Why is Joe Biden angry? Recently he’s been spotted grabbing people by the lapels, jabbing them with his index finger, his face screwed into a rictus of fury if anyone dares to ask him a policy question. He’s angry because for most of his adult life, he’s been Joe the Beloved. Now he’s realizing the adulation he once enjoyed with voters is gone, vanished. Yes, he is angry indeed. Add to that his dropping poll numbers among black voters, we have a Biden who’s angry and nervous.
The persona of Joe the Beloved resulted from a horrible car accident that killed his first wife and daughter (sons Beau and Hunter survived). This occurred only a few weeks after his first Senate win in 1972.
That incident engendered a huge wave of sympathy for Biden and it continued to be a key factor in his subsequent re-elections. He was Joe the Beloved, trying to raise two motherless sons. Even five years later, when Biden remarried, he kept his Beloved persona, continuing to remark on his suffering from the 1972 accident.
Years later son Beau was battling brain cancer. Beau had served in Iraq, won a statewide election and was being groomed for higher office. But he died in 2015. Hunter was damaged goods, and Ashley (daughter by his second wife) showed no interest in politics. It was up to Joe to revive his family’s political fortune.
In 2017, Biden published a best-selling book (“Promise Me Dad”) about coping with Beau’s last year of life. This led to a puff piece in Vanity Fair, and a book tour replete with hugs and much sympathy. It renewed the Joe the Beloved persona.
However, Joe’s huggable book tour has faded in the glare of the campaign for the 2020 Democratic nomination—and has proved to be no match for the threat posed by Michael Bloomberg.
While Joe was hugging on his book tour, Mike Bloomberg was working his connections with other mayors (including sending campaign cash), as well as providing philanthropic venture capital for small non-profits — who have given Bloomberg a great deal of positive grassroots publicity.
Bloomberg’s strategy seems to be working. A striking example is the endorsement of Steve Benjamin, the black mayor of Columbia, South Carolina (primary date: February 29). Benjamin is viewed as one of the state’s highest profile black politicians, and the fact that he endorsed Bloomberg in November 2019 should have been received as a warning by the Biden campaign, but it wasn’t.
Biden also suffers from the Rumsfeldian “known unknown” problem. My New York City friends (women Democrats) tell me that casting a vote for Biden is really a vote for an unknown vice president. They don’t expect Biden to serve even one term and this makes my friends uncomfortable.
My friends also think Bernie Sanders is too old nor do they care for Elizabeth Warren’s scolding barks. Pete Buttigieg is acceptable but they love Bloomberg. In their minds, Bloomberg’s management of NYC made the city a better place to live and work — in stark contrast to current (Democrat) Mayor Bill de Blasio’s continued incompetence.
Was Biden counting on an endorsement from his old boss, Barack Obama, to revive his standing among minority voters? As that hasn’t happened yet, and as the chances of it occurring are shrinking fast, it gives Biden more reasons to be angry.
Sadly, it seems no-one in Joe Biden’s inner circle can tell him how being a publicly angry old man is poor way to end a political career. It’s an obituary thing. Does Biden want his to read:
In 2020, he bitterly left the Democratic primary field over objections that he was too old to be president.
I doubt he wants to be remembered this way. Perhaps it’s time for an intervention?
Joanne Butler is a senior economics fellow at the Caesar Rodney Institute of Delaware.
Note to Readers: Issues & Insights is a new site launched by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to use our decades of experience to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day.
We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we think our approach to commentary is sorely lacking both in today’s mainstream media and on the internet. If you like what you see, feel free to click the Tip Jar over on the right sidebar. And be sure to tell your friends!