Biden sure could use Obama's endorsement right about now. Will he get it?

Obama to the rescue?

Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
(Image credit: Illustrated | MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Image, iStock)

Former Vice President Joe Biden gave perhaps the most disastrous performance by a frontrunner in the history of presidential primary debates on Thursday night. Throughout the evening, Biden sounded aloof and evasive. There was not a single moment when his words or behavior suggested the ease and confidence of someone in control of his political destiny. He was not even in control of his own limbs. I cannot remember ever seeing anything more strange in a political debate than the weird spasmodic gestures he made in response to the questions candidates were supposed to answer by raising or not raising their hands.

Asked to name the first thing he would try to do after being elected president, Biden said that he would "defeat Donald Trump." Did he mean in battle? (To be fair, idiots in the audience applauded him for this anyway). Nor did he seem to realize that there was any contradiction between his insistence that the Affordable Care Act was more or less the last word in Democratic health-care policy and his support for giving health care to illegal immigrants, which ObamaCare does not cover. He seemed genuinely proud of the compromise he helped to negotiate that made the Bush tax cuts permanent. Worst of all, though, was his confused and confusing response to Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) criticism of his nostalgia for the good old days of cutting back-room deals with segregationists and principled opposition to federal busing. Biden looked utterly lost.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.