The Biden Bull Market - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Biden Bull Market
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The chattering class is all atwitter about the possibility of Vice President Joe Biden entering the Democratic presidential primary race. Whether or not it happens, the fact that (as Douglas Adams would have put it) “the slightest thought has begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing Joe’s mind” is great news for Republicans and a nightmare for the less-inevitable-by-the-day Hillary Clinton.

Like any company with bullish rumblings, Joe’s political stock is on the rise: The rumors began in earnest last week with a remarkable story by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in which she relates a tale of Beau Biden, Joe’s eldest son, dying of brain cancer, “losing his nouns,” and urging his father to run, “arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

A brief tangent: Dowd’s article is remarkable not just for her sourcing of a story which few people outside the family would know but also for its merciless assault on Hillary Clinton: The article begins by describing the similarities between the former Secretary of State and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. It’s some fine work by Dowd (I don’t think I’ve ever said that before!) and deserves to be quoted at length even though, as a long-time hater of the Pats, I think the comparison is unfair to Brady, who has repeatedly proven himself to be the best in the business (quite unlike Hillary) and against whom all evidence is circumstantial (also quite unlike Hillary):

A pattern of cutting corners, a patina of entitlement and inevitability, has led to this.

Destroying digital messages and thwarting official investigations while acting all innocent about wiping out sensitive material.

Avoiding reporters after giving disingenuous explanations at uncomfortable news conferences. Claiming egregious transgressions are a private matter and faux controversy while sending out high-power lawyers and spin doctors to deflect and minimize.

Two controlling superstars with mutable hair and militant fans, married to two magnetic superstars who can make a gazillion an hour for flashing their faces and who have been known to stir up trouble.

A pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win.

Given the Times’ other harmful-to-Hillary reporting, including their story regarding the Clinton Foundation and the Russian purchase of American uranium assets and the repeatedly corrected article about a “criminal referral” into her handling of classified information on her private e-mail server, Mrs. Clinton is probably wondering why such an important liberal media outlet just isn’t that into her.

Back in the political marketplace, Biden’s stock, long ignored like the political equivalent of J.C. Penney, is showing bullish signs, the first real uptick in years.

Last week’s national survey by Quinnipiac University — taken before the Dowd story and subsequent encouragement for Biden to run — offers succor for Biden bulls despite his current 13 percent support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters: Even though he is not (yet) a candidate, he polls as well against the top three Republicans (Trump, Bush and Walker) as Clinton does. His favorability rating is a net +10 while Hillary languishes at -11, weighed down by voters believing by 20 point margin that she is not honest and trustworthy. (This also explains a plurality of respondents in a new Wall Street Journal poll saying that Hillary Clinton is hurting the image of the Democratic Party.)

Among all presidential candidates of either party, Hillary’s favorability is fourth from the bottom, ahead of only Lindsey Graham (-17), Chris Christie (a somewhat surprising -24), and the amazing -32 of Donald Trump. Biden’s favorability, however, is not only “his best score in seven years” but also second-best among all candidates, trailing only Ben Carson (+13… but don’t you know that nice guys finish last?). Among Democrats, Mr. Biden’s net favorability tops Mrs. Clinton’s by seven points, though she remains strong at a +68.

And one of the most interesting results of the poll: Hillary’s favorability among women is only +4 while Joe Biden’s is +22. Perhaps women — at least women who aren’t Democrats — won’t reflexively vote for a woman to the same degree that blacks voted for Barack Obama.

On the critical question of whether the candidate “cares about the needs and problems of people like you,” the very thing that allowed a weakened Barack Obama to defeat the otherwise preferable patrician Mitt Romney, Hillary is under water at -7 (including a net 12 percent negative among independent voters and worse than anybody but Donald Trump) while Biden scores a +22 — the highest among the handful of candidates about whom that question was asked. (This relates directly to Biden’s superior polling among non-Democratic women.)

For comparison, Jeb Bush scored +2 on the question, not bad for a Republican with his last name, while Scott Walker was +5 and Bernie Sanders +10. Given Biden’s personal story, his high score on this important question is justifiable and is the source of any political strength he might have.

The only place where Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Biden is in “having strong leadership qualities”: Clinton is at a solid +18 (only slightly behind the top Republicans) while Joe Biden is at +11, among the lowest of all leading candidates other than Bernie Sanders.

The Biden bull market cannot represent a true reassessment of the vice president, a man who has been nearly invisible to the public for months except for the loss of his son, another tragic event in the life of a father who has endured more than anyone should have to.

