without committing to any investigations. This point of view has radical implications for America’s system of justice and overcrowded prisons, if Mr. Jordan in fact truly believes that all inmates convicted of attempted crimes are innocent of wrongdoing… Perhaps the most telling remark was offered by a Republican staff lawyer, Stephen Castor, who suggested that while the president’s behavior may have been highly irregular, ‘it’s not as outlandish as it could be.’ Here’s a tip: When ‘not as outlandish as itcould be’ is your strongest defense, it’s time to rethink your position.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

From the Right

The right welcomes Biden as a moderate alternative to other Democratic candidates, but wonders if he is progressive enough for primary voters.

From the Right

The right welcomes Biden as a moderate alternative to other Democratic candidates, but wonders if he is progressive enough for primary voters.

“Former Vice President Joe Biden's entrance into the 2020 presidential election will provide Democrats a choice: Do they want a reset, or do they want a revolution? As Democrats have spent the past several months outlining the sweeping changes they want to make to the United States, more than anything, Biden's candidacy represents a promise to go back to a pre-Trump era in American politics…

“Biden has consistently led in polls. It's of course possible his numbers will collapse as he undergoes more rigorous scrutiny and as his name recognition advantage erodes as voters get to know the other candidates better. Yet it's also possible that a critical mass of the Democratic electorate is more moderate (both ideologically and temperamentally) than it would seem from the online conversation. In that case, Biden has a good chance of taking the nomination.”
Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

Is the Democratic Party still the party of Barack Obama?... A curious thing happens to Democrats after they leave the presidency. The shine seems to dull from their pennies quite quickly. While Republicans still revere Ronald Reagan decades after his administration, Bill Clinton is viewed by many on the left with scorn. This is not merely a result of his sexual peccadillos, but also a function of how fast the Democratic Party changes…

“By the standards of his time in office, it would be wrong to call Obama a moderate. He did, after all, run to the left of Hillary Clinton in 2008. But by today’s standards, it would be wrong not to call him a moderate… [The question is] does Obama still represent hope and change for the Democratic Party? Or like Bill Clinton, will his moderation be held against him? For Biden, that question will determine the success of his campaign; for the Democratic Party, that question will determine their very identity.”
David Marcus, The Federalist

“Obama was a history-making candidate, allowing voters to be aspirational about their country and themselves by voting for him. And Biden isn’t. Biden is the white guy who got in trouble for calling Obama ‘clean’ and ‘articulate.’... Biden’s candidacy is an attempt by Democrats to bargain with Trump’s America. Other candidates are promising to cleanse America from what Democrats see as the disgrace or even the sacrilege of Trump’s presidency. Democrats don’t want to bargain with the devil, they want an exorcist.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review

“There are structural elements facing Biden on the path to the nomination, too, particularly the delegates that can be won in caucuses instead of primaries, where activists have much greater power. It’s those caucuses that Obama used effectively to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008. Biden will likely perform well in the big states, but he will need an effective caucus organization to have a chance of winning the nomination… With so many credible and not so credible candidates, we may… be headed for a Democratic convention with no winner on the first ballot.”
Mark Penn, Fox News

“It is pretty telling that a seventy-six year old, who’d be 78 if elected, is going to have to swoop in to save the Democrats from themselves and also that he may not be able to do it because he is too moderate for the base. Biden could give Donald Trump a real run for his money. They both understand and connect with blue collar workers who feel left behind. But, Donald Trump can play it right in that these workers fled Obama to Trump. Biden wants them to come back to the folks who left them behind.”
Erick Erickson, The Resurgent

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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