Yesterday’s primaries

March 11, 2020 • 8:45 am

I refuse to weigh in on whether Joe Biden has dementia, which is the current rumor being circulated about his verbal gaffes on the campaign trail. After all, he’s been making gaffes for decades. If he does suffer from dementia, we should hear that from his doctors. But even if he does have early-stage dementia, that still makes him better than Trump, who has permanent dementia.

Yet even his age makes it more important that Biden appoint a good vice-president. My own view is that it should be a woman, and if Elizabeth Warren would take the job, and leave the Senate, I’d be delighted. She would have time as VP to perhaps become a bit more centrist, but also gain a springboard to the Presidency. Amy Klobuchar would be another good VP.  I’m a bit worried about Stacey Abrams, who’s enjoying a lot of popularity because of her response to the State of the Union address last year, but I worry about her lack of experience. But, as I said with Mayor Pete, experience is overrated and smarts underrated.

At any rate, Bernie’s goose is pretty much cooked, for, aside from his losses yesterday, national polls show him trailing Biden by 20% or so. That doesn’t mean that a miracle couldn’t happen, but, well, miracles are rare. And, as the New York Times reports, Biden’s support yesterday was broad:

He swept every county in Missouri and possibly every county east of the Mississippi River, where most remaining contests will be held. He won black voters and white voters with or without a college degree. And he swept the mostly white rural parts of Michigan and Missouri where Mr. Sanders showed his greatest strength four years ago.

. . .Once all of the delegates through Tuesday’s contests have been awarded, Mr. Biden will probably hold about 50 percent of pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, with Mr. Sanders at around 42 percent. To win a plurality, Mr. Sanders would need to beat Mr. Biden by a similar eight-percentage-point margin in the remaining contests.

The problem for Mr. Sanders is not so much the delegate math. It’s the voters, specifically his deficit of about 20 points nationwide in recent polling. Mr. Sanders is nowhere near mathematical elimination, but he nonetheless faces a daunting and probably unrealistic task: improving his standing by about a net 30 percentage points.

As I said, I fear that Sanders voters will just stay home on election day, and that would be a boon to Tr*mp. On the other hand, Trump’s response to the coronavirus epidemic has been hamhanded, and even American voters are smart enough to see through his proclamations that all is well, much less his views that he’s some kind of epidemiological wizard. If the stock market continues to tank, that, too, will be blamed on Trump. Nothing drives people to the polls more than a dent in their pocketbooks.

Here are a few columns from today’s NYT about yesterday’s results and what they mean (click on the screenshots).

Jamelle Bouie, though disappointed, thinks that the silver lining is that Sanders has moved the Democratic ideology to the Left (true, I think), and that could translate into progressive legislation, particularly if Biden carries the Senate with him.

An excerpt:

There’s every chance for the progressive left to make this happen on a national scale. It looks like Biden will secure the nomination, but Sanders won the policy argument. Democrats in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina support Medicare for All; Democrats in California, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia support free college. And the future of the Democratic Party — the youngest voters — are with Sanders.

If Biden goes on to win the White House, there’s real space for the pro-Sanders left to work its will on policy. It can use its influence to steer Biden toward its preferred outcomes. It can fulfill some of its goals under the cover of Biden’s moderation, from raising the minimum wage nationally to pushing the American health care system closer to single-payer.

Well, we can forget about single-payer for a few decades, but if the Democrats get the entire Congress, I hope we can look forward to more healthcare regulation, particularly on the price-gouging for prescription drugs. As for free college, good luck figuring out who will pay for it. And forgiving college debt only for those now burdened seems unfair to me.

Thomas B. Edsall laments the loss of support for Sanders by white working-class voters, as well as the sexism that, he thinks, helped defeat Elizabeth Warren:


The erosion of Sanders’s white working class support this year raises a related question: Why did Elizabeth Warren’s campaign fail?

One source of the frustration felt by many Warren supporters lies in the fact that the Democratic Party is not as free of sexism as these voters hoped. Support for Warren in Democratic primaries fell in direct proportion to rising levels of what political scientists call “hostile sexism.”

. . .Trump. . . deliberately put racism and sexism at the center of the campaign in order to make these issues salient and advantageous to his candidacy:

In doing so, Trump capitalized on what political scientists call “role incongruity theory,” which contends that women running for executive office face a conflict: on the one hand, “people tend to think that women should behave” but at the same time they believe “that political leaders ought to be assertive and independent.” As a consequence, the authors write, “when a campaign highlights the way in which a female candidate is behaving incongruously, attitudes on sexism may become a stronger predictor of vote choice.”

Perhaps a narrow loss of Warren could be attributed to sexism, but I can’t quite buy the view that her big losses were attributed to that factor, particularly because women themselves tended to vote for Biden and Sanders. If misogyny is a factor, that you must accuse women of it. Also, why did she finish third in Massachusetts, the state that elected her as a Senator?

You might respond that people are ready for women Senators, but not women Presidents. But then why was Hillary the candidate four years ago? Granted, she didn’t win—though she won the popular vote—but she was the Democratic nominee, something that, we hear, sexism wouldn’t permit. And of course Trump was going after her back then, just like he went after Warren.  Although everybody’s indicting Democratic voters for sexism, I can’t buy the idea that in a sexism free world (and yes, of course there was some sexism in the voting), Warren would be the candidate now.

Do note, though, that Edsall provides some evidence of hostile sexism on the part of Democrats.

