Earlier this week Washington Post national political correspondent Karen Tumulty was on Rachel Maddow’s show discussing the buzz around Joe Biden’s possible entry into the Democratic primary campaign, and she brought up the point that, according to her sources, Biden was getting encouragement from many of the same big money boys who backed Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in ’08.
The question that immediately popped into my head: what do these guys expect to get from an investment in Biden that they wouldn’t get from Clinton?
I see a few broad possibilities here.
First, maybe they’ve just never really liked Hillary, even though she spent eight years as the senator from Wall Street, and along with hubby Bill has been closely identified for her whole political career with the Democratic Leadership Council, you know, the guys who think the Democrats’ biggest problem is that they’re not enough like Republicans, and who’ve been having their way with the national party for the last thirty years. They clearly got what they wanted from Obama — no strings attached to the taxpayer-funded bailout, a get-out-of-jail-free card not only for the massive frauds that brought down the economy but also for ongoing crimes like interest rate manipulations, money laundering for smugglers and terrorists, and theft from securities transactions, and a wink and a nod for the further concentration of the finance system into even bigger too-big-to-fail institutions. But couldn’t they have gotten the same deal from Hilary?
Another possibility is that they’re seeing Clinton tacking left, at least rhetorically, on a lot of the economic justice issues that have fueled the rise of the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders wing of the party, and they see a Biden candidacy as a way to apply offsetting pressure from her right, though to me it’s hard to see where the votes are on that side of the Democratic base. The so-called Reagan Democrats have largely melted into the Tea Party and morphed into Trumpeteers.
What seems more likely to me than either of the above scenarios is that Bernie is making them jumpy, and they see good ol’ Joe, friend of the working man, as a vehicle to siphon off votes from the grass-roots revolution. There’s never been a Roosevelt dime’s worth of difference between Joe and Hillary on policy, but a third candidate in the primaries who’s capable of drawing a percentage of the vote above single digits would go a long way to eliminating the possibility that Bernie could show up at the convention with enough delegates to force a restoration of the party to its mid-20th century social democrat roots.
Follow the money.