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Old 06-05-2019, 10:34 AM
Thing Fish is offline
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Is Joe Biden the new Ed Muskie?


Very fun Slack Chat on 538 this morning, comparing the 2020 Presidential candidates to candidates in previous elections, and trying to discern from that what their futures might hold. I thought it would be fun to throw the question out to this board.

I'll start:

Once upon a time, there was a Presidential candidate who, although having an impressive record of winning elections in his home State, was widely disliked by the Party establishment. He was viewed as too ideologically extreme to win the Presidency. His advanced age was also a concern, as were rumors of long-ago ties to Communist groups.

The first time he ran for President, he faced a moderate Establishment candidate closely linked to his party's last elected President. He narrowly lost after a highly contentious primary campaign. Afterwards, he was accused of being insufficiently enthusiastic in his support of the nominee, and many people blamed his "divisive" primary campaign for his party's narrow loss that November.

Who am I thinking of?

SPOILER:
Why, Ronald Reagan, of course!

We all know how the story ends: he went on to be elected President by a landslide and re-elected by an even bigger landslide. Despite facing a hostile Congress for his entire Presidency, he succeeded in radically shifting the Overton window and redefining the terms of American political debate for a generation. Today he is widely regarded, especially by members of his own party, as being one of our greatest Presidents, while the candidate who beat him in his first primary run is remembered as an embarrassing nonentity.


OK, who's up next?
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:00 AM
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Thinking about Joe Biden in this regard: Has there ever before been a case of a Vice President who didn't run at the first opportunity after his VP term ended, but did come back to run at some time in the future? I'm not thinking of any offhand.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:22 AM
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I can't help but think the title of this thread should be "Is Bernie Sanders the new Ronald Reagan?".
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:52 PM
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One article compared him to Bob Dole, which seems like a relatively apt comparison. Never particularly dazzling in any of his earlier presidential runs, but may finally win because "It's his turn." A huge difference between Biden and Dole is that Biden served as Veep, so perhaps people can imagine him in that role more than they could Dole.

Then again, one would have thought that people could have imagined Al Gore in that role, and not enough did. One would have thought people could have imagined Sec of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton in that role, and not enough did.
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Old 06-05-2019, 02:37 PM
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I think the Vice Presidency is a crucial distinction there, though. Both between Biden and Dole and between Biden’s current and previous runs. Like if Obama picks someone else and Biden stays in the Senate, I can’t imagine he would be getting much support now.
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Old 06-05-2019, 03:49 PM
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I think the Vice Presidency is a crucial distinction there, though. Both between Biden and Dole and between Biden’s current and previous runs. Like if Obama picks someone else and Biden stays in the Senate, I can’t imagine he would be getting much support now.
On the other hand, Bill Clinton was probably in a better position to build a broader coalition than Biden, allowing him to easily defeat Dole. The very same polarization and tribalism that makes Trump historically unpopular simultaneously makes it more complicated for Biden to energize a healthy coalition that won't fall apart because of internal ideological divisions, which are festering.

In theory, the Democrats should win the upcoming election just as convincingly as they won the mid-terms, if not more so. The potential danger is that it's easy to play individual factions against each other, and that will be one strategy that Trump (and Russia) will utilize. Trump probably can't get much more than 45% of the vote, but it might be enough to sow chaos.

Last edited by asahi; 06-05-2019 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:39 PM
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So who's the potential Bill Clinton of 2020? Little known Governor of a small conservative State, combining moderate politics with a personal image of youthful saxophone-playing hipness. Well, the first two criteria sound like Steve Bullock, the second two like Beto. Maybe Hickenlooper comes close to covering all the bases? Colorado isn't all that small or conservative, and he's not that youthful, but being a former microbrewery owner checks the hipster appeal box. But do any of these guys have wives who are smarter than they are?
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:46 PM
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Thinking about Joe Biden in this regard: Has there ever before been a case of a Vice President who didn't run at the first opportunity after his VP term ended, but did come back to run at some time in the future? I'm not thinking of any offhand.
Dan Quayle decided not to run in 1996, but did in 2000. But he lasted like 4 months before dropping out.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:56 PM
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Oh, right. Well, I think we can safely say that Joe Biden is no Dan Quayle.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:59 PM
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I will also say that I think the OP kind of short changed the Slack Chat... there are far more interesting comps to Sanders = Reagan (because they also make the Warren = Reagan comparison). Heck, even for Sanders, I thought Sanders = Trump 2016 was far more fascinating. In fact, is Sanders like Trump is in the headline of the Slack Chat article.

Last edited by ISiddiqui; 06-05-2019 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 06-05-2019, 05:28 PM
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Well, I was rather taken with the Sanders-Reagan comp for obvious reasons but yeah, it's a very interesting chat that covers quite a few cases (Kamala Harris = James K. Polk. Discuss.)

