The Corner

Elections

Joe Biden’s Great Night

Former vice president Joe Biden at his Super Tuesday night rally in Los Angeles, Calif., March 3, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg are issuing insane statements about fighting on like a Japanese soldier lost in the Philippine jungle in the 1950s. Bernie Sanders has to salvage his campaign in the Lone Star State and in California before the sun rises. He may come out close to Joe Biden — or Biden may have the delegate lead at the end of the night.

I’ve been bearish on Biden’s chances on winning the nomination from the very beginning. Even a few days before South Carolina, I was giving Bernie Sanders a 95 percent chance. It was a broken field, and he was best positioned to continue running through it.

Tonight Biden won by large margins states in which he was polling a distant fourth or fifth just last week. He won states in which he was on track not to qualify for any delegates at all last week. I think a few things helped: Bernie Sanders talking about Cuba is bad for the Bernie Sanders campaign; Biden’s victory in South Carolina became a reason for others in his lane to drop out and endorse him to stop Sanders; and the electoral calendar put the biggest contest just days after his big victory, with no televised debate in between. That last part was extremely important.

I think Biden starts to break down after the first half-hour of every debate he is in, even the debates where he gets one-seventh of the total speaking time. I still expect him to be exposed badly in televised debates to come, where he’ll have to speak more and take on a smaller range of candidates. If the Democratic Party wants to help Biden, they’ll find a way to include Tulsi Gabbard in the next debate as time-filler.

Most of my compatriots are pleased at the result, having hoped that Democrats would reject Sanders and his socialism. I find myself more in the opposite mood. For one thing, I naturally dislike the current establishments of both parties and believe they can be improved only by meaningful challenge. But, more importantly, I think Joe Biden is clearly mentally unfit to campaign or to be president. I think he should be back home enjoying his moments of clarity with his family. I think he is being put in a position to embarrass himself, and further embarrass his party and our country. I find the possibility of his nomination frightening for what it says about our institutions. (Yes, I felt much the same way four years ago.)

I don’t particularly relish the idea of rebuking voters this way. They chose Joe Biden for their own reasons. I would note only that he prospered well in Super Tuesday states where he wasn’t actively campaigning. In Iowa and New Hampshire, his appearances seemed to deplete his support.

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