July 02, 2006
Biden hits the ground running
Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is making the rounds in New Hampshire. He’s running for president, he says.
Biden is a man with a hole in his reputation, which, on a practical level, makes his candidacy an exercise in self-delusion. It is beyond me why anyone would want to go through repeated questioning on the speech-lifting problem that disqualified him from the presidential chase nearly 20 years ago. And if no one is asking this question – why did you do that, senator? – Biden can be sure his candidacy is not being taken seriously.
Plus, Biden is the quintessential United States senator, with more than 30 years of legislating to muddy the meandering stream of his rhetoric. He’s not Bob Dole, referring to bills by shorthand and reminding people of decade-old subcommittee votes. He’s smoother than that. But Biden is quick to sink listeners in the mire of policy history, with an emphasis on his seminal role. In the latter respect, he lacks Dole’s modesty.
And yet one of the enduring values of New Hampshire’s presidential primary campaigns is the opportunity they give the parties – especially the out party – to figure out where they stand. In this respect, Biden deserves a careful hearing.
The senator gave the Monitor editorial board a long interview on Friday. The next day we published Monitor reporter Lauren R. Dorgan’s excellent account of the highlights of the interview.
The Iraq war is the stickiest issue for every presidential candidate. There is a temptation to seek a position on one of the poles, creating the false impression that the choice is war vs. surrender.
Biden knows it’s not that simple. He has not only followed the war every step of the way as an insider but has also made repeated visits to Iraq to assess the situation on the ground. As he describes it, our future policy there rests as much on the realities of troop strength as on presidential resolve. The force level will have to be reduced substantially in coming months because it cannot be sustained. Any sense of how to proceed in Iraq, Biden says, must begin with that realization.
The current debate on the airwaves – and, I might add, in the run-up to the midterm elections – is cut and run vs. stay the course. This Rovian scenario is a Republican dream, and so far the Democrats are playing right into it (see Connecticut, and the party’s crusade to do a Bob Smith-ectomy on Sen. Joe Lieberman). Dems have plenty of issues on their side – the administration’s deadly incompetence after Katrina, its ocean of red ink and, above all, its woeful post-Shock and Awe performance in Iraq. But their schism over the war prevents them from presenting a unified front on anything.
Biden’s knowledgeable, reality-based views on Iraq, and his guarded optimism about the outcome there, provide a strong direction for his party. Whether they will do anything for his own prospects for 2008 is beside the point. Taking to the stump in New Hampshire as an avowed presidential candidate provides a bigger megaphone for Biden’s positions than he would otherwise have. That in itself is good for both his party and his country.
Posted by Mike Pride at July 2, 2006 07:29 PM
This is why you want to keep the NH primary first--you like the Bidens of the world coming to your editorial board. Without that you're just another little newspaper in a podunk town, and you know it. Keeping the NH primary is about your self-esteem, not about what is best for the nation.
Posted by: Rufus at July 2, 2006 07:46 PM
Did anyone hear the stereotypic comment Biden made while trolling through the crowd in NH during the Firefighters fundraiser? He was talking to an Indian-American man and stated something to the effect of 'you can't walk into a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts without seeing an Indian-American behind the counter.'
I'd love to get my hands on the video of this. Anyone know where I can get it?
Posted by: Flash at July 6, 2006 09:42 AM