I actually felt sorry for the man: Joe Biden was standing there looking like a seminary student delivering his first sermon. He read it well. Had perfect cadence. Never stuttered. Seemed well prepared. Had some passion, but never moved the upper part of his body. The expression on his face never changed. I wondered whether he believed anything he was saying. It looked robotic.
I remember going out to eat with a church family after my first sermon. I noticed that as we talked that day, no "one said a word" about my sermon. They talked about the great fellowship, the wonderful hymns, and the uplifting special music, but nothing about my sermon. Not one word. The silence was deafening. Even I heard it. The couple I was eating with were an older couple who had sat through thousands of sermons. Seldom a Sunday dinner occurred without someone saying something about something the Pastor had said, but not this week. I knew I could learn more from an honest critique from them, then from any classroom. While we were waiting for the dessert order I "broke-the-ice." I said, "Okay, this meal is going no where, until we deal with the '800 pound gorilla in the room. I need you to not be polite, and just tell me what you really thought."
They knew I was not asking about the meal:
Silence... Every one... Looking at each other... Somebody, had to say something... I was determined to sit there until I got an answer "How bad was it really?"
Finally, the family patriarch, the dear old saint who treated me like a grandson said all that needed to be said:
"I know a good sermon when it makes me squirm!" Nothing else, either from him or anyone else. That was it. But that was all that needed to be said. We went ahead with dessert. I knew what the next sentence would have been had he been uncouth "That sermon put me to sleep." I got it. I under stood. That's what I thought of after hearing Joe Biden's acceptance speech: A good acceptance speech "makes me squirm." That one fell flat.
It seemed obvious that this was something he had been preparing for a long time (maybe 47 years. It's his third try for the Presidency, 1st time he's gotten the nomination). For all that I felt like I was watching a farewell address rather than a launch of a campaign. It became clear to me after Joe Biden's acceptance speech that he will never be President of the United States apart from shenanigans like were pulled off in the 1960 election cycle (or worse) to insure Kennedy would defeat Nixon. Or the the Daniel Sagretti style dirty tricks that pushed Nixon over the line to beat Muskie. Joe Biden has given the American people no reason to vote for him and his acceptance speech did not help.
I listened to the entire speech and a week later, I can't remember the theme. Some nominating speech's have been historic and given the candidate a "bump in the polls." John F. Kennedy's " "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.' Or Goldwater's 1964 "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no vice," (though he went on to lose in a landslide). In 1980 Ronald Reagan's theme was "Make America Great Again," which Trump would echo in 2016 and again in 2020. Nomination acceptance speeches, launch a campaign, they offer a reason for people to rally, they declare a vision for the future. They recognize national problems, propose solutions and offer hope.
Biden's speech did none of that. It decried the successes of the Trump first term, including the successes of managing the Corona virus. It denied the dark realities of violence in our cities. It demeaned white middle class voters, diminished the flag and denied the realities of street. The only thing Biden did was told us was that white people should vote for him to assuage their sin of electing Trump. He presented himself as the redeemer. Despite the pundits bromides the speech did not do what a nominating speech does to propel a victorious campaign. No one squirmed. It did not persuade.
The Democrats only need to look back at their own history to realize that the Biden formula is not a winning one. The path to the White House for the Democrat party has usually come in a familiar form. Since World War 2 the United States has had 13 Presidents 6 democrat and 7 Republicans. Truman, Johnson, Ford succeeded to the office George Bush 41 was a seated Vice President who followed an extremely popular President. Two Democrats and Two Republicans came into the office from the Vice Presidency. Truman and Johnson were both in their second terms, and did not run for a third. Ford and George Bush were both one term President's who were unable to reclaim the successes of their predecessors. So that means there have been 4 democrats, Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and Obama who have come into the office by direct election and 5 Republicans- Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 and Trump(which belies the Republican talking point that's it's harder to be elected for them.)
