Will he? Won’t he?
If recent reports are any indication, it looks like he will. I must say this is a minor surprise to me, since I have this strange way of taking people at their word and he had said his heart was not in it. What this indicates to me, then, is that there must have been a dramatic shift in thinking among the power brokers in the Democratic Establishment as to who they think will best take on the Republican nominee in the fall.
The thinking must be that if there is a dramatic shift in the Establishment’s wishes, then Hillary Clinton will take the hint and graciously tag out to her tag team partner Biden, who will then tag in and save the day. The Establishment must be very nervous about Hillary Clinton and possibly view her as damaged goods, particularly in light of her impending Benghazi testimony on Thursday, despite the fact that would-have-been Speaker Kevin McCarthy famously gaffed and admitted that the Benghazi committee is nothing but a political witch-hunt.
If you’re Bernie Sanders, though, you welcome Biden to the race. This is because Hillary Clinton is not about to take the hint and is not about to tag out. Anybody who thinks otherwise has not been watching the same Hillary Clinton who has had designs on her own presidency since 1992, and who came within a hair’s width of the nomination in 2008. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton— there is plenty to criticize legitimately— but she is not going to just graciously bow out in the face of diminishing Establishment confidence or Republican witch-hunting. Indeed, I predict the pugnacious former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State is going to hand the congressional wing of the Republican clown car their proverbial behinds, to a man, on Thursday. Furthermore, there is a wing of the electorate that is— rightly or wrongly— deeply invested in the First Woman President Dream, and they’re not going to just tag out to Biden either.
So that means a three-way race. And that means Advantage Sanders. Biden and Clinton will split the Establishment, pro-Corporate-Democrat, pro-Republican-Lite third-way politics wing of the Democratic Party, with Sanders as the standard bearer for progressives.
What does Biden have to offer progressives, really? Whatever bona fides he’s had as the pro-union workin’ man’s candidate from Scranton he’s traded away carrying water for the current administration’s Trans Pacific Partnership fantasy. (This is the fantasy that says that if we just try global corporate deregulation just one more time it will somehow create those attractive tech-savvy jobs that NAFTA and GATT and CAFTA were all supposed to create, but didn’t, and will avoid pitting our workers against workers in other countries working for pennies an hour which wasn’t supposed to happen, but did.)
Can Biden credibly say he’s the candidate that will heal race relations in this country, when he’s been heard using ethnic slurs?
What has the Obama-Biden administration done to reign in SuperPACs? At least Hillary Clinton has a mediocre campaign finance reform plan. The Obama-Biden administration does not have a campaign finance reform plan at all. Bernie Sanders, by contrast, wants public funding for elections, which is the most proactive and robust plan of action to curb the influence of money in politics. He also has forsworn SuperPAC money. Is Biden going to do the same? (That’s a rhetorical question. Of course not.)
What has the Obama-Biden administration done to make college more affordable? Is there a plan that could compete with Hillary Clinton’s complicated, mediocre plan to make college more affordable, much less with Bernie Sanders’s simple, bold plan?
Where has the Obama-Biden administration been on raising the minimum wage? Sanders wants to raise it to $15 an hour. Obama and Biden have had eight years to get there, but haven’t.
Bernie Sanders wants a single-payer health care plan. Obamacare, which I suppose we can now call Obama-Bidencare, only got us so far, but there are still millions of people without affordable health insurance, because the fundamental premise behind Obama-Bidencare (which is really Hillarycare anyway)— force people to carry insurance like they carry car insurance— is essentially flawed, and always has been. Obama and Biden don’t have the political will or latitude to take on the monumental lobbying interests that would stand to lose in a single-payer system. Bernie Sanders does.
So, if it turns out to be the case, welcome to the race, Mr. Vice President.
For progressives, you will have a lot of explaining to do.