Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Human Gaffe Machine

I am old enough to remember Joe Biden running for the 1988 Democrat nomination for President.


Biden struggled in that race amid allegations that he had plagiarized a speech by a British politician compounded by revelations that he had also plagiarized a law review article he wrote while in law school.

Biden waited 20 years to run for President again. He put his hat in the ring for the 2008 Democrat nomination against both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

It was in this time period that Biden made a couple of his more famous verbal gaffes.

Referring to Indian Americans he said the following.

 "I've had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."

He also said this about Barack Obama, his competitor for the 2008 nomination.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Statements like these hurt his fundraising efforts, and after garnering less than 1% of the delegates in the Iowa caucus, he withdrew from the race.

Biden got a renewed political life when Barack Obama selected him as his Vice President candidate but the gaffes continued.

During that 2008 campaign he famously told a Missouri state senator, who was a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair, to stand up and take a bow.

If anyone thought that Joe Biden would get better with age, they would be profoundly disappointed by now.

Biden at age 76 has become a human gaffe machine on the campaign trail. It seems that a gaffe comes out of his mouth almost every time he opens it.

A few examples over the last month.

He stated that "poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids." Who are the poor kids if they are not white?

He claimed he met with survivors of the Parkland High School shootings last year when he was Vice President. Biden was not the VP at that time, Mike Pence was.

Biden reminisced how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been shot in the 1970's. They were shot in the 1960's.

He told an audience in New Hampshire that he was happy to be in Vermont. If New Hampshire is famous for its early primary why would Biden think he was in Vermont?

He told a student at Keene State University in New Hampshire that she should be thankful that her parents has sent her to a private college. Doesn't the name of the school tell you it is public?

Biden really got carried away when he said, "We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts." Truth over facts?

Just this week The Washington Post reported that Biden told a moving war story to an audience in New Hampshire. "This is the God's truth," Biden had said as he told the story. "My word as a Biden."
However, the Post stated that almost every detail in the story was incorrect.

It would be easy to say that Biden is not ready for prime time. However, the fact is that he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 when he was 30 years of age---the bare constitutional minimum. He was VP for 8 years. This is his third Presidential race.

Perhaps he is just past his prime. However, he has been famous for his gaffes for years and years. They just seem to be more prolific right now.

Time Magazine did a Biden Top 10 gaffes back in 2008.

Biden has been the odds-on favorite to win the Democrat nomination since he got in the race. However, his poll numbers have lately been trending down.

Will he be the Democrat nominee?

Democrats do not usually nominate the big establishment candidate. They seem to favor outsiders most of the time. They also tend to like younger, less experienced candidates to carry the party banner into the election.

In addition, when they have deviated from this model, the Democrats have lost the general election.

Think about who have represented the Democrats when it was an open primary with no incumbent in recent history.

Jimmy Carter, a little known Georgia Governor, won the nomination in 1976.

In 1984, the Democrats went against type and nominated Carter's VP, Walter Mondale. Reagan won the electoral college 525-13!

In 1988 the Democrats chose Michael Dukakis, the Governor of Massachusetts, another outsider who was also further left than most of the party.

Bill Clinton was the nominee in 1992. A young governor from a small state outside of the Washington establishment.

Al Gore, Clinton's VP, won the nomination in 2000 but the establishment Democrat lost to George W. Bush.

Kerry was the nominee in 2004 but he also got beat in the general election.

The Democrats then turned to a young, unknown Illinois senator over two establishment heavyweights (Hillary and Biden) who beat them both for the nomination and then won two terms against establishment Republicans.

It appears that Bernie Sanders was the real choice of the Democrats in 2016 but the DNC fixed the nomination for Hillary with the use of super delegates. Hillary then lost to a decidedly non-Establishment Donald Trump.

Can the Human Gaffe Machine win the Democrat nomination? I will be shocked if Biden prevails through the primary process. If he does win, it will truly show just how far most Democrat candidates have strayed compared to where most Democrat voters are. Biden might be what they believe is the only reasonable choice. That will say a lot in itself.

Can Biden win the general election against Trump? Who would want to put odds on what might come out of either of these candidates' mouths over the next 14 months? That is an eternity and a half with both of these guys.

However, in a recent column, political commentator Larry Elder sees it this way.

Stay tuned. It will no doubt be interesting to see what comes next.

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