Election 2020

Remember Joe Biden?

(Twitter screenshot)

Alleged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is having a rough time of it trying to get people to acknowledge that he’s the guy, you know, the thing, at the top of the ticket. The worst part for Joe? That’s the treatment he’s getting from his fellow Democrats.

For those of us on the Right, Biden’s near-nomination has been every bit as much fun as we’d always imagined — a target-rich environment for ridicule and laughs. Every time Biden opens his mouth it’s an opportunity to gaze in slack-jawed wonder that this rapidly-fading, female-fondling, hair-sniffing, corrupt-to-the-bones fabulist is nominee-apparent of our opposition party. Then, after we’re done being slack-jawed, we get endless material out of him, as a quick browse through just my VodkaPundit archives would prove.

We have had, in short, a lot to talk about.

Pity then the poor Democrats , the party of endless verbal posturing. Because our friends on the Left have but two things to talk about: They talk about who Biden will pick for Veep because that person will wind up the power behind Biden’s throne, and; They talk about why they’re not going to talk about Tara Reade and other various victims of Biden’s roving hands.

What’s funny — well, what’s new and funny today — is that Biden can’t even talk about his veep pick process without grabbing it by the shoulders from behind and whispering sweet nothings in its ear. Read this bit from a friendly New York Times puff-piece published early this morning:

In private encounters before this campaign, Mr. Biden has likened running-mate evaluation to deciding among calendar models, with three broad categories (and outdated honorifics): Contenders can be a “Mr. August” (a shot of momentum in the summer), a “Mr. October” (a reliable and effective campaigner for the fall) or a “Mr. January” (a governing partner, politics notwithstanding).

I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here, suggesting that a guy who is the subject of several sexual harassment and/or rape claims should maybe not compare his potential female veep picks to calendar girls.

“Have you seen the election returns on Miss September? Man, I’m tellin’ ya, that’s what it’s about, no malarky.”

But what do I know? I’m not the guy who picked Chris Dodd — the Senator who used to molest waitresses with his feminist buddy Ted Kennedy — to head up my selection process.

In this atmosphere, we might hope that the press would objectively analyze Reade’s claims, compare them to what few facts we do know, so that voters might get an idea of how to judge Biden in the absence of an actual criminal case. We might hope that, if we were heavily sedated, or had been deep in the Amazon rainforest for the last 20 years with no access to American news sources. Instead, we get little but horserace pieces like this one from Vox’s Li Zhou:

Biden had started signaling to female voters before the end of the primary that he understood they might be disappointed that he, not a woman, was the nominee. At one of the last debates of the primary, he promised to select a female running mate and appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court. He’s also made other moves to show how he plans to collaborate with leading women in the party, endorsing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bankruptcy plan and recently co-authoring an op-ed with her about Trump’s coronavirus response.

Now, Biden is dealing with another challenge that could affect how female voters see him. A former staffer, Tara Reade, has accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1993. A year ago, she came forward to say she was fired from his office after complaining about how he touched her shoulders and hair in meetings. Biden has denied the allegation. Leading women in the party have since expressed their support, too.

This is how to talk about Reade without talking about Reade: It’s all about how Reade will affect Biden’s chances, not about the seriousness or the veracity of her charges against him. I can’t remember the last time I read a story “about” Reade in the mainstream media that wasn’t pushing a particular subtext: “Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking Democrat women still support Joe and so should you.”

Sometimes, they hit you over the head with the subtext so hard that it becomes supertext. Business Insider published a piece on Sunday about Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide who has accused Biden of some flagrantly inappropriate touching:

“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told the Hartford Courant last year of the interaction. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.” She did not file a complaint at the time.

Lappos stressed that his actions crossed a line and should not be considered “grandfatherly,” as some of his supporters have said in his defense.

“There’s absolutely a line of decency,” Lappos told the Courant. “There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”

The report also quotes Lappos explaining that she’ll support Biden in November regardless, as the default not-Trump: “Did I want to end up with Joe Biden, two white males in the election? Not really. I don’t see it being so progressive. However, Joe Biden is the obvious choice to beat Trump right now and therefore, I support him.”

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, yet Business Insider chose to headline the story with: “A woman who accused Biden of inappropriate touching says she supports him as the ‘obvious choice’ to defeat Trump.”

In the last two weeks, I’ve noticed the media taking another tack to help drag Biden across the finish line. Just as it’s becoming painfully obvious that the lethality of the Wuhan virus is sharply limited to the Northeast, particularly New York City and its surrounding megalopolis, the media has turned the panic up to 11.

I use a popular newsreader app called Flipboard every evening to find and bookmark news items I’d like to write about the next day. What that means is, every evening I’m treated to all the major stories from all the major news outlets in condensed form — and I think it’s starting to affect my mental health. With little or nothing good to say about Biden as a potential president, the collection of stories I read each day has gone from “ORANGE MAN BAD AT HANDLING COVID CRISIS” to “ORANGE MAN BAD GOING TO KILL US ALL OF RUSSIAN COLLUSION AND RACISM AND CORONAVIRUS.” It’s a bit much to take all at once, but what other card do they have to play? Covering Biden’s word salad press conferences, or his history of being icky with women (some underaged), or his laughable attempt at a shadow presidency?

It occurs to me that before someone can earn the votes necessary to be elected president, they first have to inspire the voters’ imaginations. That is, a candidate must not only get people to imagine them as president, they have to do so in a favorable way. That takes a rare talent. Most potential nominees never make it past — or even into! — the first few primaries because voters take one look and decide, “That’s not a president.”

I never looked at Joe Biden and thought, “Now there’s a president.” But apparently enough Democrats, bless their hearts, did to make Biden the alleged nominee. The question that must be bothering Biden’s campaign staff is this: How is their guy going to inspire imaginations when he can barely speak for himself, and when his media enablers would rather talk about anything else.

This is a very strange moment in American presidential election history — unprecedented, I’d wager. We have a major party nominee who can barely remember his own name, while his party acts as though they’d like to forget who their nominee is.

So what do we call a situation like this? It’s, you know, the thing, man, the thing.