The Democratic Party establishment wonders if everything they’ve believed about using the winning 2008 Obama formula again in 2020 is wrong.
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a community event at the Best Western Regency Inn in Marshalltown, Iowa. July 4, 2019. (photo: Gage Skidmore)
Democratic insiders are again today grumbling about the unsettled state of the 2020 field of Democratic contenders and eyeing former Vice President Joe Biden in askance.
What independents, liberal-progressives and conservatives have long known and suspected- essentially that Joe Biden is in no way capable of holding his own against Trump in 2020- Democratic Party power-players are starting to suspect, too.
A little late in the game, perhaps. Whether it is too late to turn back now and devise a better strategy more likely to put a Democrat in the White House in 2020 is anyone’s guess.
Like any smart political organization, the Democratic National Committee examined their historic presidential wins in 2008 and 2012 and, from that information, designed a strategy to win in 2016.
Of course, it didn’t work in 2016.
While it is true that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama formed a winning coalition of Democrats- unified behind a charismatic orator and a shared vision of a more equitable future in America- whether or not anyone else can re-create his success is far from certain.
What the Democratic number crunchers, actuaries and pollsters of the Democratic Party failed to take into consideration may have been one of the many reasons Donald Trump’s remarkable upset of Hillary Clinton in 2016 was so unexpected.
President Barack Obama’s success wasn’t due to his highly advanced digital campaign, arguably the first of its kind in the U.S. At least, not entirely.
Obama’s success wasn’t due to the campaign staff he surrounded himself with, either. It wasn’t due to a lamb-like mainstream media utterly captivated by Obama’s charms and incurious about his flaws.
Not that he had many.
No, the remarkable, historic success of the Barack Obama campaign was due in large part to the man himself. The unrepeatable, non-formulaic quality of the “It” factor. Star power.
Barack Obama, personally, inspired people. Obama’s soaring oratory skills, his obvious sincerity, his progressive bona fides; his story.
It was a story about an idea that’s time had come at long last; the United States wanted- and needed- its first black President. Obama’s election was inevitable. It was an unstoppable force meeting, and moving, an immovable object.
But that was all yesterday.
Today, black community leaders are asking Democrats “What have you done for me lately?”
If African-American voters don’t start liking the answers they are being given by the current crop of Democratic candidates, many will stay home on Election Day 2020, just like they did in 2016.
With consequences exactly as disastrous for Democrats.
Thus far, the Democratic establishment’s only answer to this problem has been to invoke the old magic of Barack Obama by dragging poor old Joe Biden out of his well-deserved retirement.
While it's true that Joe Biden still enjoys high favorability ratings in the black community, that is as of right now.
Voters in the black community, and voters everywhere else, haven’t seen Joe Biden debate Donald Trump in the general election yet. Over and over again.
This is a Joe Biden whose eye filled with blood during one debate; the Joe Biden who floated four highly-qualified female candidates to be his running mate over the weekend but couldn’t remember a single one of their names.
The Joe Biden whose debate performances not even the Washington Post can describe as anything but consistently weak.
Meaning this is not a Joe Biden who sometimes hits one out of the park. It is a Biden who stumbles, slurs and gaffes his way through stump after stump, debate after debate.
And he hasn’t even gotten to the hard part yet.
Biden’s Democratic colleagues have been taking it remarkably easy on Biden during the debates; soft-ball questions, Democrat-friendly moderators, competitors who seem to consider attacking anything about Biden, even his voting record, bad form.
None of the other Democratic candidates, however, are really doing Biden any favors by pulling their punches during the primary.
When, and if, Biden faces Trump in the general election debates, nothing will be off limits. It will a no-holds barred, knock-down drag out fight. Biden will most certainly face questions about Hunter Biden’s lucrative work in the Ukraine, Romania and China- many, many questions.
Biden will also have to field highly-personal questions designed to push Biden’s buttons; about his embattled son Hunter’s recent positive paternity test in Arkansas and Biden’s own boasts about getting a Ukrainian prosecutor fired, just for starters.
Joe Biden will be hammered by these questions over and over. Not only will he have to bear up, no ugly snapping at reporters, he’ll have to look presidential while doing it. Trump, of course, will be held to no such standard.
And that isn’t even getting started on Biden’s voting record, which is long and as filled with votes today’s liberal progressives will find hair-raising as anyone, including Donald Trump, could want.
No evidence on the Bidens, you say?
This isn’t a court of law; this is a presidential campaign. Trump just has to smear enough stuff on Joe Biden to give Democrats a good enough reason to just stay home on Election Day.
He may have already succeeded with the Ukrainian scandal.
By the time Trump's campaign team is done with Biden, Joe Biden will seem like the oldest, most racist, backwards, desperate attempt by Democrats to pander to the Obama coalition of voters ever conceived by the swamp-dwellers in D.C.
Between asking “Who else is there?” about the Democratic presidential fiend and “Is this all there is?” about the impeachment case against Donald Trump, it’s a wonder the Democratic establishment gets anything done at all.
And with the Democratic National Committee’s fundraising totals so anemic, it’s debts so high, Democratic voters and donors may soon be wondering just what Democrats have been doing for three years.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)