Joe Biden, the Democratic Primary You-Know-What Detector
Peter Beinart makes the case for Biden in the primary: He’ll keep everyone else honest.
Biden just wants his opponents to be honest about what they’re proposing. Because, if they are, they will have to begin a highly unpleasant and urgently needed debate about how to handle the awful consequences of a necessary withdrawal. No one really knows how an all-out Iraqi civil war will affect the Middle East, but, as the Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack and Daniel Byman recently argued, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, and even Iran could be destabilized by waves of refugees, weapons, and jihadists. Keeping those countries from buckling may require aggressive diplomatic, financial, and even military intervention (not to mention a generous refugee policy for the Iraqis whose country we have helped destroy). It’s little wonder that top-tier Democratic candidates avoid discussing this for fear of being labeled defeatist. But, if they do, they’ll be allowing George W. Bush to do further damage. Four years ago, the Bush administration didn’t plan for how to keep the peace in post-Saddam Iraq. Now Democrats must begin a debate about how to keep the peace in the entire Middle East.
If Biden can force his presidential opponents into that discussion, he’ll be doing the country a service. It’s not the role he probably imagined for himself. But it’s crucial and honorable. And it’s why he should stay in the race.
And considering how Biden launched his campaign with some scoffing and mockery of his rivals, Maureen Dowd writes something intriguing today in her subscription-only column poking at Obama:
For some of us, it’s hard to fathom being upset at getting accused of looking great in a bathing suit. But his friends say it played into this Harvard grad’s fear of being seen as “a dumb blond.” He has been known to privately mock “pretty boys” (read John Edwards, the Breck Girl of 2004).
Is this Dowd putting words in the senator’s mouth? Or does Obama mock Edwards when he’s off the record?