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.