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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Biden vs. Dean

posted by Ezra at Tuesday, July 22, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Biden's potential entry is chock full of meaning for Dean's candidacy. I explore it in depth in a post that's too long to copy here in full, but his potential entry is something we should be thinking about and preparing for, because at this point, it's looking likelier than not. And if we're not incredible prepared and ready for its effects, it could hurt us badly.

The Hotline (paid subscription only) relates that:
Biden's "toying with a candidacy has irked" Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). "We hear that Kerry recently harangued Biden on the Senate floor about his plans, repeatedly asking, 'Why are you doing this?' At one point, Kerry even asked if Biden didn't think Kerry was good enough to run"
Lets talk a bit about the rationale for Joe Biden joining the Democratic race. Biden comes in with 4 main areas of appeal:

  • National Security credentials. He is the top Democrat on the Foreign Relation committee (that same committee Kerry is on - and this is key, Biden outranks Kerry on national security) and is quite hawkish. Biden, along with Dodd, is the favored guest by most Sunday morning shows when they need a Democrat to discuss foreign policy.

  • Biden is an excellent establishment candidate. He's been around for quite a few years, been instrumental in crucial battles for the Democrats (he is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, and so he spearheaded the fight against Robert Bork -- Biden kept him from the nomination. He was far worse against Clarence Thomas, however.) , and, as such, has powerful inside-the-beltway support. He has a nationwide network from the years as an influential senator, good favorability ratings across America, and is a great choice for a traditional candidate.

  • Biden is a fantastic orator, many feel he's on par with Cuomo. When he ran in 1988 (before a brain aneurysm and Bork, along with some plagiarism, sidetracked him) his main strength was his ability on the stump -- he was doing the Dean thing and outshining all his better known rivals, coming out of nowhere to dominate events.

  • Lastly, he has good centrist credentials. He's a hawk, chairman of the Judiciary Committee (so he's got tough on crime credentials), and great bipartisan respect (particularly from his work with Lugar). He is in no way a liberal democrat, nor does he come across as one. Simultaneously, he is a traditional Democrat, so he will get the base -- unions and minorities, etc. We're not dealing with a Lieberman here.

    Now why would Biden enter the race, especially this late?

    Three words: Dean and Kerry. Biden is the antithesis of Howard Dean (especially in perception) and he SAVAGES John Kerry (which explains the altercation above). With Biden in the race, Kerry stands no chance of making it out of New Hampshire, and as such, making it through the primary. But lets go through that chronologically.

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    About Nation-Building

    Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.