Joe Biden is reportedly running for President is a sentence I feel like I have typed a hundred times in the past six months but today, I am typing it again, because, yes, Biden is reportedly definitely running for president.
According to the Atlantic, which published a scoop this morning citing “people familiar with the discussions who have been told about them by top aides,” Biden is set to announce his candidacy on Wednesday in a video and with a launch event that will... well. Here are the options, per the magazine (emphasis mine throughout):
Biden’s announcement video will draw, in part, on footage shot two weeks ago outside his old family home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he likes to bring people and tell stories about how his grandfather would sit at the kitchen table, talking about making ends meet. But the campaign is still making key decisions on what will happen next, including whether to go cute for a launch event by doing it on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, famous for the training montage from Rocky, or go for a powerful challenge directed right at Trump by heading to Charlottesville, Virginia, where the president infamously blamed “both sides” of a neo-Nazi march in August 2017.
Great, sure. The most frustrating part of the piece, however, delves into Biden’s motivation for running. Is it, perhaps, because he has visionary ideas about how to change the country? Does he have fresh policy plans to cure America’s woes? Shockingly... that is not what comes up in the piece:
The primary, Biden believes, will be easier than some might think: He sees a clear path down the middle of the party, especially with Bernie Sanders occupying a solid 20 percent of the progressive base, and most of the other candidates fighting for the rest. And the announcement comes at a moment when many in the party have become anxious about Sanders’s strength, with some beginning to wonder whether Biden might be the only sure counterweight to stop him from getting the nomination. A Biden spokesperson declined to comment.
Was 2016 fun for you? Are you excited about the idea of doing it all over again? Then boy do we have a candidate for you! (It’s Joe Biden.) Look. Should Sanders be handed the Democratic nomination with a bow on top? Absolutely not. Progressive and moderate voters alike deserve a robust primary cycle that ideally forces Sanders and every candidate running to clarify their positions, defend their records, and present a clear game plan for defeating Trump in the general election. What they don’t deserve is a name-recognition heavyweight entering the race just because he’s wanted this for a long time:
He wants this. He really wants this. He’s wanted this since he was first elected to the Senate, in 1972, and he’s decided that he isn’t too old, isn’t too out of sync with the current energy in the Democratic Party, and certainly wasn’t going to be chased out by the women who accused him of making them feel uncomfortable or demeaned because of how he’d touched them.
Very cool. The piece goes on to report that what seems to be his primary motivation for delaying his announcement is a cynical calculus as to whether he could push through the already-mounting pile of indictments against his candidacy. Just look at this:
If all this uncertainty seems extraordinarily last-minute for so high profile a candidate, that’s because it is. Biden still had not officially made up his mind when the accusations from the women came out weeks ago, and his staff has been scrambling to get ready. Also: He doesn’t have any money to pay for any real campaign operations, since he doesn’t have an active campaign account. He’ll be hoping for a show of force, raising a few million dollars in the first few weeks. Without that, he couldn’t even pay for setting up a rally.
Oh yeah, and his team is reportedly also hung up on whether to launch with an homage to Rocky at the Philly Art Museum or in Charlottesville. Here’s a very rough outline of the plot of Rocky: Rocky is an upstart boxer who gets a shot to challenge the world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. In the end of the movie (spoilers) he loses, but does so with panache and gains a lot of fans. Then in Rocky II, Apollo (who is still the heavyweight champion, or the establishment favorite, if you will) is so mad about losing face to Rocky that he forces a rematch and loses. If we’re searching for storylines between the Democratic primaries in 2016 and 2020, Rocky maybe wasn’t the best one to pick, because Biden sure isn’t the hero in this story.