I had a column about the coming showdown between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders nearly ready for submission last night. I thought I'd wait for Super Tuesday results to come in overnight before polishing it up and pressing the little paper airplane icon at the top of the screen. I'm glad I waited.
I'm not the only observer to be shocked at Biden's sudden resurgence. There are still delegates to be chosen in the Democratic race and Bernie could still claw his way back, but for now Biden has all the momentum. With his Texas win Tuesday night he's shown that he can win a big state with a large Hispanic population and that is a significant development.
There were so many reasons to count Biden out. Until his win in South Carolina last week he'd had an unbroken record of losing every race outside of Delaware — where he'd been elected to the U.S. Senate countless times — and a few races where Barak Obama topped the ticket. Joe's past presidential runs had failed abysmally. He was a poor candidate, prone to astonishing verbal gaffes, odd behavior, and a performance at the Clarence Thomas hearings that somehow managed to alienate both sides of the political aisle. In his first campaign for president in 1988 he had to withdraw when it came to light that he'd plagiarized a speech, lifting passages from British politician Neal Kinnock, and presenting them as his own story. The gaffes for which he's famous increased in the days leading up to Super Tuesday, which he called Super Thursday before correcting himself much to the amusement of his audience. He also began a recitation of the Declaration of Independence that soon floundered, saying, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men and women created by, ah, you know, you know the thing. "
When it comes to gaffes, misstatements, false narratives and bending the truth, I can think of no equal to Biden on the political scene today. Oh, wait a minute, I just thought of one. The column I wrote yesterday before dropping it compared Sanders to Trump. It looks like there are some disturbing comparisons to be made in the Biden-Trump matchup, also. If either wins in November, or if Bernie turns this race around and surges to face the incumbent, whichever way it turns out, we will be electing the oldest President yet.
It's not even close. Bernie, who will be 79 in November, is the oldest of the group and looks it, but when it comes to mental and verbal acuity he appears to be the most sound. We don't always elect candidates on that basis. We do tend to vote for people who do not have a history of praising Marxist regimes and stirring up class warfare, but that trend may be over. The times they are a changing.
I think I understand Bernie's appeal. It's about his message. It's not the man. Lately he's repackaged his brand to call himself a Democratic Socialist. He says he would reshape America to look more like Denmark and other Nordic democracies. His supporters claim that he would extend FDR's New Deal. Free healthcare, you've got it! Free education is on its way. Free childcare will follow. Free housing is in the cards. Are any aspects of his programs affordable? Just asking to see the price tag shows lack of commitment and demonstrates a Republican meanness and lack of compassion.
Anyhow, these programs exist on an entirely different level than pedestrian concerns such as dollars and sense. This is a movement. It bestows nobility and sense of purpose to its adherents. Maybe movement is too weak a term. Bernie-ism is a religious crusade. It requires faith. It's disdainful of prosaic realities.
So where does Biden fit in? Why has he suddenly grown so popular? There are two reasons — nostalgia and revulsion. Biden was Obama's wingman. Obama spoke well and looked great. His family looked great. The press loved him. You've got to admit he had the best public relations department of any past president and the White House never had to pay a penny for it. With very few exceptions newspapers and television across the country were fully committed to acting on the administration's behalf. The people's watchdog was their lapdog. That's the nostalgia part. The revulsion is aimed at Trump. Defeating him is paramount. If Sanders is too radical to get elected in the general election then working class Joe may be the answer. So far Democrats are willing to overlook all of his faults, hoping he'll get the job done. That's one heck of a gamble. Joe is losing his grasp. He's growing older and more confused before our eyes. He's a terrible bet.