The big news from Iowa’s caucuses is the abysmal finish for ex-VP Joe Biden. His 4th place is a sign that allegations of corruption, erratic campaigning, and disturbing glad-handing are doing real damage to his presidential bid.
The former vice president’s presidential primary campaign is in trouble. The national leader going into Iowa, the heir apparent is currently only coming in fourth, behind Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren, earning only 15.6 percent of the delegates (based on partial results published after lengthy delays).
The poor showing should be cause for alarm for the candidate who started Monday as the primary’s national leader — because it shows that even the massive advantage of having been Barack Obama’s presidential wingman can crumble under the combined weight of Biden’s multiple blunders.
The breakdown of Iowa’s Democratic Party machinery extended the delegate count well into a second day, leading some candidates to fill in the blanks by offering polling of their own and declaring victory without a shred of evidence — by now a Democratic Party tradition. Thought to be holding a losing hand, Biden looked to benefit from the delegate counting debacle. But the delay proved unable to shield Biden from the damages he’s sustained in Iowa’s contest.
Biden’s repeated campaign missteps and sundry foibles have surely factored into the primary’s outcome. One wondered when, if ever, the cantankerous and erratic candidate would finally hurt his chances. Would mistakes, poor judgment, and barely concealed scandals ever take their toll? The answer now appears to be yes.
The septuagenarian has issued string of insults and exhibited episodic aggression, erupting at the slightest challenges. His campaign stops have been riddled by a series of odd and questionable displays of affection, aimed at women and young girls. His tall tales have included nearly unintelligible anecdotes that serve no purpose. And his skirting of the potential Ukraine-Burisma scandal involving his son and possibly his own influence-peddling as VP surely hasn’t done him any good. Combined, these have apparently eroded his presidential image.
The Biden bravado
Because he’s an elder statesman, Biden has been excused for his supposedly innocent attempts to demonstrate vim and vigor. He’s repeatedly been given the benefit of the doubt. But the candidate’s verbal blitzes, along with his physical posturing, have been unmistakably aggressive. When challenged on sensitive topics, he’s almost charged voters and reporters. He’s snapped at old men and young girls when they dare to ask difficult questions. His close-fisted jabs have come close to punches. In short, his confrontational attitude and displays of “hyper-masculinity” have teetered on the brink of violence.
Questioned by an 80-plus-year-old voter in Iowa about his son’s dealings in Ukraine and his own possible involvement in the same, Biden slowly walked at the questioner, challenged him to an athletic competition, apparently called him “fat,” and finally declared that he didn’t want the man’s vote anyway because he was “too old.” Asked by a reporter why he continued to attack Bernie Sanders after accepting his apology, he did a volte-face, yelled loudly at the journalist, grabbed him by the lapels, and finally poked him in the chest with a closed fist.
The list goes on.
The man of affection
Biden’s odd displays of affection with women and young girls are a source of endless memes and jokes on social, and some broadcast media, and a source of discomfort to those on whom he lavishes his attention. Even before the campaign commenced, he was accused of inappropriate touching and kissing by three women.
But these cases barely scratched the surface of a history marked by peccadilloes and seemingly perverse touching, hair-stroking, and kissing. The incidents are too many to mention — comfortably that is. A simple YouTube search yields a plethora of disconcerting examples. I’ll leave it up to the readers to find them.
The scandal-haunted family man
Biden is generally excused for apparent conflicts of interest while in government, largely out of sympathy for the tragic loss of his wife Neilia in a car accident and the loss of his son Beau to cancer.
One nevertheless wonders how long and far Biden’s exemption can extend? Will the pretense for the impeachment of President Trump, the elephant in the House hearings and Senate trial, ever get an actual hearing? Will the dealings of Biden’s son Hunter with the Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, and the former VP’s possible role in the arrangement, ever get addressed in the establishment media? Or will Biden continue to successfully skirt the issue with denials and feigned outrage? The answer to these questions might determine Joe Biden’s ultimate prospects as a presidential hopeful.
But on top of the Ukraine-based controversy, Biden’s political career has reportedly benefited at least five family members, all of whom have managed to cash in on his name. They’ve been accorded domestic and international contracts that they never would have gotten without a father, uncle, or brother in high places. How is it that Biden’s apparent cronyism has continued to elude investigation in the US? Perhaps his loss in Iowa will signal the end of his immunity.
The Democratic darling
Were Biden a Republican, or better yet, Donald Trump, his political career would be long over — or at least the subject of massive media outrage and multiple investigations. But Biden is not only a Democrat; he’s Barack Obama’s former VP. His long association with Obama covers a multitude of sins, despite the Democratic Party recently distancing itself from the 44th president. But Obama’s coattails are only so long, and Biden didn’t even manage to secure his former boss’s endorsement. Something tells me Biden’s free ride may be coming to an end.
Straight-faced going forward
Expect a more disciplined Biden from here on in, or at least expect attempts by the candidate to mind his hands and lips. Expect him to seize on issues of national security if and when they arise, positioning himself the most sober and qualified party at the table. He will have to battle Buttigieg, the moderate challenger costing him the most support, by emphasizing his wealth of experience – without getting trapped by questions about past votes that are now unpopular, such as his support for the Iraqi war.
But whether Biden can recover from a showing that is more than disappointing remains to be seen. It will depend in large part on his success at tamping down the gaffe machine that is his mouth and restraining the roving feelers also known as his hands.