Finally, the idea that Sanders is viewed as far more liberal than Biden (a view that’s true) might hurt him among moderate Democrats or NeverTrumpers—Republicans who could be persuaded to vote for Biden (but not Sanders) because they hate Trump:

Nate Silver, editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, cited data from the Cooperative Congressional Research Study to illustrate Sanders’s current difficulties maintaining his 2016 supporters. In February 2019 Silver wrote:

Roughly one-quarter of Sanders’s support in Democratic primaries and caucuses in 2016 came from #NeverHillary voters: people who didn’t vote for Clinton in the 2016 general election and who had no intention of doing so.

Silver pointed out that Sanders in 2016 won 43 percent of the vote in his primary competition against Clinton, but if “24 percent of that 43 percent were #NeverHillary voters, that means Sanders’s real base was more like 33 percent of the overall Democratic electorate.”

Without Clinton in the race, #NeverHillary voters have no motive to cast a ballot for Sanders. . .

. . .new Pew Research report shows that Sanders is now decisively viewed as the liberal candidate in the race and Biden as the moderate. From Feb. 18 to March 2 Pew interviewed 10,300 American adults, including 5,771 Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Seven out of ten Democratic voters and those who lean Democratic see Sanders as a liberal, 6 percent see him as a moderate, 8 percent see him as a conservative and the rest did not answer. In contrast, 31 percent see Biden as a liberal, 31 percent see him as a moderate and 20 percent see him as a conservative. Sanders’s current profile with voters is much less likely to draw conservative white support.

Finally, Thomas Friedman calls out Sanders for misunderstanding “democratic socialism”:

One excerpt, read the rest for yourselves, and then weigh in below:

Bernie Sanders often cites Denmark as the kind of country he would like America to be under his ideology of “democratic socialism.” Well, here’s a news flash: Bernie Sanders, with his hostile attitudes toward free trade, free markets and multinational corporations, probably couldn’t get elected to a municipal council in Denmark today. Ironically, Joe Biden, with his more balanced views on trade, corporations and unions, probably could. And therein lies a column.

Is Biden a shoo-in now? Is there anybody who won’t vote for him among the readers? Do you think he has dementia? There are many questions, but all I can say now is I’ll be casting my ballot for a Democratic nominee in November.

117 thoughts on “Yesterday’s primaries

  1. AOC endorsed Sanders, as did many other women who are politicians. Are they also misogynists? Why didn’t they endorse Warren or Klobuchar or Gabbard?

    This vague talk of sexism or misogyny seems like the wrong approach to take in a primary election, since you are accusing your own party.

    1. I think it was very much in play in 2016 — especially in the general.

      Many voted against HRC, because:
      – Not another Clinton!
      – I’m not going to admit it; but I won’t vote for a woman ass POTUS

      I happily voted for HRC and anticipated celebrating the first woman POTUS on the heels of the first black president.

      At my workplace, we held a huge gathering in our largest auditorium (standing room only) to watch BHO’s inauguration on 20-Jan-2009.

      On 20-Jan-2017, no one was even admitting that they had voted for tRump.

  2. Biden has always seemed a bit slow, but I’ll happily vote for him. I’m sure that he will surround himself with good people and try to do what’s best for the country. I hope he picks Klobuchar for VP since she would make a great candidate in 2024 (if Biden dies) or 2028. In 2020 she would be able to effectively make fun of and dope slap tRump.

    1. ” I’m sure that he will surround himself with good people and try to do what’s best for the country.”

      Exactly. And important.

      Der Drumpfenfuhrer’s arrogance is one of his most dangerous features.

  3. As for free college, good luck figuring out who will pay for it.

    Free *public* college is dirt cheap, on the order of $70 billion a year. Sanders proposed funding this with a small tax on Wall Street speculation. Biden would do well to adopt some progressive legislation before November, and I would argue this idea and some debt relief would be a good addition to his platform.

    As for Biden, he will almost certainly get the nomination, although I’d like Sanders to stay in for the upcoming debates and future contests. Many Sanders voters think he still has a shot, and given that it’s only half-time, they have a point. Calling off the race too soon would feed into the DemExit and “rigged primary” narratives, which will hurt Dem chances in November.

    Since I’m in a swing state, I will pull the lever for Joe; Trump’s proto-fascism and climate denial simply must be stopped. Safe state voters can write-in Bernie, or vote Green. Doesn’t particularly matter; “protest votes” don’t amount to much in any case.

    Sanders chances were always a long shot, though Iowa, NH and Nevada gave us Sandernistas a rush of hope. But given that the real base of progressive politics has been decimated for decades (i.e. unions), we had no right to expect to do so well. As Adolph Reed once put it in 2016, leftists were playing with house money.

    1. I am very happy that you will vote for Uncle Joe if he is the nominee.

      This is a crucial point and a crucial election. We must lance the Orange Abscess in the White House.

      Your cost for public university is way low.

      From the NCES:

      In 2016–17, degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States spent $584 billion (in current dollars). Total expenses were $372 billion at public institutions, $197 billion at private nonprofit institutions, and $15 billion at private for-profit institutions.


      These numbers have risen in the last three years.

      If tuition became free at state universities, many private-college students would move to state schools, also driving that number up.

      On student debt forgiveness:

      Bernie’s student loan get-out-of-jail-free cards would be a bit more expensive.

      > 1.4 trillion dollars.

      Student loan debt rose from $480.1 billion (3.5% GDP) in aQ1 2006 to $1,397.3 billion (7.5% GDP) in Q3 2016.


