Twenty years ago this month, the Bush and Gore campaigns were negotiating the number of and rules for the autumn’s presidential debates. Back then, Democrats and the media insisted the presidential debates were all important. They bragged that Vice President Al Gore was a top-notch debater, the man who defeated Dan Quayle in 1992 and vanquished Texas Billionaire H. Ross Perot in the NAFTA debates. Why the neophyte governor of Texas, they thought, wouldn’t stand a chance against Al Gore. Bush won the debate simply by showing up, avoiding gaffes, and letting Al Gore look like an overbearing bully determined to show how smart he was. So much for Al Gore.
Twenty years later, the media and the Democrats are pushing a new debate narrative. In recent days, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times have run editorials calling for Joe Biden to skip the presidential debates. CNN contributor Joe Lockhart, who used to brief the press every day for Bill Clinton mind you, alleged the president has told more than 20,000 lies. The New York Times’ Tom Friedman declared that Biden should debate Trump only if there was a team of ‘real time fact-checkers’ on site, conditional to Trump releasing his tax returns; which seems like a non-sequitur. Presidential historian Elizabeth Drew argues in The Washington Post, ‘The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president.’ That’s quite a turnaround.
Despite calls to withdrawal from the debates, the Biden campaign insists he will honor his commitment. ‘He will be there,’ Biden’s wife Jill told Fox News for him on Tuesday. When the debate schedule was announced, Biden said he ‘could hardly wait.’ This is most likely true. Biden thinks he’s a master politician and a great debater. By holding his ground and reciting a litany of actions which he’d take if he were president, Biden ‘won’ the final Democrat debate against Bernie Sanders. Every time Sanders spoke, Biden turned to him, put an elbow on the podium and a hand in his pocket and watched in suave detachment as Sanders over-explained socialism. In truth, Bernie Sanders simply didn’t have the wherewithal or the fortitude to take out Joe Biden.
Sometime soon, perhaps even this week (as he promised in July), Joe Biden will select his vice-presidential candidate and end months of speculation from bored political reporters. In this observer’s lifetime, only once has the veep choice ever made a difference. In 1992, young, southern Democrat Bill Clinton picked young, Southern Democrat Al Gore, each reinforced the other’s strengths and signaled a new centrist era in Democrat politics. Don’t be fooled, in the modern era at least, vice-presidential candidates add nothing to the ticket and don’t win their home states. Paul Ryan didn’t deliver Wisconsin to Mitt Romney in 2012 any more than Lloyd Benson gave Michael Dukakis Texas in 1988. The first and last rule of vice-presidential choices is to do no harm.
Meanwhile, the Democrat’s vice-presidential search continues. Last March, Joe Biden told the nation he’d pick a woman of color. This promise necessarily limits his options. The campaign is vetting many possibilities other than the obvious frontrunners. This includes a host of candidates nobody has ever heard of, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL), and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA).
Karen Bass is getting famous for all the wrong reasons. Bass is a former community organizer (just like Obama!), worked in Cuba during the 1970s, praised the destruction of liquor stores during the LA Riots of 1992, recently claimed she had no idea Castro was bad, appeared at events alongside Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, and praised Scientology. At a Scientology ribbon-cutting ceremony, Bass said, ‘The Church of Scientology I know has made a difference because your creed is a universal creed and one that speaks to all people everywhere.’ Let it not be said that the Biden campaign only vets dull candidates.
The most obvious veep choice would be California senator Kamala Harris and Biden was even spotted carrying a note card that extolled her virtues as a candidate. She enjoys support amongst the bi-coastal, white, liberal elites but not the African American community, which preferred Joe Biden in the primaries. Harris doesn’t really add much to the ticket. She savaged and mocked Biden for opposing forced school busing in the 1970s. Of course, were Biden to pick Harris, it would not be the first-time political rivals buried the hatchet. Speaking of, Biden could always pick Elizabeth Warren, she doesn’t stray off the leftist doctrinal reservation and is certainly acceptable to the bi-coastal liberal elite. Given Biden’s constant racial gaffes about African Americans, he made one as we were writing this column, one wonders if any of the above-mentioned candidates actually want the job.
Contributed by William Stroock, author of military fiction, commentator.
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