|A dramatic moment in the Rose Garden|
It is good for the Democratic Party because it avoided an unnecessary and potentially unpleasant clash between two friends and former colleagues, Clinton and Biden, whose positions on most issues are similar and whose candidacies could only have divided their mainstream constituency. That could have paved the way for a third candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a Democratic Socialist, whose loyalty to the Democratic Party is somewhat problematic, and whose chances of winning the national election are questionable.
It is good for President Obama because it assures him of the continued availability and involvement of his trusted friend and colleague for the remainder of his term in office. There is much left to be accomplished and the Vice President has been and now can continue to be an important ally and spokesperson for the Obama legacy. Were he to have entered the presidential race, his time would of necessity have been largely preoccupied with the rigors of campaigning, made even more demanding by the lateness of his declaration.
It is good for Secretary Clinton, because, as she herself has repeatedly said, Joe Biden is a good friend and respected colleague, and should she become the Democratic nominee, as expected, he will be a strong and valuable supporter. Far better that than a rival!
It is a good decision for Mr. Biden himself, because in my view though he could have weakened Hillary’ candidacy, he could not have beaten her. The downward trending of his poll numbers has made that increasingly clear. She leads him by sizable margins in every national poll. I think that realization was the determinate factor in Joe Biden’s decision not to run. Despite the disappointment he must feel over his unfilled career-long desire to be President of the United States, he can remain the beloved figure he has become as probably the most popular Vice President ever. He won’t have to go through the harsh scrutiny to which he would be subjected as a presidential candidate, nor face the reminders of some of the skeletons in his own political closet. Instead he can play an important role in helping to shape the substance of the on-going political discussion, while insuring that the Obama legacy, of which he has been such an importance part, is firmly established and clearly articulated.
One other comment: Mr. Biden had to make his announcement today. If he had waited until after Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi tomorrow, his decision, whichever way he decided, would have been subject to the criticism of being motivated by political expediency. In the minds of many it would have called the lie to the reasons he has been giving all along. To his credit, Mr. Biden made clear that it was no longer the worry about the lingering emotional impact of his son Beau’s death that was deterring him, but the cold fact that it was too late for him to enter the race. (Translation: he didn’t think he could win!)
Those are my quick thoughts following Joe Biden’s moment in the Rose Garden this afternoon. Let’s see what the spin doctors and pundits have to say.