      How will this be paid for?

      I know how: People like me, who financed their own university education (zero financial aid, aside from student loans) through work, savings, and borrowing, and am now saving for my son’s education, will pay for it.

      Saying, “only the rich will pay,” is all well and good. How has that worked out for the last 40 years?

      1. “How will this be paid for?

        I know how: People like me, who financed their own university education (zero financial aid, aside from student loans) through work, savings, and borrowing…”

        Surely there was a time when secondary education was not free. At some point, that change to ‘free’ tertiary needs to be made, and it will be unfair at the time to many people like you.

        Unfortunately, elsewhere in the English speaking world, this has gone backwards over the past 50 years, moving towards USian policy. But not in Denmark, for example.

        1. Run right out and use that [your middle paragraph] on the campaign trail!

          Punishing people for doing the right thing isn’t likely to work out well.

          One key point: Secondary education is universal (and required by law). Only about 30+% of Americans complete college.

      2. Of course, tuition is not the only source of revenue. And based on Dept. of Education figures, total tuition at 2-year and 4-year public postsecondary institutions is around $80 billion/year. So I was off a bit.

        As for debt relief, Sanders says the Wall Street tax covers that too, with economics Robert Pollin agreeing. Even if it does require a tax on extreme wealth, fine. I say that would be a nice thing to do on its own, even if only to burn the revenue on the White House lawn. The extremely wealthy have an obscene amount of power over political and economic life.

      3. “People like me, who financed their own university education”

        I find this argument distasteful. I could use it, too. But when I entered the University of Wisconsin my tuition was $150 per semester. I was able to leave after many years of graduate school with only a few thousand dollars of debt. These conditions were not there when my kids hit college-age during the great financial collapse. Their generation was hit with MUCH higher costs, a horrible job market, and far bleaker economic prospects.

        1. My university tuition went from ~$350 to ~$3300, for a “full load”, in the 4.5 years I attended the Univ. of MN (Minneapolis, Inst. of Tech.)

          I suggested several methods of helping people afford university. I have consistently opposed (the GOP, mainly) driving down the state support for our state schools. I think that is flat wrong (to cut that support). Education is the best investment people make — states too.

          (We anticipate our son attending a university in Washington state. Since I last lived there, WA has cut support to the point that reciprocity with neighboring states has been dropped. So: No OSU (a preferred school) for him!)

          I would support: Better support (more money) for state schools. Immediately using federal funds to bring back interest-deferred student loans. Etc.

          We could provide (means-based) refinancing subsidies for current student debt.

          Get-out-of-jail-free cards isn’t the way to do this. It is only a campaign slogan.

          1. I don’t disagree with any of the solutions you suggest. I do disagree with justifications that sound like “pull yourself up with your bootstraps like I did”.

      1. In my view, public full subsidy for university (“free” college) would mainly represent another transfer of wealth from the ~75% of the population that doesn’t go to college to those that do (right at the beginning of their lives — money now is worth more than money later).

        As a middle class person who plans to send his kid to college, that would be great(!) for me — but is it the right thing for society? Is there not value in having students have “skin in the game”?

        As I have noted, I am in favor of plenty of help for college students (this is at least partly in self-interest). But “free college” and get-out-of-jail-free cards for student debt aren’t the way to go (IMO). Good campaign slogans (for a certain segment of the population; not for all segments. Probably not for the reliable voting segments).

        I expect my son to help pay for his college education, especially by working (and saving). He already has an informal job and we are having him save half of this income. (As I say to him, “you are deferring gratification until this will be even more valuable to you later — and there will be more of it then.”)

        I have saved (a lot) for his education. But he will have skin in the game. (Luckily, we are not pulling these funds right now!)

        We have made him well aware of the economics of this. I have provided NPV calculations for degrees from various universities. This pretty well convinced him to go to a state school (on in-state tuition). Maybe some people can afford to look at college as “an experience”. But we can’t.

        1. Well, I’d maybe ‘exacerbate’ that (I think not) by requiring those, who are subsidized to go, must pay all or lots of it back if they fail to follow through and finish their degree. Then make sure those finishing well, using it to get rich, often by valuable work, sometimes not, rather than other well educated people who sacrifice wealth for public service, pay plenty of income tax to boost and inspire the next generation, and of course so do the inheritors of wealth pay through the nose.

          Sounds like pretty good balance of justice to me.

          Even sounds a lot like my 1st hand impression of Norway, and less sure impression of Denmark and maybe even Germany. But none of them are ‘recent’ slave states at all. So their electorate, no more intelligent fundamentally than the USian electorate, somehow have vastly superior social thinking.

          I wonder whether constant exposure to non-stop lying commercials on TV from the age of 18 months might also have something to do with it. But that’s almost as bad in Canada (at least the damn drug companies are mostly kept at bay), so might not be quite as big a factor. I have no faith at all in professional sociologists and psychologists on this (and lots else).

        2. Educating its citizens used to be considered a common good that all citizens should support and pay for. I certainly feel that way, though I don’t have children. I suspect many others here do as well.

          That said, I’m not sure that college should be free to all. Free tuition to students who get good grades and/or have low income sounds good. Perhaps mandatory, free public education should go on a bit longer than it does now, with an emphasis on preparation for university or work.

          1. One compromise proposal I have seen is to increase standards for admissions to pure research areas, but also make *them* free. By contrast, use guaranteed loans for professional fields.

