Joe Biden, making promises he won’t keep

Do we really want a delusional old liar in the presidency again? Joe Biden is making ridiculous claims.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Tuesday he discussed losing loved ones before making his promise.

“A lot of you understand what loss is and when loss occurs, you know that people come up to you and tell you ‘I understand’ if you lose a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a family member,” he said. “That’s why I’ve worked so hard in my career to make sure that — I promise you if I’m elected president, you’re going to see the single most important thing that changes America, we’re gonna cure cancer.”

No, we’re not.

I understand that cancer is an important personal issue to him, and I would approve of a candidate promising to invest more in biomedical research. If he had actually listened to doctors, if he had any understanding of cancer at all, he’d know that cancer isn’t one disease, it’s a moving target with a billion alternative strategies for evading treatment, and that by its very nature isn’t going to be susceptible to a magic bullet approach. It requires incremental improvements in management and treatment and diagnosis, and even then, sometimes the best doctors can offer is going to fail. He is promising snake oil. He isn’t paying attention to the advisors he ought to be listening to. He sure as hell isn’t personally going to deliver on that promise.

He might as well stand up on that podium and promise that he’s going to cure all viral diseases, eradicate all bacteria, end global climate change, end world hunger, emerge victorious from all wars, and colonize Mars, all between the years 2020 and 2028. No, he’s not. He looks stupid and glib and shallow doing it, too.

I wasn’t going to vote for him in the primaries anyway, but he’s doing his damnedest to make it difficult to vote for him if he wins the Democratic nomination. Which I earnestly hope he doesn’t.


  1. whywhywhy says

    The more I hear from Biden the less I like. Other than the moneyed interest who are his core supporters? Who would skip a meal to vote for him? I am worried that the Dems will nominate Joe and turnout will be lackluster because Joe does not excite a core set of voters, then we have 2016 all over. What am I missing?

  2. HidariMak says

    Historically, has “done well very early in the polls” ever been worth anything though? I’d be surprised if his fortunes don’t drop following the debates, especially if he ends up facing off against someone like Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris.

  3. Nemo says

    Anyway, I can’t hate him for wanting to cure cancer, quixotic as that is. Contrast Trump, whose delusional fantasies also tend towards the mean-spirited and cruel.

  4. Jazzlet says

    I thought one of the tech moguls had got curing cancer in ten years sorted? Bezos maybe?

  5. weylguy says

    The biggest difference between scientists and politicians/theologians: The latter can say anything they want without facts or evidence and be believed by most people, while scientists have to back up what they say with facts and evidence but with most people not believing or even understanding what they’re talking about.

  6. PaulBC says

    As a former employee at a precision medicine company, I’m not going to knock the Biden Cancer Initiative. I think it is good to have as much visibility and funding as possible. Obviously “cancer” does not have a single cure, but a lot of progress is being made (though I think we are stuck with chemotherapy for a long time ahead, and we ought to start talking about that in different terms; it is a horrible but often life-saving treatment).

    I have mixed feelings on how Biden should talk about cancer. He shouldn’t lie. On the other hand, I respect him for spearheading an important fight.

    I have less mixed feelings about him as a candidate. I think his day is long past, and I still consider the plagiarism issue relevant. I also think he is getting a pass on behavior that torpedoed Al Franken, a smarter and more progressive man than Biden. The main thing Biden had going for him was the buddy story with Obama and the “Diamond Joe” articles in the Onion. This is a pretty thin basis for a presidential campaign. I wish someone else was the frontrunner (probably Warren would be my pick).

  7. says

    Why promise the impossible cure for cancer when he has publicly acknowledged that burn pits may have been linked to his son’s cancer? He is and was in position to effect regulation on cancer causing pollution; he can do that without being POTUS.

  8. velociraptor says

    Apparently we have learned nothing from 2016. Throwing temper tantrums when your particular candidate didn’t get the nod and voting third party or staying home got you what, exactly?

    Well, let’s see – Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Betsy DeVos, and Ben Carson, among others. Also, a shitload of Federalist Society trash with lifetime appointments to the Federal Bench, science denial, Climate Change denial, children in cages, actual Nazis marching in the streets and the list goes on, and on, and ON. In short, everything you claim to hold dear is at stake.

    If you want a better country, be better citizens. Show the hell up and vote for whoever the Dems nominate, because the Right-wing Evangelicals, Corporate Stooges, Klansmen, Nazis and your Right-wing uncle you see at Thanksgiving sure a hell will, and you KNOW who they will be voting for.

    Or, throw a tantrum, form your Circular Firing Squad, and have at it. and see Trump’s second term.

