Former Vice President Joe Biden is still contemplating a run for President in 2020, but it appears that if Huffington Post has its way, Joe will fade off into history instead of riding a wave of Democrat votes into the White House.
With its lead story for March 5, Huffington Post pounded Barack Obama’s vice president for being a “champion” of policies “favored by Republicans and the corporate elite.”
The article by HuffPo’s Zach Carter makes note of “Middle-Class Joe’s” efforts to position himself as the populist choice of average, work-a-day Americans, and the kind of Democrat “you could have a beer with.”
But Huffington Post does not want anyone misled by Biden’s folksy veneer:
This version of “folksy Joe” even touted himself as “labor from belt buckle to shoe buckle.” There’s only one problem with this carefully cultivated image: Joe Biden’s entire career.
The liberal site insists that Biden’s entire 40 years in government has been spent working to the opposite ends of his folksy reputation:
In more than four decades of public service, Biden has enthusiastically championed policies favored by financial elites, forging alliances with Wall Street and the political right to notch legislative victories that ran counter to the populist ideas that now animate his party. If he declares for the presidency, Biden will face a Democratic electorate that has moved on from his brand of politics.
HuffPo goes on to cite several examples of Biden’s work in favor of big money. The article cites a 1979 fight between Biden and Sen. Td Kennedy where Biden supported big money corporations over Kennedy’s hopes to limit the growth of corporations. And then there was Biden’s effort to scuttle Democrat plans to alter anti-trust laws to make it easier for consumers to sue big corporations.
The article even dredged up a Biden quote where he commented favorably about “voting conservative.”
“A lot of us sit around thinking up ways to vote conservative just so we don’t come out with a liberal rating,” Biden told Washingtonian in 1974. “When it comes to civil rights and civil liberties, I’m a liberal, but that’s it. I’m really quite conservative on most other issues.”
Biden was routinely marked in low numbers by groups that rated Congress for its ideological leanings, HuffPo reminds readers.
Of course, this was in the day when the “new” Democrats were positioning themselves as good, old fashioned, Blue Dogs, and not liberal elites. Remember, even Bill Clinton ran for the White House in 1992 as a “new Democrat,” a supposedly fiscally responsible, conservative Democrat.
HuffPo lists more of Biden’s “conservative” votes:
He voted for a landmark Reagan tax bill that slashed the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent and exempted many wealthy families from the estate tax on unearned inheritances, a measure that cost the federal government an estimated $83 billion in annual revenue. He then called for a spending freeze on Social Security in order to reduce the deficits that tax law helped to create.
“By the time Biden first ran for president in 1987, he had adopted much of Reagan’s anti-government message in his pitch to Democratic voters,” Carter writes disapprovingly.
Biden’s 1987 plagiarism scandal received a brief mention, as well: “Biden dropped out of the 1988 presidential race after just a few months, unable to deal with a speechwriting plagiarism scandal that today seems quaint.”
Carter didn’t elaborate, but the incident was very embarrassing for Biden at the time. He was caught lifting a segment from a speech British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock delivered only four months prior to the 1988 U.S. election cycle.
But that incident also came on the heels of questions over plagiarism indulged when Biden was in college, charges he eventually admitted to perpetrating. He tried to explain it away saying his college plagiarism “wasn’t malevolent.” But piled on top of his speech controversy, the charges were too much for him to over come.
Even as he bowed out of the 1988 run for the White House, HuffPo notes that Biden was a strong advocate of Clinton’s fiscally conservative policy ideas. “Biden was a steadfast supporter of an economic agenda that caused economic inequality to skyrocket during the Clinton years,” Carter wrote.
The HuffPo assault on Biden’s liberal bona fides went on with charges that the former VP supported a long list of policies that benefitted “the rich.”
- Biden helped cut taxes for the rich
- Biden supported the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking Act, which allowed banks to expand across state lines
- Biden voted to repeal Glass-Steagall
- Biden supported laws that helped Wall Street bankers and investors
- Biden opposed rules to make it easier for debt-strapped households to declare bankruptcy
Carter also noted that as Obama’s VP, Biden worked with Republicans to implement cuts to Social Security in exchange for but small tax hikes on the rich.
In summation, HuffPo’s Carter slams Joe as a sham candidate who is illegitimately presenting himself as a liberal champion for the common man.
Biden’s regular Joe credibility is based entirely on his personal background, as someone who grew up working class and speaks with the rough masculinity that Washington interprets as authenticity. But his politics have always relied on elite assumptions about the economy: Deficits are bad, deregulation is smart, and the government is at best a clumsy steward of economic prosperity.
Of course, Biden has a long history of imagining himself as the next president.
As mentioned above, Biden ran a disastrous campaign in 1988 when he was derailed and bowed out early after those plagiarism charges.
But the former Senator from Delaware has floated himself as a candidate for president or actually started a campaign in nearly every presidential election since 1988. He launched a second serious bid in 2008, facing down then-Sen. Barack Obama, but bowed out early again when he was not able to win enough primary voters to knock Obama out of the race. Biden garnered only one percent in the Iowa caucuses in 2008, and in all his attempts to run for the White House, he has never come close to winning the Democrat primaries. And he is at it again.
Joe Biden has not quite decided whether he is running for president… again. But clearly, HuffPo is not very interested in the idea.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.