I can’t believe Biden is the front-runner


A former writer for The Onion regrets the gentleness of their satirizing of Uncle Joe. Isn’t just the fact that “Uncle Joe” has become one of his nicknames telling enough?

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but at the time, I didn’t take him seriously enough to think we were doing anything wrong. I thought of him as little more than a political necessity: the older, more conservative white guy who softened Barack Obama’s image in regions where the prospect of a black president was too radical. A deeper dive on Biden never felt necessary.

I’ve since changed my mind. Today, Biden is the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, despite women calling him out for touching them in ways that made them uncomfortable at public events, and despite objections from the left wing of the party. He has said he has “no empathy” for the problems millennials are experiencing and claimed that Republicans will embrace bipartisanship after Trump is defeated. As I watch him campaign as an old (-fashioned, -school, -old) centrist, I realize how badly we screwed up. Instead of viciously skewering a public figure who deserved scrutiny, we let him off easy. The joke was funny, but it didn’t hit hard enough.

A Biden nomination by the Democratic Party would be another out-of-touch catastrophe. He generates no enthusiasm, except by comfortable older white people who like the fact that he’s not going to change a goddamn thing — smug confidence in the status quo might make him the Democratic nominee, but I don’t see him winning when all he can instill is apathy, and he’s going to be an easy target. Trump is going to claim that Biden is in the pockets of the bankers (not that Trump isn’t), that we can all see that patronizing women is fine and nice, that he’s the Establishment that the populists want to bring down.

If he does win, all we get is a right-of-center centrist who will waltz before congress thinking his affability gives him an edge, and the Republicans will just say “NO” and eat him alive. He’s the lose-lose candidate.

I’m just hoping he’ll commit some terrible gaffe and go down in flames before he’s the nominee, and I expect he’ll oblige. He usually does. Right now, though, the media seems to be anointing him as the right and electable candidate, so he might get the kind of pass no other Democrat would receive.

Comments

  1. says

    If you’ll recall the first debate between Clinton and Sanders the media held a third podium open for Mighty Joe, just in case at the last minute he decided to jump into the primaries. They have learned nothing, Joe is getting more media coverage than all the other Democratic candidates combined. It worked for Trump when they did it in the Republican primaries.

    We somehow need to figure a way around the MSM.

  2. doubtthat says

    I don’t disagree with any of the criticism levelled against Biden, and I would go a bit further: he is as responsible as any individual for building the foundation and infrastructure of our current nightmarish existence. He eagerly, for example, developed and promoted the current bankruptcy structure that makes it impossible for people to escape credit card debt.
    But…I do think he would be president now if he ran in 2016. I don’t see him losing any states Clinton won, and I do think his white guy appeal gets him, at least, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
    That’s not a reason to vote for him now, and I don’t support him, but I do think he is “electable,” but so is, obviously, Donald Trump.
    Point is, our dumb country is fucked.

  3. zetopan says

    I suspect that the GOP is elated the Biden is the front running Democratic presidential nomination.
    Biden should be at the bottom of the list, but that was also extremely true for Trump.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    It’s simple: The Dems are going with Biden because they are so afraid of losing that they’re willing to go with a “safe” candidate rather than a one of those crazy progressives, scary brown people, or (gasp) A WOMAN. Once again, you can have much-needed social, economic, and environmental reform only with the permission of America’s true masters: White Baby Boomers.

  5. davidnangle says

    Ronald, the MSM’s motivations are worse than just a lack of any consideration of the country’s needs. They know they will make more profit from more chaos and fear. They would have no problem destroying the entire country including themselves next Wednesday, as long as they made a larger profit tomorrow and the day after.

  6. weylguy says

    It’s so comforting for us older folks to open our newspapers to the comics page and see that Marmaduke, Peanuts and Dennis the Menace are still being printed, although we don’t really read them any more—it’s just nice to know that some things never change. Same with Joe Biden as the Democratic pick—he’ll lose to Trump, of course, but Uncle Joe (“he’s a-moving kind of slow”) reminds us of older, nicer times when the country hadn’t yet collapsed into über-capitalistic, fascist trash.

