Joseph R. Biden’s possible presidential candidacy in 2020 fills me with equal parts hope and dread.
Actually, the dread part might be a bit greater than the hope.
The former vice president reportedly is thinking hard about running for president in 2020. I presume he wants to challenge Donald John Trump Sr., who’s already formed a re-election campaign committee and has been speaking at political rallies almost from the first day of his presidency.
Biden is being coy, naturally. He says he is concentrating first in this year’s mid-term election that he hopes will elect more Democrats to public office.
Let me stipulate two points about hope and dread.
The Hope: I have admired Biden for decades, dating back to the horrific personal tragedy he endured in 1972 when he was first elected to the U.S. Senate. His wife and daughter died in a car accident shortly after the election that year and Biden wrestled with whether he wanted to become a senator.
His friends counseled him to serve. He took their advice and served in the Senate from 1973 until he was tapped by fellow Sen. Barack Obama to run with him on the 2008 Democratic ticket; Obama and Biden won that contest and Biden became a valuable member of the Obama administration.
Biden’s Senate career hit its share of bumps along the way. He was prone to talking too much. He got ensnared in a copycat scandal in which he lifted remarks from a British politician and used them as his own in telling his life story; that embarrassment cost him dearly and he had to pull out of his first run for president in 1987.
Then there was the time during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Biden had five minutes to ask a question, but he spent damn near all of it on a soliloquy about why he opposed Alito. Sheesh!
But the ex-VP is a patriot who loves this country and has given much in service to it. He might want one more tour of public service duty.
The Dread: As much as I admire Biden, I still believe Democrats need to reach out to the back bench to find a nominee to challenge Trump. I believe 2020 will provide an opportunity to find someone who is on no one’s political radar at the moment.
Barack Obama came out of nowhere in 2008. So did Jimmy Carter in 1976. I’m not saying Democrats should nominate another Obama or Carter, but rather they should find someone who is as unknown as they both were to the American public.
There’s also the issue of age. Vice President Biden would be the oldest man ever elected president were he to win in 2020. He’s already on record saying he would serve a single term before bowing out — which would make him a lame-duck the minute he took his hand off the Bible at his swearing in.
I am reminded of something a late Clackamas County (Ore.) sheriff once told me after he took office when his predecessor resigned. Bill Brooks announced immediately he would run for election. “If I don’t run I become a lame duck,” Brooks said. “Lame ducks get bulldozed and I don’t bulldoze worth a s**t.”
A 78-year-old President Biden would get bulldozed, too.
Would I still support a Biden candidacy over Donald Trump?
Duh! What in the world do you think?