There is a long list of reasons to oppose Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. He has a horribly right-wing record on everything from school desegregation to mass incarceration to the Iraq War. He is an old white man running against the most diverse field of presidential candidates in U.S. history. He has a bad habit of making ridiculous and offensive statements.
However, the No. 1 reason why Biden would be an utter disaster both as the Democratic nominee and as president is his belief that Donald Trump is the sole cause of the current political and constitutional crisis in the United States. He has shown a shocking inability (refusal?) to see that Trump is a symptom of longstanding Republican nihilism and derangement — not the cause of it.
In fact, Biden’s obsession with bipartisanship, with wanting to cut deals and make compromises once Trump is out of the way, betrays a dangerous mix of ignorance and naiveté.
Consider the recent New York Times story headlined “Biden Thinks Trump Is the Problem, Not All Republicans. Other Democrats Disagree.” The Times quotes the former vice president telling an audience in Iowa that the Trump administration is a historical “aberration”:
“Limit it to four years,” Mr. Biden pleaded with a ballroom crowd of 600 in the eastern Iowa city of Dubuque. “History will treat this administration’s time as an aberration.”
“This is not the Republican Party,” he added, citing his relationships with “my Republican friends in the House and Senate.”
Sorry, what? It is beyond astonishing to hear Biden, of all people, make such demonstrably false claims. This is a Democrat who served as No. 2 to Barack Obama over an eight-year, two-term period in which Republicans, among other things, nominated the know-nothing, race-baiting Sarah Palin as their vice presidential candidate; ran a presidential campaign against Obama suggesting that he was a friend of “terrorists”; declared the “single most important thing we want to achieve” is for Obama to be “a one-term president”; heckled Obama as a liar during his primetime address to Congress; promoted a racist, anti-Obama “birther” conspiracy theory; repeatedly discussed impeaching Obama for spurious reasons; conducted six different congressional investigations into Hillary Clinton and Benghazi; made dozens and dozens of attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act without offering any alternative; brought a snowball to the floor of the Senate while opposing efforts to combat climate change; and refused to allow Obama to fill an empty Supreme Court seat for almost a year.
Yet Biden, writes Paul Krugman in the New York Times, still seems to genuinely believe that his “good personal relations” with leading Republicans in Congress “will translate into an ability to make bipartisan deals on policy,” despite the fact that “we’ve already seen this movie, and it was a tragedy.”
“The big concern about a Biden presidency,” continues Krugman, “is that he would repeat all of Obama’s early mistakes, squandering any momentum from electoral victory in pursuit of a bipartisan dream that should have died long ago.”
Do Democrats really want to nominate a candidate for president who thinks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not responsible for enabling Trump’s multiplicity of crimes and excesses? Who isn’t bothered by constant GOP attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the rule of law? Who ignores the fact that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has warned her fellow party members that anyone who “does not embrace the @realDonaldTrump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake”? Who pretends 9 out of 10 Republican voters don’t approve of Trump?
This. Is. The. Republican. Party. To watch a shameless whitewashing of the modern GOP — “This is not the Republican Party” — by the current frontrunner in the Democratic Party presidential primaries is deeply dispiriting. Biden is the wrong candidate for this political moment. The next Democratic president has to be willing to take the fight to the Republicans — not be bent on doing a deal with them. Getting rid of Trump in 2020 won’t get rid of Republicans who traffic in bigotry, screw over the poor, and undermine the rule of law.
Remember: It wasn’t Trump who began the smear campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar over her comments about 9/11; it was Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
It wasn’t Trump who who started the rumor that George Soros was funding the migrant caravan from Central America; it was Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.
It wasn’t Trump who conceived of the pro-rich “Trump tax cuts,” it was the former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
It wasn’t Trump who turned Attorney General William Barr into the “Coverup General” — that title was given to Barr by the late conservative writer William Safire in 1992, as the former was helping President George H.W. Bush bury the Iran-Contra affair.
Need I continue? Perhaps Biden should listen not to me, but to his own former boss. “It did not start with Donald Trump,” declaimed Obama in a scathing speech in Illinois in September 2018, ahead of the midterm elections. “He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”
“Over the past few decades,” added Obama while decrying “empty” bipartisanship, “the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.”
Not since 2015 or 2016 — but over “the past few decades.” That Joe Biden cannot — or does not want to — acknowledge this stark reality, and isn’t prepared to aggressively confront it on the afternoon of January 20, 2021, makes him singularly unqualified to be the next Democratic president of the United States.