This morning I watched Stephen Colbert's interview of Joe Biden. As Michael Shear of The New York Times notes, Biden seems doubtful about running for president, although he seems to be trying to talk himself into it. Before the interview, I thought Biden was likely to run. Now I don't think so.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an emotional, wide-ranging interview on Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” on Thursday, expressed doubt about the likelihood that he would run for president, saying that “I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there.”
Repeatedly touching on his parents, his faith and his emotional fragility from the recent death of his son Beau, Mr. Biden told Mr. Colbert that no “man or woman should run for president” without being able to promise voters that “you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion.”
“Nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Colbert....
“I find myself ... you understand, sometimes it just sort of overwhelms you. I can’t. ...,” he said, trailing off. Mr. Biden then told a story about how he broke down when he was greeting members of the military and their families at a rope line in Denver and one of them mentioned Beau.
“It was going great,” Mr. Biden recalled, choking up. “All of a sudden, a guy in the back yells, ‘Major Beau Biden. Bronze Star, Sir. Served with him in Iraq.’ I lost it.”
“How can you? That’s not .... You can’t do that,” he said.
That's in Part 2, below.
Elsewhere, Biden talked about his Catholic faith and patriotism and coping with life after adversity. He recalled a lot of things members of family had told him -- his father, his mother, his son.
You know -- he was Joe Biden.
Plain-talking white guys weren't always Republicans. When I was a kid, especially up in the Northeast, a lot of them were New Deal Democrats. Some believed in FDR economics while harboring some ugly, narrow-minded attitudes, but narrow-mindedness wasn't an inevitable part of being that kind of guy.
I think there's a certain craving for this in the electorate right now. You can draw your own conclusions regarding the reasons.
To a certain extent, I think Bernie Sanders comes off as an old-fashioned regular guy. And maybe Trump, with that you-tawkin'-ta-me? accent, has some of that as well. Trump is certainly doing better in the polls than candidates who, unlike him, meet all the litmus tests but have a professional-pol affect -- Rubio, Walker, Jindal. (Then again, I can't explain where Ben Carson fits in all this, or Barack Obama in the last two election cycles.)
I think Biden would be a strong presidential candidate in part because of the way he carries his tribal affiliation -- he seems the most likely candidate to win votes outside the Obama coalition while holding voters within it. Me, I just want anyone who represents left (or even left-centrist) values and who can hold the line against the particularly virulent strain of conservatism that's abroad in the land right now. Hillary Clinton connected on this level for a while when she was running against Barack Obama in 2008, but she's struggling now. Maybe she'll be okay if she can hold the Obama coalition, but that's not certain.
My guess: Biden won't run. Maybe that's a good thing. But I'll be sorry if we never get to see him debate the GOP nominee, who, I'm more and more convinced, will be Trump. Biden can seriously talk policy, but I wonder if the quantity of blarney he tosses into the mix, and especially the quality of sentiment, could be the magic bullet against Trump. Watch the Colbert interview -- when Biden talks about his son, you can hear a pin drop. I don't think Trump's bombast would be a match for that.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog