As the weeks mercifully tick by in the embarrassingly long race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Joe Biden’s lead has somehow managed to hold up. The pattern goes a little something like this; Biden polls somewhere just above 30 percent, then, people actually see the man, and his poll numbers go down. This is at its most pronounced in the immediate aftermath of the latest round of debates. First, he was bodied by Kamala Harris over his opposition to school busing. In the most recent round, he suffered more through his own incoherence. His numbers dip for a time, and then weeks of far–too–rosy press coverage stabilizes Biden’s campaign for him, and he moves back into a seemingly comfortable front–runner status. This is happening for a lot of reasons. First, the length of the campaign makes this sort of inconsequential shuffling inevitable. Most people simply cannot pay attention for long enough. Biden and his team (and his friends in the media) relentlessly bang the drum of electability, claiming Joe is the safe bet. This works in concert with the constant fear of Trump, to help Biden, through no work of his own, appear to be the surest way to move on from the Trump disaster. For now, this looks like the only thing approaching a strategy from the former Vice President.
This is already looking to be an untenable approach. As time marches on, Biden gets older, somehow rapidly aging as the days go by. His blunders are unlike Trump’s, in that they don’t embolden Biden supporters, but rather make them cringe. Trump is chaotic by design, Biden is just slipping, and we can all see the results. He closed the latest debate by trying to get people to his website, only to speak out a number people could text to donate. Days later, he proclaimed that ‘poor kids are just as bright as white kids’. Attempting to work a crowd into a frenzy he bleated that Americans want ‘truth over facts’. Politics aside, Biden truly does not look like he knows what he is doing. He can barely string a thought together. Any type of complexity is utterly beyond the man at this point, and you can hear him using crutches of speech like ‘look, here’s the deal’ on the countless occasions he loses his train of thought. His campaign has decided they need to start limiting his public appearances, particularly in the later hours of the day, a telling move that will be incredibly costly as attention ramps up in the new year.
Despite what the numbers suggest, it already feels like Biden’s campaign is running on fumes. That might go some distance to explain why the leaks are coming fast and furious. In recent days, we’ve heard that Obama actively tried to talk Biden out of running for office. When that failed, he reached out to Biden’s advisers to plead with them to not let Joe embarrass himself. His wife basically raised the white flag on any attempt to make people enthusiastic about the prospect of her husband as President. She so much as admitted that other candidates were better, but begged voters to fear the polls, and just accept that all that matters is Trump’s defeat. His brain surgeon took to Twitter to let everyone know that Joe’s brain is in tip top shape. Always a good sign! Already having to come out and say something like, ‘look we know you might be worried about Joe’s cognitive capacity, but let me tell you it’s fantastic!’ Does not bode well.
Ultimately though, it will be the combination of his horrible campaigning and his deadeningly cynical message that will present the biggest difficulties to Joe making it all the way to the general election. Like Trump, he keeps demanding that we all come to see that the old days really were great. He speaks of a bipartisanship that hasn’t existed for decades, and speaks of it as though it actually benefited most Americans. His belief that America simply has to go back in time is in keeping with the fact that he, like many of us when we age, react to being out of step with the times by leaning on nostalgia. Things weren’t better Joe, you were. Of course you remember the days when you’d call up your GOP brethren for a favour romantically. You were younger, you had the energy for the fight, the ability to play the game, the ability to get through a sentence, maybe even a full paragraph. To be clear, this isn’t simple ageism. Opponents like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are both also in their seventies, but go watch them speak. Honestly compare their ability to think, explain, make connections, to what Biden is able to bring to the table. The gap is so severe, it’s honestly embarrassing to watch. If this keeps up, America may well find that Biden was actually the least electable of the top tier candidates. They may have to cringe–watch as he stumbles to the finish line, closing out his years of service with a humiliating defeat to the man he’s come to think of as his nemesis. Hopefully, we won’t have to find out. V