  7. whheydt says

    I’m old (70), white, reasonably comfortable, and male. Biden does not appeal to me. If he gets nominated, I’ll vote for him in the general election, but don’t expect any enthusiasm.

  8. says

    As far as electabily is concerned he has never been able to win anything outside of a postage stamp size state. Why would anybody think that it was any different, unless you have simply decided that doubling down is the best answer to everything. Check out the Iron Law of Institutions. It may not be totally correct, but it certainly does explain the Democratic party.

  9. kenbakermn says

    I would be so much happier to see Warren, Sanders, or Harris get the nomination, but if it’s Biden he gets my vote. If the Democrats nominate a rusty bucket full of used oil filters, it would still be better than the current cloacal splotch occupying the oval office.

  10. brucegee1962 says

    As far as the age thing is concerned (and this applies to a big swath of the candidates), when my Dad was in his seventies, he announced that he didn’t want to vote for anyone his age or older. His quote was “I don’t want to have a president who feels like I do when I wake up in the morning.”

  11. doubtthat says

    @Ronald Couch

    This is my math on Biden:

    Hillary Clinton lost Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan by a total of 70,000 votes. I see no states Clinton won that Biden wouldn’t, and I think Biden appeals to all of the white dudes in that area and probably would have won those states.
    He was a popular vice president under a popular president who easily won two elections.
    White men are the only constituency Republicans reliably dominate, Biden slashes the dominance in that group without significantly losing ground in any other demographic.
    I don’t like that Biden appears to have this wide appeal, but it’s pretty clear he does.

  12. doubtthat says

    Or, perhaps I should say, I don’t like that Biden has this wide appeal that none of the other, better candidates seem to, at the moment.
    But also, a lot can change. I’m sure you could go through past elections and see all kinds of crazy candidates running away with primary at this point in the cycle.

  13. monad says

    @9 kenbakermm: Sure, that’s fair for you when the general election hits. But not everyone is necessarily going to do that. And worse, we are in a crisis and need better than a rusty bunch of oil filters, let alone someone planning in advance to concede to the Republicans on everything he can. So in the mean time, we need to be critical and try to do better.
    https://thenib.com/join-or-die

  14. scottde says

    I’m not a Biden supporter, but he’s not going to be beaten by pretending he’s not popular, or suggesting he doesn’t generate enthusiasm (I attended a VP rally in a small town in Ohio in 2008 and the crowds were enormous). He is a serious contender, and assuming he will magically ‘self-destruct’ is only going to lead to tears in 15 months.

  15. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Currently I am leaning toward Harris and Warren, the ONLY way I would vote for Biden is in the General against Trump. For these and many other reasons:

    Giving a “lovely” speech in October 2018 (right before the Midterms) in Michigan…for a REPUBLICAN Rep. Fred Upton, who used the speech in his campaign literature and went on to narrowly defeat the Democratic challenger, WTF:

    https://theweek.com/speedreads/819291/joe-biden-got-200000-speech-that-reportedly-helped-elect-republican-house-member

    He co-wrote the Crime bill, he pushed the Bankruptcy bill, and he thinks Republicans will have “an ephiphany after Trump leaves and start working with Dems”

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/14/joe-biden-gop-have-an-epiphany-after-trump-leaves-office/3665772002/

    How about we work on helping solidly Dem demographics get the ID to be able to vote, the transportation to the polls and the access to voting machines that they need. For instance: https://psmag.com/social-justice/native-american-rights-groups-are-gearing-up-to-fight-voter-suppression-in-2020

    I am so sick of hearing about “We need to reach out to the people who voted for Obama and then voted for Trump”

  16. dave57 says

    I’m an old comfortable white guy and out of the top ten, Biden is my last choice. Prefer (in order) Warren Harrris, Inslee, Butigieg, Beto, Gillibrand. Not a big fan of Sanders… He’s been in the Senate too long and like Biden thinks that things will normalize when Trump is out. That said, I’ll vote for the nominee in the general. Too bad Dems don’t have instant runoff primaries. I think that would give a better chance of getting the best nominee.

