NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Flanked by Obama, Joe Biden declares he will not be a candidate for President in 2016

Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has announced that he will not be a can­di­date for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States next year, say­ing that he did not see a path for­ward for a cam­paign after con­sul­ta­tions with his family.

Flanked by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and the Sec­ond Lady, his wife Jill Biden, the Vice Pres­i­dent made his deci­sion known in the Rose Gar­den in live tele­vised remarks also wit­nessed by the White House press corps.

The mass media has been beck­on­ing Biden to get into the race for weeks, gen­er­at­ing sto­ry after sto­ry spec­u­lat­ing on a Biden bid.

But today, the Vice Pres­i­dent put an end to the rumor and intrigue by stat­ing the obvi­ous: his win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty has closed. Had he launched a cam­paign late last year, or ear­ly this year, he could have been a con­tender. But he chose not to. Grant­ed, his son Beau was in ill health and passed away a few months ago. No one should blame Biden for putting his fam­i­ly ahead of polit­i­cal considerations.

In a pos­si­ble fore­shad­ow­ing of his announce­ment today, Biden remarked yes­ter­day that he did not per­ceive Repub­li­cans as an ene­my, and that that he was a Dick Cheney fan. “I actu­al­ly like Dick Cheney, for real,” Biden said at an event hon­or­ing Wal­ter Mon­dale. “I get on with him. I think he’s a decent man.”

Most Democ­rats and pro­gres­sives would sharply dis­agree with that state­ment. We our­selves con­sid­er Cheney one of the worst and most manip­u­la­tive peo­ple ever to have held the office Biden holds now. We’d like to see Cheney and oth­er Bush admin­is­tra­tion fig­ures pros­e­cut­ed for war crimes. They have not been held account­able by this admin­is­tra­tion, which is a great shame.

Biden also said, at the same event, “It’s most impor­tant that every­one in this room under­stand the oth­er team is not the ene­my… End this notion that it is naive to think we can speak well of the oth­er par­ty and cooperation.”

That’s a fine sen­ti­ment, but it is unfor­tu­nate­ly not shared by most Repub­li­cans, who view Democ­rats as an ene­my that needs to be defeat­ed elec­toral­ly and leg­isla­tive­ly. If Repub­li­cans were tru­ly inter­est­ed in gov­ern­ing, they’d take the threat of a fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shut­down off the table. But they won’t.

The Obama/Biden admin­is­tra­tion has got­ten into trou­ble try­ing to appease Repub­li­cans in the past, notably in the sum­mer of 2011, when the Pres­i­dent agreed to a fool­ish bar­gain to raise the debt ceil­ing and trig­ger large auto­mat­ic cuts (seques­tra­tion) in vital pub­lic ser­vices if a con­gres­sion­al “super­com­mit­tee” could not agree on its own harm­ful aus­ter­i­ty plan by a pre­scribed date.

Biden may not care for Clin­ton’s com­bat­ive­ness, but a fight­er is arguably what the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty needs at this junc­ture, to deal with a Repub­li­can Par­ty that likes to man­u­fac­ture end­less fis­cal crises and play games of chicken.

Biden announced his deci­sion a day after Vir­ginia Sen­a­tor Jim Webb end­ed his invis­i­ble cam­paign for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion, hav­ing con­clud­ed (cor­rect­ly) that he was not get­ting any trac­tion. That leaves five can­di­dates in the field: Hillary Clin­ton, Bernie Sanders, Mar­tin O’Mal­ley, Lin­coln Chafee, and Lar­ry Lessig.

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