They Said “Tempted by Power, Joe Biden Takes a Reckless, Legacy-Wrecking Swipe at Hillary.” Oof!

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I *think* that this poster is by her supporters. Credits are -- Photo: Bryan Adams; Design: Tony Paryear.

I *think* that this poster was created by her supporters. Credits are — Photo: Bryan Adams; Design: Tony Paryear.

So there’s a site called Hillarymen.com — a site produced by men who will proudly do anything, on the theory that “politics is war without bullets,” to defend the corporatist Democrat front-runner.  (If anyone doubts the label “corporatist,” during the last debate she said that her idea of reining in Wall Street was to tell them, during the build-up to the ruination of the economy, “cut it out, guys.”  It’s a self-consciously macho site; the leading story as I write this is entitled: “Benghazi Hearing: Another Hurdle in Hillary’s American Ninja Warrior-Style Campaign.”  I am not kidding.

For what it’s worth, I hope that Hillary does kick the crap out of grown-up Draco Malfoy-impersionator Trey Gowdy at these hearings; he and the rest of Slytherin House have richly earned it.

Digression:  My problem, by the way, is not with Hillary having done the same dumb thing with emails that many other high Cabinet officers at her level have done. She had good reason to want to avoid leaving emails on the government system: the government seems crammed full of people who would leak any communication that could be used to hurt her.  But not only was she unwilling to tell that truth, she in fact eventually apologized for it — when the polls seemed to say that she had better do so — despite thinking that she did nothing wrong.  That, rather than a disregard for security protocols, is the sort of insincere bullshit that I worry will come from Hillary as President.  Is it so wrong to want a President who will apologize when wrong, but not otherwise, and never insincerely?

But I’m not going to write about that story today.  I’m going to write about the story that was the lead this morning: “Tempted by Power, Joe Biden Takes a Reckless, Legacy-Wrecking Swipe at Hillary.”

It came out shortly before Joe Biden appeared in the Rose Garden to say that he would not run for President.  I doubt that there was any cause-and-effect relationship there.

One of the Hillary men who writes Hillarymen, who I knew through DailyKos.com, was my Facebook friend when that Biden story came out.  When I read the second story, he wasn’t.

In order to give you the full flavor of events, I have to quote the entire story on Biden.  You’ll see why.  The payoff will come just after that.

The gloves are off.

Out of respect for Vice President Biden and following Hillary Clinton’s example, we have refrained from criticizing his extended (and destabilizing) decision-making process. But with Biden taking a cheap, dangerous and unwarranted shot at Hillary, our self-imposed constraint is over.

Here’s what Biden said, per NY Mag:

Either Joe Biden is gearing up for his entry into the 2016 race, or he just thinks Hillary Clinton needs to be taken down a peg. The vice president never mentioned the Democratic front-runner by name, but at an event honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale on Tuesday evening, he took aim at Clinton’s boast during last week’s debate that she’s proud to count the Republicans among her enemies. “It is necessary to end this notion that the enemy is the other party, end this notion that it’s naive to think we can speak well of the other party and cooperate,” Biden said.

Biden also challenged Clinton’s oblique suggestion during the debate that she’s running for a third Obama term. He claimed that for the past seven years, he’s spent five to seven hours a day with the president. “I attend every meeting the president has — at his request,” Biden said, adding that they are “simpatico” on every major issue.

And what about the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, that one very notable occasion when Biden and Obama weren’t in sync? Well, Biden spent the day revising that story, so now he was completely behind the decision to send in special forces.

Calling a popular, powerful, accomplished woman “naive” has troubling overtones. Saying it about the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination is exceptionally reckless. Especially with Donald Trump on track to become the Republican nominee. Not to mention the folly of pretending to play nice with Republicans with the aim of making Hillary look unreasonable and uncooperative. Biden knows very well which Republicans Hillary was referring to when she made her tongue-in-cheek remark at the debate, so his swipe is disingenuous.

Writing an attack ad for the opposing party is not a way to cement your legacy, it’s a surefire way to wreck it. But Biden has sought the presidency his entire adult life and the temptation to try again seems to be clouding his rational judgment.

