Thursday, October 22, 2015

Response to No Time For Nice

(See: Just Above Sunset: No Time For Nice)

I keep hearing reporters say that Joe Biden really wanted to be president? I think most of us have realized for over a month now that he didn't, really. Can anyone imagine, after all that hesitation, seeing him spring to life with all the enthusiasm needed to win it? All this drawn-out indecision reminds us of 1992 and the original "Hamlet on the Hudson", Mario Cuomo, or even the half-hearted campaign of Bob Kerry that same year. Nobody ever wins the job who doesn't sincerely want the job.

But there was that hint that lingers after Biden's announcement (during which it was easy for me, after a while, to imagine a cartoon thought-bubble above the president's head saying, "Somebody, get the hook!") that we may all have dodged a bullet:
I believe that we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart. And I think we can. It's mean spirited, it's petty, and it's gone on for much too long. I don't believe, like some do, that it's naive to talk to Republicans. I don't think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition. They're not our enemies. And for the sake of the country, we have to work together. 
As the president has said many times, compromise is not a dirty word. ... 
Four more years of this kind of pitched battle may be more than this country can take. We have to change it. We have to change it.
Technically, he's right, but his implication seems to be that both sides are to blame. Maybe he's trying a little too hard to be even-handed, sort of like saying, "Well, okay, you Jews may have a point about the Nazis. But still, one wonders if, had you just been a little bit more willing to compromise with them, things might have worked out differently!"

And yes, I know, Nazi analogies are supposed to be off-limits in political discussion, probably because nobody else in history can ever compare to their level of evil. But I'm not saying Republicans are really like the Nazis, I'm just saying it's hard to waste an opportunity to point out the inherent absurdity of these phony "both sides share the guilt" arguments. Both sides don't. The only reason Obama couldn't deliver on his promise to bring both sides together in Washington is because the Republicans decided from day one to make sure it didn't happen, and to pretend otherwise is just dangerously disingenuous. It wasn't until Obama himself stopped pretending it that he was able to get anything done.

Ezra Klein's observation, that the Republicans were happy to deal with Biden rather than Obama, is a good one, but not just because it made Obama seem "too extreme and partisan to work with" -- which is totally outrageous on its own! How can someone be "too extreme and partisan", and at the same time, as they claim, be too naive and weak to negotiate with our enemies? But it was really because the Republicans, especially the now-called "Freedom Caucus", made the Obama name poison, and that any Republican who did deal with him at all was violating a code, and was liable to be "primaried". It got to the point where even Obama himself, if he really wanted to get something done, knew to send in Joe to do it.

Having said all that, I have always liked Joe Biden, and I still do, and am happy to learn that I'm not the only one thinking he would make a pretty good vice presidential candidate in 2016. After all, he's one of the only people alive with actual experience in the job.

The question is, I think, whether she would take him. I still think he's a good choice, although I don't think Joe would have the working relationship with Hillary that he had with Obama, and I'm not sure she could trust his loose-cannon mouth to not blurt out something she disagrees with.

Meanwhile, who else is out there?

There's always those other candidates, especially Bernie, although her people might be afraid that the other party would label the ticket "Benghazi and the Socialist", or some such thing. Bernie might not worry about that word, but especially if the race is a close one, the Clinton campaign would probably think they don't need that albatross hanging around their necks.

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