  17. Ragutis says

    I’m not keen on Biden, but then again, any of the Dem candidates would be better than Trump by miles lightyears. As for “electability” or whatever, Uncle Joe is currently beating Trump by 11% in the most recent Fox News poll. Actually, like 10 of the Dems are beating him, though Biden has the biggest spread. I dunno, this is frankly getting ridiculous with 23 people running for the nomination and no one really separating themselves from the rest policy wise yet. This herd needs to be thinned out soon so we can focus on 4, 5, or 6 strong candidates. And the party better not be forgetting about the Senate, or McConnell will just obstruct, obstruct, obstruct for another 4 or 8 years.

    On the plus side, the Alabammy abortion fiasco and copycats are likely to cause BIG problems for the Rs.

  18. sqlrob says

    Republicans will just say “NO” and eat him alive

    To be fair though, I think this will happen no matter who gets in.

  19. colinday says

    What is so unbelievable about Biden being the Democratic frontrunner? Disappointning, yes, but unbelievable?

  20. stwriley says

    We really shouldn’t put too much stock in this. The person who is leading in the polls at this point is very seldom the one who actually wins the nomination. Clinton had the lead in May 2007, but lost to Obama. Four years before that, the leader in the early primary polling was (and this is not a joke) Joe Lieberman. Bland centrists may poll well early on, but they don’t retain those positions once the public actually starts paying attention (i.e., once the primaries actually start.)

  21. anat says

    Re: Performance in the General election: There are 2 different aspects of this: 1) Who gets more ‘moderates’ to shift from R to D 2) Who gets more of the D supporters/leaners to actually vote. Most candidates that do the former are weak on the latter, so there is no reason to think that going for a ‘centrist’ or ‘moderate’ candidate is a good idea, even from pure electability considerations. 2016 might have gone differently if more people had voted.

  22. says

    No put in another Obama, and what happened 2 years after Obama got in? The biggest election losses ever, something the Democratic party has yet to recover from. If Trump followed Obama what monster would follow Biden? Any of the “Centrist” candidates (and that would include the younger ones like Harris, Brooker, O’Rourke, Buttigieg, etc.) will be a catastrophe even if they do win and chances are they won’t.

    Keep betting on the electability BS, it worked so well before.

  23. says

    A near perfect repeat of 2016, the Democratic voters are going to be screwed by the Democratic party and Trump gets another four years. Perfect.

  24. says

    Pretty simple question, mnb0, what’s the alternative to voting Democrat in 2020 if you want Trump gone? And if your answer is “Let Trump get elected, and it will force change” that’s what we have now, and look how well that’s working.

  25. says

    in 1974 Biden said this: “When it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I’m about as liberal as your grandmother. I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion (Roe). I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”

    So really fuck him. (Yes I am aware his view have modified over time but that is horrifying”)

  26. garnetstar says

    I prefer a much more progressive candidate, and true progessive change. Sadly, I think that Biden’s appeal (if he, in fact, does have any, and it’s not just media hype) is that he won’t bring that.

    People are shaken by the incredibly rapid overturn of all norms, to the point where the president is a crime boss and the continued existence of out democracy is in question. Everything about politics has changed (for the worse) under Trump.

    In response, people may wish for things to go back to the way they were. No more change, no more new things, even if they’re good things. No progression. “Normalcy”, the way things used to be, is want people may be wanting.

    I don’t think that acting on such a wish will turn out well. The “normal” way things used to be is no very desirable condition. But people may follow such subconscious emotions rather than rationality. Especially if the media acts as if it were a fait accompli.

  27. unclefrogy says

    @24
    why few ever bring that up it is how the progressive ideas have failed since every election 1951 they have been running away from the whole idea of the New Deal with the results we see.
    It has been and remains turnout which is driven by progressive policies and not by “moderation” in all things and appeals to the conservatives.
    there are more seldom voters then there are conservatives. the seldom voters do not come out because for them it has made absolutely no difference what so ever. It is why there is such cynical ideas about politicians and government. It is why we got the lier and cheat as POTUS today.
    uncle frogy

  28. lotharloo says

    “Jimmy Fallon had him on The Tonight Show to ask pressing questions like, “Can I mess up your hair?””

