Joe Biden

The Fantasy Lives of Washington Post Columnists

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

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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.

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  1. He should run as Biden Unbound.

    I’d hate to see Biden un-self-censored.

    1. Wait. You mean Biden is currently self-censored?

    2. It might be kind of cool to take back the Craziest Leader title from Russia.

      1. That’s why we need Trump!

  2. 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.

    But they only support objectively common-sense and reasonable things! Tony told me so the other day. Anybody who disagrees is a dogmatist.

    1. Besides, what’s to fix? Obama has done a wonderful job fixing the economy and ending the wars and racial strife. Or so I’ve heard…

  3. But what a revealing fantasy it is.

    No, it is not.

  4. No, you’re a towel.

  5. I’m pretty sure this is just another sign that Hillary’s campaign is in a whole heap of trouble and democrats know it. Still, I can’t say that I’m thrilled by any of the other candidates either.

  6. I love how “bipartisanship” is so important now that the Democrats don’t own Congress. I don’t remember the Post being too concerned about “bipartisanship” back in 2009 when they owned Congress and the White House. Then it was all about “elections have consequences”.

    The other thing is that I am not sure anyone can stop Hillary. The Democratic primary system is, like the GOP one, totally corrupt and set up for the best funded and best organized candidate to get as early a win as possible. Being the most popular or getting the most votes doesn’t guarantee you will win. Hillary found this out in 2008. She won every primary but still lost the nomination because Obama was better organized and strong armed all of her supporters in the caucus states. Hillary learned this less well and is set up to the same thing to anyone who challenges her in 2016. I don’t care how low Hillary’s poll numbers get, she has a ton of money, a large number of hard core supporters and is going to be very hard to beat for the nomination.

    1. Bipartisanship means Republicans supporting Democrats.

      1. Bipartisanship means statists stop pretending to be different from other statists. Do you really still think Republicans are the good guys, just being bullied by the mean ol’ Democrats?

        1. My only point was that it never goes both ways. But I do agree with you in that when the two major parties agree on something, it’s going to go badly for the rest of us.

    2. Forcing Republicans to fall in line or failing to bring any aboard is bipartisan.

      Hilariously, the complaint about a deadlocked Congress CXIV is that Republicans, presumably elected to their offices because they’re not Democrats, aren’t being bipartisan enough by refusing to yoke themselves to the president’s every whim.

      1. They have absolutely no sense of self awareness. Anytime they don’t get exactly what they want it is because Republicans are “THE CRAZY’ and refuse to compromise. It is never because their side refuses to compromise. They really do live in a black is white fantasy world. In the real world, the Republicans in Congress would love nothing better than to compromise and be seen as bi-partisan and reasonable and only can’t do so because the Democrats have gone so utterly insane that even the worst sell out compromise is no longer possible. The Democrats have actually managed to be so unreasonable and so fucking crazy, they have made it impossible for Congressional Republicans to sell out to them. That is a pretty good trick when you think about it.

        1. Because Democrats, as Tony amply and routinely demonstrates, live under the delusion that they represent The American People rather than just another coalition of rent-seekers, parasites, and ideologues. In their minds Republicans have no authentic popular base to represent and do what they do in the service of obstruction or pandering to their monied interests.

          1. The Republicans represent the rich! I mean, why else would they give lip-service to people keeping their own money? Who wants to keep their own money other than the rich? But it’s even worse than that! You see, every dollar that is not taken from the rich and used to feed starving children is a dollar that was stolen from a starving child and given to a rich person! Don’t you understand? Not giving is taking and not taking is giving!

          2. Democrats live under the delusion that they represent The American People rather than just another coalition of rent-seekers, parasites, and ideologues.

            Well said.

        2. I prefer to look at them as petulant children or surly teenagers who rail against their parents, then sulk when they don’t get their way.

          1. Ha ha ha ha ha! Libertarians are the teenagers! They want to live their lives without asking permission and obeying orders! Just like teenagers! Libertarians don’t understand that all citizens are mere children, and government is their loving parent! Liberals understand this, that’s why they want government to be their mommy! Likewise conservatives want government to be their daddy! Stupid libertarians actually want to be treated like adults! Just like teenagers!

