Joe Biden is taking one more shot at the presidency.
On Thursday morning, after an excruciatingly long period of unofficial campaigning, Biden announced in a video that he would run for president in 2020, joining an already-crowded field of 20 Democratic candidates.
In the video, Biden focused on President Donald Trump’s infamous comment that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the deadly white supremacist Charlottesville, VA, rally in 2017, saying that they had underscored that there was a “battle for the soul” of America, and that Trump could not be given another four years in office.
For months, Biden has lurked in the background of the early campaign cycle, sitting close to the top of nearly every national poll even without a formal announcement that he was running, jockeying for the frontrunner title with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Biden’s presence in the race, however, gives the Democratic primary a clear option that it did not have before: making no progress whatsoever.
Concrete rumors of Biden’s announcement leaked on April 19 in a report in the Atlantic, in which anonymous staffers dished that the former vice president thought that a firmly centrist campaign would be a shoe-in for the nomination. He has a point—while candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar have shown some affinity for classic centrism while still catering to some progressive issues, Biden’s campaign represents a clear chance for the Democratic Party to remain firmly rooted in the past. The problem is, didn’t we just try that?
Biden will undoubtedly run on a platform emphasizing his long, long career in national politics. It’s true: Biden has served in multiple executive and legislative offices, and is certainly qualified to serve as president by almost any traditional metric. The problem, of course, is that much of that long career was spent advancing firmly centrist or even conservative policies like ending desegregation busing, aggressive crime bills, and voting for the Iraq War.
In addition, Biden still faces the lingering specter of his abhorrent conduct during the 1991 Anita Hill hearings, in front of Democratic primary voters who just watched Brett Kavanaugh installed on the Supreme Court. Recently, several women have come forward to say that the former vice president’s handsy behavior made them feel uncomfortable in various social and professional situations. Biden, of course, turned this into a joke.
Filling the gaps of all this, early reports suggest, will be more of the meaningless rhetorical bullshit other middle-of-the-road dudes like Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have been lobbing for the past several months, only with the added bonus of having it lobbed by a 76-year old man who gave the eulogy at Strom Thurmond’s funeral.
To top it all off, other campaign insiders report that the entire venture is a complete clusterfuck.
Per Time magazine:
“I’ve never seen anything so half-assed,” a former Biden aide said. “They’re improvising and doing last-minute planning. The guy has been running for President since 1987 and can’t figure the basics out, like where to stand on his first day? This should make everyone very nervous.”
Biden is—like every Democratic candidate—preferable to Trump. But if the Democratic Party is at all interested in moving itself and the country forward, we won’t even get close to having to choose between the two.