Dumping 'Slow Joe'

The most disgusting thing I've witnessed in a lifetime of observing American politics was the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, wherein the most basic assumptions of liberalism, including presumptions of innocence, due process, and burdens of proof, were abandoned by so-called liberals in an effort to prevent a justice who might threaten Roe v. Wade from being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The double-standard that Democrats and the media have demonstrated when it comes to Tara Reade's accusations against Joe Biden only magnify this disgust, in large part because the Reade accusations are vastly more credible in almost every sense than the ones flung at Kavanaugh -- we know that Reade not only knew but worked for Biden and that Biden at the time wasn't a high school kid but a 50-year-old U.S. senator with a history of questionable behavior toward women (for which he was forced to apologize not too long ago).

"Believe all women" was a dangerous principle, and its corollary -- "believe women depending on the political party of those they are accusing" -- is more dangerous still.

Many of us predicted that the left's embrace of MeToo would last only as long as it became politically inconvenient for the left, and so it has come to pass.

All that said, it is also the case that Democrats have now, even if they haven't yet realized it and don't deserve it, been given a golden opportunity by the Reade accusations to bolster both their tarnished credibility on sexual harassment and their prospects for victory in November.

To understand this one must first grasp that they dodged a potentially fatal bullet in Bernie Sanders. Having the green mountain red at the top of the Democratic ticket would have meant not just crushing defeat in November all the way down the ballot but a rebranding of the party that would have had devastating consequences for years to come.

You don't want to become the "socialist party" in a country historically allergic to socialism.

Beginning in South Carolina, the Democratic establishment thus showed much more sense than the Republican, accomplishing what their GOP counterparts failed to even attempt in 2016 when Donald Trump was carrying out his hostile takeover of their party.

The problem, however, is that this solution to a serious problem (Bernie) came in the form of a different, in some ways equally vexing problem (Biden).

Apart from the Reade accusations, it has become all too obvious that "Slow Joe" has gotten a lot slower. Even those of us long convinced that Trump is unfit for our highest office might hesitate to vote for an alternative too feeble to assume the job of small-town mayor, let alone the rigorous day-to-day duties of the presidency.

Never before have we been asked to elect someone whose cognitive capacity is suspected of having severely declined due to advanced age and whom many doubt will be able to complete their term of office. (Yes, FDR was seriously ill as he sought a fourth term in 1944, but as with much else regarding his health, most Americans weren't fully aware of it at the time.)

Biden's decline is, however, impossible to ignore, and, barring the invention of some kind of age-reversal technology, is likely to only get worse in coming years -- he can't stay in his basement much longer, but as soon as he comes out, it will once again become obvious that he should be sitting in a rocker watching TV with a blanket around his shoulders and a bowl of Chunky Soup in his lap when the next president takes the oath of office at the West Front of the Capitol.

Within this context, Biden's choice of running mate is attracting so much attention only because so many assume that the person he picks has a high probability of becoming president before January 2025.

The combination of the Reade accusations (and perhaps others to come) and the extraordinary impact of the pandemic, which has scrambled the Democratic primary and increased the chances that the presumptive nominee will go into the convention without the necessary majority of delegates, therefore gives Democrats a chance to reconsider, to not just solve the problem of Bernie, but the problem of Biden as well.

Along these lines, how many Democrats doubt that their odds of beating the ogre Trump wouldn't be much better with Amy Klobuchar or Montana governor Steve Bullock at the top of the ticket?

And wouldn't pandemic rock star Andrew Cuomo or, better still, former first lady Michelle Obama provoke vastly greater enthusiasm among Democrats than the listless Biden?

A brokered convention could even produce the rematch between Hillary Clinton and Trump that many Democrats (especially Hillary) have wanted to see.

At the risk of giving advice to a political party I find even less appealing than the other one, having used Biden to solve the problem of Bernie, Democrats now have a last chance to solve the problem of Biden.

Biden helped set the execrable "believe all women" standard. There would be certain irony, even divine justice (as well as smart politics), if he now loses the Democratic nomination because of it.

Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

Editorial on 05/18/2020