Thursday, Sept. 14, looks to be a fateful day in the half-century-long political career of Joe Biden.

That night, a three-hour debate will be held, a marathon in politics.

Biden will be on stage, taking incoming missiles for 180 minutes from nine rivals, each of whom is hungry for the Democratic nomination and has a huge investment in seeing him stumble and fall.

A solid showing by Biden that night, marked by wit and a mastery of the issues, would cause a storm surge of relief in the Democratic Party.

It would provide desperately needed reassurance to millions of Democrats who have a gnawing fear Biden’s time has come and gone, that he is losing it, that his memory is failing, and that, at any moment, from some egregious gaffe, his campaign could crater and crash.

If he stumbles that night, misremembers or misspeaks repeatedly in the three hours, the apprehension about his nomination, already widespread among the party elite, could turn into panic.

Why is the Democratic Party apprehensive about Joe Biden?

Though every poll has him running well ahead of his competitors, the Biden campaign has ranged from dull to embarrassing.

Biden began by speaking nostalgically of his days as a young senator and the warm friendships he formed with segregationist senators Herman Talmadge and Jim Eastland, the latter a Mississippi pillar of “massive resistance” to civil rights legislation.

In the first debate, Biden was skewered by Sen. Kamala Harris for having boasted of opposing the court-ordered busing that, Harris claims, enabled her to get an integrated education in California.

Asked, in Keene, New Hampshire, how it felt to be in the lovely town, Biden volunteered, “Look, what’s not to like about Vermont.”

Biden spoke of meeting in his vice president’s office with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the scene of a horrific school shooting. Only the Parkland massacre did not occur until after he left the vice presidency.

Speaking in the aftermath of shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Biden talked of the recent “tragic events in Houston and also in Michigan the day before.” After the shootings in Odessa, Texas, done with an assault rifle, an outraged Joe said it was “absolutely mindless” not to ban all firearm magazines that carry more than a single bullet.

“We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts,” Biden thundered in Des Moines.

Given months of campaigning in which the principal feature has been his gaffes, why is Joe still the front-runner?

Because he has been around so long as a senator and vice president, from 1973 to 2017, is well-known and well-liked, is the most acceptable of the candidates to moderates fearful of the rising radicalism in the party — and, above all, because every poll shows Biden has the best shot at beating Donald Trump.

Biden has undeniable assets. He was Barack Obama’s loyal subaltern. He is seen, even by opponents, as a nice guy, a politician without malice and a pragmatist unencumbered by principle who can slide leftward at the same speed as his party on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Biden is a believer in the maxim of Sen. Henry Ashurst of Arizona that the “clammy hand of consistency should never rest for long upon the shoulder of a statesman.”

Also, Biden’s rivals have proven unimpressive, with the exception of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has steadily plodded upward to challenge the socialist Bernie Sanders for the second position.

Biden’s crowds are anemic compared to Warren’s. His speeches range from the unexciting to the boring. He has no enticing policy agenda, no inspiring message, no captivating slogan. As a political athlete, he is not even in the same league as Obama or JFK.

He does not excite the Democratic youth. And if he won in 2020, he would be, at 78, our oldest president. Jill Biden, his wife, made the case for Joe well: “You may like another candidate better, but you have to look at who’s going to win... Joe is that person.”

Like Warren Harding a century ago, Biden holds out to the nation the promise of a “return to normalcy.”

In his days in the Senate, he was famous for his tough-on-crime stand and his vote to authorize the war in Iraq — a blunder of historic proportions.

If elected, at the end of his first term, Biden would be 82. If he sought and served the two terms every president seems to seek, he would, in 2028, be 86 years old on leaving office.

Does the Joe Biden of the summer of 2019 look like he could be, a decade from now, the dynamic leader America could rely on to face down the successors to China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin?

Prediction: At some point in this campaign, Joe Biden will declare that, if elected, he will only serve one term.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

(22) comments


I like Joe Biden as a guy. I have fond memories of him as the Senate Judiciary Chair (i think- or maybe Foreign Policy) chain smoking up there being very collegial- but history shows he's definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he can't control his mouth or his hands. Just a matter of time before he implodes.

And BTW, Biden campaign- here's a tip- stop running on the "Obama legacy". There is none and the little bit of it that there is (the shreds of ACA), the rest of the Democratic field and the heart of the party is running AWAY from it! Get a clue boys and girls.


he is a clown


Will Biden remember WHO he is, WHERE he is and WHY he is there?

He claimed the students from Parkland came to see him in the White House!

Biden with the nuclear codes?!! EEEEEGAADS!!!!


It doesn't matter who the DNC has for a candidate - Trump will destroy them in the debates. They are short on substance and facts.... and as far as Biden's health well it will run its course for him. His gaffes are a trademark of his, but they are becoming more noticeable lately and that is costing him polling points and that is why Warren is closing the gap. Should be quite interesting seeing the primaries and how these democratic candidates do.


Again, the hypocrisy of your criticism of Biden is noted. Substance and facts are lacking in the likely RNC nominee, and gaffes are a daily occurrence.


Not hypocrisy with Biden the facts - Trump has his gaffes but his mind is sound and knows where he is at and going overall... each of the Dem candidates got serious issues and just like Hillary there will be no free ride during the debate and no where to hide on the stage - Donald will go all ahead full on them and they will be playing catch up... good luck in 2020... maybe Comey can try to rig another election with McCabe - oh that right they are both fighting indictments now from the AG...


Tim; did you notice that for the fourth time in two or three years he exclaimed that he'd never heard of a category five hurricane?


Tim, do you enjoy turkey? Hope so, because you are going to get a lot of it to eat.


Too funny not one candidate can handle Trump in a debate and with the economy booming and when the AG reports on the real collusion against the 2016 Trump Campaign and throw in illegal immigration... 2020 not only the White House but most likely the House goes Red and the Senate gets redder... and can you say two more supreme court judges - goodbye Ruth hello Amy...


Isn't that crow Dick?

Shiftless- maybe he REALLY never heard of one. It's possible right? I'm no meteorologist and I'm smart enough not to talk about things i don't know much about. Trump will talk as an authority about anything- to anyone- at any time. It's a fairly common NYC personality trait.


timothy: You might want to read this article from today's Post paper before you blast off again.. By election day Trump will have completely destroyed himself, he's well over the hump now... Oh, i forgot, the article is true and complete but to your cult it's just more "fake news".


Biden looks like he is in the beginning stage of dementia. If elected, I doubt he would be able to complete a term. Makes vice president selection very important.


Conservatives have no room to speak of gaffes and memory issues in a candidate.


Worse yet, Trump does things deliberately.


Every person does thing deliberately that is life unless you are senile...


In Trump's case it would be better if he didn't, especially his lies and the most recent weather report of Alabama being hit by the hurricane. A real nut that only a cult member could support.


And, he is so Botoxed up he must be trying to build up an immunity to rattle snake bites. I am a registered Democrat, have been for many, many years. I do not consider myself a conservative or a liberal. I regard my self as an independent thinker depending on the issue at hand.


One term would be fine. A return to normalcy. Baby steps.


Looks like Patrick wants the Democrats to nominate Warren. Why, she will beat Trump too.


Questionable. She's a woman, she's schoolmarmy, she has ideas. It's a scary scary lane.


Scary? Mostly for Republicans, not Democrats.


Piffle, Pat.

Wait and see.

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