I must start with full disclosure. Biden is not my first choice for the Democratic candidate for the presidency. I can’t really say why, actually. If I think about it without any personal prejudice, he might just be what our country needs. He is liked by many on both sides of the aisle. No one has a visceral negative response to him, unlike people have for many other candidates. So, when I think about it, he probably has the power to heal our divided nation.
But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about what happened last night.
What took place last night on the debate floor is that all those ridiculous candidates sold their ethics and their party down the river because the pundits said that is what they needed to do in order to to stand out. Pundits drive all behavior now, and they spent much of yesterday laying the groundwork for what they wanted: TV soundbites of everyone attacking Biden. Most candidates took the bait and made that their mission. They betrayed themselves and their party — and our country. Instead of coming across as candidates I want to lead our nation, they acted like praying mantises. After praying mantises mate, the woman bites off the head of her partner, killing him instantly. Biden has been good to everyone on that stage. He has supported them all along.
Since Biden did not return the “favor” last night, he’s now being called lackluster. I’ll take being called “lackluster” over selling out my party and trading in my soul for a soundbite on CNN that will be forgotten when the news cycle ends. Last night, those candidates who went after him were like the GOP going after good people just to get Trump’s approval, or I should say, to stay out of Trump’s destruction-driven Twitter feed.
Discourse like this is beneath us all. Last night’s debate was a disaster for those running, for the party, and for the country.
Joe Biden is a good guy — in many ways, a great guy — and he will always be uncomfortable in aggressively attacking people with whom he sits on the same side of the fence. At one point last night, he turned to someone who was angrily addressing him, and said, “Good to know, because you and I speak all the time.” What he was saying, in my opinion, was, “This is not how you and I speak; I’m saddened that you think it will help you and that you are willing to check our relationship at the door.” He also said, “That is malarkey!” Malarkey?! I’m surprised Google didn’t report that as a top keyword search last night. The younger generations haven’t heard that word before; even I haven’t heard it since my dad passed away a few years ago.
When his wife and small daughter were killed in a car accident years ago and his two small sons were in the hospital, Joe Biden resigned his newly gained senatorial seat. He explained that he had to give his sons all of his attention. The senators on both sides of the aisle replied that they would cover for him, but that he wasn’t going anywhere and that he should come back when he could. Joe Biden values family and work. He hails from a labor union home, where his dad taught him about country and loyalty. He is the best of Americans. Yes, Biden does invade people’s personal space; I have felt it. BUT, he does so in the way an overexcited puppy does, not in a sexually predatorial way; at least, that is my opinion. He means no harm, and intention does matter.
Whoever stands up and starts talking about the difference between his/her ideas and those of the others, stressing that we all want the same thing: “a great America for all who call her home,” and does so with a cool, kind, compelling, “I would like to date that person” presence will seize the day, in my opinion.
Here are some soundbites that would have brought them all to higher ground:
“I simply will not put down the other candidates here. I will tell you, as I tell them across the table when we are together, why I like my idea better. So, let me tell you my plan for health care.”
“I will not speak about Donald Trump. If I am chosen to go up against him next fall, I can promise you, I have much I would like to say to him. But right now, it’s about showing you who I am and what I stand for, and how I can serve you. He is not worth my time right now.”
“Donald Trump? Seriously? I believe the American people have seen through him; they don’t need me to tell them why. They need me to show them who I am and what I will do and how I will represent them. That’s what I’m here to do tonight.”
“I watch ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ and the phrase ‘under his eye’ haunts me. Under the eye of those in power now, we are putting people in cages. People are dying because they can’t pay for health care. People are not reaping the benefits of what we keep being told is the best economy in the history of the universe. ‘Under his eye’ has new meaning in today’s world. Enough said.”
“Gun control is not what it’s about. It’s about not needing to have an instrument that shoots off more than 50 bullets a second. It’s about degree. It’s always about degree, and there is always a middle ground that is palatable to all. I do not believe that anyone who supports the NRA likes the headlines in today’s shooting-every-single-day world.”
It’s not about attacking Biden. It’s not about attacking Trump. And that strategy, in my opinion, will not beat Trump. Besides, it’s beneath all of you. Stop it.