There is talk of Joe Biden running for president in 2020, much of it generated by Joe Biden himself.
I think that's highly unlikely, if only because Biden will turn 78 right after the election. But the way the discussion is playing out is quite revealing.
Whatever Biden’s flaws as a politician — his past presidential runs have been flops — he does have a down-to-earth, ride-the-Amtrak authenticity that resonates with working-class voters. He would have fared better than Hillary Clinton in such states as Michigan and Pennsylvania. He speaks — sometimes far too long — from the gut in a way that she never has.
But a piece in the liberal Huffington Post says he shouldn’t run because in the Harvey Weinstein era, he's, well, a hands-on politician:
Amanda Terkel writes that Biden’s behavior had "patronizing undercurrents. A big part of his act was remarking on the attractiveness of women, young and old. He would comment on how pretty young women were and warn their fathers to keep the guys away ..."
"He grabbed people's hands, put his arm around them and even kissed people on the cheek. But it's clear some people were uncomfortable. The teenage daughter of Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., for example, visibly cringed and pulled away when Biden whispered in her ear and kissed her on the head."
What’s more, many on the left say Biden, as the Judiciary Committee chairman in 1991, was unfair to Anita Hill, who alleged that she was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas. "Part of his record remains the way he treated Hill," Terkel says. "And for that, he has never fully apologized. Instead, on Monday, he said he felt bad that Hill felt she had been mistreated ― but he still insisted he was her champion."
The former vice president has been making the television rounds promoting a memoir. And Politico reports that he doesn't see another Democrat who can beat Trump: "So, he's been telling people privately, that might mean he’ll just have to run himself."
I’m sure he was encouraged by a Politico/Morning Consult poll that has him beating Trump 46 to 35 percent, although such early surveys are largely meaningless.
Biden, who says he didn't run last year because of the death of his son Beau, says Barack Obama is "like family" and would obviously appeal to those who miss the Obama years. But as a senator for more than 35 years, the ex-VP can hardly run as a fresh face who could clean up Washington.
Still, he knows that stoking speculation about a future run keeps him in the news, especially when he’s trying to sell a book.
"I'm not closing that door. I’ve been around too long," Biden told the "Today" show.
That, of course, is part of the problem.