    Oh yes I remember that. And since then, I’ve never watched Jimmy Fallon, spineless drone.

  29. pinocchio says

    I don’t live in the US so I could have the wrong idea but if Democrats chose a more progressive candidate than Biden and if that candidate won wouldn’t that be pretty meaningless if Republicans still controlled the Senate (as seems likely). What progressive legislation do you think is likely to pass with any Democratic president and a Republican senate or ( god forbid) house?

  30. doubtthat says

    @pinocchio

    That’s certainly a problem, but there are many, many things a president can do without Congress. Judicial nominations, setting trade policies, determining foreign policy such as drone bombing policy…

  31. ck, the Irate Lump says

    anat wrote:

    Re: Performance in the General election: There are 2 different aspects of this: 1) Who gets more ‘moderates’ to shift from R to D 2) Who gets more of the D supporters/leaners to actually vote.

    There is evidence that the so-called moderates (in either party) do not actually exist: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/07/dems-can-abandon-the-center-because-the-center-doesnt-exist.html

    If you wanted to take policies exactly in the middle of the electorate, you’d have to support policies like this:

    On marijuana, the most popular policy was full legalization; on immigration, the most widely favored proposal was “the immediate roundup and deportation of all undocumented immigrants and an outright moratorium on all immigration until the border is proven secure”; and on taxes, the most popular option was to increase the rate on income above $250,000 by more than 5 percent. Meanwhile, establishing a maximum annual income of $1 million (by taxing all income above that at 100 percent) was the third most common choice, boasting four times more support than the national Republican Party’s platform on taxation.

    That set of policies describe no one, not even Warren or Sanders, and certainly not Trump. Instead, the “moderatism” we see in the political parties seems to be merely the policies most friendly to corporate interests instead of the actual center of the electorate.

  32. lemurcatta says

    Biden isn’t right-of-center. The guy single handedly forced the Obama White House’s support on same sex marriage. Remember when Obama kept saying his position on the issue was “evolving”? Joe Biden went off script one day to offer a full throated support and the rest of the WH had to immediately fall in line or public ally rebuke Biden. They (and Obama himself) fell in line. This wasn’t a small thing, and it’s something we forget way too often. Biden has also single handedly made cancer research a priority of the administration and worked to find NIH research. You know, public spending on science.

    I understand the lack of enthusiasm for Joe. I understand if he isn’t your favorite candidate. He does represent a more center position in the party. But it really isn’t right of center, he is left of it. Not by a whole lot, but enough to be clearly over the line.

  33. says

    @lemurcatta:

    At the time that Biden did that, the number of people in the country who opposed queer marriage was less than 50%. At that point, Biden could be right-of-center and still support queer marriage. For a handy reference, check out this article with a handy graph showing that opinions crossed in 2011 with Biden’s statement coming in May 2012 – a bit over a year later.

    But more than that, if one holds 58 right-of-center positions and 7 left-of-center positions, isn’t it still fair to describe them as right of center? What’s the problem with that? How does showing the existence of one or two left-of-center positions prove your point?

    Then there’s the whole cancer thing. You really think that the number of people who support curing cancer is a left wing minority? Where the fuck did you get that?

    And, finally, that brings me to this: left of center and right of center in the Senate, House, Supreme Court, White House, and Vice-Presidency is a poll of less than 600 people who are decidedly NOT representative of the US. The average wealth of a member of that group is nothing like the average wealth of the average US resident. Likewise, the average political position of people in that group is not the average political position of the average US resident. Just because funding cancer research or recognizing that banning queer marriage is, yes, discrimination takes on some big, partisan, controversial importance in the halls of power doesn’t mean that the rest of the US feels that way, and it certainly doesn’t mean that if it’s controversial in the halls of power it must have approximately as many people for it as against it in the US. Fuck, take a look at gun control’s popularity outside Washington.