There are some remarkable similarities between the winning candidates from each party. On the Republican side George Bush 41 is differentiated from the others. He is only the second seated Vice President to win election to the Presidency. The first being Martin Van Buren (a democrat). These two are both similar in that they were the establishment candidate who ran for the Vice President with an outsider President, and neither were able to preserve the legacy of their predecessor and were not re-elected. (Beware Vice President Pence). So they are both atypical Presidential candidates. But each of the Republican who won election to the office directly were considered to be people who came from outside the political arena at the time they declared for office (Nixon in virtual political exile when he announced his candidacy. Following his loss of the gubernatorial election in California, he had said "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more.) They all followed President who at the the time of the electoral cycle were exceedingly unpopular.
We sometime forget how unpopular Bill Clinton was at the time of 2000 political cycle. After having lead a scandalous administration, been impeached, and with economy in the doldrums some Democrats tried to keep him away from the 2000 convention. Vice President Al Gore was Democratic nominee for that cycle. He chose a running make, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who had been the only Democrat Senator to vote in favor of Clinton's removal from office, to distinguish himself from Bill Clinton. He ran against his predecessors record and lost in a squeaker.
Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Trump were all outsiders who seemed to be bringing correction to the failed policies and programs of both parties, and although Bush 43 was an incumbent second term Governor of Texas, he had not been a life long politician like his father when he came into the state house. So each of the 5 Republicans elected to the office of Presidency since World War 2 (with the exception of Bush 41) were perceived as outsiders who able to present themselves as alternatives to the failed administration.
Those Democrats who came into the Presidency through direct election also did so through distinguishing themselves from the legacy of the the Democratic party. Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and Obama were the four Democratic President who came into the office from direct election. And like four of their Republican counterparts none of them were known outside their states when the election cycle began. Each represented the younger generation in comparison to their opponent. Each presented themselves as a "utopian" deliverer who would save the Republic from the evil, racist, warmongering, uncaring Republicans. 4 of the 5 Republicans were older men who presented themselves as to some degree "restoring" the the traditions of a better time.
There is a simple principle here if one is careful to observe it. Democrats who win the Presidency have no national known national record for Republicans to run against, and the converse is also true that each Democrat nominee who lost had to defend a failed Democratic Record. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was unable to defend the Truman Agenda. Hubert Humphrey failed because he was part of the Johnson Administration. Mondale had to run on the record of a President who had declared the country to be in a permanent malaise. Gore openly tried to separate himself from the Clinton legacy and ultimately failed. Hillary Clinton not only had her failed record as US Senator from New York, a Secretary of State to a failed President; she had been an active part of her husband's failed administration and had her own scandal. So there is one simple principle. Democrats who run on the legacy of the Democrat party loose. They have to present themselves as the outside who offers (Obama said it best), "Hope and change."
Yesterday in Manchester, NH President Trump declared Biden to be the worst possible nominee the Democrat party could have nominated. I believe he is right. Make no mistake about it the Democrat party would like Biden to win, but at the time he was chosen he was chosen with the expectation that he would lose. Let's be clear the last two Democrat nominee's Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden were not chosen by the Democrat electorate. In the case of Hillary several primaries vote counts were rigged and superdelegates were manipulated by the party establishment to assure she would be the nominee. Although they may now have buyers remorse Joe Biden was chosen after the January 23 2020 South Carolina Primary.
Think or where the country was at that time after 5 investigations by both parties the Russia Collusion investigation proved to be baseless. And although the impeachment process was in full swing, it was a process again that had been discredited long before completion. The impeachment only increased Trump's popularity. The economy was booming. There was peace in every corner privately the Dems seemed resolved that Trump was going to win. There were several "up-and-comers" in the primaries whom the Democrats wanted to protect for future election. Elizabeth Warren dropped out, Kamala Harris and Corey Booker had failed to gain traction. The establishment rallied around Joe Biden.