            The problem with this is the boundaries – which is, for example, music? (Some places like Quebec do distinguish music qua pure fine art vs. as a profession, though.)

            1. Yes, the arguments will be over the details. Such policies have to be crafted very carefully, similar to industrial policies. In general, we don’t want the government picking winners and losers too aggressively, not in what professions people prepare for or in what research ideas get funded. Any decision must have a time limit after which it expires unless re-justified.

        3. I should have clarified that this was an observation, not a statement of support. I believe that a large number of young folks are better served by not attending college, but rather would benefit from trade school or other skilled labor careers. I would support tuition free junior college and two years of support for trade training. If someone chooses to attend college/university and incur debt, they, like I did, should pay.

          1. “I believe that a large number of young folks are better served by not attending college, but rather would benefit from trade school or other skilled labor careers.”

            True. How many students are strolling the sacred halls of ivy with no goal, no rudder on their educational ship? (A recipe for depression. I know whereof I speak.)

            People who go into, say, electrical or plumbing – and who own their own business – would seem to do reasonably well financially, perhaps better than a B.S./M.S. in electrical engineering working for the MBA/JD CEO. (The name of the guy, who had a PhD. in philosophy and then went into motorcycle engine repair, at the moment escapes me. I know there has been at least one PhD long-haul tractor trailer driver.)

            I just don’t like how (what I perceive to be) not a few of “the “Establishment elite” (however one specifically defines that class) look down at the “working class” who pursue such trades, and e.g., carp about the fee plumbers charge to unstop their toilets/sewer lines.

            (I assume that those in “the professional class” work. Why are they not therefore members of “the working class”? Call me old-fashioned, but it helps with the credibility if I know that a white collar type has proven her/his/their mettle – has some “grit” and perseverance in the face of adversity – by having some reasonable sweaty, grimy, manual labor experience.)

            1. Very much agreed. I would also note that in the construction trades in our community, from excavating to concrete to framing to siding to roofing to trim carpentry to electrical, plumbing and heating, to landscaping, the vast majority of workers are Hispanic. They work hard and they make very good wages. I know a couple of truck drivers in the oil patch that make over $100,000 per year. My good friend who has is own auto maintenance and repair shop has more work than he can accept. And so on….. And don’t get me started on the obscene salaries of university athletic coaches and directors!

            2. My father had a 6th grade education. He grew up during the depression and WW2. He was a skilled tradesman and did very well for himself. When I came up, during the space race, it was expected that I get a college degree, so I did. I probably could have been happy in a trade, like my father, but the advanced education, I feel, has added a new dimension to my life far beyond the financial rewards. College exposes young folks to a rich experience. We receive the wisdom of thousands of years of scholarship which seems to me a difference in kind as well as degree. So, I would be reluctant to advise a young person to take a technical program without a college program added to it. This, of course ignores the practicality of financing it all, but if you ask Socrates, η μη εξεζητημένη ζωή δεν αξίζει να ζήσει.

  4. Current delegate counts (I am tracking this, using a spreadsheet – I’m an engineer, I can’t help myself 🙂 )

    Sanders: 666 delegates; 16.7 percent
    Biden: 824 delegates; 20.7 percent
    Warren: 69 delegates; 1.7 percent
    Bloomberg: 61 delegates; 1.5 percent
    Buttigieg: 26 delegates; 0.7 percent
    Klobuchar: 7 delegates; 0.2 percent
    Undecided: 209 delegates; 5.3 percent

    1. I wonder where the undecided delegates go. Iirc, all the candidates with delegates can “give” them to another candidate. With all but Warren and Undecideds backing Biden, it looks to be a shoe in.

  5. Not only did Biden win the primary here in Michigan he won every county.

    On an unrelated note, I just received a text from my daughter that Michigan State University has gone fully to online courses and she will be expected to be out of her dorm room over the weekend.

  6. I’m not qualified to judge whether Biden has dementia, but his public gaffes have gotten worse. That is a concern, but realistically we’re now looking at 3 men in their mid to late 70s. No one can fix that now. In order to appeal to younger and more progressive voters Biden has to pick a VP that will appeal. Warren maybe, although she’s most popular with people with advanced degrees and higher incomes. She’s not a draw for a lot of people. Klobuchar isn’t going to motivate Sanders supporters to go out and vote. Male or female, Biden needs to pick someone young and more progressive. I think Sanders is done. He only got 36% of the vote in Michigan. In 2016 he got almost 50%.

    1. Yeah, for me Michigan was the real litmus test as to the health of Sanders’ campaign. His 2016 support was huge and he spent extra time there campaigning after he figured the South was a lost cause. Losing every county is a very bad sign, especially in light of Biden’s lack of foot soldiers and organization.

  7. “…even American voters are smart enough to see…”
    Good bloody luck! I sure hope you are right.

    Much less my business than USians’, but my limited knowledge would put Kamala Harris as best VP choice, at least keeping defeat of Drumpf as the sine qua non.

    1. You are on target these, both points.

      I have heard there may be significant negatives with K Harris; but I haven’t heard any details. In general, I really like her.

      She would also geographically diversify the ticket. (Warren would not; Klobuchar would; but Harris is an African American and, I think, more exciting than Amy is.)

      1. At the risk of being a broken record, I like
        Abrams as a candidate both because she has some good legislative background, and being from Georgia, the opportunity to maybe pull along that state’s senate and electoral votes. Harris is good but her state is already in the “win” column. I love Amy and the bulk of my donations went to her but I think African Americans are due a representative on the ticket at this point. That leaves Warren out too.