    Biden is right-of-center. As far as I know, he’s also the right-most candidate for the Democratic nomination (which, yes, is a different question, but it’s of import here). Even if he wasn’t actually right of center, generally speaking, even if we could say he’s exactly in the center or barely left of center when scoring a slate of issues as objectively as we know how, his right-leaning compared-to-other-candidates jack-ass mentality would still need to be called out. Liberal people oppose violence. Biden jokes about beating up political opponents. Liberal people oppose the way Anita Hill was treated during the Thomas confirmation hearings; Biden can’t bring himself to say that he, personally, did anything wrong in the Anita Hill hearing. He still insists that there was nothing he could have done differently. Liberal people oppose war. Biden supports wars, repeatedly.

    Biden is not left of center. Whether he’s left of center for the less-than-600 people on SCOTUS or in Congress or in the Presidency or Vice-Presidency could be argued, I suppose. But I really don’t give a rat’s ass. Being left of the republican establishment isn’t enough to make one left-of-center in a country where the Republican establishment includes Donald J. Fucking Trump.

    Seriously, what is even up with, “Cancer funding is hideously unpopular in the US today, therefore Biden’s a lefty”? Do you understand how extreme one has to be to take that position seriously?

  34. consciousness razor says

    pinnochio, #32:
    I’ll address it below, but it’s not only about passing legislation. We have an executive branch, one that seems to be getting more powerful/lawless by the day, and the president obviously has a lot of say over what happens in it, as the head of that entire branch of government. Who gets appointed to cabinet-level positions or a zillion other agencies, how will laws be executed, etc.? There is a ton of “policy,” what doubtthat mentioned and much more; and the executive does that, not the legislature. There is also the judicial branch to consider, not only the Supreme Court but also the other federal courts. So the presidential election is indirectly about the type of people we’ll hire for all of those jobs too, not only the POTUS and VP positions. The current administration has been filled up with swamp creatures, who are told by Swamp himself to do all manner of swampy things.
    Democrats have the House and are likely to keep it. So with a (D) president, Republicans would be left with a smallish majority in the US Senate, along with a lot of control over state/local governments. (It’s wrong to assume none of the other elections turn out differently along with the presidency, but let’s run with it anyway.) Republicans can definitely still make a mess of things with only that, but not nearly as much. That’s pretty meaningful, if you ask me.
    The president can veto bills that narrowly pass the Senate, which means a decent number of (D) Senators would have to break with their party and join in with whatever nonsense the (R) Senators are up to, if that somehow made it past the House. Republicans don’t have such a large majority in the Senate that they can override a veto.
    So, you can ask what sorts of legislation Biden would fight over, compared to a progressive like Sanders or Warren. A conservative like Biden would often be one to side with the Republicans, negating the value of his veto power. (And, like I said, he’d install like-minded people in the cabinet, the courts, and so forth. All of that matters too.)

  35. says

    Back in the dark days of WW2 propagandas films in the Pacific used to open with footage of Winston Churchill an President Roosevelt. The Australian troops mostly for a working class union background were not shy about the missing part of the trio. Every time the opening scene ran they would call out “What about Joe?”, referring of course to Joseph Stalin. They jokingly called him “Uncle Joe”. The propaganda authorities eventually gave in and Uncle Joo joined Churchill and Roosevelt in a cameo appearance.

  36. ck, the Irate Lump says

    The worst part of the Democratic presidential candidate clown car is that many of these people who have no chance of being chosen would be excellent contenders for vulnerable seats for senator or governor.

  37. numerobis says

    Biden certainly has the joementum. I hope it works out just as well as last time.

  38. lemurcatta says

    @ Crip Dyke

    “ Curing”cancer* (or advancing treatment of any disease, really) is not a left wing issue. Conservatives want the latest and greatest for themselves and their family when diseas strikes, of course. Public funding of science is a left wing issue. There is tension between those points but because of cognitive dissonance, it’s ignored on the right at the political level at least. Biden has been a friend of finding the NIH; trump and his friends have not. It blows, but I now consider advancing basic and applied science to now be a liberal cause. Because the right doesn’t care about publicly funded science.

    Regarding gay marriage- I’m guessing I won’t convince you of anything, but I can only remind folks that the Obama admin policy at that time was not actually affirmative. Biden took a bold step in this area. You may not like him (I may not be his biggest fan), but this was big at the time. It was actually huge to young lgbt folks around me. My read on him is solidly left of center.

