So (if one may take a moment out from the nonstop conversation about the virus) it’s come down for Democrats to Biden, our lowest-common- denominator candidate. A lot of us are having to deal with our disappointment. Really? From that attractive, smart, gender and racially diverse field of candidates? This sameold, white male is to be our champion?
It’s almost a duty of citizenship in a democracy to try to figure out the appeal of candidates we didn’t vote for. That’s not always easy. Trump springs to mind. . Getting the appeal of this guy whose boorish, pretentious narcissism was long ridiculed as The Donald–just what it is so many like about the cut of his jib–has been a tough one.
But my, and perhaps your, current problem is getting the wisdom of Democrats in settling on (not for) our own presumptive candidate.
Bernie has been the most believable of the candidates for me. He’s been at it the longest, doggedly pursuing his vision of solutions for a more equal country. And of course he’s right. His socialism is not pie-in-the-sky radicalism but just an extension of our most popular government. Joining other civilized countries in treating healthcare as a human right is the only conceivable improvement on Obamacare.
I love Elizabeth, her integrity and intelligence, her great ideas. Her persistence. I was so looking forward to how she would handle Trump’s stalking on stage during a debate. (Would she take out her can of mace?) She would have been our liberal Thatcheresque iron lady.
But Biden? So faltering in the debates–what would Trump do with that indecisiveness? His lack of ideas or programs, his lame clinging to the Obama cred. His vulnerability on the Iraq war, on the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings.
But I think I get it. As with getting Trump’s appeal, what seem to me Biden’s very failings are the key to his appeal. If he was not the most successful debater on the stage amongst all these well prepared, sharp minds and quick tongues –that very stumbling, underdog quality may be a key to his likeability. And Electability.
(I read recently that what may look like a senior moment is actually Biden’s lifelong struggle with stuttering.)
His vulnerability, it may be, brings out the maternal instinct in us all. Perhaps that will play well against Trumps’ teflon personality armor, his compulsive bragging and bullying.
So I get it that Biden’s losing performance actually, looked at the way a lot of Democrats apparently see it, won the debate.
The very quality onstage of seeming less than commanding, makes it quite possible to imagine him (say, in a crisis such as the current one) deferring to others, people who are smarter or know more about this or that than he does. This may well be a relief after Trump’s “l’etat c’est moi” narcissism, his unwillingness to delegate, to share the limelight, to the point of firing most of his appointees that aren’t out and out toadies.
It’s even possible to imagine Biden issuing that rarest thing for a politician, an apology. (It looks like he may have some things to apologize for.) And he might actually gain votes for coming clean .
For a candidate of a certain age the choice of a VP will obviously be more important than usual. And one can imagine a more vulnerable Biden, who has committed to choosing a woman for a running mate, actually welcoming the opportunity to share the power a bit, looking to the impressive possibilities being mentioned—Stacey Abrahms, Kamala Harris, Warren, etc.– .to play a real role in his presidency. (As contrasted with Trump’s current VP choice who has yet to prove himself actually alive.)
So if the worst thing you can say about the Biden candidacy is that there is something lowest-common-denominator about it, that may also be exactly what the current moment of our beleaguered democracy calls for.