Character counts in politics, as do policies and political fortitude. Most successful presidential candidates have a defining message and they brand their party with their own political policies.
From WSJ Editors:
- Bill Clinton was a New Democrat who would reform welfare.
- George W. Bush was a compassionate conservative.
- Barack Obama was a multiracial uniter who’d transcend red and blue state differences.
- Donald Trump was the populist disrupter of the establishment.
How Will the Party Figurehead Govern
Joe Biden? Alas, as the WSJ continues, the former VP has no defining message.
Is there a single policy, or even a phrase, that identifies what Biden has stood for in this campaign, continues the WSJ.
The closest might have been a return to normalcy. But sometime in recent months that gave way to the party’s desire for transformational economic and social change.
More than any recent presidential nominee, Mr. Biden is more figurehead than party leader. He was the fail-safe choice, the last-ditch savior in South Carolina, after Bernie Sanders looked like he could run the primary table. Mr. Biden was lifted by his party’s elites. He owes them more than they owe him.
If Mr. Biden should win by his current polling margin, ushering in, as some predict, a Democratic sweep of Congress, “what is the likelihood that Mr. Biden would be able to control, or want to control, the progressive ambitions of House and Senate Democrats and the institutional left?”
Biden’s Career Reason for Pessimism
- Biden opposed taxpayer funding for abortion for four decades until he reversed himself last year.
- In the 1990s Biden led the fight for a crime bill that he now disavows as he finds America guilty of systemic racism.
- Biden admitted he would probably vote for Robert Bork because of his qualifications. That was before Ted Kennedy launched a tirade against the jurist, and Mr. Biden, running the Judiciary Committee at the time, fell in line.
- Biden, chairing at the time Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002. Then the fighting became more difficult, and Biden flipped when most Democrats did.
- Biden opposed the 2007 Iraq surge, saying it would fail. Then in 2011, he supported Barack Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq that set the stage for the rise of Islamic State. He opposed the raid on Osama bin Laden.
Biden’s Bow to Progressives
As his polling lead has grown, Mr. Biden has said the 60-vote filibuster rule in the Senate might have to go, which would forestall the need for compromise. He has moved left since the primaries, absorbing Bernie Sanders’s priorities on student debt and much of the Green New Deal.
Fast and Furious Gauzy Platitudes
(Biden’s) choice of California Senator Kamala Harris as running mate was a bow to the party’s desire for a progressive as his likely successor. But his speech, like the convention, focused on his platform only in the most general terms, mostly with gauzy platitudes.
House Speaker Pelosi Would Be Driving Policy
Misjudgments on hard questions are inevitable, and every President makes them. But one test of political character is the willingness to stand up to pressure and make hard choices even when they’re politically unpopular. Mr. Biden has no record of doing so.