Get in the game or go home

Joe Biden is getting an awful lot of mulligans this week.

Don’t like golf? Me either. How about baseball? Biden is swinging at everything and hitting fouls — in batting practice. This guy is not even a declared candidate yet.

Last week a woman stepped forward to publicly accuse Biden of getting uncomfortably close at a campaign event in 2014. Then another woman. And so on.

Biden issued a statement. Then a video. And Friday he made his first public appearance since the complaints started and he joked about hugging a man and touching a child.

Joe Biden has said that he gets it but he doesn’t seem to get it at all.

I’ve said before and will say again that I don’t think Biden should run. I take no pleasure in the current (sad) state of affairs and cannot pretend that I foresaw this particular problem. I don’t and didn’t.

I’ve said that I like Joe Biden, but right now he doesn’t seem like a very likeable guy.

Biden still has supporters and defenders. But his support seems to be narrowing and his defenders more circumspect.

I don’t have a lot of answers about Biden, but I have a ton of questions:

  • Why is Joe Biden still an undeclared candidate? This seems like a very odd strategy to me. The declared candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 are numerous and diverse. They’re smart and capable. They’re experienced. And they’re out there campaigning, raising money (in several cases, LOTS of it), building organizations… Why is Biden waiting? Or, worded a bit differently, what is he waiting for? It would be pure speculation, but…
    • Is Biden ambivalent about running? Does he actually WANT this?
    • Is there a health issue?
    • Trouble raising money or hiring staff?
  • How did Biden seem to get blindsided with complaints about his in-person conduct? Are we really expected to believe that everybody was OK with this stuff? Nobody ever voiced any complaints or said “I’m not OK with this”? Nobody (such as a friend, colleague or staffer) said “You know, you really need to stop doing that”?
  • Did Biden miss the emergence of the #MeToo movement? Did he fail to make the connection to his own behavior, especially around women and girls? Does he feel untouchable? Like nothing can happen to him? We all know that guy.
  • Who is advising Biden and what are they telling him? Is he taking the advice or flying by the seat of his pants? If it’s the former, he needs new advisers. If it’s the latter, we need a new candidate. Biden’s written statement was bad and the video is in some ways worse — the sound is awful and Biden sounds and looks old and feeble. Sorry, it’s true. Are the people around Biden giving it to him straight? Do they know what they’re talking about?
  • Is Biden’s candidacy good for the Democratic Party and the prospects for Democrats winning back the White House and the Senate?
  • If Biden were to drop out of the race, where would his support go?

I see the statements that Biden’s friends and supporters are making publicly and I have some problems with a lot of it. For one thing, it’s OK to disagree. We need to be open to examination and criticism because it’s going to happen whether anybody likes it or not. Nobody is crucifying Joe Biden, as was asserted by one well known never-Trumper this week.

Something else that worries me a lot is seeing comparisons to Trump and Trump’s worst behavior. Does it matter that Trump did something worse than Joe Biden is accused of doing so far? At this point, we’re not comparing Joe Biden to Donald Trump, we’re comparing him to every Democrat we might nominate to run for president in 2020. There’s a big difference. We’re trying to SELECT a candidate right now. Later, we’re going to try to ELECT our candidate. Yes, we can and should consider whether and how we might get someone elected, but at this stage we’re trying to find somebody we really WANT to elect.

The 2020 campaign season is long but it has already started and these are the majors.

Joe Biden needs to get in the game or step aside.

PS: There’s a reason they call it hardball.

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