The Corner

Elections

Maybe Biden Is the Moderate Lane

By the standards of the day before yesterday, Joe Biden is a liberal Democrat. He’s a moderate Democrat only by the standards of today’s party, in which several of the leading presidential candidates have come out for banning private health insurance. Those moderate stances ought to make him a stronger candidate in the general election. But he has weaknesses that are distinct from his positions on the issues. You’d think, then, that there would be a market in the Democratic primaries for a candidate who had his relatively moderate stances but was younger and less gaffe-prone.

Some of the Democratic campaigns seem to be premised on that idea — or at least on the possibility that if Biden were eliminated there would be room for such a candidate. But that’s looking less and less likely. None of the other relative moderates has gone anywhere, and a few of them, such as John Hickenlooper and Seth Moulton, have already dropped out. My guess is that if Biden falters, even because of his personal rather than his ideological qualities, it will be taken by a lot of Democrats as a victory for the Left in an intraparty referendum on moderation.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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