Thought experiment: What happens if Hillary Clinton is, mirabile dictu, indicted for her crimes? Yes, I know—that’s why I called it a thought experiment. Still, it could happen, or at least if the FBI recommends prosecution and the Justice Department declines to indict, it might be enough to cause a crisis that even the Clintons can’t overcome. What happens then? Surely the Democratic establishment won’t want to head to the fall with Bernie Sanders as their standard-bearer. (And Martin O’Mushly isn’t a very good fallback position either.)
Vice President Joe Biden is the obvious Plan B for the Democratic Party, and there’s no doubt the party would change the nomination rules if it has to in order to put Slow Joe in the fast lane. It’s been done before. In 1968, when LBJ dropped out early in the primary season but definitely wanted to prevent the hated Bobby Kennedy from getting the nomination and effecting The Restoration, the party establishment got behind Vice President Humphrey, who won the nomination that year without entering a single primary. To be sure, the rules were changed after that to enable George McGovern to get the nomination four years later, but there’s no reason Democrats can’t change them again in a crisis. Just ask New Jersey voters and Frank Lautenberg.
Last night Biden appeared on CNN and sounded like a man keeping his options open, and moreover tilting in favor of Sanders. Hasn’t he got the memo that the party establishment is trying to clear the road for Hillary? Biden said all the wrong things at a moment when polls suddenly show Sanders gaining on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire. If Hillary loses both of those early contests, it might be over for her. Biden:
Vice President Joe Biden offered effusive praise for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday, lauding Hillary Clinton’s chief rival for doing a “heck of a job” on the campaign trail and praising Sanders for offering an authentic voice on income inequality.
And while Biden said Democrats had a slate of “great candidates” running for president, he suggested Clinton was a newcomer to issues like the growing gap between rich and poor.
“Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real. And he has credibility on it,” Biden said during an interview with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.