Trump is also an obvious comparison for Sanders. I would argue that Reagan is better because he had actually held elected office, and because the Establishment disliked him primarily because of his extreme ideology, not because of his personal awfulness (I mean, Reagan and Sanders are both unlike Trump in that they actually HAD coherent ideologies).
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Thing Fish View Post
Once upon a time, there was a Presidential candidate who, although having an impressive record of winning elections in his home State, was widely disliked by the Party establishment. He was viewed as too ideologically extreme to win the Presidency. His advanced age was also a concern, as were rumors of long-ago ties to Communist groups.

The first time he ran for President, he faced a moderate Establishment candidate closely linked to his party's last elected President. He narrowly lost after a highly contentious primary campaign. Afterwards, he was accused of being insufficiently enthusiastic in his support of the nominee, and many people blamed his "divisive" primary campaign for his party's narrow loss that November.

Who am I thinking of?
Italics mine.

Correction: The first second time he ran for President. This was his first time.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:52 AM
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The issue with Joe Biden is that his worst enemy has always been Joe Biden.

Prior to Obama plucking him out of the Senate to run as VP, Joe was kind of a knucklehead, who could frequently be counted on to say something a bit nutty. He fibbed about his law school record, plagiarized a speech or many, and couldn't generate much on the campaign trail during his runs. I seem to remember Obama taking the mic away from Biden early in their administration as he was going way off scrip.

Now he's the heir apparent. He's probably the best choice so I hope it works, but the implosion factor is high, and if that happens, the earlier the better.

Last edited by spifflog; 06-06-2019 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 06-06-2019, 07:53 AM
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When did Biden ever plagiarize a speech? One time, he used a single short quote that he'd used and attributed many times before, but forgot to attribute it. Got anything more than that?
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Old 06-06-2019, 08:21 AM
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The Washington Post's take on the Biden plagiarism issue.

While it appears that he did attribute the speech several times, there were times that he didn't.

From the above article:

"I had heard him quote Neil Kinnock by name, probably 20 times,” Wilhelm recalled in an interview. “So I don’t know if I call it plagiarism. I might call it ‘he forgot.’ . . .

But on Saturday, Sept. 12, when the first news reports were published, the power of the video became clear. Watching a report on NBC News that put Biden and Kinnock together on screen “made my stomach hurt,” Biden wrote in his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep.” “This looked terrible — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.” . . .

The campaign insisted this had been a one-time error. But it turned out that Biden had used the Kinnock material without attribution another time, and it had been videotaped by the National Education Association. Biden also acknowledged that he had inaccurately appropriated some details of Kinnock’s life: While Biden was the first on his father’s side of the family to go to college, he was not the first in his whole family. And his ancestors had not been coal miners; rather, some were mining engineers.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Lord, then a staffer in the Reagan White House, was watching the news unfold with frustration. Months earlier, stuck in Washington in the middle of a snowstorm, he had turned on C-SPAN to watch Biden give a speech to California Democrats. A fan of Robert Kennedy, Lord had immediately noticed that Biden was using long passages from Kennedy’s speeches without giving him credit. . . .

Lord called Maureen Dowd at the New York Times, drove to his home to dig out recordings of the Kennedy speeches and walked them over to the Times bureau in Washington. The story broke soon afterward, along with revelations that Biden had lifted sentences from Hubert Humphrey in yet another speech, without crediting him. (Biden aides said they had forgotten to write the attribution of the Kennedy lines into his speech.)"
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISiddiqui View Post
I will also say that I think the OP kind of short changed the Slack Chat... there are far more interesting comps to Sanders = Reagan (because they also make the Warren = Reagan comparison). Heck, even for Sanders, I thought Sanders = Trump 2016 was far more fascinating. In fact, is Sanders like Trump is in the headline of the Slack Chat article.
Well, they don't really talk about Warren/Reagan, Azari just mentions in passing that she had been planning to make that case before realizing Sanders was a much better fit.

I don't see it at all myself. To me the obvious comp for Warren is John Kerry; Massachusetts Senator, quite liberal but not at all "outsidery", super smart but not blessed with an abundance of charisma.
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:15 AM
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I doubt Biden's plagiarism (probably minor anyway) will even remotely factor into the calculus. Biden's challenge will be his age and his ability to convince the hardcore progressives in the party that there's a reason to vote for him now. His record of being basically a male version of Hillary Clinton will be a campaign topic, and he'll have to do a better job than she did of convincing people that he can reinvent himself while not going so far as to alienate the moderates who are strongly considering voting for him. I think the right approach would be selling himself as the "new and improved" Obama presidency.
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:37 AM
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Could I respectfully request that you guys take this discussion to the general Biden thread?
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