After spending the better part of two months resolutely pushing a safe centrist framing, the Joe Biden campaign on Oct. 15 took yet another leftist loyalty test on national television. At a town hall on ABC, scrappy blue-collar populist Scranton Joe proclaimed his devotion to the inviolable right of young children to transition to another gender.
The baffling display, disturbing enough when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) acted it out during the Democratic Party’s stridently leftist primary season, is all the more alarming during the late stages of a general election race. It poses several questions about the state of the Biden campaign. Is it so worried about needing to shore up support from unenthusiastic progressives that such a drastic gesture was necessary? Or is this just another example of an operation that never found a convincing way to package its candidate and is still casting about haphazardly as Election Day nears?
Way Ahead and Out on a Radical Limb?
In an Oct. 14 article ranked among the “Most Popular” listing at The Hill’s website, senior political correspondent Amie Parnes parroted the Democratic talking point that Biden is well ahead in the race and cruising as a way to spin the lethargic inactivity of his campaign. “Call it the don’t-touch-anything strategy,” Parnes wrote in her piece, titled “Team Biden’s new strategy: Run out the clock.”
“They don’t want to break anything in the last three weeks,” a Democratic strategist told Parnes. “If the election were held today, they would win. They know it, and more importantly, Trump knows it. To put it simply, they’re winning,” the strategist continued. “And they don’t need to do much. They need to firm up their support and call it a game.”
One day later, “don’t break anything” Biden could be seen on television sets across the country backing the rights of grade-schoolers to come out as transgender. “The idea that an 8-year-old child or a 10-year-old child decides, ‘You know, I decided I want to be transgender, that’s what I think I’d like to be. It’d make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination,” Biden asserted at the ABC town hall in Philadelphia.
So much for not making any waves. There can be no doubt that Democrats deliberately brought up the issue, given the extraordinarily cooperative working relationship Biden has had with establishment media organs and the strong, behind-the-scenes clout campaigns always have at these televised town halls.
The ABC forum’s coziness was so complete that Biden was even asked a question at one point by a former Obama speechwriter. The transgender query came from the wife of Ezra Nanes, a high-profile Pennsylvania Democrat who ran for the state Senate in 2018.
When Nanes later tweeted out how proud he was of his spouse, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman congratulated him, writing in reply, “What a truly iconic moment in American political history. Proud to know you both.”
Did we happen to mention that Pennsylvania is a crucial swing state and that its loss in 2016 sealed the fate of Hillary Clinton? Speaking purely from a strategic standpoint, this was madness. Biden was set up to recite one of the most radical statements a major party presidential nominee has ever uttered. This may affect his standing with moderate voters who don’t adhere to the progressive social agenda.
Winning the Polls, Losing the Poles?
Biden unleashed a second unforced error at the town hall, smearing U.S. allies Hungary and Poland as “totalitarian regimes.” This was another sop to the progressive left, as the two nations are among the most culturally conservative in Europe.
“You see what’s happened in everything from Belarus to Poland to Hungary, and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world,” Biden said. “This president [Trump] embraces all the thugs in the world. I mean, he is best friends with the leader of North Korea, sending love letters.”
Hungary and Poland may serve well as a further means to bash populist conservatism to the smiling appreciation of left-leaning Democrats, but it is not going to help court the coal miners in western Pennsylvania, many of Polish descent, whom Biden desperately needs on Nov. 3.
Is this overstating things? The Trump-loathing Washington Post, in an October 2019 article, noted how “Trump is moving to secure the Polish American vote in 2020”:
“….Polish Americans tend to live in places that proved important in Trump’s 2016 election. For example, many of the pivotal counties in Michigan and Pennsylvania that flipped from [President Barack] Obama to Trump — such as Macomb County in Michigan (12 percent Polish) and Luzerne County in Pennsylvania (15 percent Polish) — include some of the most highly concentrated numbers of Polish Americans in the United States. Michigan and Pennsylvania, in general, have some of the largest Polish American communities in the country, representing roughly 9 and 7 percent of the total population in each respective state.”
Yet here was Biden, less than three weeks before the election, seeming to equate Poland with North Korea, all in an attempt to prop up his progressive globalist bona fides.
Intentional or not, these miscues highlight the flaw of the Biden campaign: its failure to define its candidate and what he stands for. It’s hard to have message discipline when you have no message. That is how Scranton Joe can morph back into Progressive Primary Circus Biden in such a flash.
The shift back to the urbanite left this late in the game is another sign that this campaign has no rudder and fluid core identity. From the time it secured the nomination in March, Team Biden seems to have bounced from one unconvincing theme to another.
The only way Biden wins this election is if some 65 million Americans are strongly motivated to head to the polls only because of their intense dislike of Trump.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.