Biden: Too old for 2020?
Democratic voters are yearning for “fresh faces,” said Matthew Yglesias in Vox.com, yet the party establishment has a better idea—“good old Joe Biden.” The 76-year-old former vice president agrees, apparently, telling allies he may be the only Democrat who can beat President Trump. Yet while supporters believe Lunch Pail Joe can win back working-class Rust Belt voters and go blow-for-blow with Trump on a debate stage, Biden is anything but a consensus choice. “What it means to be a mainstream Democrat has changed significantly since Biden entered the Senate 46 years ago,” and his record is totally out of step with today’s progressives: writing the 1994 crime bill that imprisoned so many African-Americans, opposing gay marriage, supporting the invasion of Iraq, endorsing Wall Street deregulation, and on and on. His “fellow late-septuagenarian Bernie Sanders has the same problem,” said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com. Every examination of their records, “positive or negative,” offers a reminder that they’ve been in government “for nearly half a century.”
“Too old, too white, too male,” said Jonathan Tobin in NationalReview.com. The barriers facing Biden’s third bid for president are as simple as that. In the post-#MeToo era, he’ll be hammered for callous treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, and “such attacks would have particular potency” coming from Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, or any other woman primary opponent. “He certainly doesn’t meet” President Obama’s recent call for “new blood,” said Gerald Seib in The Wall Street Journal. But while younger Democrats yearn for an exciting young progressive like 46-year-old Beto O’Rourke, Biden backers have a point: To win the Electoral College in 2020, Democrats must appeal to “centrists in the industrial Midwest”—particularly Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. And don’t forget that in the 2018 midterms, 60 percent of Democratic voters were “45 or older.”
For the party’s sake, Biden must run, said David Leonhardt in The New York Times. “Trying to identify the perfect nominee far in advance is a fool’s game.” The best way for Democrats “to maximize the chances that Trump’s presidency ends as soon as possible” is by broadening their options. Four years ago, Democratic party elders decided to screen out Biden, Sanders—everyone but Hillary Clinton. “It turned out to be a giant favor to Donald Trump.” ■