How Biden Can Separate Himself (Even Further) From the Pack Tonight

Biden abortion

I still stand by my belief that Joe Biden has the best chance to beat Donald Trump in 2020.  He is going to get hammered in these Democratic debates and the coming primaries, but if he can survive, and not screw things up, he can be the next president.

I was not overly impressed by anyone in last night’s debate.  Elizabeth Warren won the first half of the debate, but she seemed to fade toward the end.  Nevertheless, I think she controlled the stage and was clearly the overall winner.  Julian Castro did very well.  His team can build on his performance.  As I said to my daughter last night, I still don’t understand why Cory Booker is not polling higher.  I felt bad for Beto O’Rourke.  He did not look well last night.  I was wondering if he had the flu.  He looked pale and his eyes were very red and watery.  I like Amy Klobuchar, but Biden will take all of her potential votes.

I was struck by the question on abortion.  Every candidate on the stage upheld the Party line.  Here is Emma Green at The Atlantic:

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates see abortion as a winning issue in the next election. That was clear from the first night of the party’s primary debates, where the politicians onstage vied to show how emphatically they support abortion rights. The candidates focused on fear: of the state-level abortion bans recently passed in places such as Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia; of the threat to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Multiple candidates affirmed their support for expansive abortion rights, citing widespread support among Americans.

The candidates also conveniently avoided the most controversial and contested aspects of abortion policy, including limits on the procedure at any point in a pregnancy. Whether this dodge was intentional or the natural outcome of a quick-paced debate, it stood in contrast to one of the most memorable moments of the 2016 presidential debates, when Hillary Clinton endorsed abortion through the end of the third trimester of a pregnancy. So far this cycle, Democrats have been running to embrace the abortion-rights positions that poll well with voters, and steering clear of tougher questions. In reality, however, these nitpicky questions about abortion limits matter: These are the policy areas where most abortion fights actually happen at the federal level.

Green correctly concludes: “Democrats are clearly willing to promote their party’s support for abortion rights; none of the nearly two dozen candidates has tried to use moderation on abortion to his or her advantage.”

Read her entire piece here.

Let’s see what happens tonight.  As many know, Biden has raised serious questions about federal funding for abortion, but he caves whenever he is pressured by other candidates.  What if Biden takes the opportunity tonight to provide a nuanced view on abortion by saying something about how he wants to reduce the number of abortions in the United States? He can do this without flip-flopping again on the Hyde Amendment or undermining Roe v. Wade.  If Biden takes this route, he will probably be the only candidate willing to make a break–however subtle–with the Party line.  I am not optimistic that Biden and his team will go this route, but I do know that most Democrats here in Pennsylvania would welcome such a move.

15 thoughts on “How Biden Can Separate Himself (Even Further) From the Pack Tonight

  1. John,

    I wonder why you have not made a new posting encouraging comments on the second DEM debate. By most accounts from both partisan perspectives, Joe Biden did not look too good. He appeared as a somewhat out-of-touch old guy who couldn’t hold his own with the younger, more radical candidates.


  2. To answer your question directly, as I sit here today with the knowledge I currently have, I would not describe any of the Democratic candidates as definitely unacceptable to me.

    (Perhaps its obvious, but I work for the government–meaning that I’ve lost the ability to give an answer to a question without 2-3 disclaimers.) 🙂


  3. Jeff of MD,

    Well, there goes one less vote either Biden or Bernie, the other two old white guys, a class no longer favored by the DEMs.


  4. To be on the safe side I wouldn’t vote for the one who looks the most like Trump, male or female.


  5. Jeff,
    Please do not limit your field of choices to five. Of the twenty plus odd candidates, is there one who is definitely unacceptable to you?


  6. Of the five with whom I feel I have a comfortable level of understanding of who they are and what they’re about, there is not.


  7. Biden needs to embrace his brand: “I’m the Not-Crazy progressive among this crew.” I agree with John that 1) he has the best shot to beat Trump in a general election; 2) but only if he has the intestinal fortitude to be an apostate within his own party on abortion, and any number of other far left commandments.

