The USS Biden is sinking. With the first Democratic presidential primary debate over, the torpedoes have struck, the crew has reporters on speed dial, and as the ship is leaking like mad, the ship’s captain doesn’t have a clue what happened. As the bulkhead compartments flood, Joe Biden, in a time-honored desperate tactic, is attempting the only thing he can think to resuscitate his foundering campaign: a Sister Souljah moment.
Bill Clinton pioneered the Sister Souljah moment in 1992. Sister Souljah, a radical black activist and hip-hop musician, said in a June 1992 interview:
I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people? . . . So if you’re a gang member and you would normally be killing somebody, why not kill a white person?
This sort of rhetoric would probably mark her as a conservative Democrat today. It is hard to imagine any Democrat getting worked up over this sort of thing in 2019. If anything, most Democrats today would rush to justify gang members killing white people based on various intersectional oppression theories. But it was still 1992, so Clinton used Sister Souljah as a foil to signal to moderate voters that he is not a “kill whitey” kind of guy. In those kinder, gentler times, purposeful killing of white people was still suspect as an official Democratic Party position.
But that was then, and this is now. For the past several weeks, Biden has been reminding us daily why his first two presidential campaigns belly flopped. His debate performance was less than stellar, and the polls are starting to reflect this. As of July 4, several national polls now put him in the 22-23 percent range (a couple of others still have him around 30 percent—though these pollsters had him at well above 30 before the debate, so the drop is generally consistent across the board):
Biden’s national standing has fallen considerably post-debate, and his Iowa standing is now roughly on par with two or three other candidates (Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders—though Sanders seems to have done himself no favors either, in the debate). Biden’s “frontrunner” status now comes with a “for the moment” qualifier in many people’s minds, and without winning Iowa, it is hard to see how there could even be a Biden candidacy.
And so, on July 5, Biden attempted his Sister Souljah moment on CNN. He went after . . . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, damning her with faint praise:
By the way, I think Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman, but she won a primary. In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education and healthcare.
CNN shilling for Biden is nothing new—the only problem is that after the first debate, it’s hard to say Biden is especially moderate or mainstream. Biden opposes enforcement of immigration laws and favors open borders in all but name. Biden supports free health insurance for illegal aliens. Biden supports raising taxes. Biden supports taxpayer funding of abortion. Biden supports bringing back Obamacare’s individual mandate. These positions might seem mainstream to Upper West Side residents of Manhattan or to the denizens of Berkeley, California, but they aren’t moderate or mainstream for normal Americans living in red or purple or even lightly-blue states.
It is true that Biden hasn’t officially endorsed free abortions for men (yet—though given his propensity to shove both feet into his own mouth, he is probably one interview away from doing just that), and he hasn’t tattooed the word “socialist” on his wrinkled, face-lifted forehead. He has had the presence of mind to not campaign in Mexico for the presidency of the United States (something that can’t be said for other Democrats). But that only illustrates that there are other lunatics on the stage with him who are even crazier—not exactly a reassuring prospect for any voter who considers himself a moderate.
Biden’s problem with his Sister Souljah moment is really two-fold. First, it is much too early in the campaign cycle. Bill Clinton was already the presumptive nominee in June 1992. Biden is almost a year away from the nomination (and, at the rate he is going, he will never get there). A Sister Souljah moment 16 months before the election is wasted—and a candidate with too many of such moments starts looking as fake as the “moderate” lane Biden supposedly has all to himself.
Second, Clinton didn’t need to tack left when he spoke up about Sister Souljah—the black vote wasn’t going anywhere, and Clinton’s task was to make sure the moderates still felt comfortable with him. But Biden can’t say the same about the progressives who now make the most noise in the Democratic primaries. He may be the most un-woke of all the 20,147 Democrats running for president, and the hard-core progressive vote is certainly not going in his column in the primaries. Biden will no doubt tack further left as the months drag on. Biden may be trying to re-establish his credentials with the moderates with his “gentle criticism” of Ocasio-Cortez, but the lunatic positions he already took should give those moderate Democrats the heebie-jeebies.
The time to have a “moderate” moment was during the debate—that’s when Biden should have stated clearly and coherently that he doesn’t buy into the insane notions of open borders or free insurance for illegals, for example. That might have earned him the moderate vote. Yes, it would have cost him support from the hard-core leftists, but that vote will never be his in the primaries anyway. Now, he comes across as a man who is confused about what he believes in—if he believes in anything anymore—and who is desperately searching for some gimmick to rescue his nose-diving campaign.
The Titanic was once called “unsinkable.” Biden once had support from more than 40 percent of Democrats. But USS Biden is taking on water—like the Titanic, it won’t sink immediately. Donors are still writing checks to Biden, if only because there is nobody left who is even pretending to be sane. But, money or no money, the USS Biden will surely sink.
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