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S.E. CUPP: Welcome to the race, Joe: Your party has left you, and millions of voters, behind
After years of speculation and false starts, it appears that Thursday is the day when Joe Biden will finally announce his third attempt at running for president.
He’ll be in a good position, better than most, when he gets in.
“Pretty much 80 percent of the Democratic fundraising establishment are pretty much all on board,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, one of Biden’s key backers. According to reports, a number of big Wall Street donors have held off backing other candidates, waiting for Biden.
He’s been leading the polls for months, well ahead of other candidates who have already announced, including Elizabeth Warren and rising star Pete Buttigieg.
He has nearly 100 percent name ID and will reportedly have a number of former President Obama’s key staff on his team.
However, despite all this good fortune and circumstance, Biden is in for a rude, rude awakening when he actually makes it official.
This isn’t your grandfather’s — or Joe Biden’s — Democratic Party anymore. His record, which includes backing the now-controversial 1994 crime bill, boosting the credit card industry, and disrespecting and dismissing Anita Hill’s sexual harassment claims, puts him in a precarious place among progressives who view him through a distinctly 2019 prism.
But it’s also his bad luck of genetics and age that make him a target of the new left, who do not want an old white guy to be the next Democratic nominee.
The incoming he’s already received, while not yet running, is just a small taste of what’s to come.
Here was progressive commentator Joan Walsh on CNN:
You’ve got Joe Biden as the white grandfather in all of this, the white man saying it’s a white man’s culture. OK. It’s got to change. I have an idea for how he can change it. Don’t run.
And Frank Bruni in The New York Times:
[Biden] spent nearly 45 years in Washington, a proper noun that’s a dirty word in presidential politics [and] his record includes laws and episodes that are reviled — rightly — by the female and black voters so integral to the Democratic Party.
And progressive author and activist Sally Kohn in USA Today:
Biden is a conventional, corporate centrist Democrat. He is from the Great Banking State of Delaware, after all. A 2008 Pro Publica report detailed just how cozy Biden’s relationship has been with the credit card industry — including the fact that the financial services company MBNA was Biden’s single largest contributor for 20 years…
For the wokest and leftiest among us, these criticisms are fair and uncontroversial.
But for many others, it seems like bizarro world.
For example, Biden will get no credit among progressives for memorably pushing the last Democratic president, Obama, toward gay marriage equality. He’ll get no credit for backing gun control legislation long before Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill, or drafting the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
And he’s just as confused by the progressives’ attacks on him. As he said in March, “I have the most progressive record of anybody who would run.”
That last point is debatable, but his frustration is understandable.
To that end, Biden shouldn’t waste time bending left for progressives. His gift will be courting moderates and independents, the left-behind Blue Dog Democrats in the Rust Belt, some of whom voted for Donald Trump. He speaks their language fluently, more so than any other candidate.
If he can avoid the progressive pitfalls that will dare him to abolish ICE and support a wacky and implausible Green New Deal, promise free college and healthcare for all, wipe out all debt and tax us all through the roof, he has the best shot at defeating Trump in a general election.
Many progressives know this, but oppose him in spite of it. But Democrats have to ask themselves: Do they want purity or do they want to win?
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