Well, that was interesting. I get such a kick out of politicians these days, officially announcing their candidacy for something, making a bunch of speeches, and rally appearances, and then officially ”kicking off” their campaign a month later somewhere. It reminds me of high school, when the “homecoming” game was like the third home game of the season.
If I understood MSNBC correctly, Biden’s speech clocked in at almost exactly 20 minutes. But what an action packed 20 minutes it was. Before he came out, his wife, Dr Jill Biden came out to introduce him and was well received, She spent most of her short talk touting her strong Philly connections. A sound move, you always wanna pander to the refs But it was clearly Joe Biden’s show, and he carried the day.
For starters, Biden came out tieless, with his collar open, a clear contrast to Trump, who once reportedly slapped Diaper Donnie in the face for wanting to wear a Yankees jersey to the game, and when he came on, he vaulted up the stairs to the stage like a sprinter leaving the blocks, again a clear contrast to Trump, who only walks out on ramps, due ti his hatred of stairs.He came on wearing his signature sunglasses, and his first act in public today was to ditch the coat, and roll up the sleeves, ala Obama,
I look forward to hearing what y’all think in the comments, but to my mind, Biden laid his campaign bare today, He paid lip service to healthcare, quite a bit in fact, touting Obama’s ability to pass it without Republican support. He paid lip service to education, differing from Sanders by touting free community college as opposed to 4 year state universities. He paid lip service to infrastructure, pointing out the massive reclamation project that is required. And he paid lip service to the “Green New Deal” by name, and challenging the United States to lead in every aspect of saving the planet, instead of sticking our heads in the sand like an overstuffed, orange topped ostrich.
But all of that was nothing more than the soup, appetizer, and salad. The main course at this feast was roast Trump. Biden hammered at Trump repeatedly, to boisterous applause. And he “kept it classy.” He hammered Trump on specifics, dividing instead of uniting, on his love affair with neo Nazi’s and Klansmen after Charlottesville, his pandering to dictators he clearly admires, his separation of families at the southern border, and his anti immigrant and anti Muslim bias. When Biden was heckled early in his speech by a supporter of another candidate, he immediately and forcefully told the crowd to back off, saying “We don’t do things like that in this campaign! Some other campaigns may, but we don’t. You’ll never hear me speak ill of another Democrat.”
Biden announced his campaign agenda today. Oh, he’ll put out position papers and announce specific plans on things like energy, education, healthcare (where he announced today for a Medicare option buy in plan), and infrastructure, But Biden is running specifically to beat Donald Trump.
This is a sound strategy for Biden for a couple of reasons. First, Biden is the clear front runner, so it’s easier for him to pick his battles. Also, Biden has obviously seen the poll where a clear majority of Democratic primary voters will vote for someone that they strongly disagree with on most major issues if it means beating Trump. By pounding repeatedly on Trump, Biden is stressing his electability. This is a sound strategy, Because, while you might like Mayor Pete, or Kamala, or Cory Booker, or Elizabeth Warren, when some of them start to fall by the wayside, do their supporters want to cast around for an alternate candidate on other issues, or just settle in for the ultimate goal, to beat Donald Trump? The palpable mood in this country, not just among Democrats, but also among independents and disaffected Republicans, is to get Trump the hell out of the White House, and Biden is going to ride that wave if he can, and make it his magnet.
This strategy also gives Biden a potential wall of protection against assaults from other Democratic challengers. Biden is going to get hit, and hard, especially in debates over his vote on Iraq, on his vote on the crime bill, and his treatment, or lack thereof of Anita Hill. His response can be, “look, that was 20 or 30 years ago, it was a different time, with different attitudes. Here’s why I did what I did at the time. Now, do you really want to re-litigate this again, after gnawing on these bones for the last 30 years, or do we want to go out and kick Trump’s pasty ass? Cuz I’m the guy that can do it!”
My advice? Watch the polls for the next week or so, only ones that were taken after Biden’s speech today. Most candidates tend to get a minor boost after their “kickoff” speech, a couple of points or so. If Biden goes up by a couple of points, and everybody else remains more or less static, then it’s just that, a post kickoff bounce. But if Biden goes up by somewhere around 5 points or more, and especially if that bounce coincides with drops in support for other candidates, especially Bernie Sanders, and some second tier candidates like Buttigieg and O’Rourke, then the ground may be shifting. If Biden is able to get voters to concentrate on the subject of electability, and the existential threat of Donald Trump, and supporters start to peel away from other candidates focusing on other issues, then that poll is right, this really is going to be a referendum election on Trump, and Biden is the one that people feel is in the best position to do that.
Even if that happens, it isn’t going to clear the field for Biden, but in my opinion, it is going to fundamentally change the way that the Democratic primary campaign is going to be fought. If Biden can pull even further away from the field using the electability issue, it is going to force the other candidates to become more aggressive against Trump, for no better reason than to show that Biden isn’t the only one who can fo toe-to-toe with El Pendejo Presidente. And if people just don’t get that same confident vibe from those candidates that Biden is presenting, it could mean more trouble.
There’s a long way to go, but a line was just drawn. In a field of 20+ candidates, each with various views on various issues, one candidate just came out and called a pig a pig. Without saying the words, Joe Biden asked the question today, “You wanna spend the next year arguing about issues, or do ya wanna beat Donald Trump?” It will be interesting to see what the answer to that question is.
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