  8. I am very buoyed by the turnout in the primaries. Up substantially from 2016. There’s clearly no heroic candidate bringing out voters. It’s got to be anti-trump anger. So, as I’ve said before, I predict a landslide for whoever is nominated, and I’m now pretty sure it will be Biden.

    College tuition is higher than it was when I went to school. I had no problem paying for it at State schools, but I think tuition should be subsidized nowadays. If for no other reason than we need a smarter electorate than the one that elected tRump.

    1. I think there are plenty of ways to make university more affordable. My tuition went up 10X in my time at university (4.5 years) in the late 70s / early 80s.

      Since, it has gotten only higher and less subsidized.

      States have forgotten, it seems, that the best return on investment comes from education.

      I like:
      – Cory Booker’s baby bond idea
      – Making 2-yr community colleges free
      – Bring back student loans with deferred interest until graduation + grace period
      – Bring back funding for state universities

      Get out of jail free cards for current debtors is not the way to do it. (Maybe re-fis could be subsidized for these people? Means based?)

    2. I feel heartened when I listen to Rachel Bitecofer’s take. She sees Sanders’ socialism as a disaster for dems. She was on Bill Maher’s show last Friday. Her models focus on the fact that Trump is hated by all Democrats, most Independents and many Republicans alike.

      Here’s a blurb from her on Overtime. Cox has some good points too as do the others.

      1. In the still I think I see that walking embodiment of a double-parked BMW, Anthony Scaramucci. Why the hell is he there? Is he a pundit now? If so, WHY? FSM, help us all.

          1. Unoriginal, but that’s an insult to middle fingers everywhere, including those of naked mole rats.

        1. ” that walking embodiment of a double-parked BMW”

          I’ve got to step in and give you a thumbs up for that description, that’s great.

  9. That article was surprising coming from Bowie. He used to write for Slate and specialized in “Why liking that thing you like makes u you a racist.”

  10. Sanders misunderstood the Democratic electorate in two respects. The first is that he believed that almost all of his votes in the Democratic primary were from people who supported his positions as opposed to being anti-Clinton votes. Those voters now find Biden more congenial or have become Trumpists and have dropped out of the Democratic Party. The second mistake was to think that most Democrats were closet socialists. The problem here is that the word socialist has negative connotations, even when prefaced by the word democratic. It is true that younger voters are not scared by the word, perhaps because it has different meanings to different people. However, they don’t vote in big enough numbers. In 20 or 30 years the political landscape may be very different.

    The vast majority of the Democratic electorate, including myself, believe that capitalism is the best system for economic growth and provides the best opportunity for the most people to achieve prosperity through the free market. But, there are varieties of capitalism and the particular variety is what sets off Democrats from Republicans. Democrats believe in a highly regulated system where businesses must adhere to certain rules that would prevent the gross inequality that a totally unregulated system would inevitably bring. Thus, Democrats support a wide social safety net that would provide every citizen a decent standard of living. Higher taxes on the rich would fund this system. In addition, businesses must follow strict environmental and safety regulations. On the other hand, Republicans believe in a much more unregulated system based on the premise that if people suffer, it is largely their own fault. This is the theory. But, not many Republicans are keen on giving up their Social Security. Who cares about consistency anyway? On the far right of the Republican Party are the libertarians, who believe that an unfettered free market solves all problems. Biden is the type of Democrat that supports the core values of most Party members. In practice, Sanders would probably not veer far off from this viewpoint. If he had dropped calling himself a socialist, he could have easily gained many more votes.

  11. Being European, I know a thing or two about public deficit/gdp ratio and I can’t see how the Us could afford many of the things promised by Sanders, expecially looking at the possible aftermath of a long epidemic season.
    Biden looks a decent man, but I fear possible skeletons in his family closets more than this offensive suspect of dementia. I can’t believe the Democrats would have let him run if he was more than sometimes “spacey”. And anyway if we fear dementia tRump is already there.
    Literally anyone 2020 but….

  12. “Is there anybody who won’t vote for him among the readers?”

    I would definitely vote for Biden. (As noted earlier, the only Democratic candidate I wouldn’t have voted for is Warren.) Biden’s gaffes don’t bother me and may even work in his favor: the more vulnerable and avuncular Biden looks in debates the more Trump’s compulsive bullying is likely to backfire.

    1. Glad to hear it! I hope there are a lot more sensible conservatives out there who agree with you; I think there are.

    2. Hey, I don’t know who or what you are, or how you managed to crib control away from Gary Miranda of his account on this website, but keep up the good work making political horse sense. 🙂

      1. “I don’t know who or what you are, or how you managed to crib control away from Gary Miranda. . . .”

        I have the right to remain silent. . . .

  13. I see no real evidence for Biden having dementia. He’s always made gaffes. He’s just not good at thinking through responses before he makes them. I think that’s due mostly to how his brain works from birth but it can also be helped by learning to pause before responding which takes much conscious effort and lots of practice. On the other hand, a long pause can make someone appear dishonest or manipulative. Biden comes across as honest and direct. Since his gaffes are virtually always innocent, he should leave well enough alone. I worry more about him having some other kind of health issue before Election Day. Keep away from crowds, Joe!

    1. Biden recently quoted the Declaration of Independence.
      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women created by — you know, you know, the thing.”

      Which we all found hilarious. So now when any of us reference God, we say “You know, the thing”.

