Biden: The center is holding
Joe Biden was “good enough” in last week’s primary debate, said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. And for the Democratic front-runner, “that, in itself, was a victory.” Unlike his flat, defensive performance in Miami earlier this summer, Biden managed to hold his ground as his rivals savaged him from the left. The former vice president stuck to centrist positions, pointedly refusing to endorse unpopular progressive schemes to abolish private health insurance or decriminalize border crossings. Instead, Biden repeatedly redirected the focus to President Trump’s disastrous administration while wrapping himself in the legacy of Barack Obama. Unless something changes, most Democrats still seem convinced “this nonthreatening old white guy of moderate leanings is the one to beat President Trump.” A new Quinnipiac poll shows Biden far out in front with 32 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in second with 21 percent.
“Biden may still be the front-runner, but he can’t fail upwards forever,” said Moira Donegan in The Guardian (U.K.). Biden was as cringey and gaffe-prone as ever, caught on a hot mic telling Sen. Kamala Harris, a 54-year-old woman, to “go easy on me, kid.” He also remains “ideologically miles to the right of the party.” For example, he had no answer for the “inhumane immigration practices” of the Obama administration, which deported more than 3 million people. Biden was lucky that Harris, his chief rival on the debate stage, had an equally mediocre performance. The California senator stumbled in trying to explain her convoluted new health-care plan and in responding to progressive criticism of her tenure as California attorney general, during which she jailed 1,500 people for marijuana violations.
Have Democrats lost their minds? asked Michael Tomasky in TheDailyBeast.com. In an attempt to drag down Biden, the candidates unloaded on the Obama administration’s record on everything from health care to immigration to criminal justice. This is “political suicide.” Obama is still highly popular, with an astonishing 97 percent approval rating among Democrats. However, Democrats like to “eat their own,” said David French in The New York Times. During Obama’s first term, it took every ounce of the party’s political capital to pass Obamacare. But now Democrats hell-bent on socialized medicine argue it “must be completely undone.” Biden’s biggest opponent in this primary is not his past. It’s “the arrogance of the present.”