On Joe Biden and Ukraine

If you’ve read my rankings of the Democratic candidates for President (the latest here), you know I’m not pulling for Biden in the primary.  I think I’ve made clear that I’m a supporter of Elizabeth Warren, although I am considering some other candidates as well.  All other things being equal, I would rather see a woman nominee.  I also have a slight preference for a younger, rather than 70+ year old candidate (although Senator Warren is 70, so I’m not hard up on that last one).  I’m sure I’m more progressive than the median Democratic voter, but I would also be a much stronger supporter of many of the “moderate” candidates than I am of Bernie Sanders.

I consider Barack Obama to be the best President of my lifetime.  As his Vice President, Joe Biden gets a lot of credit in my book for being a great complementary partner to President Obama.  I think he was a GREAT Vice President.  Maybe if Joe had run in 2016, when he was 4 years younger, he could have done a solid job as President as well.  He probably would’ve beaten Trump and he sure would have done a better job than Trump.  But Biden is just not the right candidate for 2020.

First, he is 76 years old (he will be 77 years old on election day next year and will turn 78 a couple weeks after that) and, to me at least, showing his age.  He’s shown a lack of stamina in the debates – he fades the longer they go.  Compare him to his fellow septuagenarians, Sanders and Warren, and the difference in energy is noticeable.

Second, Biden is trying to run as the Obama third term.  It’s a “return to normalcy” or “everything was great before Trump, let’s go back to that.”  It’s not that he’s not sufficiently progressive.  Necessarily.  But what he wants to do is reset things back to the end of the Obama presidency and then inch forward from there.  The intervening years have shown that just returning to an Obama baseline is actually going to be a step backwards.

On top of these things, a few items have popped up in the news this past week which affect my thinking on Biden.  First, a couple of pieces of news in the horserace have come out.  First, Wall Street donors are saying they may go for Trump if the nominee is Warren and wealthy donors behind a pro-Biden Super PAC are talking about ramping up efforts in his defense.

Second, this Ukraine scandal, which deserves a few words regarding Biden’s involvement or lack thereof.  I don’t believe Joe Biden did anything wrong with regard to the matter of his son and the company in Ukraine.  All objective examinations of the situation exonerate him completely.  The Trumpies going after Biden in this way is just a replay of what they did, successfully, to Hillary Clinton in 2016.  This time it’s backfiring against him and good that it is.

But.  If you’re like me, and many other voters I think, and you agree with Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of corruption and the influence of the rich and powerful in the operation of government, then Biden had a really bad week.  Rich guys on Wall Street saying they’ll go for Trump instead of Warren is like an endorsement to her.  It tells her and her supporters that she’s on the right track.  Then a Super PAC wants to come out in the primary to defend Joe Biden?  That’s music to the ears of Warren and Sanders, who only take donations from individuals.  The thing with Biden and Ukraine is tricky.  I don’t think anyone is going to point out the obvious here.  But Hunter Biden was taking $50,000/month from an oil and gas company in Ukraine.  Trading on his last name for money.  And in support of a climate killing company on top of that.  Warren and Sanders don’t have to say a word and they’re gonna see further erosion in Biden’s standing in the primary polls.

I like Joe Biden.  He’s been a solid public servant for over 40 years and he was a great Vice President.  At the end of the day, if Joe Biden is the nominee, I’m voting for Joe Biden.  There’s no Republican option that could get me to do otherwise.  And if he’s the nominee, I hope he’ll make a good choice with his Vice President and his cabinet.  Staff his administration with the right people and his presidency will be fine.  Certainly better than the alternative.  But, unless and until he is the nominee, I’m not for Joe.  Vote Warren!

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