Joe Biden is going to regret this decision.
Look, I get it. He was the vice president for two terms and still enjoys high favorable ratings among broad swaths of the Democratic Party.
Why not run? He’s 76. It’s now or never. He’s convinced himself he can cobble together both the Obama coalition of minority and liberal voters and the Trump coalition of the white working class. And, perhaps most importantly, he could do it in a field of newcomers, billionaires, and people who’ve never even won statewide.
However, he’s about to realize that – despite his high name ID and initial lead in most polls – his party doesn’t see him as a president anymore. They want him to help them raise money. They’d love for him to campaign for their candidates. But they’re just not in love with him.
Let me put it this way: Joe Biden is in the Democratic “friend zone.”
Now that Biden has signaled he’s running, he’s in for a reckoning on many fronts. But every attack will fit under a neat little narrative that is his biggest problem: the party has passed him by.
You’re going to hear it in a variety of ways:
“Time to turn the page on the ideas of the past.”
“We need a new generation of leadership.”
“The old ways won’t work anymore.”
Every attack on him from his fellow Democratic candidates will simply be a way to call both his ideas, and not so subtly Biden himself, too old to lead the nation.
The first and most obvious iteration of this attack will come by invoking Biden’s long career in the U.S. Senate.
How long you ask? Let me put it this way: then-Senator Biden was profiled by Time magazine as one of the “200 Faces for the Future” in 1974. And in his almost 50 years in public life, he’s been on the wrong side of a number of issues that his party has now put front and center.
On the issue of criminal justice reform, both parties have largely coalesced behind ideas that provide second chances to non-violent drug offenders and have rolled back stringent mandatory minimums.
Back in the 80s and 90s however, popular opinion was far from that point. Biden led the charge to abolish parole for most federal crimes, pushed mandatory minimums and strengthened laws surrounding the death penalty.
He even bragged that his crime bill “made it a death penalty offense for everything but jaywalking.”
Imagine that line in an ad?
Don’t worry. You don’t have to. It’s on video.
But perhaps the biggest worry for Biden on the policy front is his close ties with the banking lobby. Yes, it’s not a surprise that a Senator from Delaware supports relaxing banking and bankruptcy laws.
Though, to say the least, that is lightyears away from where the Democratic Party is today. The mortal sin for most liberals came when Biden pushed for a bill, they allege, “made it nearly impossible for average families to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.”
Imagine what Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will do with that on a debate stage?
Again, you don’t have to imagine. She’s been fileting him on it since 2002 when she was a Harvard Professor.
Aside from policy, there are cultural shifts that will not show Biden in a favorable light. In 1988, Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the controversial Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Biden came under fire, even back then, by liberal groups who felt he suppressed corroborating witnesses to Anita Hill and didn’t sufficiently support her claims.
Contrast that with the actions of current Judiciary Committee members Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight in the current #MeToo era. Those three not only were strident opponents of Kavanaugh's nomination but they did everything except dive in front of Chief Justice Roberts as he administered his oath.
On a multitude of fronts, Joe Biden is simply out of step with the state of the party. He can’t see it yet because he’s likely blinded by his ambition, longtime advisers acting as yes-men, and poll numbers based off his high name ID. He will soon though.
Congratulations, Uncle Joe. You’ve taken the leap.
But one thing is for sure: you’re in for a rude awakening in the months to come.