Of the four men sharing the stage with Hillary Clinton at last night’s debate, many pundits are labeling Lincoln Chafee the biggest loser. When asked about a vote he had taken against Wall Street regulation while in the Senate, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat gave the incredible answer, “I had just arrived in the Senate,” basically admitting he didn’t know what he was voting on!
But an even bigger loser than Chafee was the man not on the debate stage: Joe Biden.
The rationale for a Joe Biden candidacy has always been to step into the fray to save the Party if Hillary were to stumble. In last night’s first Democratic presidential debate, not only did Hillary maintain her balance, she was at the top of her game. The former First Lady–Senator–Secretary of State was confident, relaxed, and unflappable as she took over the room. She was almost universally declared the debate winner.
If Biden had participated in last night’s debate, quite possibly, the result might have been different. But he didn’t. And now Biden has to grapple with the reality of Hillary’s commanding performance, an outcome that has all but extinguished his raison d’etre.
Clinton turned one of her biggest liabilities, the email “scandal,” into a non-issue. However, she was aided in her efforts when Bernie Sanders came to her defense. “Let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think the secretary is right,” said Sanders. “I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”
Many Democrats are beginning to wonder whether Biden’s coyness in announcing his decision is just plain old political leverage. The longer he waits to announce his intention, the thinking goes, the better prospect of a cabinet position, say Secretary of State, in a Clinton administration. If that is part of Biden’s thinking, he lost quite a bit of leverage last night.
Whether Biden is that calculating or has not truly made up his mind, a Biden candidacy against two top-notch, bona fide contenders, Clinton and Sanders, would just be a case of three is a crowd.
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