So is Joe Biden, our country's vice president, going to announce a run for presidency? Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had strong showings in the Democratic debate earlier this week, but neither (especially Hillary) really mopped up the floor.
Speculation is rampant and rising that Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware before becoming Obama's veep, is about to announce any second now.
Let's be clear: Joe Biden would be awful from any sort of libertarian perspective. He's a hawk mostly in foreign policy and if he's not quite as awful as the last draft-averse patriot who served as vice president, he's part of one of the two worst administrations this century when it comes to fighting "dumb" wars. On top of that, he's been silent on the issue of domestic surveillance, torture, and other niceities of today's modern warfare.
For virtually his entire career, Biden has been a joke and a punchline, known not simply for dada-esque gaffes but also for cheating while in law school and, inexplicably, plagiarizing biographical details from a British politician during a disastrous White House run in 1988. Then there's the weird stuff during swearing-in ceremonies.
And, of course, Biden's leading role as an architect and enforcer of the drug war. From my new Daily Beast article, "Joe Biden, Narc in Chief":
he's always despised drug culture, even marijuana, which he believes is a gateway drug. In the 1980s, Biden was instrumental in creating the office of the drug czar and called for nothing short of total war on pot and pills. "Mr. President," he raged, outdoing even Ronald Reagan in just-say-no bellicosity, "you say you want a war on drugs, but if that's what you want we need another D-Day. Instead you're giving us another Vietnam—a limited war fought on the cheap, financed on the sly, with no clear objectives, and ultimately destined for stalemate and human tragedy." Give Biden bonus credit for chutzpah in invoking Vietnam—like Dick Cheney, he managed to snag five deferments from the military draft his college days.
Biden's worst contribution to the drug war might be the idiotic RAVE Act (for "Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act"), passed during the early Aughts' hysteria over club kids dancing themselves to death. The RAVE Act didn't just up penalties for drug sales and use, it criminalized knowing that drug use was likely to happen in a way that made it that much harder for event organizers to implement sound harn-reduction policies.
The law prohibited "knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance." If you owned a club or a house or even an open field and enough high kids showed up, you're screwed.
The ironic-yet-entirely-predictable twist? By criminalizing any knowledge of drug use, the RAVE Act actually increases the likelihood of bad outcomes. If event organizers acknowledge drug use and try to pass around harm-reduction literature or staff intervention services, they're putting themselves at risk.
Here's a cherry on top, especially if you're not already retired: Biden is on the record saying, "There will be no changes to Social Security" or Medicare. That plays well with seniors but it is a declaration of war against younger Americans. Since 2010, most workers will get less from Social Security than they put in (assuming a 2 percent annual return on the employer's and employee's contributions). So Biden wants to guarantee a terrible retirement for you. Medicare aleady doesn't cover even half of its expenses via premiums and taxes, so on that score we're looking at massive tax increases on we the living.
Go ahead and run, Joe Biden. We can always use another terrible, awful presidential candidate.