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Obama Gives an Indirect Endorsement – and it Wasn’t for Biden

In a wide-ranging 60 Minutes interview just a couple months ago, former Vice President Joe Biden raised a lot of eyebrows when the topic of his former boss came up.

The former vice president appeared on “60 Minutes” Sunday where he was asked by anchor Norah O’Donnell if Obama, who he served with for eight years in the White House, offered to throw his full support behind the campaign.

“No, we didn’t even get there,” Biden responded. “I asked him not to. He said, ‘OK.’”

“I think it’s better — I think he thinks it’s better for me.”

But if he ends up as the 2020 Democratic nominee, Biden, 76, said he had “no doubt” that Obama would “be out on the campaign trail for me.”

First of all, there’s no doubt that Obama will be out on the campaign trail for whoever manages to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. That distinction is not reserved for Joe Biden alone.

Secondly, there’s no one on planet Earth that is going to believe that Biden asked Obama not to endorse him. Now, it may be true that the 44th president told his gaffe-prone running mate that “it would be better” if he didn’t right now. But the motivation for that decision was far less about what was best for Joe’s prospects and far more about what was best for Barack’s reputation and standing.

That said, Obama didn’t need to do his loyal VP this dirty. At a leadership event in Singapore, the former president offered an implicit commendation of a few of Biden’s most significant challengers. Speaking about the problems coming from men in positions of international leadership, Obama stated,

“Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you’re better than us. I’m absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything…living standards and outcomes.”

Evaluating the statement on accuracy grounds, it falls apart rather quickly. Far from being “indisputable,” the claim that women are inherently better at leadership than men is grossly subjective and entirely dependent upon selective sampling. For every Queen Elizabeth I there’s a Queen Mary I. Or in more modern terms, for every Margaret Thatcher, there’s an Angela Merkel.

So it’s fairly obvious what Obama is doing with this remark, and no one should be surprised. He’s pandering. But he’s also backhanding his former VP across the face in Biden’s pursuit of the presidency given that he’s battling three women for the nomination. Even if you want to argue that Tulsi Gabbard and Amy Klobuchar are not within striking distance, the same is not true for Elizabeth Warren.

Personally, I believe Obama is about as interested in endorsing Warren as he is in endorsing Biden. And for those wondering, that’s not at all. But if that’s the case, he would be wise to watch his words more carefully.

After all, what was likely intended to be nothing more than a headline-grabbing popularity-pander, could easily become a convenient campaign ad for Liz Warren or groups that support her. Biden probably wouldn’t appreciate that, even though he’d tell everyone he “told Obama he should say that.” Right, Joe.

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