  9. PaulBC says

    “If you want a better country, be better citizens. Show the hell up and vote for whoever the Dems nominate, because the Right-wing Evangelicals, Corporate Stooges, Klansmen, Nazis and your Right-wing uncle you see at Thanksgiving sure a hell will, and you KNOW who they will be voting for.”

    I agree with that, but there is absolutely no reason to line up behind anyone, let alone Joe Biden, at this point in the process.

  10. whywhywhy says

    #10 Your rant is too early by a year. Right now we do get to debate and discuss and determine which of the multitude we like best. In a year we come together.

    I simply do not understand why Biden is positioned by the media as the ‘best bet to beat Trump’, when I see voter turnout as key to unseating Trump. To insure good turnout there needs to be a core constituency that is excited about the candidate. who is excited about Biden’s policy, views, positions?
    For now folks should support the candidate that they most want to see in the White House and next summer we can all come together.

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    Other than the moneyed interest who are his core supporters?

    Oh, the usual: risk-adverse centrists who are so afraid of scaring off the few remaining right-leaning Democrats with all this progressive crazy-talk coming from women and brown people that they’ll put the most bland, unremarkable candidate imaginable.

    And, of course, we Lefties will still be expected to vote for him because “who else are you going to vote for?!”

  12. PaulBC says

    @Akira MacKenzie.
    Of course, black voters are on average a lot more enthusiastic about Biden than I am.

    I agree that the party should not be afraid of scaring away people who mostly left back when Reagan was president. The issue is really about alienating voters with relatively pragmatic concerns and expectations (which I think is a good description of many black voters). I definitely think we should be able to do better than Joe Biden. I didn’t like him that much in 1988. He’s not any better now. On the other hand, who? I could work up some enthusiasm over Warren. That’s about it. I will vote for whoever is the Democratic candidate in 2020.

  13. Ragutis says

    He looks stupid and glib and shallow doing it, too.

    Sure, to anyone with any reasonable knowledge about it, but to most of the Average Joe/Jane voters it sounds more like JFK’s moonshot. Also, succinctness is key when designing t-shirt and bumper sticker messages. Accuracy… not so much.

    If this is shorthand for Biden wanting to dump much needed money into medical research, then godspeed, but I’m not going to nitpick him on a phrase or two. There’s other, more substantial reasons for hoping he doesn’t become the Dem nominee.

  14. PaulBC says

    I’m not sure everyone here has the complete context on the Biden Cancer Initiative. It started as the Cancer Moonshot in 2016 (I thought earlier, but that’s what I see…) It was an NIH program most likely predicated on some continuity between the Obama and projected Hillary Clinton administrations. You can criticize the formulation “cure cancer” and I do, but it isn’t just some talking point Biden pulled out for the 2020 campaign. It’s a program he has been involved in for a while.

    There are a lot of things I don’t like about Biden. The fact that he is advocating for medical research is not one of them, even if he talks about it sloppily.

  15. microraptor says

    When I saw the headline, I thought it was going to be about his promise to get bipartisan support and work with Rethugulans if elected.

    Curing cancer seems much more likely to happen.

    Yesterday, I saw a Twitter post of his speeches during Watergate, where he praised Nixon and spoke about how important the Republican party was for the country and why they weren’t to blame. He hasn’t changed in the intervening years: he’s still a conservative DINO who doesn’t seem to hold progressive views on anything.

  16. says

    The bigger issue with him is that he thinks the only problem with Republicans is the Hamberdler and once he’s no longer president the GOP will be happy to work with Democrats in a beautifully bipartisan manner.

    What the hell was he doing in his eight years as VP that made him that detached from the real world?

  17. Nemo says

    @Marcus Ranum #13:

    He doesn’t want to cure cancer; some strategist told him it was a safe issue.

    Cancer killed his son. Of course he hates it.

  18. PaulBC says

    @Nemo I agree with you. There is plenty to criticize Biden for, but this seems an odd choice to me.

  19. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    I wasn’t going to vote for him in the primaries anyway, but he’s doing his damnedest to make it difficult to vote for him if he wins the Democratic nomination. Which I earnestly hope he doesn’t.

    No, no, no. You live in a shitty, anachronistic political system that doesn’t allow you to vote your conscience. Please, don’t ever consider or encourage others not to go voting for the lesser evil. The lesser evil is essential, not just for your country, but for the entire world. No more Trumps, no more Bushes, you need to swallow the poison pill and do your duty to humanity.

