Sunday, August 2, 2015

Careful, Joe

From the 2012 vice presidential debates. Times reporter Amy Chozick says he's "by no means a virtuoso campaigner", isn't it funny how different people can have totally different memories of the same thing?
So I have no reason to think Joe Biden would be a bad president, or indeed anything other than a rather good president.

He has immense experience, and he's almost always in a position on policy matters that is both compassionate and smart. He knows Congress in a way neither Obama nor Clinton possibly could, from working within it for 45 years. He's the most "likable" candidate since Ulysses S. Grant, he's notably in touch with the feelings of modestly educated white men without the usual corollary view that nobody else really exists, and yet at the same time he was intellectually the best-qualified candidate on foreign affairs in 2008 and would certainly be the same again, even though his main rival recently spent four years as secretary of state (she knows a great deal, but carefully avoids giving any sign she's done any thinking about the subject since she got in trouble for doing that in 1999—she talks to us on the subject like a secretary of state, pretty much the same way she might talk to the president of Turkey, in pure officially sanctioned boilerplate). He's pretty damn old, but our concepts of old have been changing rapidly, now that we Baby Boomers are all refusing to retire because we can't afford to.

So what's making me cringe as this little push gets underway to get him in the race?

Well, for starters, the way it comes through Jennifer Rubin (!!!) on Thursday, Maureen Dowd yesterday morning, and Amy Chozick in the afternoon (in a "news" story that uses Dowd's column as a principal source, along with "several people who have spoken to Mr. Biden or his closest advisers" of whom approximately two, one lawyer from Boston and one lawyer from Columbia, S.C., are named, and who do not include Biden's chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, who is said to be leading the discussions, or William Pierce of the SuperPAC Draft Biden, who told NPR this morning he's out of the loop)? Partly, as you see, where it's coming from.

There's some prime mawkish Dowdery in the story that Biden's late son Beau begged him to run as he lay dying, which I think we don't need to know (assuming it's true) except in the context of some more public reason for him to do it, which the story doesn't supply (it reminds me spookily of the pundits of 2003 harping on Bush's reason for the Iraq invasion as "he tried to kill my dad"). There's some sloppy Dowdery in the cheap sourcing and the building of the story around the fact that former ambassador Louis Susman had breakfast with Steve Ricchetti at the Four Seasons and was spotted by Fox News, though Susman, asked, was pretty unequivocal:
“He wasn’t testing the waters with me,” Mr. Susman said of Mr. Ricchetti. “There was never any discussion of the presidential campaign or money.”
I find myself feeling as if Biden is being set up for something, who knows what, and I just don't like it. I find myself wanting to protect Biden from some kind of planned humiliation, though I don't clearly see how that would work.

On Dowd's contribution, Tengrain gets a little savage.

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