Instead, Democrats are looking at a corrupt, compromised, chaotic Clinton camp, an entertaining but fundamentally unserious Bernie Sanders campaign, and the non-starters of Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, and wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into by acting as if Hillary Clinton is as talented and viable a candidate as her husband was. In short, Biden is starting to look good in comparison to the Democrats’ other choices.

Biden could also be helped by the support, albeit subtle, of President Obama whose opinion about Hillary has changed little from his snarky 2008 “You’re likeable enough, Hillary” comment. (Hint: He didn’t mean it then either.) Clinton’s defiance of Obama’s insistence that she not involve Democratic hatchet-man Sidney Blumenthal in State Department activities is just the latest reason for Valerie “Madame Defarge” Jarrett to scheme against Hillary’s interests. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has in recent days repeatedly offered aid and comfort to a potential Biden candidacy. With friends like Barack, Hillary hardly needs enemies.

Let’s be clear: If Joe Biden gets into the race, Hillary Clinton would remain the favorite to be the Democratic nominee. Her name, money, and political machine can’t be matched by Crazy Uncle Joe although it is conceivable that something close enough to criminal behavior might be found in the ongoing Clinton official e-mail scandal to taint her beyond electability. Indeed, given White House antipathy for the Clintons, a Biden entry into the race makes such a finding more likely in an administration known for using executive branch agencies to target its perceived enemies.

Joe Biden is so gaffe-prone and has been wrong about so many questions of domestic policy and international affairs that any initial strength is, as traders would say, a selling opportunity. For example, Biden was the only person in Obama’s inner circle — after then Defense Secretary Bob Gates changed his own initial reaction — to oppose the May 2011 raid to get Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Good luck explaining that one.

Biden’s short-term bump is partly buyer’s remorse among some Hillary supporters, partly sympathy for the loss his family has suffered, and partly the lack of criticism that comes from being mostly out of the political spotlight — something that would disappear immediately after official entry into the race, if not sooner. Don’t be surprised to see Hillary surrogates lambasting Biden before then if they think they can get away with it at this difficult time for the Biden family. Republicans would be wise to stay out of a Democratic food-fight and save their own Biden critiques for the remote possibility that he actually wins the nomination; if that time comes, they should be as vicious to him as he was to Paul Ryan (and, years earlier in another context, to judges Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas).

In the meantime, the possibility of a Biden candidacy is scaring Hillary’s campaign team enough that they have decided to start running political ads in Iowa and New Hampshire — spending $2 million — in an attempt to re-rebrand Hillary as a kind and caring person, inspired by her mother’s uplifting story. Will it work? That depends on whether the appealing message — probably her best yet — can penetrate America’s credulousness about anything that comes out of the mouth of a Clinton. The fact that it’s such a new message — we didn’t see any such motherly inspiration in her last quest for the presidency, at which time Dorothy Rodham was still alive — will leave many wondering whether even her mother is just another pawn on Hillary’s political chessboard.

Whether Biden decides to run or not, Republicans are celebrating. If he jumps in, Hillary will be bloodied during the primary season and will have to spend a large chunk of her raised millions to ensure the nomination. The Republican nominee will then face a much-weakened Hillary or, even better for the GOP, Biden himself. And if he doesn’t end up running (but while he hasn’t quashed rumors of the possibility) Hillary’s plans are disrupted, her spending accelerated, and her message even more unfocused than it has been.

Despite the persistent chatter of recent days and the heartstrings pulled by the story of a dying son’s wishes, I’d be slightly surprised if Biden runs. If he does, it means he believes there are more shoes to drop on Hillary out of the e-mail scandal. It bears repeating: this could be self-reinforcing, with a Biden entry making it more likely that a vicious Obama team would try to hurt Hillary, knowing that nothing spells “third Obama term” quite like “President Joe Biden” does.

Over at British betting site PaddyPower.com, perhaps as close as you can get to being able to buy Joe Biden stock, his odds of winning the Democratic nomination have doubled in the past three weeks, going from 18-to-1 (5.2%) to 9-to-1 (10%), just barely behind Bernie Sanders’ 8-to-1 (11.1%) — pretty good buying already for Biden considering he’s not even a declared candidate. These are the vice president’s highest betting odds since 2012 but still far from Clinton’s 1-to-6 (representing an 86% chance she’s the Democratic victor).

The Biden bull market may be short-lived, but it will be fun while it lasts — fun, at least, for everybody but Hillary Clinton.

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