Why Does Joe Biden Think He Can Run For President In 2016?

on February 07 2014 3:40 PM
Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

So Vice President Joseph Biden says "there’s no good reason I shouldn’t run for president." First, you need to know that Biden’s double-negative, convoluted speaking style is not a Delaware dialect thing; it’s just how he talks. Second, he’s deluding himself on a possible presidential run partly because he lives in a D.C.-Delaware bubble.

Biden’s "no good reason" quip this week tallies with what he said last month when responding to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ criticism that Biden was “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” In a Jan. 29 interview on the "Today" show, Biden said he was undecided on a presidential run, but “in my heart, I’m confident I’d be a good president.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I’ve already spotted an "I’m Ready for Hillary" bumper sticker. Perhaps they’re more common inside the Beltway, but my eyes popped when I saw it. Yes, it was on a car with Pennsylvania plates (not uncommon as the state line is just a few miles up the road from Wilmington). And Delaware Democrats are the strongest supporters of their homeboy (whose son just happens to be the state’s attorney general).

Remember how in 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama touted Biden as the "scrappy kid from Scranton" – giving the impression that Biden was really from Pennsylvania? Biden was indeed born in Scranton and he may have been scrappy, but his family moved to Delaware about 60 years ago and he has been here ever since.

He’s also a perfect example of a career politician, someone whose private-sector experience can be measured in months, not years. He received his law degree in 1968, passed the bar in 1969 and in 1970 was elected to the New Castle County Council (the state’s most populous county). Two years later he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Biden’s older son Joe III (known as Beau), the state attorney general, has, like his dad, spent most of his career in various political jobs. In fairness, he’s also a major in the state’s National Guard and served for a year in Iraq. It’s no secret that he has ambitions for higher office, either as governor or senator.

Thus I expect sporting a Hillary bumper-sticker on a Delaware car would be viewed as disloyal to both Joe and Beau. In a little state where everybody knows everybody, word would get around fast that so-and-so is supporting Hillary instead of "our" guy. Too risky.

What about Joe Biden’s bubble? Consider: In D.C., his ride from the veep’s residence to the White House is in a limo with dark windows. If there are "Ready for Hillary" stickers on D.C. cars, he’s not seeing them. When he makes one of his frequent trips to his home in Delaware, he’s still in the bubble. He arrives in a helicopter or plane, and then into another limo with dark windows. Plus, I doubt he scrutinizes the stickers (if there are any) on the cars in the parking lot at his country club (which, as an avid golfer, he also visits frequently). This bumper-sticker thing may seem trivial, but I think it indicates a danger of inhabiting the Secret Service bubble – it puts a wide moat between someone like Biden and the rest of us.

Or perhaps it’s an indication his political staff is mirroring the thinking of the Democrat state party here. Or they’re reluctant to tell him what the “Ready for Hillary” SuperPAC is doing.

Or perhaps it’s simply because Joe Biden is being, well, Joe Biden.  

Joanne Butler is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a former professional Republican staff member at the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

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