We’ve always expected Biden to run, for this simple reason: he could have just said no. If he didn’t intend to run, allowing the expectation game to drag out would be cruel and unfair to the Democratic electorate. We would never accuse him of being that cynical.

If Biden’s idea has been to reinforce the Democratic bench, fine, but lobbing a direct, unprovoked grenade at Hillary’s integrity undercuts that mission.

The lure of power and its capacity to destroy good men is the story of human history. We hope that Biden has the self-control to resist the temptation to join the legion of Hillary detractors whose actions, wittingly or unwittingly, bolster the gender barrier blocking women from the U.S. presidency.

UPDATE 1 (10/21/15): Joe Biden announces he will not run for president. While we praise him for making the correct decision, we are baffled about his unprovoked criticism of Hillary Clinton, knowing he wasn’t going to be in the race.

UPDATE 2 (10/21/15): Peter just appeared on CNN to discuss Biden’s decision and said what we both believe: the Vice President made the smart and honorable choice. Politics is tough business and hard shots are taken (as you can see below) but in the end, Joe Biden did the right thing. His choice will cement his legacy and it reflects well on the Democratic Party.  [emphasis, except for the word “naive,” added].

When my then-FB-friend left a post reiterating essentially what’s in “Update 2,” I replied cheekily:

Greg Diamond Whoa, whoa — I thought that this was war? Gloves off?

He replied:

Peter Daou VP took a hard shot at HRC and we hit right back, which I stated on CNN. You’ve posted other comments in my threads and I ask you to please be respectful.

And then he defriended me, making it hard for me to be disrespectful even if I wanted to.

That “hard shot at” Hillary was, again, that her calling all Republicans — not just the NRA or Focus on the Family or whatever, but Republicans, period — “her enemy” was “naive.”  The “hit right back” was a thunderous assertion that, driven by a “tempted by power,” he had “wrecked his legacy” because it was “reckless” to criticize her.

Yeah, that seems like a proportionate response!

It’s also, if you’re as informed about politics as the authors are, near-blithering insane.  Biden has for decades now been the king of the kumbaya approach to governing.  Unlike some such as his Senate colleagues Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, he was never a sellout to Republicans as a whole — a “fifth column” within the Democratic caucus — but he has been famous for his “let’s all get along if at all possible” approach to governance.  He would not call all Republicans enemies; nor would he likely thump his chest and say the same of all Iranians, as she did in the debate.

There are various ways to get ahead within one’s political party.  One is to demonstrate competence, propose policies, remain steadfast, convince others.  Another is to say “you had better support me, because if you don’t support me, I will destroy you.”  (Respectively, those typified Betty Yee and Speaker John Perez in last year’s Controller’s race.)  That notion, that Hillary is an unscrupulous political assassin — the Democrat’s Nixon — is the problem that Hillary really has to contend with.  It has nothing inherently to do with her gender; Liz Warren doesn’t have this problem, nor do Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and nor, really, does even the despised-by-Republicans Nancy Pelosi, despite her ability and willingness to play hardball.  It’s something special, something unusual.  Something unsettling.

The Hillarymen are exactly what the Clinton campaign seems to want in its supporters: ready to react on a hair trigger, dispute any call, hammer any enemy mercilessly, forgive only when they do whatever it is that Hillary wants.  That’s how Joe Biden recklessly destroyed his legacy permanently forever — and then got it back again within a couple of hours.  And if he doesn’t endorse Hillary — or if, heaven help them, endorses Sanders — he will have destroyed his legacy permanently forever again.

I really don’t think that voters like this.  I think that it looks weird and alienating — and that for whatever reason (Sanders himself being among the most likely causes) we’re in a year when people aren’t going to put up with it.  Yes, some Sanders supporters do this as well, but there are two differences: (1) the criticisms are based on actual policy differences and (2) it doesn’t go all the way to the top.

With Hillary’s campaign, it does go all the way to the top; the Hillarymen have been top advisors to her.  And for her supporters, it’s not based on policy differences; it’s based on the temptations of power.  Put her up against Donald Trump and maybe that’s not such a problem; put her up against Ben Carson and — who knows?


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)