Sunday, September 20, 2015
Say It Ain't So, Joe
Dear Mr. Vice President:
Recent reports indicate that after weeks of soul searching and weighing all the pros and cons, you are now leaning towards tossing your hat into the presidential ring. Your reasons will likely be as follows: You have been a very good vice president and an enormous asset to Barack Obama; you know how to negotiate with this Congress because you've done it many times; and, lastly, you will never be this close to the presidency again, so why not give it that one last shot, especially given how badly you've wanted it for years.
Those are all valid reasons for running I'm sure, and while I sympathize with all that you have had to go through with the passing of your son, I would strongly ask that you reconsider your decision to enter the race. The reason could not be clearer. You can not win the nomination, no way, no how. Here's why.
You and Hillary Clinton are basically cut from the same cloth. She is a woman, you're a man, but both of you are considered, and rightly so, as part of the establishment. While you enjoy a somewhat higher favorability rating than Clinton, part of the reason for that is that she has stumbled somewhat over the last few months due primarily to the way she's handled the email server issue. The other part, as I'm sure you're quite aware, is that it's easy to be popular when you're not officially a candidate. Once declared, however, most candidates take a hit in the polls. It will be no different for you.
But getting back to this establishment thing. Let's face it, sir, you've been in Washington longer than I've been driving. In fact, I was 11 years old when you won your first senate race. That's about as establishment as it gets. Even Hillary can't touch that. How do you expect to attract younger voters when most of the people who voted for you in 1972 are considerably older than me? Some might even be dead.
The truth is that if you run, you will simply siphon off votes from Hillary Clinton, thus making it easier for Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. Now maybe that ends up being a good thing, especially if it turns out there maybe something more to this email server issue. You never know about these things. Three months ago, I would've bet the ranch that Hillary was home free, and now look at what's happened.
But even if she ends up going up in a ball of flames, that still doesn't give you the nomination. That's because you have the same problem she does. The Left doesn't trust you anymore than they trust her. She's got Monsanto hanging over her head, but you've got the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act hanging over yours. Between the two, you've got the larger burden to overcome. I cannot think of a single legal scholar that thinks the draconian penalties in that Act have been a success. Quite the contrary; it is now all too painfully apparent that this Act needlessly subjected untold minorities to unwarranted incarcerations. To say many in the African American community are pissed would be an understatement. Good luck making amends to them, sir. You've got your work cut out for you.
And then there's the mud-slinging that will ensue. Mud-slinging, you say? What mud-slinging? The mud-slinging that you are going to be forced to engage in with Hillary. Or did you just think you were going to stand up on the debate stage, smile and say, "I think Hillary would make a fine president, but I'm asking for your vote because, well, I kinda like the White House and I was hoping to stay at least another four years. What'd ya say, America. Can ya help a fella out?"
Come, come, Mr. Vice President. This is politics. You're not running to head up the Peace Corps here. Everyone in the country knows what's driving this decision. Hillary is vulnerable. You know it, I know it, the guy living under a rock on the Moon knows it. At some point you are going to have to say publicly what everyone else knows privately. And when that happens, the gloves will come off. It's going to get ugly fast. You are going to have to look straight at the camera and say something like this: "Hey, you know me. I'm trustworthy, I'm dependable, I have no baggage and I can defeat the Republicans in 2016."
And just as you are saying that, you will be ripping apart the presumptive nominee of your party and giving the GOP more than enough ammunition to bring her down in the general election. Think about it. Up until now, most of the rhetoric towards her has been aimed at the minions who hang on every syllable that comes from the mouths of the AM radio and Fox News talk-show hosts. People who weren't going to vote for her anyway. And, as we have seen over the last two presidential cycles, that doesn't hold much water with the overall electorate.
All that changes the moment you open your mouth. You go from candidate to messenger boy in one fell swoop. Why else do you think so many conservatives want you to run? With all due respect, it has nothing to do with your good looks and personality. They don't think you can win, but they do think you can help them beat Hillary. Or even better, prevent Hillary from even becoming the nominee.
As I mentioned above, Bernie Sanders would be the primary beneficiary of a civil war between you and Hillary. He already has a majority of progressives on his side. The huge crowds he is drawing at his events are not mirages. He's for real and whether you run or not, he would be a formidable opponent for Clinton. With you in the race, he would not only win both Iowa and New Hampshire, but also a majority of the rest of the primaries. Far from being a contender, you'd more than likely play the role of spoiler.
So Bernie wins the nomination. What's the problem? Well, apart from it not being you, which I'm assuming was the reason you got in the race in the first place, most of the enthusiasm surrounding the Sanders campaign I've always suspected is overrated. Yes, I know he's leading Hillary in the polls, but the fact is he hasn't had near the scrutiny she has. Have you taken a close look at his platform? You can bet your pension the GOP has and if he becomes the nominee, all that attention Clinton has been getting suddenly shifts to him. Thought you were sick and tired of hearing about death panels? Just wait till you hear the word socialist in your sleep. Give Republicans this much: once they get a hold of someone, they never let go. They will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Sanders.
And then there's the black vote. Bernie doesn't poll all that well with them and you're not exactly their sugar daddy. Like it or not, Hillary is the only candidate that manages to hold most of the Obama coalition together. If she isn't the nominee, some of those African Americans who came out to vote the last two presidential elections, might decide to stay home. Did you like the 2014 midterms? You could be looking at a repeat in 2016. Black Lives Matter isn't just a movement, sir, it's a warning to the Democratic Party. Ignore us and pay the price.
Of course, if Donald Trump ends up being the Republican nominee, all that could be moot. He's polling so badly with everyone who isn't white, it's hard imaging Democrats losing. Stranger things, though, have happened. Trump, so far, has managed to make every one of his opponents that have challenged him look small. And, let's face it, Bernie's not exactly the warm and fuzzy type. He looks more like a stern college professor than a presidential candidate. Just what the Democratic Party needs, John Houseman lecturing the country on a national debate stage.
And what if someone like John Kasich should get the nod? I've said this before and I'll say it again: Kasich could win. He could win Ohio and Florida, not to mention a number of other swing states. The point is, are you prepared to take that risk? With so much at stake?
Mr. Vice President, you've had a brilliant career, both as a Senator and as the number two executive in the country. You've been a loyal public servant for the better part of five decades. You have just one more public service to perform: doing everything in your power to keep the Republicans out of the White House.
I pray, sir, that you will do the right thing.