The Corner

Elections

Are Democrats Sure Biden Is Different Enough from Hillary Clinton?

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton welcomes former vice president Joe Biden in Scranton, Penn., August 15, 2016. (Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

How confident should the Joe Biden team be right now?

Think about all of the factors that contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016. She was a figure who had been around a long time, among the best-known names in the party establishment. As a senator, she worked closely with her home state’s financial industry, leaving some liberal grassroots concluding she was a corporatist who was far too comfortable with big business. Critics asked how someone who had spent the past few decades in the public sector could so quickly become a multimillionaire, and contended that her family foundation had engaged in shady deals with foreign governments and foreign businesses. Some people couldn’t believe she wanted to charge University of Missouri at Kansas City a whopping $275,000 to give a speech at a luncheon.

More progressive figures challenged her in the primary, and activists on the Left hit her hard for her punitive stances on crime in the 1990s, including describing young gang members as “super-predators.” She attempted to shore up her support among African Americans by emphasizing her close work with Barack Obama.

During the tough primary fight and into the general election fight, there were intermittent signs that Hillary Clinton was not at the top of her game – from claiming to being “dead broke” upon leaving the White House, to ham-handed comparisons to “your abuela,” to the “basket of deplorables” statement. After her loss, Hillary Clinton admitted, “I really wasn’t ready or equipped to run for president against a reality TV candidate.”

Now here comes Joe Biden. . . another figure who had been around a long time, among the best-known names in the party establishment. As a senator, he worked closely with his home state’s financial industry, leaving some liberal grassroots concluding he was a corporatist who was far too comfortable with big business. Critics are asking how someone who had spent the past few decades in the public sector could so quickly become a multimillionaire and contended that members of Biden’s family have engaged in shady deals with foreign governments and foreign businesses.

Some people can’t believe that University of Pennsylvania paid Biden more than $900,000 in a two-year span for an honorary professorship.

More progressive figures are challenging him in the primary, and activists on the Left are hitting him hard for his punitive stances on crime in the 1990s, including his statement that his philosophy was to“lock the S.O.B.s up.’” He’s attempting to hold onto his support among African Americans by emphasizing his close work with Barack Obama.

Already there are intermittent signs that Biden is not at the top of his game. He’s boasted that he’s the only candidate who’s gotten “the number of clips in a gun banned” and declared that Russian election interference would not “have happened on my watch or Barack’s watch.” After that last rough debate with Kamala Harris, Biden admitted, “I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me.”

But hey, what are the odds that the 76-year-old Biden will have a health issue during a September 11 anniversary ceremony?

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