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‘This is a joke, right?’: Former Obama adviser mocks Joe Biden over ‘Best Friends Day’ tweet
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Joe Biden was mocked Sunday by an ex-adviser to Barack Obama for his desperate attempt over the weekend to invoke the former president’s legacy for his own political gain.
On Saturday, the 2020 candidate shared a photo of what appeared to be friendship bracelets with the names “Joe” and “Barack” written on them in block letters. The photo went viral and invited mockery from a host of political talking heads, including former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who tweeted: “This is a joke, right?”
Biden’s “Best Friends Day” tweet was met with cringing amusement on social media. The tweet was widely mocked as an obviously calculated, desperate attempt to link Biden’s campaign with his friend and former running mate.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 9, 2019
The reaction of Axelrod, who was Obama’s top campaign strategist, summarized the tweet’s general reception. Even Never Trump-er Bill Kristol, who never misses an opportunity to bash Trump, found cause for mockery.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 9, 2019
The Obama connection
Although Biden is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary by a comfortable margin, the Democrat’s campaign has been marked by a series of gaffes and embarrassments from the start. Last week, Biden was criticized for plagiarizing parts of his campaign platform. He has also invited criticism for what some see as a lazy campaign pace.
To Biden’s critics, the juvenile “best friends” gambit was just more evidence that Biden is running a low-effort campaign. Biden was similarly mocked in April when he said that he did not ask for Obama’s endorsement, a claim that appears to have been pretty well undercut by this latest example of obvious pandering.
Indeed, Obama has not endorsed Biden yet, making Biden’s “friendship” tweet look particularly sad. Still, Biden is apparently desperate to associate himself with the former president; he has even repeatedly referred to himself as an “Obama-Biden Democrat’ on the campaign trail.
To Biden’s critics, the Democrat is running a feel-good campaign on the strength of his name recognition as Obama’s vice president. The likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and 2020 rivals Bernie Sanders (VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) have argued that Biden’s candidacy represents nostalgia for the Obama years rather than the radical change that a new, more extreme Democratic party is seeking.
Axelrod himself has also questioned Biden’s staying power, particularly over his late-career reversal on the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funding for abortions. Biden abruptly reversed course on the legislation last week after decades of staking out a middle-of-the-road position on the provision amid criticism from Democratic rivals.
An awkward friendship
Of course, Biden and Obama are friends, and the “bromance” between the two became the basis of a popular internet meme in 2016. Before the rise of memes mocking “Creepy Joe Biden” over allegations of inappropriate touching, the Democrat was depicted by loving meme-makers as a goofy prankster who rattled the more serious Obama.
“All those memes? All those memes are basically true,” Biden said during a campaign rally for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s (D) race for Florida governor last year. “Except I want to make it clear: Barack did the first friendship bracelet, not me.”
But Biden’s relationship with Obama has suffered from awkward moments politically. In 2007, Biden was criticized for calling Obama a “sort of mainstream African-American” who is “clean,” “articulate,” “bright,” and “nice-looking.” Biden apologized for what many saw as racially charged comments.
Fast forward to 2019, and Obama has still not endorsed his “best friend.” And according to Biden in his memoirs, Obama also discouraged him from “rocking the boat’ with a campaign challenge in 2016.
“In January 2015, the president was convinced I could not beat Hillary,” Biden recalled. And if he couldn’t beat Clinton, what chance does Biden have against Donald Trump?
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