He tried retail campaigning. Wholesale campaigning. Townhalls. Virtual townhalls. YouTube videos. Appeals for a return to the salad days of Obama and his own glory days in the Senate. Promising the party base that he really is a progressive.
Nothing worked. But after stepping to the side as competing candidates were shown the door at just the right moment by party elites, thus essentially being handed the nomination, Joe Biden has a problem. It’s called exposure. With the COVID crisis consuming our lives, people are simply not paying attention to presidential politics, or much of anything else for that matter.
So now Joe Biden is trying a podcast. Here’s the Deal debuted this week, produced by the Biden campaign, as the presumptive – and quarantined – nominee desperately attempts to gain a measure of visibility during a time when his opponent is on national TV speaking on matters of great importance at the dinner hour almost every day.
Fair enough. But if the purpose of the podcast was to breathe life into a moribund campaign, well, let’s just say nice try.
Biden’s campaign managers understand by now that they must put the candidate in a controlled environment whenever possible. And to say this podcast was tightly controlled – and edited – would be an understatement, to the point where it amounts to little more than a campaign commercial. Having edited audio for many more years than I care to remember, an informal personal count would put it at roughly three dozen edits, many of them abrupt. But at least, because it was recorded and heavily edited, it did not feature the type of livestream meltdowns that have recently characterized the Biden campaign.
The candidate opens transmission from his home – stuck there like a teenager in his parents’ basement – by promising to speak with experts on the Coronavirus and then – wait for it – brings on a political hack, his longtime chief of staff (never identified as such) Ron Klain to obediently call him Mr. Vice President over and over while asking and answering planned questions from demographically correct young voters – the kind who flocked to Bernie Sanders while avoiding him like the plague before the whole nominating process was frozen.
Biden says more than once that he won’t make the podcast political, and then repeatedly engages in naked political attacks. He calls for people to come together at this time – ”I’m so proud we are working together” – while ripping President Trump’s handling of the crisis. He says in one breath that Trump has rattled the public’s confidence, and in the next says the president has lied about the crisis – never specifying exactly how. Klain repeats Biden’s deeply reassuring statement that the deadly virus “is not Trump’s fault” but that the response is, again without providing specifics. However, it can be said that the former vice president’s hindsight in a time of crisis is 20-20. We could aptly employ the expression “Monday morning quarterback,” if we ever again remember what that once meant.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also spoke of his predictably government-centric alternative plan for handling the crisis, touting his own panel of onetime experts: more federal spending, more regulations, more reliance on global institutions like the World Health Organization and less on private industry, all the time creating a transparently political veil to drape over this crisis.
He listed a few wonderful things that he would accomplish, such as drive-through testing, emergency mobile hospitals that can be dropped into a parking lot (seriously) … and anything else he could think of that Trump hasn’t accomplished yet.
And much to the delight of those fully anticipating such a line, Joe Biden neared the climax of his maiden podcast with, “we need to put families first.”
Let’s be clear about why Joe Biden finally hit a hot streak. It was … by doing nothing. Indeed, as the threat of Bernie Sanders actually becoming the nominee grew menacing after the socialist senator won the first three presidential nomination contests, the former vice president simply stood aside and watched as his party’s elites quickly ran every other non-Bernie candidate out of the race, leaving Biden alone as the last man standing. Thus, they put a virtual gun to the head of Democratic voters, essentially forcing them to choose someone who was roundly written off – and for understandable, if not good reason – because, well, this is who the elites have selected to carry their water.
Notwithstanding the breathtaking shortsightedness, cruelty even, of sending forth a candidate at high risk of embarrassing himself in the eyes of the world – and forever tarnishing what had been widely viewed as a harmless, perfectly fine legacy – do Pelosi, Schumer, and company really believe they can edit Biden’s surroundings for seven more months amidst the crush of a presidential campaign the way his campaign can edit his podcast from the privacy of the candidate’s basement?
Folks, this is the same Joe Biden who, months ago, was marked as a man in noticeable decline, and was written off largely because of it. He has not suddenly stopped declining. He did not suddenly find a message or his footing. He did absolutely nothing to stir his own rise from the political dead, and Here’s the Deal will likely do little or nothing to enhance the image of a man who voters will be learning much about in the months ahead.
Read more from Tim Donner.
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