If you are into political tea leaf reading — and I VERY MUCH am — then it’s hard to see how Joe Biden has spent his fall as anything but clear evidence that, unless something big changes, he’s going to run for president in 2020.
The latest move by Biden was to take on the question of his age — he’s 75 — head on during a speech in Michigan this week.
“I think age is a totally legitimate thing to raise,” Biden said. “I think it’s totally appropriate for people to look at me and say, if I were to run for office again, ‘Well God darn you’re old.’ Well chronologically I am old.”
Which is smart! Because one of the central questions surrounding Biden (not to mention the 77-year-old Bernie Sanders) is whether he is simply too old to run for a four-year term as president. While that issue may be lessened somewhat by the fact that the 72-year old Donald Trump is President, it is still going to be an issue that Biden is going to have to face if he runs. So why not try to deal with it now? To get to a good answer and stick with it.
Ditto Biden’s decision to apologize for the way in which the Senate Judiciary Committee — of which he was the chairman — treated Anita Hill during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation of Clarence Thomas.
“The woman should be given the benefit of the doubt and not be abused again by the system,” Biden said of Hill during an interview with NBC last month. “My biggest regret was, I didn’t know how I could shut you off because you were a senator and you were attacking Anita Hill’s character. … She got victimized during the process.”
Again, a recognition on Biden’s part that in the #MeToo era, the way in which he allowed the likes of Howell Heflin, D-Alabama, and Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, to interrogate Hill, who alleged that Thomas had made a series of unwanted sexual advances toward her in the workplace, was the sort of thing he was going to have to address. So he did.
Making proactive attempts to deal with known problems is what candidates who are getting ready to run do. (Elizabeth Warren tried this earlier this week in releasing a DNA test designed to prove she was of Native American lineage. It didn’t work great.)
His latest moves — coupled with the fact that Biden has been a stalwart for Democratic candidates all over the country in the midterms (he was in Charleston over the weekend to raise money for South Carolina gubernatorial candidate James Smith) — all point to the same thing: Biden’s running.
The Point: In politics, nothing is official until it’s announced. That holds true with a third Biden presidential bid. But man oh man, it sure does look like he’s not just thinking about it, but planning on doing it.