Bi­den needs to exit his base­ment

Times Standard (Eureka) - - OPINION - By Carl Golden Carl Golden is a se­nior con­tribut­ing an­a­lyst with the Wil­liam J. Hughes Cen­ter for Public Pol­icy at Stock­ton Univer­sity in New Jer­sey. You can reach him at cgolden193­7@ gmail.

He’s stuck in the base­ment of his home in Wilm­ing­ton, Del., un­able to en­gage in tra­di­tional cam­paign­ing, soak up the cheers of rau­cous rally crowds or im­press au­di­ences with knowl­edge­able and in­sight­ful pol­icy pro­nounce­ments.

In ad­di­tion to the frus­tra­tions of home con­fine­ment, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den is tor­mented daily by pub­lished and broad­cast re­ports sug­gest­ing he’s been weak­ened and should stand down rather than risk los­ing to Pres­i­dent Trump.

When the coro­n­avirus pan­demic struck and forced a near halt to ev­ery phase of Amer­i­can life, po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity was an im­me­di­ate ca­su­alty. Barn­storm­ing na­tional tours, tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of ador­ing crowds and daily news­pa­per dis­patches from the cam­paign press plane van­ished.

When the coun­try will re­open and what it will look like when it does is un­clear. A vac­uum has been cre­ated and its im­pos­si­ble to con­trol what rushes in to fill it. Con­sider:

• Bi­den is dis­trusted by left wing pro­gres­sives who re­main bit­ter over the loss of Ver­mont so­cial­ist Sen. Bernie Sanders. They don’t be­lieve Bi­den will be the keeper of the pro­gres­sive flame, but will ex­tin­guish it in the name of po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency.

• Bi­den’s de­bate and tele­vi­sion in­ter­view per­for­mances have been un­even. He of­ten ap­peared be­fud­dled and in­ca­pable of ar­rang­ing his thoughts crisply and con­cisely. He’s also been un­der siege since al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault were lodged against him by a for­mer female staffer from a 1993 in­ci­dent in a Se­nate of­fice build­ing.

• Con­flict of in­ter­est ac­cu­sa­tions re­main un­re­solved con­cern­ing the ap­point­ment of his son, Hunter, to a $50,000 a month seat on the board of di­rec­tors of an en­ergy com­pany in Ukraine while the el­der Bi­den served as the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s point man on deal­ing with that na­tion.

He has de­nied the sex­ual as­sault ac­cu­sa­tions lodged by Tara Reade but the cam­paign was knocked off balance and it’s dom­i­nated me­dia cov­er­age. Howls of Demo­cratic hypocrisy erupted fol­low­ing Reade’s al­le­ga­tions. Crit­ics glee­fully re­counted the mer­ci­less at­tacks on Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh when he stood ac­cused of as­sault­ing a high school class­mate.

It wasn’t sup­posed to be this way.

Af­ter Sanders aban­doned his cam­paign, the party es­tab­lish­ment was en­cour­aged by the prospect of a uni­fied party clos­ing ranks and eras­ing its 2016 the night­mare.

Bi­den has given no in­di­ca­tion he’s con­sid­er­ing step­ping aside and, in the ab­sence of an earth­quake-like rev­e­la­tion, he’ll tough it out, hop­ing nor­malcy will be re­stored and he’ll re­turn to the press the flesh cam­paign style that’s al­ways served him well.

It is his third at­tempt at the pres­i­dency and, at age 77, his last. He hasn’t yet amassed the del­e­gate ma­jor­ity to as­sure his nom­i­na­tion but its within his grasp. Its highly un­likely the con­ven­tion will be stam­peded into choos­ing some­one else.

With the awe­some power of in­cum­bency at his dis­posal,

Trump con­fronts none of Bi­den’s prob­lems. He tow­ers over the po­lit­i­cal land­scape and con­trols the daily news cy­cle. Where he goes, the me­dia fol­lows. When he tweets, the me­dia chases his com­ments.

In the Real Clear Pol­i­tics na­tional av­er­age, Bi­den en­joys a four-point lead over Trump — slim and close to the mar­gin of er­ror — but an edge none­the­less. Make no mis­take, it’s a race he can win.

Trump’s re­sponse to the pan­demic has of­ten been er­ratic, in­clud­ing ram­bling two-hour news con­fer­ences crammed with mis­in­for­ma­tion, at­tacks on the me­dia, and im­pos­si­bly op­ti­mistic pre­dic­tions about na­tional re­cov­ery. The econ­omy has been dev­as­tated, un­em­ploy­ment is the high­est since the Great De­pres­sion, and there is a grow­ing rest­less­ness verg­ing on re­bel­lion over the pro­longed lock­down.

Whether Trump can weather this storm and whether Bi­den can take ad­van­tage of it re­mains to be seen.

Bi­den must ex­er­cise cau­tion and avoid one of the more egre­gious er­rors com­mit­ted by Clin­ton — a be­lief the Amer­i­can peo­ple wouldn’t take Trump se­ri­ously and he’d self-de­struct. To­day, Trump is tweet­ing from the White House while Clin­ton com­mu­ni­cates with her fol­low­ers from some­where in Westch­ester County, N. Y.

Bi­den would pre­fer to be free from his base­ment.

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