The Case for Joe Biden

August 4, 2015

Joe Biden is, by all accounts, seriously considering a presidential run. This is great news—for Democrats, for Republicans, for people who couldn't care less about politics, and, above all, for America. Biden may be a walking punchline of a politician with a propensity to literally say whatever pops into his head at a given moment, but that doesn't make the case for his candidacy any less real.

You might be thinking: Does the Democratic Party really need another old white person running for president? Well, no. But the Democrats need Biden, even if they don't deserve him.

Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field by a wide margin, but is struggling in ways that only Hillary Clinton can struggle. She's mired in scandal, and voters don't trust her. She refuses to take positions on important issues, such as the Keystone pipeline, and is often out of step with her own party on issues like fracking, the minimum wage, and Wall Street reform.

Biden, meanwhile, is averaging around 12 percent in the polls despite the fact that he's not even running. If he does enter the race, his chances of winning are slim, but Biden would in many ways be the perfect embodiment of the "anti-Hillary" candidate, without the weird paleo-socialism of Bernie Sanders. They have similar resumes in terms of leadership and experience, but what Hillary sorely lacks—authenticity, charm, personality, an understanding of how normal Americans live their lives—Biden packs in full measure. That's why he should run, and it's why Democratic voters should give him a chance, even though they probably won't.

Joe Biden loves politics. Not because he sees politics as a means to advance his personal ambitions, but because he loves people (in some cases, a little too much). Hillary, on the other hand, does not like politics, mostly because she's just not very good at it, at least not the part that involves interacting with everyday Americans. (She's proven to be somewhat efficient at courting donors, corporate sponsors, and foreign oligarchs.)

This explains why Hillary would show up at a Chipotle in Real America wearing industrial-tint sunglasses in the hope that no one would recognize her. (They didn't.) Biden would never do that. He would have shook the hand of every single person in that restaurant, he would have given back rubs, he would have commandeered a cell phone to wish some 90-year-old grandmother happy birthday, he would have Skyped with a baby.

Biden says what's on his mind. He's not afraid to gaffe. If you ask him about his favorite flavor of ice cream, or how he takes his coffee, or who he wants to see on the new $10 bill, he will give you a definitive answer. This may seem like a low bar, but it's one that Hillary Clinton is incapable of meeting (see: here, here, and here). Want to find out where he stands on Keystone and the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Just ask him. None of this "I'm sorry if people want me to...I will not express an opinion" nonsense. Ask him about he greatest weakness, and he won't say it's getting frustrated when people don't understand why he should be the president.

Unlike Hillary, the vice president was not afraid to lead on key issues like gay marriage. He voiced his support in 2012, before Obama could admit that he was lying about his position back in 2008, and almost three years before Hillary Clinton affirmed her belief in a constitutional right to gay marriage. This is clearly embarrassing for Hillary, otherwise she wouldn't find it necessary to fudge the facts about her "evolution" on the issue.

The fact that many Democrats don't really want Biden to run is actually an argument in favor of him running. First of all, it's somewhat odd that the overwhelming Democratic frontrunner is also the only candidate currently facing (an) unresolved, and potentially explosive, political scandal(s). It's especially odd that, after repeatedly denouncing "career politicians," "corporate greed," "special interests," and "Bush's war," Democrats are lining up to coronate a Wall Street-allied career politician who voted for the Iraq War and made a fortune giving speeches to various corporate entities and special interest groups. After all, these were the reasons why Democratic voters rejected Hillary so emphatically in 2008.

Sure, a lot of this can be said about Biden too, but at least he hasn't sold out to corporate/lobbying world, and is only slightly more likely than Bernie Sanders to do so. Biden's net worth is, at most, roughly equal to four Hillary Clinton speeches ($800,000). And yet, somehow, he still considers himself to be "really, really fortunate." If Biden ran, he would have to forgo a lucrative consulting gig, at least temporarily. Hillary quit her job at the State Department so she could maximize her already substantial fortune, because being president only pays $400,000 a year.

Other than the fact that Hillary is a woman...

Never mind.