          2. Toddlers. Trust me. I have a 3yo, and the thought process is identical.

            1. i think ive grown up since being a three year old, but not since being a teenager

            2. i think ive grown up since being a three year old, but not since being a teenager

    3. Bi-partisanship is a campaign slogan. It let’s people reassure themselves that they’re not unreasonable partisans. And it appeals to the soft middle that doesn’t like either party but doesn’t see any alternative.

    4. “The Democratic primary system is, like the GOP one, totally corrupt and set up for the best funded and best organized candidate to get as early a win as possible.”

      Six months ago, I would have agreed with that statement. Trump’s campaign has shown it to be a false narrative. Certainly the party big wigs, like to present the appearance of being Masters of the Universe. But it’s just as certain that none of them want or expected Trump’s rise to popularity.

      Granted, on the Democrat side it’s pretty clear that Hillary and her supporters remain in control. But even that is starting to look shaky.

      1. First, Trump hasn’t won anything. Second, Trump is, love him or hate him, a political force of nature in a way that Biden will never be. If there were a Democrat anything like Trump, I would agree Hillary is toast. But there isn’t one. No way would Biden ignite the kind of dedication and excitement Trump does.

      2. Trump’s campaign has shown it to be a false narrative.

        Let’s see what happens as the various state Republican parties start juking their rules when the actual primary starts.

    5. Pretty much everything that is genuinely bipartisan is dreadful.

      War on Drugs
      Iraq War
      Viet Nam War
      No Child Left Behind
      Medicare Part D
      Wage and Price Controls
      Deficit spending as a permanent policy

      When such bipartisan initiatives fail, the Democrats deny they were ever involved and the media is there to reinforce the false narrative. In the exceeding rare case of a bipartisan success, the Democrats claim they were its sole advocates and bravely prevailed over Republican opposition, and the media again reinforces the false narrative. An example of the latter is the bipartisan civil rights legislation and enforcement of the 50s and 60s. It’s the only example of a bipartisan success that I can think of right now.

      1. Pretty much everything that is genuinely bipartisan is dreadful.

        Stupid *and* evil.

        1. “Stupid *and* evil.”

          But… But… But which one is the stupid party and which one is the evil party?!? I still struggle with that, it keeps me up at night…

          1. Or can they both, be both? If so, why do they even PRETEND to fight? Is it like pro-wrestling, all scripted?

            1. they both are both. see below

          2. But which one is the stupid party and which one is the evil party?

            They switch every few years. Right now, the Republicans are Stupid (as evidenced by 16 presidential candidates who can’t even out-poll The Donald) and the Democrats are Evil (as evidenced by their frontrunners being a known felon and an honest-to-God socialist).

      2. The continuing resolutions and sequestration have turned out pretty good for the deficit.

        That’s about the only counter-example I can think of, though.

        1. I think that’s because they both compromised not thinking the sequestrestration would ever actually come to pass. I’d bet it surprised quite a few politicos that the poison pills they included were not hazardous enough. Plus, it’s not like they were actual cuts. Merely reducing to outrageous spending instead of ludacris.

      3. An example of the latter is the bipartisan civil rights legislation and enforcement of the 50s and 60s. It’s the only example of a bipartisan success that I can think of right now.

        Congress was dragged kicking and screaming into that by the Civil Rights Movement.

        If Congress has to be forced to pass something by outside popular pressure, it’s good legislation. If Congress takes initiative, it’s bad legislation.

      4. I’d say the Gingrich/Clinton budget war and eventual agreement was good, and bipartisan, for as long as it lasted.

        Of course, it went just like you said. According to the media, Clinton was the hero and Gingrich was the jerk who shut down the government.

  7. “”One-term Biden wouldn’t have to worry about satisfying constituencies.”

