The Bloom is Off Joe Biden’s Rose

Poor Sleepy Joe. He just can’t catch a break.

Recently the former vice president  abandoned his decades-long support of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions, in favor of a more fashionably pro-choice, anti-baby stance. A no-brainer, right? Throw some red meat to the left-wing party faithful and reap the inevitable rewards…

Only it didn’t work. Once the grassroots got a taste of Biden’s red meat, they promptly bit the hand that fed them. They rejected Biden’s progressive overture as inauthentic, and they questioned why he hadn’t been 100 percent pro-abortion all along.

Biden’s problem is two-fold. First, he’s essentially a moderate, and he’s undeniably an elderly white male. The Democratic Party of 2019 doesn’t cotton to either of these descriptors.

The Democratic Party’s left-wing base castigates moderates as sellouts, as enablers of corporate greed, reactionary social policies, and possibly even Trumpism. A moderate Democrat is someone who doesn’t automatically spit in the face of Trump voters, gun owners, churchgoers, and other “deplorables”—and to fail to despise these villains with sufficient fervor is to be complicit in their (imagined) crimes.

Modern leftists demand total and unthinking submission to progressive values and to the left-wing agenda, along with the ostracism of all dissenters. With the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, whose socialist bona fides are not in question, an elderly white male would be a contemptible figure to this crowd. Failing to check every ideological box will spell Biden’s doom.

Although Biden can’t become any less old or white, he could theoretically become less male. That would be a start, in leftist eyes, but we can safely assume that Biden, at age 76, is too set in his ways to take the leap into transgenderism.

That leaves only one alternative: in lieu of changing his identity, Biden must ditch even more of his moderation. By migrating further leftward, he  theoretically could appease the Sanders-Warren wing of his party and rally more progressives to his side. But it won’t be easy.

Not only do today’s left-wingers demand total conformity with their radical views and agenda—they are also relentlessly historically minded. They consider it good sport to rifle through a person’s past statements, past relationships, or past political positions and decisions, to try to root out any deviation from current progressive standards. This is why statues are being toppled willy-nilly on college campuses and in city parks across the nation—liberals can’t abide the celebration, or even the normalization, of anyone who doesn’t toe the line politically (the whole line, mind you). Being dead for centuries is no excuse. In Biden’s case, being nearly dead elicits no sympathy either.

Simply put, liberals are out for blood, and even an act of abject submission or contrition, performed under duress or too late in the day, is likely to be rebuffed.

Mercy simply is not a virtue that left-wingers recognize. This makes it hard for the Bidens of the world to migrate leftwards, when liberals are apt to see it as mere pandering and as a sign of weakness. Their haughty, dismissive reaction to Biden’s abandonment of the Hyde Amendment proves as much. “Too little, too late” is their refrain.

So what is the lesson here for Biden? It may be that 2020 is just not his year (again). Biden was a useful source of legitimation and avuncular affection for the progressive superhero, Barack Obama, but those days are in the past. Biden’s relevance in the age of #MeToo-ism, identity politics, intersectionality, gender fluidity, and “democratic socialism” is highly questionable.

Biden’s easiest path to the Democratic nomination was always along the lines of a coronation. By simply grinning away and becoming a somewhat more pallid, skeletal version of his old, charming self, while the progressive wing of the Democratic Party formed a circular firing squad and destroyed itself, Biden might have walked into the Democratic convention relatively unscathed and as the nominee by acclamation.

The latest polls in Iowa, however, indicate that Biden’s appeal is already waning, and the hard-left is gaining on him. And this is before any of the other two dozen candidates for the Democratic nomination have even fired a broadside in Biden’s direction.

No, if Biden can’t keep his head above water even in this, the friendliest and mildest stage of the nominating contest, he won’t do well at all in the no-holds-barred phase that is sure to come.

Poor Sleepy Joe. He just can’t catch a break. He missed the presidential boat in 1988 and in 2008, and he seems destined to miss it again, and for the last time, in 2020.

Photo credit:  Scott Olson/Getty Images

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About Nicholas L. Waddy

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: www.waddyisright.com. He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.