    What his pathetic caving on the Hyde amendment demonstrates, at least so far, is that he is unwilling to buck the hive mind, calculating that he has to veer hard to port on every issue if he is to escape the D primary, which is a “Who is the Wokest of them All?” political death match. And then he can try to memory hole what he said during the primary in pandering to the base, and re-introduce himself to all those moderate voters as a reasonable guy who thinks there should be some limits on abortion, and who doesn’t want to ban demon oil and gas in ten years, and who opposes criminalizing the use of the wrong gender pronouns, and who doesn’t want to abolish private insurance or nationalize all billion dollar companies, etc.

    But it won’t work. At that stage, he will have no credibility remaining. The attack ads will write themselves. He needs to do it now, e.g. — “I do support a woman’s right to choose, but I also think that we should do our utmost to reduce abortions and I support, consistent with most Americans, placing limits on late terms abortions.” Something like that. Or: “Global warming is real, and it must be addressed. I am as Green as Green can be. However, the notion that we can simply abolish fossil fuels in ten or twenty years is, frankly, kooky. There are concrete, reasonable and effective steps we can take right now to help reduce carbon emissions — including an increase in the responsible use of nuclear power — that do not involve fantasies like retrofitting every building in America or eliminating air travel.”

    In “Tombstone” remember what Johnny Ringo says to Wyatt (before he realizes it was his stone cold huckleberry, Doc Holiday, who had showed up to finish the fight for blood)? “Weeell, I didn’t think ya had it in ya.” I don’t think Joe has it in him, either.


  8. Not sure where to post this John.
    I am “Jeff” from Maryland.
    The poster here also “Jeff” is not me.
    Maybe it doesn’t matter. I don’t think our posts seem to come from wildly different perspectives.
    Should I voluntarily change to “Jeffrey”. Would that make the most sense?
    I don’t mind.


  9. John,

    I agree with you that Biden stands the best chance against Trump. The others on the stage last night do not have the personal appeal or the policy positions which are going to be palatable to a majority of Americans.

    As far as who can best pander to the segmented DEM identity groups, I give the blue ribbon to Mr. Castro who actually came out in support of “reproductive rights or reproductive justice for transgendered people.” He actually got limited applause on that line. How far afield have the Democrats gone?


  10. John,

    I want to write to you with the story of my wife, in case it has any anecdotal value to you (not as a persuasive argument for anything in particular). For context, we are both white, lower middle class, evangelical/post-evangelicalish, generally liberal with deep dissonance in both directions where abortion is concerned, and living in a deep red state (Nebraska). We’ve donated money to the Booker campaign, and I hope that he lasts long enough in the race that I can volunteer for his campaign (I’m not optimistic).

    Anyway, my wife recently told me, to my astonishment, that if VP Biden gets the nomination she will not vote in the 2020 election. She is convinced that VP Biden does not respect women. I’ve argued about the need to oust Trump. I’ve argued about kids and families at the border. I’ve argued about how VP Biden seems to me like essentially a socially and generationally unaware but benign jack*** where interactions with women are concerned. I don’t want to minimize the problem, but I do want to keepm it in Trumpian perspective. She admits that she would probably feel differently about it if she didn’t believe that, as a Nebraskan, her vote for a Democrat is moot. At one point, after discussing this with a relative, she broke down with anger, saying, “IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK TO HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO DOESN’T GROPE WOMEN WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT?!”

    Again, I’m not trying to craft an argument here. If VP Biden is the candidate, I will vote for him to oust Trump without a moment’s hesitation. I have no notion of how widespread my wife’s feelings are. But I doubt she’s the only one who feels this way. And her question isn’t wrong. VP Biden needs to start addressing this better. Preferably yesterday.


  11. Totally agree. Biden is the most predictable, given his long, mostly consistent history. And people’s opinions on Biden are unlikely to change. People already love him or hate him. Polls show that. The comment he made about working with segregationists did not impact his favor with the African Americans at all, despite the media and Al Sharpton trying to throw him under the bus. It is fascinating Biden used to be considered by his own party to be part of the far left, and yet now they consider him a moderate. And his views have not changed much during that time. That, to me, speaks volumes about just how far to the left a majority of the party has gone. Trump capitalized hardcore on that in his speech in Orlando a little while ago.


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