You gotta say this about Joe Biden: Beyond the never ending cavalcade of gaffes ("poor kids" being just as smart as "white kids" was a masterpiece of tone deafness, even by his standards) and proclivity for not knowing when to shut up (his scrambled, oft-told and mostly false story of traveling to Afghanistan to award a Silver Star to a Navy captain), his greatest strength is that he was Barack Obama's vice president and those eight long-ago years seem like a golden era of normalcy compared to the nightmare that Donald Trump has visited on the Republic.
Can Biden beat Trump in 2020 by promising a return to normalcy? Perhaps, but shouldn't we expect more from the next president?
Yes, we should.
Still, there is undeniable appeal to putting bold policy initiatives on the back burner in trying to assure that Trump is thrashed.
Trump's approval ratings are tanking badly in his must-win states, he trails Biden and other Democratic frontrunners in head-to-head polls, his intransigence at home and on the world stage has turned America from a global leader into a laughing stock, and he now faces a primary challenge from fellow head case and onetime Tea Party darling Joe Walsh, who similarly appeals to the worst instincts and ugliest sentiments in America.
Alas, Walsh is an ankle biter who will be dispatched in the primaries or paid off first, and anything less than an overwhelming Democratic victory next November guarantees that the president will claim that the election was stolen from him (and he still might do that anyway). So a vote for normalcy is a blow to Trump's solar plexus, or something.
Writes Frank Bruni in The New York Times:
I wouldn't be surprised if voters consciously or subconsciously conclude that they just can't continue to live like this and that four more years would be ruinous, if not to the country as a whole, then to our individual psyches. By the time Election Day rolls around, they may crave nothing more electric than stability and serenity. That wouldn't be a bad Democratic bumper sticker. It's essentially the message of Biden's campaign.Then there is Esquire's Charles Pierce:
People just want things to get back to normal again. They want a president who isn't manifestly unqualified and clearly half-mad. They want their Twitter accounts to go back to featuring dogs and cute pictures of the grandkids. They want a Congress that can work smoothly enough so that they can go back to ignoring it again. In fact, they'd like a government that can work smoothly enough so that they can go back to ignoring it again.It is a testament to how distorted politics have become in the Age of Trump that Obama's tenure, which at the time was left-liberal by almost any standard and included transformative policy initiatives on health-care, the environment and strong medicine for pulling the U.S. out of the Bush recession, is now being hailed as a model of normalcy. That is inaccurate, of course, although those eight years were an oasis of calm in comparison to Trump's daily gyrations amidst his ongoing mental deterioration.
Meanwhile, people still fighting the last war, many of them Democrats with a white male fetish, cite Elizabeth Warren as being Hillary 2.0 -- over prepared with mountains of policy plans and too much liberal baggage -- in arguing that Joe Normal is the candidate most able to beat Trump.
Possibly true, but Warren at this stage is the best nominee and Biden is a throwback who neither represents the future of the Democratic Party nor is the kind of leader America needs to not just begin to repair Trump's excesses but to boldly move beyond Obamacare toward a single-payer system, think really big on infrastructure and deal with the migrant crisis, not dither over it as did Obama-Biden, as well as other formidable challenges.
The Democrats' path to taking back the White House and possibly the Senate, as well, runs straight through the suburbs.
When the election is viewed in that context, change handily wins out over normalcy and Warren becomes even more attractive because of her appeal to women and nonwhite voters, while Biden seems even more like that guy you might enjoy having a beer with but not a whole lot else.
Biden, in fact, will be a president you can forget about, which is exactly what America does not need if it is to not merely replace Trump but move beyond him.
VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF TRUMP
Dozens of attacks or threats involving Trump's supporters have been reported since he announced his candidacy in June 2015.
The Guardian has compiled details of 52 of the incidents, which most recently include a Trump supporter putting a photojournalist in a chokehold and punching him in the face while shouting "Fake news! Trump 2020!" and a Trump supporter threatening to kill Representative Rashida Tlaib and other Democratic members of the House.
It makes for chilling reading.