On the front page of Sunday’s edition, New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher propped up leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden as an old-fashioned guy who might be too bipartisan and nice to fit the angry anti-Trump Democratic mood: “Democrats Split Over Targeting Trump or Party.”
But is Biden really a nice-guy bipartisan “moderate”? The evidence, suppressed by Goldmacher, suggests Biden is just an old-fashioned Democratic attack dog, a role he played to perfection a Obama’s running mate (click “expand”):
As Joseph R. Biden Jr. made his way across Iowa on his first trip as a 2020 presidential candidate, the former vice president repeatedly returned to one term -- aberration -- when he referred to the Trump presidency.
“Limit it to four years,” Mr. Biden pleaded with a ballroom crowd of 600 in the eastern Iowa city of Dubuque. “History will treat this administration’s time as an aberration.”
“This is not the Republican Party,” he added, citing his relationships with “my Republican friends in the House and Senate.”
There is no disagreement among Democrats about the urgency of defeating Mr. Trump. But Mr. Biden’s singular focus on the president as the source of the nation’s ills, while extending an olive branch to Republicans, has exposed a significant fault line in the Democratic primary.
The media has tried to paint Biden as a sensible centrist, but how “moderate” is he? Here was Goldmacher:
It’s a debate that goes beyond the policy differences separating a moderate like Mr. Biden from an insurgent like Mr. Sanders, elevating questions about whether the old rules of inside-the-Beltway governance still apply....
Biden may currently be tacking rhetorically to a vague center, but his actual voting record is safely liberal, with a lifetime raking of 12.67 out of a possible 100 in the American Conservative Union’s legislative ratings of 2008 (which was Biden’s last year as a senator).
Goldmacher went conspiratorial, suggesting Trump was leaning on the Justice Department:
....many Republicans in Congress have voted almost in lock step with the president, even as he has cast aside longstanding party orthodoxies, such as free trade, and sought to exert his will on traditionally nonpartisan institutions like the Federal Reserve and the Justice Department.
Just this past week, Democrats raised alarms about Attorney General William P. Barr’s unyielding defense of the president in a Senate hearing on the Mueller report, where Mr. Barr adopted some of Mr. Trump’s talking points on the Russia investigation.
But Barr released the entire Mueller report for all to see, which makes whatever Democrats imagined Barr was trying to do in his hearing wholly irrelevant.
Yet many on the left believe that Mr. Biden’s nostalgia for a bygone era of comity, compromise and civility -- while appealing -- is misplaced, or even naïve. They question whether historic pragmatism can even be considered pragmatic anymore in an era of norm-busting hyperpartisanship.
Mr. Biden’s graciousness toward Republicans has gotten him into trouble with Democrats who see him as overly solicitous to an intransigent party....
Biden’s “graciousness toward Republicans?” Since when? National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that in 2012 Biden told a mostly black audience that Republicans would “put y’all back in chains.” Hanson also observed:
[T]he folksy Biden is hardly the sober and judicious alternative to a supposedly reckless Donald Trump. In many ways, Biden has been far wilder in his speech and decorum -- despite nearly a half-century in politics....Biden -- who has called for more civility in public discourse -- has boasted that he would like to take Trump (whom he referenced as “the fattest, ugliest SOB in the room”) behind the proverbial high school gym “and beat the hell out of him.”
During the vice presidential debate in 2012, Biden spouted at Paul Ryan, “With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey[.]’” The left-wing Guardian, no fan of the Romney-Ryan ticket, recognized Biden’s immature partisan hackery: “[W]hile Ryan spoke, he could be seen grinning, chuckling, shaking his head, throwing his hands to the skies or hanging his head in exaggerated disbelief, a widely varying sequence of gestures that all amounted to ‘can you believe this guy?’”
Goldmacher previously coauthored an embarrassing profile of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand under the mortifying headline “Senator’s Star Shines as Nation Unites Behind Her Cause -- Gillibrand, Long a Champion of Women, Stays Out Front in a Cultural Reckoning.”
Fast forward 16 months, and Gillibrand is not out in front of much of anything.