April 27, 2019

The big 2020 Election News-Of-The-Week drew focus on AM Joy today. Former VP Joe Biden's entrance into the Democratic field of contenders for 2020 presented myriad topics for analysis, given his long and storied history in politics. Ried's panel discussed several of them, but Nayyera Haq and Jamil Smith disagreed with one another about the wisdom of Biden's launching his campaign with a video focused on Charlottesville.

Biden had been attempting to appeal to decency and hearts, drawing a contrast to Trump's horrible contention that neo-nazis were "very fine people." Trump totally took the bait, because basically he is six years old, and took the opportunity to not only double down, but lie about the context of his comments. You know, because, suuuuure — he WAS really talking about people who were protesting removing statues of Robert E. Lee, who everyone knows was everyone's favorite general. Assuming you weren't, you know, a SLAVE.

Haq was impressed with Biden's ability to trigger Trump. She understands his appeal for people who are nostalgic for the Bill Clinton and/or Obama eras. But if you're looking for someone to shake things up, he's not your guy. The big question she identifies is whether people will feel like they need to vote for him because he is the one who can beat Trump, and others are going to vote for him, rather than because he is actually the one they want to be president. She rightly noted the momentum, passion, and power America has seen from the women at the polls. Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes thanTrump, and 2018's election saw a real dominance of women running and winning office on the local and national level.

Then Jamil Smith countered with what he viewed as the problem with Biden having kicked off his campaign with and in Charlottesville.

REID: That's a very good point, excellent point. That it's not so much about what you would do, people are afraid of what other people will do, and so people are sort of making a calculation, what will my neighbor prefer, right? And so you have the Bs all getting a leg up because they are white and male, and people assuming, "Well, my neighbor will only vote for someone like that," Jamil, and that is kind of what Elizabeth Warren was pushing back on in Houston.

JAMIL SMITH: Indeed it was. But I think to counter Nayyera's point a little bit, I think Joe Biden was playing right into Donald Trump's hands, here. We were talking all week about Robert Mueller, and all of a sudden we're talking about Robert E. Lee. It plays into a really misunderstanding of white identity politics that Trump, you know, USED to get into the White House. I think, you know, Joe Biden is really talking about what Donald Trump is saying, and instead of playing clips of family separation, of neglect in Puerto Rico, people held up by the Muslim ban, the racism that has been done by Donald Trump's policies, we're talking about what he said about Charlottesville two years ago in an op-ed that Joe Biden wrote about it. This is not really intelligent interrogation of what Donald Trump's presidency has been about.

ELIE MYSTAL: It is such an important point, I want people to really understand what Jamil just said. Donald Trump WANTS to make this election about who is gonna be best for white men. He wants to fight on this ground. Democrats need to fight on the other ground of who's gonna be best for everybody else.

REID: Yeah, well, we'll see what people do, fear is a big motivating factor.

Fear IS a motivating factor. But as Elizabeth Warren said so eloquently in her She the People appearance (also with Joy Reid,) "Are we gonna fight because we're afraid? Are we gonna show up for people that we didn't actually believe in because we're too afraid to do anything else? That's not who we are. That's not how we're gonna do this."

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