Joe Biden, the former vice president, announced this week via video that he is running for president. Depending on who's counting, it looks like he's the 20th Democrat to enter the race. I was not particularly a Joe Biden fan, but I was quite impressed with his video. It looked presidential.
Will Joe Biden make it to be the nominee? First, even though I am an old bat, I pay attention to what John F. Kennedy said at his inauguration in 1961. He said, "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."
What Kennedy meant was it was time his generation took over.
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Joe Biden is older. Born in November 1942, he is now 76. By contrast, another contender on the Democratic side, Mayor Pete Buttigig, was born in 1982 and is 37 years old.
The website FiveThirtyEight (which predicts elections) says: "While Biden's polling isn't spectacular, it's stronger than anyone else's in the field by some margin. In recent surveys, he's averaged 28 percent in national polls (ahead of Sanders's 20 percent) and 25 percent in Iowa polls (better than Sanders's 18 percent). And while New Hampshire is a potential liability for Biden in Sanders's backyard, South Carolina – populated with moderate Democrats and African Americans – is a potential strength."
The Hill said Joe Biden had seven big decisions to make:
- Whether to support impeaching Trump
- Whether he should announce a running mate early
- Whether to endorse liberal proposals such as "Medicare for All" and free college
- Whether to hold high-dollar fundraisers and accept help from super PACs
- How to handle allegations of inappropriate conduct with women
- How to defend his record – his 36 years in the Senate gives him a long record to defend
- How to handle concerns about his age
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The video that the Biden campaign released focused on the state of the country: "I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation – who we are – and I cannot stand by and watch that happen."
Biden certainly has a past he must deal with. He voted for the Iraq war and also headed up the Anita Hill hearings which were not positive for Anita Hill or women in general. Then there is what some consider to be quite racist sentencing laws – the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act he sponsored and the bipartisan 1994 Violent Crime Control Act. These laws, which rightfully have been questioned by President Trump, were responsible for the increase in mass incarceration. He also voted in 1996 for the Defense of Marriage act, but wisely changed his position later, declaring in 2012 his support of gay marriage.
We all evolve. A person's positions many years ago might not be the positions they take now, and Joe Biden should be accorded that like the rest of us. However, he has an uphill battle – not just because of the #Me Too movement which goes after his inappropriate touching of people, but because the Democratic Party wants to go after Donald Trump and his Access Hollywood tape and supposedly paying off women he slept with. Joe Biden, despite his "touching" controversy, has never been accused of sleeping with someone other than his wife. That is clearly a plus.
In his video, Joe Biden says (about what happened in Charlottesville): "In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in our lifetime. … The core values of this nation – our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America – is at stake. That's why today I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States."
This old bat is not convinced an older person should be in the Oval Office. It may be time for the torch to be passed (although Donald Trump is no spring chicken either).