November 13, 2017

THAT’S WHAT WORRIES ME: Biden 2020? It’s Not as Crazy as It Sounds.

Al Hunt:

To see why they’re not crazy, start with this fact of political life: When an incumbent runs for re-election, the contest is a referendum on him. A challenger, to be successful, must offer an appealing alternative that better addresses whatever’s bothering people. Jimmy Carter, the outsider, beat President Gerald Ford in 1976 in the shadow of the Watergate scandals. Ronald Reagan defeated Carter four years later by showing resolve that resonated during the Iranian hostage crisis. Bill Clinton’s domestic focus had broad appeal in 1992, the first presidential contest after the end of the Cold War, against the veteran cold warrior President George H.W. Bush.

After three-and-a-half years of Trump, what will swing voters be looking for? A grown-up who is committed to getting things done by trying to bridge the bitter partisan divide. A person with experience in governing, savvy about the ways of Washington and wary of national-security booby traps. A reputation for incorruptibility to drain the ethical swamp of the Trump years.

More than most outsiders, new faces or ideological purists, the 74-year-old former senator and vice president could fit that bill.

A politician first elected in 1970 is not going to be the face of the future. But after the exhaustion, trauma and incompetence of the Trump years, voters will look for stability, solidity, maturity, global experience, civility and integrity. Biden checks all the boxes.

These are indeed Heinlein’s Crazy Years — we just live in them.

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