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OpinionJoe Biden, Closet Republican

17:40  10 july  2019
17:40  10 july  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Audience pushes back when Biden claims homophobic comments were recently OK in Seattle

Audience pushes back when Biden claims homophobic comments were recently OK in Seattle Joe Biden sparked pushback when he suggested at a fundraiser for his presidential campaign that homophobic comments were not considered offensive in Seattle as recently as five years ago. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The former vice president's claim was immediately rebuffed by members of an otherwise friendly audience at the home of a Democratic donor in the city Saturday evening.

Joe Biden , Closet Republican . He’s the liberal Bob Dole, the looser Mitt Romney, the supposedly safe bet who’s owed a shot. But Bush’s strategy and success arguably hinged less on selling himself as a new kind of Republican than on being seen as a tested, trusted, traditional brand.

Joe Biden , Closet Republican . Frank Bruni, New York Times July 10, 2019.

Joe Biden, Closet Republican© Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times Joe Biden on Saturday at a campaign stop in South Carolina.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

It didn’t come to me right away, but finally I recognized the model for Joe Biden’s unusual campaign, the former president whose pitch Biden’s most closely resembles:

George W. Bush.

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I’m referring to Bush’s first presidential bid, in 2000, which is remembered mostly for its surreal climax: the seesawing returns on election night, the Florida recount, the Supreme Court ruling that effectively decided the contest in his favor. To the limited extent that political junkies recall his slogans and stump speeches, the phrase “compassionate conservative” comes quickest to mind.

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But Bush’s strategy and success arguably hinged less on selling himself as a new kind of Republican than on being seen as a tested, trusted, traditional brand. His surname did much of that work, and he augmented it with a sustained oratorical emphasis on propriety. He pledged to “restore honor and integrity” to the White House in the wake of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. He would end the melodrama of the Clinton years and expunge the shame by having the nation essentially pick up where it had left off — with a Bush at the helm.

Biden’s core promise is to end the much greater melodrama and expunge the infinitely darker shame of Donald Trump’s presidency, also by returning to what preceded it: Barack Obama’s administration.

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Joe Biden served as the Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017 and in the United States Senate from 1973 until 2009.

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Joe Biden, Closet Republican© Rick Wilking/Liaison, via Getty Images George W. Bush, here with his father, former President George Bush, in 2000, sold himself as a traditional Republican brand.

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Obviously there are big, glaring differences between Biden and Bush, and not just ideologically. Bush’s public-service résumé then was scrawny next to Biden’s now.

But Biden isn’t exactly campaigning on his three and a half decades in the Senate, not when you consider all the chapters — his fury over busing, his treatment of Anita Hill, the crime bill, the invasion of Iraq — that he wishes voters wouldn’t dwell on.

No, Biden is campaigning on his eight years as vice president. He’s also campaigning on the nostalgia of his surname, the familiarity of his presence and the comfort of his aura. And that’s not just a tactic from Bush’s playbook. It’s a quintessentially Republican move.

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Former VP Joe Biden also accepted 0,000 for his appearance and speech. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. More TYT

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The last two Democrats to win the presidency, Clinton and Obama, didn’t take a tack anything like Biden’s. Clinton was the man from Hope, Ark., who was determined to give liberalism a modern makeover and set the Democratic Party on a more profitable course. Obama was hope and change — not to mention the audacity of hope — and those nouns in aggregate augured a fresh start.

Both men were under 50 when they attained the presidency, and both were in keeping with the Democratic Party’s flattering (and not quite accurate) image of itself, from John F. Kennedy onward, as youthful, innovative, visionary, trailblazing. But Biden, 76, isn’t about exploring uncharted paths. He’s about following bread crumbs back to where we lost our way. Less Lewis and Clark, more Hansel and Gretel.

This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a Trump thing. For many Democrats, Biden included, the insult of Trump is so immense and the threat that he poses so profound that 2020 isn’t a year for experiments and idealism. It’s a year for survival. It’s a lunge for normalcy, stability, convention — Republican buzzwords that are suddenly many Democrats’ goals.

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And from that mind-set springs Biden’s campaign, drab in the abstract but unorthodox in the context of Democratic proclivity and precedent.

Unorthodox in respect to his rivals, too.

Bernie Sanders, with his call for Democratic socialism; Kamala Harris, with her intensifying emphasis on racial disparities; Elizabeth Warren, with her encyclopedia of plans; Pete Buttigieg, with his husband and his mere 37 years on earth — the election of any one of them would be a bold statement, a milestone. Each is a figure exponentially more romantic than Biden, counting to some degree on the adage that while Republican voters fall in line, Democratic voters fall in love.

Biden, in contrast, is trying to get Democrats to do something that Republicans have more practice at: choose a nominee who’s due over one who’s new. He’s the liberal iteration of Bob Dole, the looser version of Mitt Romney, John McCain without Lindsey Graham glued to his side.

He has his raft of policy positions — many of them echoes or adaptations of Obama’s — but they’re not what his supporters think of first. They’re not what he thinks of first, either.

That was clear in a revealing passage from his recent interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Asked about Harris’s attack on his civil rights record, he signaled surprise and hurt.

Exclusive: Jill Biden on Kamala Harris' attack: The American people 'didn't buy it'

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“She knows me,” he protested.

A few beats later: “The American people think they know me and they know me,” again instructing voters not to examine the fine points of his record or the minutiae of his proposals but to look into his eyes and into their own guts.

And one more time, during that same 30-second span: “People know who I am.”

That’s the message. It might as well be the bumper sticker. At most other junctures, it would be fatally underwhelming. At this one, there’s no telling.

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