The Fantasy Lives of Washington Post Columnists

The dream of a president who doesn't "worry about satisfying constituencies"


In the midst of yet another August will-Joe-Biden-run? column, Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post gives us a glimpse at the mindset underlying so many D.C. pleas for bipartisanship:

That's a good one!

The matter of age prompts my broader theory of Biden's case: He should run as Biden Unbound. He can, pardon the phrase, trump concerns about age by announcing that he'll seek just a single term—and picking a strong, preferably female, running mate….

One-term Biden wouldn't have to worry about satisfying constituencies or winning reelection. One-term Biden, this argument would go, would be free to craft the kind of bipartisan deals that only a Senate veteran can pull off—although, in my view, Biden's chief deal-making claim to fame as vice president, the fiscal-cliff agreement, gave away too much to Republicans.

The key line here is "One-term Biden wouldn't have to worry about satisfying constituencies." That's what gives this away as a fantasy: When has a candidate ever been elected on a platform of ignoring the voters? But what a revealing fantasy it is. One-Term Biden would presumably have some sort of constituency for those deals he's supposed to be pushing through. It's just that the people projecting their plans onto the vice president—the people who dream of a Cincinnatus stepping in to fix everything with a few years' worth of bipartisan bargains—don't see themselves as a constituency to be served. Their political preferences are objectively valuable goals that are beyond politics, even as they apparently require a political wizard to enact them.