    Well, that actually makes sense. The best way to satisfy Dem constituencies is to just do whatever you want and act like as much of a dictator as possible. It’s very clear at this point that dem voters want a government to do as it pleases and rule over every detail of their lives completely. So yeah, it makes a lot of sense.

    1. Remember when John McCain pledged to be a one term President? That wasn’t a sign on strength on his or the Republicans’ part. The fantasy that Biden can win promising not to run again is not a good sign for the Democrats.

      Seriously, what is someone who claims they won’t run for reelection doing except admitting that they won’t be worthy of it?

      1. Seriously, what is someone who claims they won’t run for reelection doing except admitting that they won’t be worthy of it?

        Washington started a noble tradition of stepping down after two terms until FDR ruined it.

        Personally I’d love to see more politicians voluntarily give up power. I don’t trust most of them to do it, though.

        1. Yes. I am running for the common good and won’t stay is great. That of course is not what is happening here. Do you honestly think Biden or McCain actually think that? No way. McCain said it and Biden if he does say it will say so because they are desperate and realize people don’t trust them and are trying to reassure people.

          1. Polk was the first and last intentional 1 term president.

            1. An didn’t do too bad a job of it.

            2. Both Coolidge and Johnson declined to seek a second term of their own.

              1. Truman, also.

      2. If Biden runs he might get the nomination. I don’t think he’d take many Bernie votes since Bernie is so far left of Biden, but he might steal enough Hillary voters to get the nomination.

        If he does and he picks Taxahauntas as VP, sady to say, he’ll probably beat any Republican. We are so screwed.

        1. I am not sure about that. Biden only looks good because he is VP and no one sees or hears much from him. It is easy to forget just what a horrible candidate he actually was when he ran for President. Once he starts running, if he does, he will be the same horrible candidate he always was. He would be even weaker in the general election than Hillary, because he will be every bit as awful of a candidate and not have the “vote for the vagina” factor.

          Biden is to the Democrats what Kurt Cousins is to the Washington Redskins. He is the backup that people have somehow managed to forget just how horrible he is.

        2. I hate to break it to you, but no one is going to beat Trump.

          However, the “who is creepier” conversation that will occur during the Trump/Biden race will be fun and depressing.

          1. A month ago I would have laughed at you for saying that Juggler. Now, I am starting to agree with you. First, the Democrats are totally divided and demoralized. There is no way any Democrat is going to put the Obama coalition back together or generate the kind of turnout Obama did. The Republicans are not demoralized but they are very much split. I am starting to think Trump is going to win by default just like Romney did. He is going to be the only one who has a committed and large constituency and his opponents are never going to manage to unite enough of the various voting blocks to stop him.

            Once you get to the general, Trump will sound optimistic and preach nationalism, which the public loves and is yearning for after 8 years of being lectured by national scold in chief and will capitalize on the enormous backlash that is building over immigration and political correctness. The more the media hates on him and tries to shut him up, the more popular he will get.

            1. The more the media hates on him and tries to shut him up, the more popular he will get

              That we agree on.

            2. christ almight. that does all make sense. President Donald Trump. shit.

              1. Trump is our Berlisconni, though I doubt he is quite the sex pervert Berlisconni is. I am not sure anyone, even Bill Clinton, could be.

                1. I am not sure anyone, even Bill Clinton, could be.

                  You better put some ice on that.

            3. “A month ago I would have laughed at you for saying that Juggler. Now, I am starting to agree with you.”

              Me too. Over the weekend I looked at a WSJ article on Trump, doesn’t matter which one, the comments were all insanely either in favor of him or against him and none of them were nuanced or rational. It was pretty humbling for me to realize how little I understand people. What I do understand is that such extreme displays of emotion are characteristic of something that is exploding in popularity. i.e. Apple, Taylor Swift, etc.

              1. You better apologize for bring T-Swizzle’s name in connection with a Trump-post. Don’t mess with the Swifites.

                1. Better get used to it. She’s going to be his running mate, haven’t you heard?

              2. People are pissed off. And I think as much as anything they are angry over how the media sold the country Obama. The media lied so much in order to get Obama elected and Obama has turned out to be such a disaster compared to what he was sold as, people just don’t fucking care what the media has to say about anything, much less Trump even if what they are saying is true.

