Politics

This Week in Joe Biden

Keeping track of the presumptive presidential challenger

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - APRIL 08: In this screengrab from Joebiden.com , Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Coronavirus Virtual Town Hall from his home on April 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race leaving Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee. (Photo by JoeBiden.com via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Coronavirus Virtual Town Hall from his home. JoeBiden.com/Getty Images

With Bernie Sanders officially out of the race, Joe Biden is almost certain to be the 2020 Democratic candidate for president. And now that he’s the semi-official nominee, it’s never been more important for the former vice president to play the role of leader in the vacuum Donald Trump has so generously left behind.

Unfortunately, this also comes at a time when the vast majority of the voting public is locked inside their homes for the foreseeable future. To compensate, the Biden camp is trying to build up a robust digital communications operation, seemingly in an effort to get Biden into American homes as a sort of counter-programming to Trump’s daily coronavirus parade. But you’re busy, and god knows what platform Biden might show up on next. So to help you keep track of our once-hidden, now home-ridden nominee, we’ll be keeping track of Joe Bien’s whereabouts every week until and if normal life resumes.

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But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s where he already was, this week.

April 13: Joe talks to Bernie, does a podcast.

Monday was a great day to be Joe Biden. After dropping out of the race the week prior, Bernie Sanders officially endorsed Biden before holding a joint livestream with the new presumptive Democratic nominee.

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The exchange was mostly uneventful, if a little stilted. Why the Sanders camp was unable to acquire anything better than a Game Boy Camera is unclear.

Biden’s running effort to stay in touch with the American people during this time of national quarantine comes in the form of his podcast, “Here’s the Deal.” There have only been four entries so far, and for whatever reason, the Biden campaign appears to have given up on any attempts at transcription after the first episode. This week’s guest was presidential historian Jon Meacham.

The 50-minute episode consisted mostly of the two men expressing shock and dismay over the cruelty and incompetence of our current president, with the occasional assurance that the American people will rise above. The noteworthy part came in when Biden was discussing Donald Trump’s villainization of minority groups:

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Joe Biden: The way you win as you divide the country, the way you win as you isolate certain people and make them the bad guys, the way you win as you let other things happen. Like, for example, you and I talked. And you interviewed me—I was able to interview you about your book and you interviewed me about my book about my son, and for a whole lot of people. One of the things that I found was that, uh, the whole idea that we started off a presidential campaign with a direct and decisive and clear effort to pit people against one another. That if you were a Mexican, you know, “I’m going to stop those Mexican rapists from coming into” or “those Muslims” or there, you know. The whole notion of dividing the country, and what that does …

You know, the thing I point out to people is that, you know, you’re pointing out that history’s not a fairy tale. American history’s not a fairy tale. And we’ve gone through, sort of, similar periods before of this division, and pitting people against one another. And you have in here a picture of the Ku Klux Klan marching down the street in Washington, and I can’t find it right this minute, but roughly close to 20,000? Or 30?

Jon Meacham: It was 50,000 klansmen in 1925.

Biden: And they were in full garb. They were in the pointed hats and their capes and the whole deal.

Meacham: Sorry, and no mask, because it was that accepted.

Biden: Yeah, none! And you had a half a dozen senators. You had three dozen or so, roughly, House members—

Meacham: Five governors.

Biden: And you pointed out that what had to be done is the whole nation had to sort of rise up at the same time and say, enough! All faith leaders. Democrats and republicans—and the republicans rose up more than the democrats did at the time! What everyone forgets is, that was the time when they wanted to keep Catholics like me out of the country. Or actually, the Irish had already ruined the country in their view, but you’re talking about Italians and Poles and so on. And so, the whole idea of this division, we’ve seen before, to keep power.

But I take some solace—I’m looking at the bright side of this—one of the things that I see out there, as bad as the circumstance is for the crisis we’re facing in terms of the coronavirus, in particular, is that the American people are by and large rising to the occasion. They’re together. They’re reaching out and helping one another. They’re not asking whether you’re black or whether you’re Muslim or whether you’re this or that or whatever. They’re actually reaching out. People riding down the streets and beeping the horns for people who, in fact, are homebound. People calling a cancer patient who can’t get through their chemotherapy. People going out and making sure their lawn is clean. That is the soul of America as I see it.

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It is, effectively, a much more rambling version of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 argument that Americans “are great because we are good.” Perhaps it’ll do better the second time around.

April 15: Joe does a town hall, posts on Instagram.

Former Vice President Biden had a relatively busy Wednesday. First came a virtual town hall with non-healthcare essential workers, many of whom feared for their safety.

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Not long after that, Biden’s Instagram account decided to share over a quick question-and-answer session that Jill Biden had posted as an Instagram story earlier in the day. While we have no evidence that Joe Biden played any role in the session, he was presumably somewhere in the house at the time.

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Roughly half of Biden’s re-posted Instagram story contains no sound, despite the fact that the original on Jill’s account had no discernible audio problem. It’s unclear how this was accomplished.

April 16: Joe talks to Anderson Cooper, holds virtual fundraiser.

On Thursday, Biden spent some time with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta, where he unfortunately gave the RNC’s rapid response team some easy social media fodder, as he appeared to repeatedly check notes off-screen.

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He also mercifully assured the American people that he would not be looking at Andrew Cuomo as a potential running mate, noting again that whoever he picks will almost certainly be a woman.

CNN reported that Biden later took part in a virtual fundraiser—the precise medium of virtuality went unspecified—where he announced that he’d already begun putting together a White House transition team and looking at possible cabinet appointments. This is a stark departure from the last winning presidential candidate’s tactic of assuming that you’re going to lose and then immediately firing the person who was supposed to lead the team when you, in fact, win.

This has been your week in Joe Biden.

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