With Democrats suddenly realizing their nominee is going to be a socialist or a baggage-laden throwback with honesty issues, the often-dismissed vice president is looking pretty, pretty good. What seemed laughable just a few weeks ago is now getting serious consideration from Democratic power brokers panicked at the evaporation of Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers and the rise of ultra-left Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Biden, 72, is prone to gaffes and guffaws, but beloved by party insiders and many voters, especially blue-collar Dems who don’t exactly identify with the former secretary of state and her six-figure speaking fees. Biden’s spirit and perseverance — such as in dealing with the unbearable tragedy of his son Beau’s death — transcend his awkwardness and show character.
Biden also is a pretty safe choice as a potential nominee. There won’t be many surprises. He’s been in politics almost his whole life and voters have pretty much seen the worst. And Biden already has a national organization, which would be essential if Clinton had to drop out in the middle of the primaries.
Oh, she’ll be long gone before then.
The vice president also could act as a unifying figure for the party after what would be a confidence-shaking collapse by the former first lady, who has been penciled in as the party’s 2016 nominee for eight years. And party leaders would be thrilled to settle for Biden over Sanders, who would evoke painful memories of liberal Sen. George McGovern’s 49-state loss in 1972.
But whether voters would view Biden as top-of-the-ticket material is questionable. He makes Ronald Reagan look like a whippersnapper. He’s the very definition of second banana and hasn’t been handed a lot of responsibility by the attention-seeking Obama. And let’s face it, no one would be talking about Biden if it weren’t for the stunningly bad performance by Clinton, along with the apparent joy some liberal Democrats are getting at her troubles, especially Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
In the end, I still think it will be Warren in 2016. And if the GOP can’t find a candidate to beat a fake-Indian, millionaire, elderly, white woman, Harvard professor, the party deserves to die.