Thursday, February 02, 2006

Defending Biden

I know the rumors of a Joe Biden presidential candidacy bother a lot of my blogging mates. And it's true, his support of the execrable Bankruptcy "reform" bill is hard to excuse, despite MBNA being his largest constituency. What's worse, his candidacy would render any attempts to wage a genuine populist campaign extremely difficult in 2008. Others didn't care for Biden's insufferable self-promotion and unfathonable bloviating during the Alito hearings, where he whiffed on the opportunity to grill the nominee on the civil liberty issues that Biden knows and appreciates so well. And ah, yes, he supported the Iraq War (along with, sadly, most other Senate Democrats).

Nonetheless, I urge my fellow bloggers to not throw water on a Biden candidacy just yet. For one, as Digby as stated, we don't need to do the GOP's job by flogging our own candidates or party leaders for their wishy-washiness, various position stands, or personality foibles. For another thing, I don't see a full-fledged progressive alternative waiting in the wings whose campaign a Biden candidacy would endanger. Maybe someone like Feingold can be that, but he's got baggage of his own, including two divorces and a present single-status. We may not think that all that important, but it could be a silent killer in a general election campaign. Third, he can speak intelligibly and authentically on matters of national security given his long tenure in the Senate (even if his war votes are not what progressives would like). Finally, Biden knows and appreciates the civil liberty issues that are so vitally at stake now, and can speak to these matters better than any of his current competitors. His campaign web page is the only one that even remotely refers to the importance of protecting civil liberties among the litiny of issues. If progressiveism is to have any future, our future campaigns will need to start hitting these issues much more openly and directly. Biden can do that, and based on some speeches he's recently made, he intends to do so in a national campaign.

None of this is to say that Biden's our best candidate or that he deserves our unqualified support. It's too early for that, at least for me. But let's give our prospective candidates some space before rushing to conclusions when all the alternatives and implications aren't clear yet.

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