The postulate that nature abhors a vacuum in politics seems to apply in politics as elsewhere. There is a vacuum in the Democratic field of candidates for president. Like Gene McCarthy in 1968, Bernie Sanders is in the process of demonstrating the existence of the vacuum. Again, like McCarthy in 1968, there his utility ends. Sanders would not be a viable Democratic candidate for president.
The vacuum is the space for a plausible alternative to Madam Hillary. Such a candidate would have to be liberal and able to recite the regnant shibboleths with convictions, of course, but he would also have to be likable and honest in his own way in order to distinguish himself from Madam Hillary. This candidate would instantly slow and have a good chance of interrupting the Clinton death march to the Democratic nomination, which seems to be enacting a variant of what Leo Strauss called the joyless quest for joy. In this case it is the joyless quest for power.
Will Joe Biden fill the space created by Hillary’s candidacy? That is the question that Ed Rogers asks online at the Washington Post. He observes:
In a lot of ways, Biden would be the true anti-Hillary. He is completely uninhibited, he is impossible to script — which makes him seem authentic — and he has a human appeal that everyone can relate to. Clinton, on the other hand, is running a surreal campaign that avoids crowds, media and spontaneity of any kind. She is protecting her lead in the most standard, unimaginative way possible. Compared with Clinton’s robotic, stiff approach, could having a reputation for occasionally saying the wrong thing and hugging too much work to Biden’s advantage in an era where voters want the real thing?
S.A. Miller reports at the Washington Times that “Biden’s team is putting out the word that he is leaning in favor of joining the presidential race next month, according to a prominent Democratic fundraiser.” Miller quotes Jon Cooper, described as a top bundler for Obama’s 2012 campaign who has been testing the waters with fellow bundlers for a Biden run: “They have given increasingly strong signals that Biden is going to throw his hat in the ring[.]” Miller adds this quote from Cooper: “I’m as confident as I can be that he will be entering the race,” he said.
Biden, let it be noted, is 72. Barack Obama having interrupted or ended the careers of so many younger Democratic officeholders, Biden fits the geriatric profile of the plausible alternatives to Madam Hillary. We know he is possessed by the ambition to be president. He would be a fool not to challenge Madam Hillary. My thought is that we know he’s not the brightest bulb in the room, but he’s no fool.
Miller’s Washington Times story is accessible here. Warning: Do not click on the link if you are not prepared for the assault that accessing the Times site invites. Jennifer Rubin offers some helpful thoughts in favor of a Biden candidacy here.