  20. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Given his recent loss, I hear this as a euphemism. That he is using cure, as a verb, not as a noun.
    IE that as president, he will make the work on cancer the administration’s first priority, and increase all allocations for that process.
    He is saying it too succinctly, which can easily be taken literally in the unintended sense (noun vs verb).
    Like previously mentioned, JFK saying we will land on the moon this decade was also seen as essentially impossible.
    Not equating the two statements, only noting their similarity.
    I’m not advocating Joe for nomination, not for this reason, there are other candidates I prefer. That is all.
    thank you for reading

  21. monad says

    @10: Apparently we have learned nothing from 2016. Sure, some voters dutifully show up to cast ballots for the least evil candidate no matter what, but apparently not enough to make that something you should count on. So if the Democratic party wants to secure victory they need to run somebody that people will actually want to vote for. If you want a better country, you need to encourage them to hold up their half as well, instead of running Republican-lite candidates.


  22. favog says

    I like Cody Johnston’s suggestion that Biden register as a Republican and mount a primary challenge to Trump. All of his reasons for this are good, but I’d endorse the idea just because it’d make a great show.

  23. says

    Somewhere in my random reading (shades of Reagan’s 3×5 cards!), I found a manifesto-like statement from a programmer on some lofty goals they wanted to shoot for, and it ended with a lovely turn of phrase “…and we will do these things, not because they are easy, but because we thought they would be easy.”

  24. John Harshman says

    One would hope that, while it would be difficult to vote for Biden, it would not be impossible. If he becomes the nominee, too bad, but that doesn’t reduce the importance of getting out the vote, it just (possibly) increases the difficulty.

    Now I’m going with Inslee, the only candidate currently concentrating on the most important issue.

  25. PaulBC says

    @monad appears to be using “Democrat” as an adjective, unless “Democrat Ham Sandwich” is generously taken as a noun phrase. Either way it is really hard to enjoy the comic. It doesn’t look like a Trumpy site (they carry Tom Tomorrow) but somebody ought to proofread these things.

    (Humorless of me I know; it isn’t quite clever enough to excuse since the point is pretty obvious and often made. A dead mouse would be better than anyone who would sign GOP legislation, let alone Trump, so yeah, Viva Democratic Ham Sandwich!)

  26. PaulBC says

    Actually (and I do have some exposure to the thinking of Sanders supporters, mostly though an in-law) there is a serious flaw in the theory that putting a Democrat in the White House will empower a conspiracy of Republican corporate interests and Democratic (note the adjective) neoliberals. The flaw is that the GOP refuses to work with Democratic presidents. They do everything they can to obstruct the process of government. It is true that Obama maintained Bush’s forever war at a simmer for his entire two terms, and that’s unconscionable, but all of his attempts to work with the GOP were shot down. ACA was the conservative think tank fake solution to healthcare, and the GOP went apoplectic when we actually took them seriously on it. The idea was to create a poison pill that would ensure no changes were made to healthcare at all.

    The idea that there is a conspiracy is complete nonsense. Politics today are purely tribal.

    The problem (as I read somewhere) is not that things are too political, but they’re not political enough. Politicians want to get things for constituents. What we have now are not politicians at all In many cases (tax law and deregulation) they’re the paid stooges of lobby groups that write legislation for them. In other case they are tribal for personal reasons.

    I would have been OK with either Sanders or Clinton entering the White House in 2017. Either of them would have had a very simple job of vetoing crap that came out of the GOP congress (which was predictably going to be GOP). I have no idea why people thought there was some kind of choice in 2016 except for preventing the catastrophe we’ve been living through.

  27. microraptor says

    John Harshman @28: Yes, most people here would vote for Biden were he to get the nomination because four years of Biden is better than four more years of Rump. However, this is only true in the same way that passing one kidney stone is preferable to passing two kidney stones: better, yes, but still not ideal. Pretty much every other potential Democrat candidate currently in the race would make a better choice than Biden and we’re hoping that one of them will come out ahead instead of him..

  28. PaulBC says

    @Tabby Lavalamp He’s obviously not, but I think it’s strange that he would use “Democrat” as an adjective.

  29. PaulBC says

    @microraptor “However, this is only true in the same way that passing one kidney stone is preferable to passing two kidney stones:”

    I’ve voted in every presidential election since 1984 and I am struggling to think of one that wasn’t like that. I admit I liked Obama. I liked his books and some of his speeches (not as oratory but as much as well-constructed lectures). I don’t think he was a very effective president, but he might have been with a supportive congress.

