Is Joe Biden the Konrad Adenauer of the U.S.?

Why Democrats should take comfort from the example of another old centrist who built back better

Joe Biden.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Historical analogies are a tricky thing, apt to give one an unwarranted confidence in one's ability to foretell the future. I'm not the only commentator to have wondered, for example, whether Sen. Bernie Sanders' loss in 2016 was a repetition of Ronald Reagan's loss to President Ford in 1976, presaging a new left-wing majority after the predictable failure of the Trump administration, a comparison that reached peak plausibility right before the South Carolina primary this year heralded its rapid disintegration.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate who marched from victory to victory thereafter, and who is now both the Democrats' standard-bearer and the substantial favorite to be the next president, has never felt like a very satisfactory choice to those Democrats who were yearning for an inspirational and transformational figure. Some mainstream liberals are already fantasizing about a Kamala Harris presidency, while the left is pinning its hopes on progressive stars in Congress to hold Biden's feet to the fire, both phenomena that the Trump campaign has used, so far ineffectually, to scare moderates away from the Democratic ticket.

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Noah Millman

Noah Millman is a screenwriter and filmmaker, a political columnist and a critic. From 2012 through 2017 he was a senior editor and featured blogger at The American Conservative. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Politico, USA Today, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Policy, Modern Age, First Things, and the Jewish Review of Books, among other publications. Noah lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.