Rather than embrace the argument that the DNC media is making, it looks like Joe Biden is making a different one. While news outlets from the New York Times to CNN are broadly painting President Trump and his supporters as inherently racist, electability appears to be the theme the Biden camp is taking up.
A few things are most certainly true. Biden’s positions on healthcare and the environment are certainly not as far left as others who are in the top tier. It is also true that Biden has made liberal use of the events in Charlottesville to criticize the President. However, he has been more careful than the media or his rivals to equate voting for Trump with obvious racism.
As you can see from his new campaign ad, the Biden camp floats an image of the 30 tiki torch users and ties it directly to the President. Not an image of his mainstream supporters. The message is clear. There is one way for salvation from being dragged into this racist meme. Vote for the Democrat who can win because the only thing that matters is limiting President Trump to one term.
The ad goes on to tout Biden’s record with President Obama. It also highlights his less radical positions on healthcare and the environment. It then characterizes President Trump as erratic, vicious and bullying. Giving a contrast it refers to Biden as “strong, steady and stable”.
Even Biden’s wife is getting in on the action, though in a rather tepid fashion:
It sounds almost like she is asking for a pity vote, but a pity vote that can win the general.
So let’s take this apart. Biden is going to “build on Obamacare”. First, he is going to have to put it back together. Undoubtedly this will require reimposing the individual mandate. You know, the one that requires mostly Millennials to pay for expensive coverage they don’t need to subsidize everyone else. That should be popular. Additionally, the Cadillac Tax, a 40% excise tax on high-end plans, has been repealed. This was a key element in controlling healthcare spending within Obamacare and it is gone.
So while Biden’s one-liner in the ad sounds less ridiculous than eliminating employer-based health insurance and providing the VA for everyone, there are questions. What exactly is he going to build on? Forcing people to buy insurance they don’t need and can’t afford? Placing an onerous tax on union members who likely gave up salary increases to maintain comprehensive benefits? These are all questions Biden would need to answer in a general election.
Next, he is not a Green New Deal supporter, which is an improvement over many of his rivals. But he still calls for massive reductions in carbon emissions that would decimate parts of the energy industry and threaten our energy independence.
Then, he is touting his record with President Obama. The same President Obama who will not endorse him and whose wife dissed him during a recent appearance. I am not sure how this will play to the Obama-Obama-Trump voters that helped contribute the President’s victory. The idea of an Obama third term may not be as appealing to those who have been smeared as uneducated, racist and backward for the last eleven years by the media elite and Democrats as one might think.
Finally, Joe is Joe. I am not sure strong, steady and stable rings true. When he has appeared publicly, he often looks tired. He has already made several gaffes during debates at some points appearing confused. Then his recent comments about being the Vice-President and meeting with the Parkland students were just bizarre. His campaign has done a good job managing his time in front of voters and the camera up until this point. That same strategy will not work well during a general election.
Electability is certainly an argument. However, if 2016 is any guide, America’s primary voters are exceptionally good at selecting the most unelectable candidates to compete for the leader of the free world. I am highly suspicious they will repeat this feat in 2020.