    But let’s take 1988 and 2004. Should I have been more enthused about voting for Dukakis or Kerry than I was about voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016? There were things I strongly disliked about Clinton–the pride she took in seeking advice from Henry Kissinger, and the fact that her campaign thought it was more important to woo “suburban Republicans” than preserve the party’s existing constituency in the rust belt. On the other hand, I admired her hard work a great deal. I had no question that she both understood policy and was continuing to study issues and listen to voters.

    On balance, I found Hillary Clinton an above median presidential candidate over the period I’ve been voting, surpassing Bill Clinton among other things.

    I do not understand why so many people thought 2016 had to be different from a normal election. If voters make the same mistake in 2020, I give up!

  30. PaulBC says

    @Tabby Lavalamp I read some more Lubchansky and my assessment so far is leftist and fond of straw man arguments, so yeah, not MAGA.

    I get it, really. Democrats are so “pragmatic” that they are indistinguishable from Republicans. That is such a clever, cutting observation, or might be if I had not been hearing it for at least 35 years and even expressing the view myself at certain points in my life. If I listen to enough Sanders supporters (and I am starting to think many of them would stick with Sanders even given an alternative with identical positions but other positives) I may just go ahead and vote for Trump (no I actually won’t). But the logic seems to be that given my stated views, I am basically a Republican already and just voting for Trump-lite by voting for Hillary Clinton or Biden in 2020 (who I like much, much less by the way). OK, maybe I’ll just channel my “honest” beliefs and vote for a real Republican this time (to repeat, no I actually won’t). (Fuck it, maybe I will just vote for Trump, and then just leave the country or something. I’m in a bad mood and expressing feelings is the point of elections, right?)

    I am a big Tom Tomorrow fan, and I agree with his politics in virtually every regard. He is able to make the same point as Lubchansky that mainstream Democrats are a huge part of the problem, but somehow it never strikes me as a straw man. I think it is less a matter of viewpoint than it is execution. Since he leans heavily on actual quotes, it tends to be a fairly accurate depiction of those he criticizes. I would guess that another difference is that his barbs tend to be directed at those actually in power for the most part.

  31. microraptor says

    PaulBC @34: The point is that Biden isn’t the candidate yet, so we can criticize him all we want and not act like he’s already won the nomination.

  32. PaulBC says

    @microraptor “Biden isn’t the candidate yet, so we can criticize him all we want”

    And criticize him I will. But I am pretty ordinary Democrat, and my reasoning is not quite as cynical as it’s made out to be. My pick would be Warren and maybe I’ll have a chance to vote for her in the primary. As I said, Biden did not impress me in 1988 either and it’s kind of astonishing (and sad) that he is the last man standing from that era. Hell, I would vote for Al Gore. I like him on the environment anyway, and at one time he was forward thinking (I had a more politically savvy friend in 1992 who sincerely stated that he just wished the ticket was switched around and he could vote for Gore). If Biden can come back, why not Gore? If Biden can survive groping allegations, why is Al Franken persona non grata? Like, what is wrong with the Democratic party?

    Note that I don’t mention Sanders. I would also vote for him in the general if it came to that, but I never liked him. “Democratic socialism” is, as far as I can tell, really “social democracy” and it’s totally fine with me but sounds a lot more boring when you put it that way. Sanders’s entire program is “Let’s apply the same social spending policies that have worked reasonably well in post-WWII Western Europe.” Again, it’s a perfectly reasonable stance. I just hate seeing it packaged as a new idea.

    I think Biden can definitely flame out. It’s not impossible for Warren to take the lead. At that point if a Sanders supporter tells me (as some have) that Warren is part of the great overarching Demopublican-Republicocrat conspiracy, then I will be sorely tempted to vote Trump as a big FU. (And I will have to steel myself again and say, I know, I know, elections are really NOT to make a point about my feelings.)

  33. PaulBC says

    Honestly, I have not seen a dearth of criticism of Biden from any quarters except possibly his own campaign.

  34. A Masked Avenger says


    Of course, black voters are on average a lot more enthusiastic about Biden than I am.

    Association with Obama is doing a lot for his image, but so is the fact that few remember that he opposed school integration in the ’70s, using the classic arguments that we aren’t responsible for the sins of our parents, and asserting that slavery was “300 years ago.” Or that he said in 2006 that he both supported Roe v. Wade AND “[did] not view abortion as a choice and a right.”

    The man doesn’t and never has had fixed principles; he’s always been a purely political animal who has tried to eat his cake and have it too, promising both P and ~P to everyone.

    Oh, and he’s sure that civility will reign supreme once Trump leaves office and the Republicans all come to their senses.