    You could argue that the “center” has been drawn rightward (the Overton window concept). Where ever it is, Biden is somewhat left of it. But like you, o imagine voting to pull the center back towards the left a bit in this primary.

    *curing cancer isn’t really the point of my original post. I understand it’s rhetorocal, but a cure isn’t even what we are looking for right now.

  39. says

    Funny, when I mentioned that Biden was dangerously regressive on abortion the other day, yet he was the front-runner, with the implication that this might be a dangerous position when red states are pushing Handmaid’s Tale-style abortion bans, my comment mysteriously vanished but there was somebody (one of the usual gang of Democratic Party apologists) complaining that I was trying to equate the Democrats and the Republicans. I await an apology.

    Frankly: if Biden gets the nomination, he will complete the work the Clintons started by making the Democrats no longer viable as a national party.

  40. says

    Regarding gay marriage- I’m guessing I won’t convince you of anything, but I can only remind folks that the Obama admin policy at that time was not actually affirmative. Biden took a bold step in this area. You may not like him (I may not be his biggest fan), but this was big at the time. It was actually huge to young lgbt folks around me. My read on him is solidly left of center.

    I don’t actually dispute that he was left of Obama.

    I dispute that he was left of center. Those are two different claims, and the polling data clearly shows that 14 months before Biden made his more, the totality of the country included more queer marriage supporters than opponents.

    And finally, I dispute the idea that positions on 2 issues make him left wing – as I said and it seemed you didn’t note – there are lots of issues and people aren’t robots: being left wing does not preclude holding a few right-wing positions and vice versa.

    My take on Biden at the time was that he was more-or-less keeping up with the center on queer marriage – not leading the population and not particularly lagging it. Looking back at the polling data where he came out positively for queer marriage in May 2012 but proponents exceeded opponents in march 2011, that seems about right. If he did make the switch exactly at the time the country did, it still might have taken him a year to go public. So I think that assessment holds up well.

    I’m not trying to deny the evidence, I just think that the 14 month lag is better explained as him being very near the center rather than him being (slightly) right wing and lagging the center or than leading from the left (which I don’t think he did). He might be seen as leading from the left from the point of view of the administration (I think this is your point) but he certainly wasn’t from the point of view of the US as a whole. So, again, I think that’s the evidence-based position, but if you have an argument other than “he said it when Obama hadn’t yet” then I’m all ears.

    You could argue that the “center” has been drawn rightward (the Overton window concept).

    I can and do argue that. Remember that the Overton window has to do with acceptable political and media discourse. The center of the Overton window on gun control is VERY right wing from the center of the US population. You can check out Wikipedia’s “public opinion on gun control” or the Pew Research Center’s data on that if you don’t believe me. This is, again, hard proof that right/left of center from the perspective of the 600-ish people with the most power in DC is not at all the same thing as right/left of center from the point of view of the population.

    I hold that when deciding whether Biden is right or left of center, the appropriate measure is to compare him to the US population and not merely to the others who hold (or have held) high political office. I think this is a substantial point of departure between us since you keep comparing him to Obama (one single person) rather than the population, as if picking a single person as a reference point was a valid way to determine right wing/left wing objectively.

    There are a lot of people to the left of me and a lot of people to the right of me, but no one would think to use me as the reference point and determine that anyone to my right was right wing and anyone to my left was left wing. It just doesn’t work that way.

    “ Curing”cancer* (or advancing treatment of any disease, really) is not a left wing issue. Conservatives want the latest and greatest for themselves and their family when diseas strikes, of course. Public funding of science is a left wing issue. There is tension between those points but because of cognitive dissonance, it’s ignored on the right at the political level at least. Biden has been a friend of finding the NIH; trump and his friends have not. It blows, but I now consider advancing basic and applied science to now be a liberal cause. Because the right doesn’t care about publicly funded science.

    Okay, let’s remember that what I responded to the first time around was this:

    Biden has also single handedly made cancer research a priority of the administration and worked to find NIH research. You know, public spending on science.