            4. John, it’s only Monday. Stop trying to ruin my week.

            5. I’m not buying that Trump can win the general, not yet anyway. He polarizes people. There is some portion of the country that loves him but I doubt it’s big enough to win him an election. And a portion will absolutely not vote for him.

              That leaves, as always, the soft middle. He’ll get eviscerated by the media, and liking Trump will totally be Not Cool. I really can’t see the “moderate” middle class voters going for him, if for no other reason than it would ruin their status in polite company.

          2. I’m not even convinced that Trump is not doing this only to sabotage the Republicans. Hillary was counting on Jeb to run against, because he’s the only R candidate that she would beat. So then Bill gives the Donald a call and now the Donald will get the nomination and intentionally throw the race to Hillary by going full on crazy.

            Hey, it’s a plausible idea. Someone tell why not.

            1. I thought that at first. I always pegged Trump as a stalking horse for Hillary. And he may have been. But now I think he can actually win. Even if I am wrong, I am pretty sure Trump now thinks he can actually win. So it doesn’t matter if he started out as a stalking horse for Hillary. He now realizes he actually has a chance to win. No way is Trump going to give a real shot at being President just to help out Hillary or whatever loser Democrat gets nominated. Trump is all in. If Hillary sent him over as a stalking horse to discredit Republicans, I bet she is regretting doing that now and if she isn’t she will.

              1. Do you really think Trump would let himself be used as a stalking horse? His ego is too big for that. He probably got into this for the publicity alone.

                1. Absolutely some guy. I would believe that Hillary thought Trump was a stalking horse and that Trump just used her but no way is Trump doing this as some kind of noble gesture to get Hillary elected.

        3. This is a very small sample-size, but the Bernie fans I know have all praised Biden in the past. If he enters and is crowned “inevitable,” I can see plenty of Sanders progressives casting their vote for Biden instead.

          I also think he may well win the next election, depending on how horrible the GOP candidate is.

          1. Sure they would vote for Biden if he won the nomination, but who says Biden could beat Sanders in the first place? Those people are not going to stop supporting Sanders just because Biden jumps in. And Sanders has a lot of support in the party.

            Hillary is not giving up. And she has a lot of dead ender supporters. And the people who support Sanders are going to continue to support him too. So exactly whose votes does Biden get in the primaries? He is an old white guy who isn’t an avowed socialist. All of those sorts of people have been run out of the party. Unless Hillary drops out and endorses Biden, something I can’t see happening, I don’t see how Biden does much better than Jim Web.

  8. Please save us, Uncle Joe!

    1. I think you meant:

      “Save us, Joe-biwan Jablowme! You’re our only hope.”

  9. One-term Biden wouldn’t have to worry about satisfying constituencies or winning reelection

    Isn’t satisfying constituencies an important part of the democratic process that people seem to love so much?

    1. Leftists only want that until the one true strong man illegal alien half black half Mexican transvestite who identifies as a gay female comes to finally save them. Then we can do away with that pesky democracy, for the children and because global warming.

  10. You know who else didn’t worry about satisfying constituencies?

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox.

      1. “Don’t vote for stupid”

    2. Augusto Pinochet. And the Left still talks about him, don’t they?

  11. Biden looks more and more like the Jack Nicholson Joker every day.

    1. Cue Hillary: “You wanna get nuts? C’mon, let’s get nuts.”

      1. [Hillary whips out her nuts]

  12. Since this is a plea for bipartisanship, I can only assume that strong female VP will be Carly Fiorina.

    1. Yeah for sure, Democrat voters love someone who won’t promise them free shit.

    2. Hmmm….Trump/Fiorina.

  13. Run Joe, Run!

  14. Biden also has the support of Big Cognac.

    1. So you are telling me I should support him?

  15. “One-term Biden wouldn’t have to worry about satisfying constituencies or winning reelection.”

