That question might seem preposterous to the media who have already established their narrative, but this two season situational comedy called the Democratic debates is given to unexpected role reversals. With the continued uncertainty in the poll numbers, we might have to consider that the top three faces might punch themselves out way before the final bell. The contestants on the blue stage game show all continue to flounder on the same handful of issues using predictable platitudes to catapult themselves into the prospective slot of front runner. During this quest they have simply run out of bonus dignity points and became the novelty acts that so many accuse them of being. However, standing on the far side of the stage is one man who appears to be maintaining his integrity by staying out of the ruckus. His name is Senator Joseph Biden.
Joseph Robinette Biden, jr. took office in 1973 at the age of 30 to become the fifth youngest Senator in United States history. He managed to maintain his seat despite a tragic car accident that resulted in the death of his wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi. He married again in 1977 but then had to overcome two brain aneurysms. One of his two sons currently serves in the Delaware Army National Guard and will soon be deployed to Iraq. The Senator holds a seat on the Judiciary Committee and is the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He is the forth most senior Democratic Senator and the longest serving U.S. Senator in Delaware’s history. If there was a hall of fame for U.S. politicians this man would have been nominated years ago. So why isn’t he the front runner for the Democratic Party?
Ever since John F. Kennedy appeared on television in the 1960 Presidential debate with Richard Nixon, voters have fallen time and again for the charm of a persuasive personality. It simply makes for better television. We expect our leaders to have a strange mixture of Rock Star amicability and a Soldier’s stern decisiveness. Biden has the later but not the former and his treasure chest of gleaming gold is a little short on coins. However the numerous bumbling debates have given him an opportunity to play the father figure on a stage full of younger, less experienced candidates. Over time his status as a senior wave maker is starting to shine through. Thursday night’s performance was perhaps the biggest splash he has yet made as a serious contender.
When asked by Wolf Blitzer if all this mud throwing is helpful to the Democratic Party, Biden stole the show by responding, “The American people don’t give a darn about any of the stuff that is going on up here.” He went on to pinpoint that Americans are worried about the safety of their children, the mortgage on their houses and about family members that might be killed in Iraq. “Who among us knows what we’re doing?” The inference was obvious, he’s the only one who can pick up the phone and demand respect from any leader around the world. Suddenly the rest of the candidates looked like children begging mommy media for camera time whereas Daddy Joe was finally putting his foot down on what really matters.
While it’s fun to watch the three-way dance put on by Obama, Hillary and Edwards, it’s more appropriate for a reality TV show than the process of picking a world leader. It’s difficult to imagine that the down to earth, hard working farmers and veterans that dominate Iowa politics would back any of these air brushed show ponies. Could steady Joe be the come from behind statesman/leader who steals the title strap just before the final bell? Being manly and white makes him the only candidate who looks somewhat Presidential. Democrats like to think they are progressive on race and gender but in the end they will want a nominee who can win. When reminded of this reality, primary voter opinions could turn on a dime, just like they did in 2004. Maybe that’s just the coin Joe Biden has been waiting for?