    So I may have been being a little off-the-mark when I originally made it about cancer research rather than “public spending on science”. Mea culpa.

    However, that said … you still seem to be comparing Biden to other high ranking officials rather than to the US population as a whole. What’s the polling data on spending federal money to fun research into curing cancer? Is that a losing political issue? Is that something where, if you back a play to give money to cancer research the moderates are going to kill you in your next election? Do we even bother to ask the question in public opinion polls, “Do you support spending money to cure cancer?”

    Biden is outspoken. As such, there are positions that he says out loud that are pretty mainstream positions but that aren’t generally spoken out loud in DC. Speaking loudly about things like funding cancer research or waiting periods to buy guns might very well cause more trouble than positive media coverage is worth in the bullshit world of upper-echelon of US politics. But that doesn’t mean that speaking loudly about those things makes you a liberal. It makes you a loudmouth.

    I’m willing to listen to evidence that Biden is left of the US population’s political center, but I don’t see it. More importantly, I think providing only two issues wouldn’t be enough when it’s easy to be left of center on more than two issues and still right of center on many, many more than that (as there are so many possible issues to rate), and even on the two issues you cite, you’re not providing data that Biden was actually left-of-center and your narrative account doesn’t suggest more than hanging out in the political center. I doubt any legislator in any red state gets called Stalin for dropping into a campaign speech, “And of all the things we spend money on at the federal level, I actually think the money we spend to cure cancer is well justified. I’m glad we spend what we spend, and with the number of people who die from cancer every year, I’d be happy to even spend some more.” Do you really see the average Republican voter – much less the average US voter – actually getting angry at that? Do you really see the average Republican voter voting down a Republican primary candidate who said such a thing just because of that one position? Or would the average Republican voter think that such a statement is a reasonable thing to say, nothing particularly left-wing, just common sense?

    And if an average Republican voter might at least plausibly think that, why should the existence of a few hundred assholes in DC cause you to decided that spending money on curing cancer is proof that someone is left-wing?

    I don’t know. I want to treat you case fairly. I don’t disagree with most of the things you present as facts. I simply don’t see the case you’re currently making to be a very persuasive one. I don’t see how you get those few facts to fit the interpretation that Biden is left-of-center compared to the US population generally on either issue.

    Now, it may very well be the case that he’s left-of-center for those 600 powerful people. Is that your case? Are you not even trying to present the case that he’s left of center of the US population, merely left-of-center of the 600 or of the Overton Window center of political rhetoric? I might even be willing to agree that he’s right of center of the 600. I don’t know that that’s true, but I don’t know that it’s not: it’s easier to get national polling data than turn congressional votes that are based on any number of things, including petty revenge for backing or not backing other votes, into some specific statement about the “center” of the 600.

    So what is your case? That he’s left of Obama? Or that he’s left of the US population’s political center? Or that he’s left of the 600’s center? Because if you’re arguing the same thing as me, you have to be arguing that middle one, and then it’s the polling data, not the Obama anecdotes, that should be persuasive. If you’re arguing Obama I don’t much care and you can win by default. Obama’s not running and I think that’s irrelevant. If you’re arguing the last of those three, that he’s left of center for the high-ranking officials in the US government (call it left of the US “center-of-power”), I’ll just concede the point to you since I’m not enough of a congressional vote counter or C-SPAN watcher to be able to specify how the center-of-power differs from the US political center with enough rigor to dispute your contention that Biden is left of that center-of-power.

  41. says

    @doubtthat:

    That’s certainly a problem, but there are many, many things a president can do without Congress. Judicial nominations, setting trade policies, determining foreign policy such as drone bombing policy…

    You know what I’d love to see? I’d love to see an official policy making drone bombing mandatory. No bombing of people, only of drones. For now and forever.

  42. consciousness razor says

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Joe_Biden

    Biden’s record has been pretty awful, mixed at best, on nearly every issue.
    We could go through the list of 20-something different topics, reliving great memories like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” imprisoning more minorities, conducting a war on drugs, absurdly expensive border fences, the Patriot Act, or a smattering of piecemeal gun control measures that obviously didn’t accomplish much … but going into that much detail would not change my summary of it.

