The left is suddenly piling on Joe Biden, with ample help from the media.
It was inevitable that some of the more liberal candidates would go after Joe because he's in a position to cruise to the nomination unless he gets roughed up.
And journalists are primed for any takedown attempt because they want a competitive race, and Biden is turning it into a snooze-a-thon.
What's more, many journalists and pundits agree with the carping that Biden isn't liberal enough. And simmering in the background is a bit of embarrassment that they predicted Biden would be such a weak candidate; they wouldn't mind a little retroactive vindication.
It took the former vice president all of one day before he caved last night on the Hyde Amendment. Never mind that his more liberal rivals were using it to taunt him. Never mind that the press was overwhelmingly relying on critiques from abortion rights advocates and portraying Biden’s stance as a moral failing.
He had taken a stance, the same stance he's had for decades, as a matter of principle. And then he melted.
Before the abrupt reversal, a New York Times piece quoted the head of Naral Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. A piece in The Hill quoted the same head of Naral Pro-Choice America, an activist with Naral Pro-Choice Virginia, and an activist with the All*Above All Action Fund, another abortion rights group. A Politico report quoted an executive from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. This is quite typical, a flood of stories and segments in which no pro-life group is given even a token comment.
The Hyde Amendment, a 40-year-old measure named for the late GOP congressman Henry Hyde, bars federal funds from being used for abortion.
Bill Clinton supported the Hyde Amendment. Barack Obama didn't try to repeal the Hyde Amendment even with a Democratic Congress. Polls show nearly 60 percent support for the measure.
Now I get that the party has moved left on the issue. And I understand the argument that the bar on federal aid makes it more difficult for poor and minority women to get abortions.
What I'm not seeing in most of these stories and segments is an acknowledgment of the other side: that millions of Americans who are strongly pro-life would be offended by having their tax dollars fund a procedure they view as tantamount to murder. And only a few journalists noted that Biden, a Catholic politician, may actually have been defending a middle ground that he believed in.
I will say I don't find Biden very nimble when these controversies erupt. His campaign issued a statement saying the Hyde Amendment doesn't stop groups that provide women with "lifesaving health services" from getting federal money, and he'd be "open to repeal" if access to abortion were further curtailed. But he should have addressed it himself rather than leaving a void that allowed the pressure to build.
The Washington Post ran an opinion piece by Romper editor Danielle Campoamor, saying Biden is "throwing under the bus the people whose support he needs most directly, at a moment when they are uniquely vulnerable." Biden is, she declares, "unfit to lead."
Notice how sticking with the stance that was mainstream Democratic policy just three years ago has now become a miserable moral shortcoming?
Biden needed a fig leaf to cover his flip-flop, so last night he talked about how Republican governors in certain states are passing extreme laws restricting access to abortion or outlawing the procedure after a certain time. But that was the case when Biden decided to stand his ground on Hyde.
He had a choice, stand up to his increasingly progressive party on the question of federal funding or go along with the lefty crowd. And he sent a signal that he's willing to bend to win the nomination.
The other controversy, a non-issue in my view, is the return of "plagiarism."
Biden was humiliated in 1987, during his first run for president, when he lifted words from other politicians. That knocked him out of the race and has been a scar ever since.
But journalistic attempts to tie that to some sloppy work by campaign staffers is a real stretch.
In assembling a lengthy plan on climate change, and another on education, aides cited certain passages, facts and figures from policy organizations without proper attribution. Is that a good practice? No. But Biden wasn't even personally involved.
What's more, all campaigns do a certain amount of cutting-and-pasting when assembling these dense policy tomes. Check out this second-day Politico headline:
"2020 Democrats Have Widespread Practice of Lifting Policy Material."
It says: "A POLITICO review found previously published material on the official campaign websites of Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, as well as frequent use of facts and data without citation on a number of others."
So why did only Biden get whacked? Because it's tempting for The Washington Post, for instance, to run this story:
"Echoes of Biden's 1987 Plagiarism Scandal Continue to Reverberate."
Sorry, this is a non-story that actual voters won't care about.
Biden will make plenty of errors in this campaign. But there will rarely be as clear a case as the way he got rolled on abortion. It was his first defeat of the primaries.