  14. Amy Klobuchar would make us proud as VP.
    Jill Biden will make a wonderful First Lady.

    My college tuition in the mid-1960s was $35 a credit.

    That’s my three cents worth

  15. I saw the tape yesterday of Biden arguing with the autoworker. Not good behavior. He has had other angry outbursts. Seems pretty defensive. Don’t know if he has always been like that or has always been like that. Most people show personality changes as they age. At what point do you say it is from dementia or normal loss of brain cells and other changes. I did not hesitate to vote for him when I voted early yesterday. Seems like a clear path to the nomination. I just hope he foes not challenge the French president or some other leader to a fistfight if he gets in office.

    1. I saw that episode also but have a different take on it. The union guy didn’t ask a question but said:

      “You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns.”

      This sounds like a Trump supporter trying to deliberately needle Biden. Biden could have delivered a mellow response but I actually think he gained respect from the rest of the crowd by quickly identifying the situation and calling “BS” on it. I don’t know Biden’s position on the gun problem but I’m pretty sure if he was calling for repealing the Second Amendment, we would be hearing about it. Biden did the right thing, IMHO.

      1. I think it’s incredibly refreshing to have a Democratic candidate who aggressively stands up for himself. I continue to reflect back on the debate where Trump put all of Bill Clinton’s accusers in the front row. I think Hillary could have won the election if she had responded “Let me try to understand what’s going on here, Mr. Trump. A thrice married adulterer who’s file bankruptcy six times is trying to shame me for sticking with my husband for 41 years? I know this will be hard for you to understand, but some of us actually understand the meaning of commitment and don’t change spouses every time we change our socks.” I think she would have brought down the house.

        1. Yes, I totally agree. Clinton played into her own demise by reacting normally to Trump’s bombast. On the other hand, that doesn’t seem like a natural thing for her to do. Still, I’d like to have seen her give it a try.

  16. The key issue for almost all Democratic voters — indeed, the only real issue for most of us (and for most other reasonable, rational, responsible American voters) — is turning Donald Trump out of the White House in the next election. In a word, as to a potential Democratic candidate, that’s called “electability.”

    “Electability” was Joe Biden’s raison d’être for getting into the race at age 76 (now 77) in the first place. It’s essentially been his entire platform. The downside of having “eletability” as your main selling point is that it’s viable only so long as you’re actually winning elections. Biden’s approach didn’t look so hot when he was getting his ass handed to him in the first three contests of the Democratic primary season. But once he turned the corner in South Carolina and made an unexpectedly strong showing on Super Tuesday, “electability” got a new lease on life. After last night, in which he swept nearly every precinct in some primaries, he’s taking on the look of a juggernaut.

    Sure, old Uncle Joe has lost a couple miles per hour off his fastball, but there’s nothing to suggest he suffers from “dementia” (although that won’t stop the right-wing propaganda machine from pushing that line, just as it pushed the false narrative in the stretch run of the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton had one foot in the grave.)

    Besides, Biden has never been the sharpest tool in the shed; he’s always been gaffe prone and frequently tongue-tied. I certainly never thought he demonstrated a particularly keen legal mind during all his years serving on (including, for a while, as chairman of) the US senate judiciary committee. Biden is instead an old-fashion hail-fellow-well-met back-slapping Irish pol who’d’ve been at home in the olden days of big-city Democratic machine politics. One of his main strengths is that hardly anybody hates Joe — unlike the way many people (many of them quite irrationally) hated Hillary Clinton.

    In any event, the “dementia” narrative shouldn’t play very well for the likes of Donald Trump: so long as senility is accompanied by a due respect for patriotic American norms and traditions like the rule of law, and so long as it’s accompanied by a commitment to surround oneself with a competent cabinet, it should beat the snaky sociopathy surrounded by abject servility of a Donald Trump, hands down.

    Donald Trump in particular is in no position to make hay of Biden’s supposed “dementia.” Trump is himself a man-child. He speaketh as a child, and he thinketh as a child, and he readeth (when he readth at all, which seems solely to be when standing before a teleprompter) like a remedial sixth-grader.

    Trump has the mentality of a particularly malign juvenile delinquent — one who can never accept responsibility for wrongdoing or apologize for mistakes, one who claims credit where none is due, one who takes perverse pleasure in ridiculing weaker people. He has spent his entire life insulated from the consequences of his malicious (and often criminal) conduct by the fortune he inherited from his father and by his unique ability to generate copious amounts of unadulterated bullshit at a pace to put a cattle ranch to shame.

    Notwithstanding his ability to fool some of the people all of the time in this regard, Donald Trump himself believes in nothing, save his own self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. Everything else — the Wall, MAGA, “lock her up,” America First, his lip-service to “god, guns, and ending abortion,” — all of it is naught but kayfabe, another long con being run on his marks by a Manhattan real-estate huckster and self-idolizing reality-teevee star.

    Despite Donald Trump’s built in advantages running as an incumbent, and despite the near-unlimited funds he has to run an unprecedented smear campaign, and despite his demonstrated willingness to cheat his way to victory, no matter how base the tactic or how transparent the lie — despite all of this, Joe Biden is looking like the fella who could just kick Trump’s ass outta the Oval Office come November.

    1. I agree. Well put. I would add that with Bernie pretty much out of the way (he’s going to address his future in a speech at 10 am Pacific time), I have enough hope for victory over Trump that I am now also adding Dems taking the Senate to my “things that are likely” list.

