Monday, January 06, 2020

Passing On An Opportunity

Invaluable CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale explains

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden dishonestly suggested on Saturday that he had opposed the war in Iraq "from the very moment" it began in 2003 -- even though Biden's campaign said in September that he "misspoke" when he made a similar claim.

Biden was responding Saturday to a voter in Des Moines, Iowa, who told him, "I'm with you 90% of the way" but questioned his judgment in part because "you were for the second Gulf War, which was a mess."

Biden said that "from the very moment" President George W. Bush launched his "shock and awe" military campaign, and "right after" that occurred, "I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him."
It's false that Biden opposed the war from the moment Bush started it in March 2003. Biden repeatedly spoke in favor of the war both before and after it began.

Biden's language on Saturday -- saying he opposed "what he was doing" at the moment the war commenced -- was more vague than his language in September, when he flatly said he had opposed "the war" at that moment. But the new version was highly misleading even under the most generous interpretation.

On both occasions -- and on another occasion earlier this week -- Biden created the impression that he had been against the war at a key moment when he was actually a vocal supporter.

Anyone can lie and in the case of our President, continually and extravagantly.  It's less of a hindrance politically than in years or decades past. So a lie about support for a war conducted 17 years ago will not be a major hurdle to nomination, nor election, of Joseph R. Biden.

However, his campaign needs to be able to think on its feet and this isn't it:

Asked for a profile by New York Magazine about what role she might play as a member of Congress should Biden capture the White House, the freshman House Democrat from New York responded with a groan.

“Oh God,” she said. “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”

A spokesperson for Biden’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

The obvious- and magnanimous- response would be something akin to

We're a big tent and there is room for supporters of Obamacare such as myself and also for Democrats on the far-left such as Alexandria or Bernie. This is not the GOP, where Donald Trump says "sit down" and Republican politicians don't look for a chair. And it's not a party whose leader. praises Russia and its murderous dictator and accuses FBI agents of treason.

Ocasio added that the Democratic Party as currently constituted "can be too big of a tent." Biden might have added that his is a Party which welcomes not only diversity of race, religion, national origin, and gender, but also of viewpoint. He might then have challenged Senator Sanders, whom the Queens congresswoman has endorsed, to disagree with him.

Or he could have tried a pithier remark with more of an edge and asserted

I appreciate Alexandria and her devotion to the Democratic Party since she started working for Bernie Sanders five years ago, just as I wish she appreciated my efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party for the past half century.

Biden's policies, including unflinching support for the Affordable Care Act, may not be better than those of Cortez or even more popular. But voters in November (and probably primary voters) are not likely to reward a candidate who is appears so weak that he answers an attack with silence.

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