Trump or a Democrat in 2020: Who Will It Be? Part Two

First, it was Michael Bloomberg — a possible candidate for the Democrat Party nomination for President. We continue today listing who is likely to run and then looking at their past. Today, we take a look at former U.S. Senator and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

“Uncle Joe” has run for President before. Biden ran for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, formally declaring his candidacy on June 9, 1987. He was attempting to become the youngest president since John F. Kennedy. When the campaign began, he was considered a potentially strong candidate because of his moderate image, his speaking ability on the stump, his appeal to Baby Boomers, his high-profile position as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the upcoming Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings, and his fundraising appeal. He raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of 1987, more than any other candidate. By August 1987, Biden’s campaign, whose messaging was confused due to staff rivalries, had begun to lag behind those of Michael Dukakis and Dick Gephardt, although he had still raised more funds than all candidates but Dukakis, and was seeing an upturn in Iowa polls. In September 1987, the campaign ran into trouble when he was accused of plagiarizing a speech that had been made earlier that year by Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labour Party. Plagiarizing allegations came up again regarding an incident that allegedly occurred when Biden was in law school. He withdrew from the nomination race on September 23, 1987, saying his candidacy had been overrun by “the exaggerated shadow” of his past mistakes.

He served as the 47th Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017 under Barack Obama. A member of the Democratic Party, he represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.

Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1942, and lived there for ten years before moving with his family to Delaware. He became an attorney in 1969 and was elected to the New Castle County Council in 1970. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 when he became the sixth-youngest senator in American history. Biden was re-elected to the upper house of Congress six times and was the fourth most senior senator when he resigned to assume the Vice Presidency in 2009. Biden was a long-time member and former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Joe Biden Politically

Biden was a long-time member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He chaired it from 1987 until 1995 and he served as the ranking minority member on it from 1981 until 1987 and again from 1995 until 1997.

While chairman, Biden presided over the two most contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings in history (at least until that of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh), those for Robert Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991. In the Bork hearings, he stated his opposition to Bork soon after the nomination, reversing an approval in an interview of a hypothetical Bork nomination he had made the previous year and angering conservatives who thought he could not conduct the hearings dispassionately. At the close, he won praise for conducting the proceedings fairly and with good humor and courage, as his 1988 presidential campaign collapsed in the middle of the hearings. Rejecting some of the less intellectually honest arguments that other Bork opponents were making, Biden framed his discussion around the belief that the U.S. Constitution provides rights to liberty and privacy that extend beyond those explicitly enumerated in the text, and that Bork’s strong originalism was ideologically incompatible with that view. (This is important to note in that recent Supreme Court nomination hearings have centered around nominees opinion on that same matter) Bork’s nomination was rejected in the committee by a 9–5 vote and then rejected in the full Senate by a 58–42 margin.

In the Thomas hearings, Biden’s questions on constitutional issues were often long and convoluted, sometimes such that Thomas forgot the question being asked. Viewers of the high-profile hearings were often annoyed by Biden’s style. Thomas later wrote that despite earlier private assurances from the senator, Biden’s questions had been akin to a beanball. The nomination came out of the committee without a recommendation, with Biden opposed. In part due to his own bad experiences in 1987 with his presidential campaign, Biden was reluctant to let personal matters enter into the hearings. Biden initially shared with the committee, but not the public, Anita Hill’s sexual harassment charges, on the grounds she was not yet willing to testify. After she did, Biden did not permit other witnesses to testify further on her behalf, such as Angela Wright (who made a similar charge) and experts on harassment. Biden said he was striving to preserve Thomas’s right to privacy and the decency of the hearings. The nomination was approved by a 52–48 vote in the full Senate, with Biden again opposed. During and afterward, Biden was strongly criticized by liberal legal groups and women’s groups for having mishandled the hearings and having not done enough to support Hill. Biden subsequently sought out women to serve on the Judiciary Committee and emphasized women’s issues in the committee’s legislative agenda.

Biden was involved in crafting many federal crime laws. He spearheaded the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, also known as the Biden Crime Law, which included the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004 after its ten-year sunset period and was not renewed. It also included the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which contains a broad array of measures to combat domestic violence.

Biden was critical of the actions of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr during the 1990s Whitewater controversy and Lewinsky scandal investigations and said “it’s going to be a cold day in hell” before another Independent Counsel is granted the same powers. Biden voted to acquit on both charges during the impeachment of President Clinton.

As chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, Biden wrote the laws that created the U.S. “Drug Czar”, who oversees and coordinates national drug control policy. In April 2003, he introduced the controversial Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, also known as the RAVE Act. He continued to work to stop the spread of “date rape drugs,” and drugs such as Ecstasy and Ketamine. In 2004, he worked to pass a bill outlawing steroids used by many baseball players and other athletes.

Biden’s “Kids 2000” legislation established a public/private partnership to provide computer centers, teachers, Internet access, and technical training to young people, particularly to low-income and at-risk youth.

