Friday, March 13, 2020

For Biden this is a Big Fu****g Deal

Joe Biden addressing the nation on the coronavirus
Under the cloud of uncertainty stemming from COVID-19, the primary races are continuing albeit without the grandeur of big crowd rallies and other forms of interpersonal campaigning. Even the debate on Sunday between Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden will take place at CNN’s Washington studio with no live audience to distract from the candidates’ ability to enunciate their points. #hocopolitics

Biden is clearly the front runner following a jaw-dropping comeback that has every pundit on earth scratching his or her head.  While Sanders is mathematically in contention, the landscape looks bleak for the Democratic Socialist with the upcoming debate the last realistic opportunity to change the trajectory of the race.

To repeat the sentence Biden uttered into a hot mic to a cringing President Obama following the signing of the Affordable Care Act, this is a big fu****g deal.  Where we stand now in the primaries and caucuses, that sentence is apropos for Biden and, of course, Sanders.

How aggressive the now underdog Sanders will go after Biden in this one-on-one matchup, the first of the primary season, is unclear. Some Sanders’ supporters along with Trump supporters led by Donald Trump, Jr. have been pushing the narrative that at a minimum, Biden is no longer on his game and at the extreme end, he suffers from dementia. They site Biden’s malapropisms, gaffes, and confusion at times as evidence. It’s sad that people would use such a personal attack, but in the age of Trump, there are no longer any rules.

Unquestionably, this debate will provide the opportunity for Biden to prove the critics wrong. The less frenetic, more casual setting should be better terrain for Biden. However, he is still prone to mistakes and in the age of social media, the slightest slip-up will be magnified and will be cycled through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and what-not. And they will be compiled into a montage for ads as the election cycle proceeds.

It is akin to attending the Indy 500 looking for a crash as opposed to the caring who the ultimate winner is after dozens of laps.  People will be scrutinizing Biden’s style and fluidity of thought more than his actual policy positions.  Bernie’s style is already baked in so he won’t be under that sort of microscope. And he is no longer the frontrunner.

There is considerable irony that Trump supporters are pushing the dementia button on Biden. This is especially so following Trump’s pathetic dumpster fire of a nationally televised speech from the Oval Office this past Wednesday in a Hail Mary attempt to quell the nervous financial markets. 

Slurring many of his words, seemingly out of it, speaking like it was a hostage video, Trump piled up lie after lie, mistake after mistake while not seriously addressing the public health measures that the coronavirus requires.

The markets responded with the futures dropping during each utterance like leaves falling from trees in November. And on Thursday, the markets rewarded Trump, who sees the coronavirus and its ensuing economic impact as a significant threat to his re-election chances, with the worst day on Wall Street since the huge crash of October 1987.

Joe Biden receiving the critical endorsement from Rep. Clyburn
By stark contrast Joe Biden, as did Bernie Sanders, showed what presidential leadership is all about. Both described the situation in calm, measured tones while articulating the correct course of action to be taken. For Biden, this was a huge moment and he delivered.

Facing this debate where Biden is only one of the two last standing is, in itself, a miracle of sorts. Left for dead along with other Democratic hopefuls after the first three contests, Biden received arguably the most consequential endorsement in modern election cycles.

Normally, endorsements have minimal effect; not this one. James Clyburn, the highly respected Congressman from South Carolina and Democratic Majority Whip gave an emotional endorsement of Biden that propelled the 77 year-old candidate to a crushing win in South Carolina. That victory, powered by African-American voters, launched this comeback, also powered by that demographic, to major victories on Super Tuesday and the primaries the following week. Other Dem hopefuls joined the post-South Carolina parade by endorsing Biden and seeing him as the best chance to defeat Trump.
For Joe Biden, who ran unsuccessfully twice before and didn’t win his first primary ever until the South Carolina game-changer, is at the precipice of finally reaching that goal. Clearly, Trump doesn’t want to face him in the general election as he was impeached for his efforts to sully Biden’s reputation.

Joe Biden needs to seal the deal this Sunday. He doesn’t have to “win” the debate as that assessment will come from the electorate who will view the debate through the lens of their candidate. But he must be able to hold his own. If he does, the finish line will be near as upcoming primaries loom favorable to Biden.

This is indeed a big f*****g deal.

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