  43. John Morales says

    CR:

    Biden’s record has been pretty awful, mixed at best, on nearly every issue.

    But he is the front-runner, by a good margin. Reality.

    (Or: hitherto, his purported awfulness has not been a significant impediment)

  44. doubtthat says

    @Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Drones are such a perfect illustration of the hell we’re in. Drone usage was inarguably one of the darkest aspects of Obama’s presidency. Then Trump takes over, civilian casualties start increasing rapidly, and he revokes the public reporting of civilian deaths. So, now we really don’t know how many civilians are dying. Good times.

  45. consciousness razor says

    But he is the front-runner, by a good margin. Reality.

    Not relevant to my comment.
    Also, in reality, the scheduled primaries are February 3 to June 16 next year, while a few haven’t even made it onto the calendar yet.

    (Or: hitherto, his purported awfulness has not been a significant impediment)

    Not merely purported, but supported with abundant evidence.
    He’s succeeded in Delaware, certainly, and he successfully rode Obama’s coattails into the White House with little fanfare. But indeed, there are awful people who support awful politicians. I’m not so impressed by that fact as you seem to be.

  46. John Morales says

    CR, it’s the difference between what is and what should be.

    (And I suspect you’re more invested in that than I am, since you seek to lessen that, whereas I get on with living)

  47. consciousness razor says

    JM, maybe I should’ve been explicit about it, but the context for me was Crip Dyke’s exchange with lemurcatta. Nothing to do with which person currently leads in the primary. The point was to mention several things showing why Biden is not left-of-center. He has in fact advanced a wide array of right-wing policies throughout his career.
    And I’m not talking about an idealized left, what the left in this country should be. Leftists here have in fact been criticizing his right-wing shit for decades. You should not find that hard to believe.

  48. DLC says

    I wonder if Biden has the stamina. Running for President is a big deal. Oh I hate to do it Bernie, but I am beginning to think Warren or Harris deserve the shot.

  49. says

    @doubtthat:

    Drone usage was inarguably one of the darkest aspects of Obama’s presidency.

    I’m fully in agreement with your intent here, though I’m not sure that “dark” is a metaphorical word choice I’d want to use here. Racists have pretty much poisoned that one all to hell.

    On a slightly related topic to this one that’s still off (the original) topic of how Biden would lead the country (I have no doubts he’d happily use military drones to kill at least as many people as were killed by drones under Obama), I wonder who was the first president to authorize a drone murder? It obviously happened under Shrub, but it could have happened under Clinton, maybe. I mean, we had remote control planes when I was growing up, so I don’t think it’s inconceivable that Clinton could have started this with classified tech. Ugh. I wonder if we’ll ever know when and where the US committed its first murder via drone.

  50. consciousness razor says

    I wonder if we’ll ever know when and where the US committed its first murder via drone.

    According to wikipedia (here and here), the navy made hundreds of anti-sub, torpedo-launching drone helicopters in the 1960s, as crazy as that sounds. (Apparently, something like half of them ended up in the ocean and were not useful in Vietnam anyway, because it stubbornly lacked submarines to shoot at.)
    There were also simple ones, used as decoys, for surveillance, etc., going back to the 1930s; but those were presumably unarmed. A lot of them seem to have been treated as expendable (like Rambo), so the cheap parts and bad designs led to a predictably high failure rate, leading to those models falling out of fashion, embarrassing everyone until they did it all over again the next year.
    In any case, if the US had something to kill with, it certainly tried (at least) to kill with it. Iran was already arming drones with grenade launchers by the late 1980s. With nothing else to go on, it doesn’t seem likely that the US was unwilling or unable to do the same thing, when it had access better electronics and more money to burn. (But to be fair, it was also burned on tons of other, more expensive projects, such as fighting the 80s version of space pirates.)
    So, I guess we could probably narrow down the answer to some time between the 1960s and 2001, the latter date because of this (from the first link above) which may be misleading:

    The first “kill” by an American UAV was on October 7, 2001 in Kandahar.

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