If the 2020 presidential election plays out as I hope it will — and I will not take my preferred outcome for granted — then we are going to witness a truly historic political event.
We are going to witness what I believe could be the most astonishing political comeback in U.S. history.
Joe Biden will be nominated soon by the Democratic Party to take on Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent president of the United States. The winds are blowing briskly at Biden’s back … at the moment. I pray they will carry him to victory, enabling him to repair the damage Trump has brought to our republic.
How in the world did Biden get to this place?
He was elected to the Senate in 1972; then his wife and daughter died in a horrific auto accident. Young Joe Biden thought about quitting, as he had two young sons — both of whom were injured badly in that wreck, but who suddenly were without their mother. His Senate colleagues talked him into staying.
He sought the 1988 nomination. He was proud of bellowing about his working-class background. Oops! Wait! It turned out he was lifting comments, almost verbatim, from a British politician, Neil Kinnock, who came from similar hardscrabble beginnings. Biden was caught copying those remarks. He dropped out, embarrassed and possibly ashamed of himself.
Two decades later, he ran again for president. He got thumped in the early primaries by a young Illinois senator, a fellow named Barack Hussein Obama. Biden called it quits in the 2008 campaign. Obama then won the nomination, but before that he tapped Biden on the shoulder and asked him to join him on what the two of them would call “an incredible journey.” The Obama-Biden ticket won that race and served two successful terms at the top of the political chain of command.
Now comes 2020. Biden decides to run again for president. He gets shellacked in the early primaries. Iowa and New Hampshire didn’t go well … at all! He would bide his time. Biden waited for a key endorsement from a South Carolina political godfather, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Clyburn gave Biden a ringing endorsement. Biden won the South Carolina primary. He then won practically every other primary after that.
The man whose campaign was thought to be on life support then turned into a raging juggernaut.
He now stands on the precipice of becoming elected to the nation’s highest office. His entry into the Senate was nearly doomed by tragedy; his first run for president got derailed by the candidate’s own rhetorical carelessness; his second presidential run was steamrolled by a charismatic young pol; and his third presidential campaign needed a key endorsement by a leading African-American politician to get new life.
Do you get my point? Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been left for political dead more times than he cares to recall. I suggest that even if he loses to Trump, his comeback still will look impressive.
A victory, though, would put this working-class hero in a league all to himself.