Joe Biden is not a racist, he's just not. No matter how much people try to explain it that way. That's the good news, the bad news is that he is not smart either. At no time will there be any academic award named after this guy. What he said in Danville, VA on Tuesday August 12th was astoundingly insensitive and idiotic, but he didn't mean it in a racist way. He meant it as a political pander in an attempt to scare people into voting.
That is his move, it's his go to for everything. This man has been in office since 1973 and it looks as though he is still campaigning the same way, the evidence suggests he might even think it's a couple decades ago. This guy is using rabbit ears in a broadband world. Adding to the antiquated voter relation method (how he campaigns) this guy has another huge, looming, epic issue - his gaffes. My father had a very eloquent phrase that is useful to anyone: "Put your brain into gear before you put your mouth into gear." Clearly Mr. Biden was never advised so astutely. The lights are on, the doors are open, and the sprinklers are running, but nobody is home. Maybe it was a mental foreclosure?
His gaffes are so frequent and ample that one is led to wonder a few things. Who is letting him off his chain, and is it intentional? How will this affect the political climate and discourse? Does this help or hurt the Obama/Biden reelection bid? Let's cover these shall we.
Who is letting him off his chain? It has to be President Obama and the top people in the campaign, David Axelrod and Jim Messina. I mean it HAS to be. Joe Biden is that friend's spouse everyone worries about when they talk. You know, that guy or girl that manages to make the whole room uncomfortable. So for it continue it has to have blessings from above. Why? That is really anybody's guess. It could be intentional to keep the conversation in a certain arena. It could simply be that it is not that big of deal in the campaign. Or it could be that the way the decision makers see it, he is the VP and he has the right to talk. What can be determined is how it affects multiple things.
Political climate wise, currently this has very little effect, if anything it's a relief. Right now voters in all states and especially the swing states are seeing regular negative ads. The closer we get to November, the more there will be. By November 6th it will dwarf the ads we all see for medicine. Points of similarity: watching too many of either can cause you to think you have a condition that you don't, and both will have you focused on health care. So with all that, Biden keeps things funny. The way many people respond to it can be funny too. As for the discourse, it leeches attention away from real topics. We all make verbal mistakes, most of us daily, he just always has a camera on him.
With Joe always having a camera on him, and his love of improv, does that hurt his bosses bid for reelection? It absolutely does. All day long we go through life making judgements about everything, whether fair or not, and just like that spouse that makes people cringe President Obama will be judged on his VP. I use cringe very intentionally, because that is what happens in so many of his mistakes. Before the laughter, you cringe. To some the voters still trying to make up their mind, that could be an integer in their voting decision equation. The biggest negative is that it makes it almost impossible to take this man seriously and to believe that he has the answer for anything. There is really no way to spin this in a positive light, Joe Biden is the medical condition that Obama's White House should see a doctor about, and it just so happens that the dictor is ready to see them.
The following is my diagnosis of what the Obama campaign could and should do to treat "Bidenitis." Drop him, drop him now. You have time, you will get more money into the campaign, and you have the bully pulpit. What the campaign cannot handle is the appearance of not being serious and making bad decisions, this guy is a bad decision. He's probably a nice guy, but that does not get votes. It will be easy, and after 7 or 8 days it will be done. Say it's for medical reasons. Everyone will just assume it is Alzheimer's disease, or an aneurysm. You could appoint him as ambassador to North Virginia, and tell him it's a promotion, he'll believe you. There are plenty of reasons that will work, just pick one and commit to it. My personal choice would be that it was necessary to move forward. Then follow with a strong replacement. Hillary Clinton would be my personal choice. Yes, yes I know Sarah Palin said the same thing, but sometimes even a blind pit bull in lipstick can find a squeaky toy.
The addition of Hillary Clinton would be a game changer, which is what the campaign needs. She's intelligent, articulate, experienced and attracts her own voters. The current method of campaigning to women over reproductive rights, or the supposed threat to them, is not working and will not work (stay tuned, I may blog about this topic on it's own in a later post). Hillary would be a strong statement to the female voters that women do have a voice in the administration. As for capability, nobody would question her ability to step into the role of President. Even Biden thinks Hillary is more qualified than him. And that is what is really important here, the VP needs to seem and be very capable. If worse came to worst, Biden would blunder through everything, Hillary would lead.
Hillary's intelligence will also help the huge hurdle coming up on October 11th: Paul Ryan. The cold reality of the situation right now is that Ryan debating Biden will be like the Green Bay Packers playing a Wilmington Delaware Pop Warner team.. It will not be nice or pretty and what ever folksy charm added with generic talking point Biden displays, it will wear thin within minutes. Hillary can handle her own with anyone. People might not agree with her, but they at least know that she knows what she is talking about. To further the Hillary case, people know that she is no pushover, while Biden looks like a yes man. Discerning voters don't want to think that there is a yes man in the Oval Office stroking the President's ego.
Most importantly, dropping Biden and picking up Hillary will show strength. Doing the deed will not be easy, but it is necessary. It shows the ability to make the tough decision when it needs to be done. The campaign could practically be built around that. Going forward the tone would completely change and the campaign would have a fighting chance. While I know it is early, my appraisal of election data shows 322 electoral votes in the Romney camp right now. There will definitely be many posts to follow on this, and electoral college prediction updates along with the WHY I changed it, if I do.
It is worth noting that while writing this post, I came across an article by Ed Klein saying that Hillary declined to consider the VP spot. He cites two reasons: one that she does not want to be associated with his liberal politics for a 2016 run, and two that if he loses she does not want to be associated with a loser. You can read the article and draw your own conclusion. Much of it is sound, but again it is always hard to know what people are thinking. Since I offered so much on why she is the right choice for the campaign, it is only fair to say that not running would be the right choice for her. She has dedicated her life to public service and a vacation never hurts.
In the spirit of fairness, the good doc will do a check for the Romey/Ryan ticket as well. Since my soapbox is for dealing with reality, right now we will address only the strategy with Biden as VP. (If President Obama, Mr. Axelrod or Mr. Messina are reading this and are inspired to make the switch, and IF they convince Hillary to do it, then we will revisit the approach).
Treat Biden like the albatross he is. You have 20 days until President Obama has to love the one he is with and 8 weeks until the debate. On September 7th, start up the ads about Biden's competency. Hammer him. Put on the pressure. Make it clear that he is one heartbeat, indictment, or catastrophe away from running the whole country. Then double down on it by highlighting Biden as the poster child for Barack's decision making. It was his first Presidential choice, show how questionable it is, then follow with a few other gems of his. By the time Biden gets to his debate he'll be rattled, and it is likely that President Obama would be, too.