    2. “…unlike the way many people (many of them quite irrationally) hated Hillary Clinton.”
      This was partly a spill-over from hating Bill
      Clinton. During the late 90s, I met an old couple who practically frothed at the mouth at the mere mention of the Clintons. I was astonished at their intensity and wondered what was behind it. I never fully understood it, but I think it was partly generational, and had much to do with Bill Clinton’s lack of military service. Funny that this spills over onto Hillary.

      1. I think the hate for Bill and Hillary Clinton just reflected the beginning of division in this country. The ones who hated Bill mostly hated his success. The hate for Obama is also due to that, in addition to his race. People on the right are frustrated when confronted with opposition candidates who are excellent speakers to whom most people naturally gravitate. The hate for Hillary is partly her “unfair” success facilitated merely by being married to Bill and partly because of her personality.

        1. Her hate was also manufactured by the GOP smear machine ever since Bill got elected. Damn, the GOP ridiculed, made up lies and attacked her non-stop for decades…that’s gotta have a negative effect for millions who don’t pay too close attention; then the hate is passed down to their kids. For Hillary, the hate was generational; a hard nut to crack.

        2. There was much to dislike about Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their rank careerism, for example — their willingness to sacrifice any principle in pursuit of political advancement — I, for one, found distasteful.

          But the abject hatred of the Clintons is difficult to comprehend. I think its primary source was their ability to win — a 32-year streak of kicking ass in every race they entered (broken only by Bubba’s stumble as a 34-year-old vying for his second term as Arkansas governor in 1980) from 1976 until Hillary’s loss to Obama in 2008 Democratic primaries.

          What galled Republicans the most, I think, was the Clintons’ ability to beat them mainly by co-opting the moderate Republican position on issues before Republicans could claim it for themselves.

          1. “Their rank careerism, for example — their willingness to sacrifice any principle in pursuit of political advancement — I, for one, found distasteful.”

            They called it “triangulation” which, with many people after hearing either of them speak, results in the overwhelming feeling of desperately needing a shower.

            1. Yes, they called it triangulation but it wasn’t a bad thing. It was an attempt to get things done by compromising, or at least making what is on offer look appealing to both sides. If Biden becomes President and does the same, it also won’t be a bad thing. If we wanted a President who sticks to his/her principles hell or high water, Bernie Sanders would be doing better than he is.

              1. So you’re saying I should stock up on loofahs? Well, that’s a small price to pay to get rid of Trump.

            2. If there’s a creepier little freak than Dick Morris in all of American public life, I don’t believe I’ve had the displeasure to make his acquaintance.

      2. Hillary had her own issues going back to Arkansas. It is overly simplistic to say the people who have a problem with her must just hate Bill, or hate women, or whatever.

        When any of us incorrectly identify people’s motivations for holding a particular view, we are likely to fail to be able to predict their reaction to future stimuli. That kind of prediction is important both if the person is an ally and if the person is an opponent.

              1. (If I) Just heard (correctly) on PBS News Hour that the next Dem debate will be without an audience due to the coronavirus. Shades of the Nixon-Kennedy debates! (It must really chafe those who hoped to impose their caterwauling as audience members.)

      3. ” . . . I think it was partly generational, and had much to do with Bill Clinton’s lack of military service.”

        If so, I trust that they no less frothed from the mouth over not a few conservative Republican “chicken hawks” not so serving.

    3. I’ve always appreciated your copious writing talents, but this comment was especially erudite and enjoyable to read. Thanks.

      1. Thx, Mark. If I’m gonna write ’em long — and I apologize to our host since the length of the above comment probably runs afoul of Da Roolz — I’ma at least try to keep ’em kinda bouncy and fresh. 🙂

    4. “…ability to generate copious amounts of unadulterated bullshit at a pace to put a cattle ranch to shame”. Well said and appropriately applied.

    5. Every example a Trump campaign could give for Biden’s “dementia” could be matched blow for blow with an example of Trump’s. That would be a dangerous game for Trump to play.

      1. Yes but Trump’s “dementia” is really just a bad personality he’s had his whole life. Better to focus on his never ending stream of bad ideas, IMHO. I like Rick Wilson’s “Everything Tromp Touches Dies” meme (#ETTD). Besides, Trump is probably better than Biden at coming up with cutting remarks at a moment’s notice. Biden should memorize a response outlining Trump’s stupidity and criminality for every subject that’s likely to come up. If Trump won’t debate, he should haul them out anyway as if Trump was standing right next to him.

        1. I’ve long been wary of established acts putting out “greatest hits” albums, but damned if that ain’t a good one! 🙂

      1. Quote away, jblilie — for attribution or not, as you see fit.

        “Cast thy bread upon the waters,” is the way I look at it.

  17. It is worth repeating, I think, that the problem is much broader than the Orange Menace. The Republican Party gave us this horror show and unless it is thoroughly defeated we’re only buying a little time by defeating tRump.

    1. I agree. I’d add that when it comes to being an evil shit Trump ain’t got nuthin on Mitch McConnell. To really get on top of this the Republican Party needs to lose the Senate and a majority of state legislatures and governorships.

    2. I agree. It’s not just tRump. The problem has a basis in a divided nation. It’s divided along many lines, but the one that’s hottest now seems to be the income gap (economic insecurity) brought about by the education gap. This and other “gaps” have always been with us, but I think the GOP have exacerbated the divide for political ends. As the country becomes more diverse it shifts Democratic, so the GOP are desperate to create fear and uncertainty (“Only I can save us”). Just like Vladimir Putin.