That seemed a strange pick -- a twice failed Presidential Candidate. A man who had not been a particularly exciting Vice President who only famous action was opposing the raid to kill Osama Ben Laden. Biden is equally as uncouth as Trump and has a long record of legislative failure. Why would the establishment chose him? I believe they chose him because they expect to lose. Don't get me wrong. They want to win, and if they can get Biden elected they will be elated, but there is no strong political reason for the the bosses to chose him. Bernie Sanders was polling better. Elizabeth Warren has a following. Butigeg is a classical young Utopian figure who often wins as a democrat. Why coalesce around Biden? The only thing that makes sense is that he is a "sacrificial lamb."
Of the contenders if he loose the election it will do the least damage to the party and to chances for retaking the White House in 2024. Had Bernie Sanders won and lost he would have been seen as laying the foundation for a future run for another progressive. Amy Klobochar, Elizabeth Warren all want to run again in 2024. Buttigeg, O'rouke are seen as the party's future who would be better to wait for a better time. Michelle Obama (whom I think many dems wanted to run) apparently did not want to run. Obama's hand chosen favorite son Duvall Patrick never got momentum. The dems needed someone who loss, if that was the outcome, would not damage the party, as Clintons had done.
Biden was chosen to ensure the Dems would retake Congress and ensure Trumps removal him from office, if not by election then, before the end of his second term. If he is re-elcted by crippling his second term so it is a failure, or simply using Congress as they have for the past two years as a bulwark against Trump's agenda. To win in the House the Republicans must regain the seat lost when Jason Amash (who was a never-Trump Republican turned Libertarian) announced he would not run. Highly unlikely. Then they must when an additional 16 seats more than the lose. The Democrats who are now in the majority must lose a net of 15 seats to lose the House. The chance of a Republican takeover of the House last January seemed impossible. They have improved now to slim to none. The Senate is also up for grabs
For the Republicans to maintain control of the Senate they need a net loss of no more than two. Only a third or 33 Senators are up for election each time, so each win and each loss is more significant in terms of gaining or losing control If the election were held today Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Martha Mc Salley of Arizona, Corey Gardner of Colorado would lose. Steve Daines of Montana is in a very competitive race with popular Governor Steve Bulllok Senator Kelly Laughler and Congressman Doug Collins are in a heated primary battle for the Senate nomination in Georgia. Winners of contentious primary's seldom win in the General. There are 5 -7 seats that are likely losses for the Republicans. The Democrats have only to gain 2 seats to control and only one likely to lose is Doug Collins of Alabama. The Democrats are very likely to take the Senate in 2020.
There are always surprise wins and losses on both sides, but based on electoral history it is likely that whoever takes the oath in 2021 will enter the office with two democratic houses. Trumps popular vote victory will have to be huge and his coattails broad for Congress to return to Republican control. Believe me both Dems and Republicans know this, and democrats are counting on it, which is why they nominated Joe Biden. He is a win-win for the dems if they win both Houses. The strategy is to either thwart Trumps agenda through Congressional opposition or remove both he and Pence from office and replace them with whomever is Speaker at that time. but something has changed since January.
The Coronavirus was the defining crisis of the Trump Presidency. It nearly annihilated all the economic and foreign policy accomplishment of Trump's administration in two -weeks. It was a political gift to the democratic party. By may Trump seemed to be at a political low and Biden was peeking. But again the tide appears to be turning. The President's strategy on the virus appears to be working, and add to that the on-going violence, which Trump has been able to pin on the Democrats, and a successful convention Trump appears to be in the lead again. And although might expect an assertive response from Biden he's announced that he will surface in 10-day. Party leaders are advising him not to debate. Hardly the actions of a party with a strategy to beat there opponent.
This election once again appears to be Trumps to lose, and the Democrats seem to be almost resigned to that fact. I am concerned though that I see little effort on the Republican side to take Congress. It all most appears that they are counting on Trump's coat tails. That will not be enough. In fact, I still believe there strategy for 2020 is dependent on winning Congress and they are willing to sacrifice Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to do that. Joe Biden is the Democrats, sacrificial lamb. He will never be President of the United States.