    Translation: The experts (or said another way, our betters) would be able to dictate through old Joe and rule us. Then there will be the utopia that we plebes can never achieve through representative government.

  16. One-Term Biden

    Nice band name.

  17. The biggest goof with “One-term Biden wouldn’t have to worry about satisfying constituencies or winning reelection” is that we’ve seen that about 21 times. We’ve had 21 two-term presidents. How many times have they just gone “off the chain” during the second term?

    Hell, Chris Rock, the brilliant political analyst that he is, was musing about Obama’s second term, and how he was really going to go nuts. OK, so where is it?

    When has it ever happened?

    It’s just more evidence that the democracy accountability feedback loop is a farce. Ostensibly, elected officials have to represent the will of the people and inherent goodness. When that doesn’t come out as planned, they’ll appeal to bipartisanship in cases of legislative stalling. They’ll also blame bipartisanship for too many compromises. Then, they fantasize about a final term “nuts” phase, in which case all of their political/legislative dreams can come true, once the democracy accountability feedback loop is broken.

    When the dream is crushed by reality, it begins a new, rising like the phoenix, theoretically surpassing any empiricism. Democracy is a religion.

    1. The reality is we have a divided system of government and an enormous and diverse country. No President of either party can just tell his opponents and the public to fuck off and do whatever he thinks is “right for the country”. Our entire system of government is set up to force compromise and to prevent any one group from getting everything they want.

      The media and a lot of other people have this fantasy where if only a President would stop paying attention to the polls and “do what is right” things would get done and our problems would be solved. That is just complete horseshit. First, the polls and electoral accountability is what causes things to get done. It is the threat of not being re-elected that gets sides to compromise. Take that away and no one ever compromises. The way a President gets things done is by moving public opinion on issues such that it forces the other side to compromise and then uses his popularity to get his own side to go along. No President ever accomplishes anything by ignoring the public. Second, even if he could, enacting something over the public’s objection “for their own good” almost never works out the way politicians hope it will. Government only works when it has the consent of the governed and policies that lack such consent nearly always fail no matter how well intentioned or otherwise well thought out they are.

      1. It is the threat of not being re-elected that gets sides to compromise. Take that away and no one ever compromises.

        How about, as a condition of public service, forfeiture of any wealth garnered during any “service” in any “office”?

        1. That wouldn’t help for two reasons. First, they would just get around that rule by getting their spouses and idiot children rich. Second, it is not just while they are in office that matters it is the money they make after they leave. They would still have the incentive to create graft that they could capitalize on as lobbyists after they leave office.

          There is not much you can do about the idiot kids. You could, however, I think place a tax on both theirs and their spouse’s incomes while they were in office and for say ten years after they leave government service. I would totally be in favor of say a 90% marginal tax rate on for ten years after they leave office all income earned that is above the average of the last three years before they entered government service. And I would support that for Congress and their staffs. End this shit of passing horrible laws and then getting rich lobbying to change them or as a pay off for passing them.

          1. I would totally be in favor of say a 90% marginal tax rate on for ten years after they leave office all income earned that is above the average of the last three years before they entered government service.

            Nice; but will the form fit on a postcard?

          2. And Tony says no one here has ever suggested a way to stick it to the 1%.

          3. I’ve had this same thought. It wouldn’t be fair to limit post-service private sector employment, but taxing the proceeds of that employment should be fair game.

            The only other solution would be to go to public funding of elections but that strategy is ripe for abuse.

  18. 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….

    Let’s see, here:

    – Preferably male.
    – Preferably black.
    – Preferably white.
    – Preferably gay.
    – Preferably tall.
    – Preferably beautiful.

    Nope, none of those sound at all bigoted, either.

    1. Very well. ” – Preferably transgender.”

    2. I wonder if Ruth has anyone particular in mind for that position?

  19. How pathetic, to be so wrapped up in political fantasies.

  20. I think the key is that objectively valuable goals don’t require government intervention.

    For some reason court cases always center around disagreements.

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