Biden on Foreign Policy

Biden was also a long-time member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In 1997, he became the ranking minority member and chaired the committee in January 2001 and from June 2001 through 2003. When Democrats re-took control of the Senate following the 2006 elections, Biden again assumed the top spot on the committee in 2007. Biden was generally a liberal internationalist in foreign policy. He collaborated effectively with important Republican Senate figures such as Richard Lugar and Jesse Helms and sometimes went against elements of his own party. Biden was also co-chairman of the NATO Observer Group in the Senate. A partial list covering this time showed Biden meeting with some 150 leaders from nearly 60 countries and international organizations.

Biden had voted against authorization for the Gulf War in 1991,  siding with 45 of the 55 Democratic senators; he said the U.S. was bearing almost all the burden in the anti-Iraq coalition. Biden was a strong supporter of the 2001 war in Afghanistan, saying “Whatever it takes, we should do it.” Regarding Iraq, Biden stated in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was a threat to national security and that there was no option but to eliminate that threat. In October 2002, Biden voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, justifying the Iraq War. While he soon became a critic of the war and viewed his vote as a “mistake”, he did not push to require a U.S. withdrawal. He supported the appropriations to pay for the occupation but argued repeatedly that the war should be internationalized, that more soldiers were needed, and that the Bush administration should “level with the American people” about the cost and length of the conflict.

Joe Biden Economically

Of course, as Vice President Biden participated in the crafting and pushing through Congress the economic policies of President Obama. He supported deficit spending on fiscal stimulus in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; the increased infrastructure spending proposed by the Obama administration; mass transit, including Amtrak, bus, and subway subsidies; the reduced military spending proposed in the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget. He supported tax increases and fought any suggestions of decreasing taxes while in the U.S. Senate and as Vice President.

Social Issues

On April 14, 2017, Biden released a statement both denouncing Chechnya authorities for their rounding up, torturing, and murdering of “individuals who are believed to be gay” and stating his hope that the Trump administration honor a prior pledge to advance human rights by confronting Russian leaders over “these egregious violations of human rights.” On June 21, during a speech at a Democratic National Committee LGBT gala in New York City, Biden said, “Hold President Trump accountable for his pledge to be your friend.”On July 26, after Trump announced a ban of transgender people serving in the military, Biden tweeted, “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.” He also supports same-sex marriage.

During an appearance at the Brainstorm Health Conference in San Diego, California on May 2, 2017, Biden said the public “has moved ahead of the administration [on science].” On May 31, Biden tweeted that climate change was an “existential threat to our future” and remaining in the Paris Agreement was “the best way to protect our children and global leadership.” The following day, after President Trump announced his withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, Biden tweeted that the choice “imperils US security and our ability to own the clean energy future.” While appearing at the Concordia Europe Summit in Athens, Greece on June 7, Biden said, referring to the Paris Agreement, “The vast majority of the American people do not agree with the decision the president made.

Immigration Matters

Joe Biden as VP fully supported President Obama’s actions on illegal immigration. The Obama Administration downsized Homeland Security by cutting funding, minimized southern border enforcement, and actually separated illegal adults from their children in compliance with a federal court ruling. The pictures of illegal immigrant children in cages widely circulated in 2018 in the press as children separated from their parents at the border under President Trump were actually children separated in 2014 under President Obama.

On September 5, 2017, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump Administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Biden tweeted, “Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they’ll be sent to countries they’ve never known. Cruel. Not America.”

Summary

Is it politically IN-correct to mention that if elected, Joe Biden would be 79 years old when inaugurated? My first question is: Why would any 79-year-old want to start such a stressful job as U.S. President? Secondly, could any 79-year-old endure the 24/7 rigors of the requirements to fulfill the role of CEO of the largest company on Earth? “If” Joe runs, his doing so will signal his belief he can do the job and that he wants it. I know that he did when he was quite a bit younger. At 79, life circumstances and abilities diminish for us all.

Mr. Biden is a very likable guy — thus his moniker “Uncle Joe.” Yes, there are many documented circumstances and dozens and dozens of associated pictures of the former vice president getting a little too cozy with young women, often to their obvious dismay. But I have not heard of any claim of sexual harassment or of any sexual misconduct on his part.

Regarding the politics of the job: as U.S. Senator Biden, he was known for reaching out objectively to those Republican lawmakers, working together to write and pass meaningful legislation. That ability is sadly missing in Congress today. He might be able to facilitate building bridges between the two Parties to break the constant legislative logjam in Congress.

Will he run? And if he runs, can he win the Democrat Party nomination? More importantly, could a Candidate Joe Biden beat an incumbent President Donald Trump or some other Republican contender? Only time will give us those answers. Biden would bring much experience to such a race along with some credible legislative achievements. But he also would be held accountable for many of the Obama actions that many in America summarily reject.

A Biden run for President would be dicey.

 

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