Guy Farmer: It’s President Trump vs. Joe Biden. Help!
I have a hypothetical question for you: What if we had a presidential election and you were forced to choose between a shaky 77-year-old career politician who’s been a Washington Swamp dweller since 1972 and a bombastic 73-year-old multi-millionaire who insults everyone who doesn’t agree with him?
Oh wait, that’s not a hypothetical question anymore because former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, became the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination last Tuesday by defeating 78-year-old “democratic socialist” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in four more primary states, including the battleground state of Michigan, a “must win” state for Sanders.
Biden scored a decisive 53-38 victory over Sanders in delegate-rich Michigan, increasing his delegate lead over Sanders to 866-711 with 1,991 delegates needed for the nomination. Sanders won last Tuesday in North Dakota and it was a tossup in the state of Washington, a “progressive” stronghold.
In my opinion, American voters aren’t buying what Sanders has been selling for the last 30 or 40 years: socialism. They don’t want the government to control every aspect of their daily lives, including healthcare and higher education, and don’t want Sanders and his socialist brethren deciding how to spend their tax money.
“Sanders went into Tuesday with high hopes for Michigan, where he narrowly defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton four years ago,” the Wall Street Journal reported. At this point, however, Sanders would need a miracle to win the nomination, barring a total collapse by Biden, who seems to have mental acuity issues, to put it politely.
Before the Feb. 29 South Carolina primary, Biden was described as “a doddering old pol with his best days behind him,” but thanks to a longtime South Carolina Democratic political kingmaker, Congressman Jim Clyburn, Biden scored a big victory there and went on to beat Sanders in several important states on Super Tuesday three days later.
Nevertheless, I still question whether gaffe-machine Biden can go the distance to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in mid-July because of the mental acuity issue I mentioned earlier. Biden sometimes forgets where he is and what office he’s running for. For example, he told South Carolina voters that he was running for U.S. senator and thanked “Chuck” (Todd, of NBC) after he was interviewed by Fox’s Chris Wallace.
In an editorial, the conservative Washington Examiner opined that Biden “is showing clear signs of mental decline,” adding that “he suddenly finds himself in a marriage of convenience with Democratic voters, who realize belatedly and with a feeling of desperation that they have no other viable choice for president.”
So Biden’s handlers are now keeping their candidate on a short leash, limiting his public appearances and keeping his speeches short. His stump speech is now 10 minutes or less to avoid the inevitable gaffes. Sometimes, the longer he talks, the more incoherent he sounds. We’ll see how Biden does Sunday in a face-to-face debate with Sanders in Phoenix (5 p.m. on CNN) without a studio audience, due to the coronavirus scare.
Because of doubts about Biden’s slipups and his stamina, his vice presidential choice is of vital concern. Some of his former rivals are contenders for the No. 2 slot on the Democratic ticket, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, who once called Biden a “racist,” and relatively moderate Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. With the Democrats’ diversity obsession, progressives will push for a “person of color” like Harris while others who want to attract independents (like yours truly) and anti-Trump Republicans will advocate for Klobuchar.
Well, that’s how I see the 2020 presidential sweepstakes at this point, but I reserve the right to be wrong.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.