Making the click-through worthwhile: Asking whether Joe Biden begins his 2020 campaign in a position comparable to Jeb Bush or a different unsuccessful presidential candidate, the long-dispelled arguments about the NRA convention that rise like zombies each year, and some good economic news to close out the week.
Is Joe Biden the Next Jeb Bush? Or the Next Hillary Clinton?
The hot comparison in pundit circles is that Joe Biden is the next Jeb Bush — huge name identification and a lot of friends in his party’s elite circles, but unable to excite the party’s grassroots. That sort of works although ironically Jeb Bush had a better fundraising network and had never spent time in elected office in Washington. (Our John McCormack raises some objections to the comparison here.) But I wonder if the better comparison for Biden is . . . Hillary Clinton.
The 2016 Democratic primary demonstrated there were a lot of ways that Hillary Clinton was out of step with her party’s grassroots. Democratic activists had grown to loathe Wall Street with a passion since the Great Recession; Hillary had courted it and largely been an ally as a New York senator.
As a senator from Delaware, Biden was one of the banking and financial service industries’ best friends.
Hillary Clinton tried to attack Trump on his awful treatment of women, but Trump just turned around the discussion to Bill Clinton’s misdeeds. We’ve already seen Biden forced to make a quasi-apology “This is who I am” video for the way he touches female strangers. The New York Times reports that Biden reached out to Anita Hill to apologize for how he managed the Clarence Thomas hearings way back in 1991. It did not go well:
In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Hill declined to call the conversation an apology and said she thinks Biden fails to grasp the damage he did to her and other victims of sexual harassment.
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, I’m sorry for what happened to you,” she told the Times. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
Usually, candidates who have been in office for a long time run on their records. Like Hillary Clinton having to abandon her husband’s crime and trade policies as president, Joe Biden is going to have to run away from his past support for the death penalty and harsher sentences.
Like Hillary, Biden has a habit of ignoring or hand-waving away his past stances when they’re inconvenient. In the 2012 vice presidential debate, he argued:
And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, “Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?” It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can’t afford that.
First, the Great Recession did not occur because of excess federal government debt; if excessive federal government debt caused recessions, we would never get out of them. Secondly, Biden voted for both of those wars that were “put on a credit card,” and yet in a vice-presidential debate he’s asserting that he voted against them!
When Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016, he was this odd combination of a figure who had been in Congress for a long time but who seemed like a fresh face, because most Americans had barely heard anything about him. Hillary Clinton, by comparison, had been in the news for almost every single day since early 1992. Joe Biden’s been making headlines since the 1980s, some might argue the 1970s. Biden is the definition of the Democratic establishment and the embodiment of the pre-2017 status quo. The pre-2017 status quo already went up against Donald Trump and fell short.
Finally, there’s no getting around the fact that the Joe Biden of 2019 just looks older than the man we saw standing next to Obama a few years ago.
Remember in the autumn of 2016, after Hillary Clinton had her coughing fits on the campaign trail and her uncomfortable-looking sudden collapse while leaving the 9/11 anniversary ceremony? Despite the assurances that Clinton’s health was fine, she had been suffering from pneumonia and had become dehydrated. Then Democratic National Committee-chair Donna Brazile was sufficiently worried about Clinton’s health that she secretly started making contingency plans to replace Clinton atop the ticket. (Apparently Biden called Brazile, eager to volunteer.) Hillary Clinton was 69 when the effects of a relentless campaign started taking their toll. Joe Biden turns 77 in November.
How well will Biden weather the exhausting life on the campaign trail?
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis . . .
Stay tuned to the Corner today for more coverage of the National Rifle Associations’ annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. Yesterday brought discussion of the newfound scrutiny on the NRA’s Board of Directors and the organization’s dissatisfaction with insufficient due-process protections in enacted and proposed “red flag” legislation. Today President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and several other GOP lawmakers address the attendees.
You inevitably will hear today someone arguing that the NRA is hypocritical because attendees comply with U.S. Secret Service rules and regulations about the presence of firearms near the president — that is, firearms are prohibited from Lucas Oil Stadium. We went through this in 2017 and 2018 as well, and each year, spurred by gun-control advocates, some media organization writes an article in the vein of, “ah-ha! If NRA members really thought guns in anyone’s hands always made everyone safer (not really an accurate summary of their views) then they would violate the U.S. Secret Service’s requirements!”
Look, if you want a U.S. president to speak at your event, you must comply with the U.S. Secret Service requirements, period. You can count the reasons for this strict enforcement on one hand: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. The fact that previous presidents have been assassinated with firearms doesn’t mean that all use of firearms is bad, any more than a use of a gun in self-defense means that all use of firearms is good.
When the NRA puts on a convention, they instruct all members to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local gun laws, and if a particular venue has a policy on firearms, they tell members to comply with those. (There are only so many convention centers in the country that can handle an event with 80,000 attendees.)
Every year, all of the firearms on display at the convention have their firing pins removed; every year, some members of the media expresses shock at that and insist that the policy is some sort of epic hypocrisy. Apparently these people have never been in any gun store anywhere and thinks that every gun for sale is kept loaded.
How Does 3.2 Percent Economic Growth Sound to You Right Now?
As the late baseball announcer Mel Allen would say, “how about that?” “The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.2 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, a far better outcome than expected, overcoming a host of headwinds including global weakness, rising trade tensions and a partial government shutdown.”
ADDENDA: Hey, four of my five guesses about the first picks in the NFL Draft turned out right! And let’s face it, no one can understand what the Oakland Raiders are doing.