    3. Yes, Moscow Mitch slow-walked nominees for 2009-2017 and is now doing his best to pack the courts.

      And in the event of a SCOTUS vacancy, unlike in 2016 (“let the voters decide”), he’s already said, “we’ll fill it!”

      As I keep repeating: Hypocrisy, a Core GOP Value™.

  18. I hope Biden does not have early signs of dementia. He is my last hope to defeat Trump. His going into a rage and threatening to slap that Michigan auto-worker was not a good sign. Anger and rage are common among dementia victims.

    1. “Anger and rage are common among dementia victims.”

      I thought the kind of anger and rage experienced by people with dementia is frustration at their declining mental facilities. I don’t see that in Biden’s incident. I think it’s perfectly ok to be a little angry when someone claims you to hold a position that you’ve never held and does so solely to make unfair points with others in the crowd. That deserves a strong response.

        1. That was just the manly thing to say in front of a bunch of guys in hard hats. He thought about saying “punch” but went with the more socially acceptable “slap”. LOL

    2. I loved Biden’s “you’re full of shit” comment. Way to go Joe! People who think Biden wants to take their guns away are full of shit. I think the guy mistook him for Beto or something.

      1. Well, I can understand how you can get pleasure from it, but I still don’t think it wise. It gives ammunition to Trump. It is like Clinton’s “deplorables” comment. You don’t get elected attacking the voters. You tell them “I feel your pain”, whether you mean it or not. Biden should have simply said “You’re mistaken. I’m not taking your guns away” and moved on.

  19. The general election is going to be a shitshow on a scale well beyond my experience. Having a candidate who isn’t wholly aware of his surroundings may be an advantage. I suspect a person in full possession of their faculties would suffer from PTSD by November. Biden isn’t my first choice but I’ll take a candidate with a diminished comprehension of reality to the disturbed constructed reality of the incumbent.

  20. This year, Washington state went from a caucus to a primary (much to my relief). In 2016, Sanders did far better in states with caucuses than those with primaries. For example, here in WA 2016, he won 72.7% as opposed to Clinton’s 27.1%. This year he is pretty much dead even with Biden and both candidates will split the delegates. I also find it interesting that people who favored Warren (like me) didn’t go for Sanders, but went for Biden. To me, Sanders’ socialist label was just too dangerous and he did a horrible job defining it (he allowed others to define it for him); it looks like a lot of other progressives felt the same.

    1. +1, well said, Mark.

      MN went from Caucus to primary this year (also much to my relief); and I voted in a primary for the first time in my life. (I voted for Amy.)

      In a few years, I’ll be helping to turn a rural county in southern WA blue, or at least purple-ish.

      The results in MN were similar: Big swing from Bernie to Uncle Joe.

      I think two things are working here:
      – Many (as Ken notes above) hated HRC in 2016.
      – With the prospect of Trump II, the DP is flocking to the one who looks most likely to beat der Drumpfenfuhrer.

  21. Sanders’ campaign should be contacting Biden’s campaign in order to organise an exist strategy at this point.

    Biden stating support for M4A may well be enough for Sanders to save face and thus exit the race.

    The fact is that Sanders is not going to win, and Biden appears to be suffering from some sort of mental decline. More debates is not going to help.

    The fact that Sanders is staying in the campaign is only really going to help Trump, who I think is already at a strong advantage against Biden.

    Trump’s probably going to win this one, so the plan needs to be to boost down ticket candidates. Checks and balances don’t work if the people who are supposed to be working those checks and balances don’t do their jobs.

    Maybe get some serious funding to whoever ends up running against McConnell in Kentucky.

    1. The value (to Biden) of Sanders staying in the race is that the next contests are going to repeat Michigan, IMO. They will show Sanders winning few, if any, counties. This will dampen the “this was stolen from us” argument from Sanders’ more vociferous supporters.

    2. I don’t think Trump can beat Biden, although November is a long way off, so who knows.
      But one thing I find reassuring is this: Trump won in 2016 by a very slim margin, only 80,000 voters spread across three states. So the Dems don’t have to turn but a small fraction of the 2016 vote.
      Moreover, there is NOBODY who voted for Clinton in 2016 who is now going to turn around and vote for Trump in 2020. That is a null set. But there are quite a number of Trump voters who now regret it, and they just want someone decent and middle-of-the-road (not Bernie) who can end the current craziness. I think Biden’s chances are good.

  22. I keep seeing the idea in the media that the Corona virus will force people to realise how dangerous and deceitful Trump is.

    Ok, that’s a possibility (the walls are closing in, the cracks are beginning to appear, Fox News is beginning to turn against him, Trump’s popularity has plummeted, etc etc), but there’s another possibility. If the virus does get bad in the US, it will make campaigning impossible — and the election will have to be postponed.

    1. That seems highly unlikely. There will, however, likely be a much higher reliance on absentee ballots being sent in.

  23. One thing about the dementia, look for the GOP and Trump to amplify the idea at every turn. They did the same to Clinton last election to raise the idea that she had some sort of hidden ailment that would make her unfit. They did the same to Obama except they used hidden religion instead of hidden ailment.

    They do this because it works with the soundbite-consuming and not very savvy electorate.

    Also look toward the main stream media to help amplify this message regardless of any evidence. It won’t be just Fox news and the right wing pundits doing the heavy lifting here.

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