The two stories that are described and quoted below stand as models for all the stories about Joe Biden that appear in the news cycles. The vast majority of stories that we see are based on one or the other of these examples.
News organizations have a duty to talk about candidates and when the candidate selected by the establishment has no clear policies and disappears from public view for a week at a time, the media have to resort to using him (or her) as a foil for another candidate who is also acceptable to the establishment or to spend their column space drumming up sympathy for the favored candidate. Occasionally, the stories contain elements of both.
Similarly, why are Biden’s frequent gaffes and memory gaps ignored? Because the media uses them to either promote another establishment candidate or to elicit empathy for him.
Previous news stories have solidified this pattern. Expect a lot more.
Sometimes it is funny how things change; sometimes it is not so funny. (“Funny” being used in its various forms will give the preceding statement different meaning. Make of it what you will.)
One of my degrees is in journalism. While I was in college the AP and Reuters were considered the go-to sources for straight facts. They were news services, without a slant They did not write news stories per se, but provided facts for others to write news stories. This is no longer their purpose or goal; they have instead become part of the establishment media. The New York Times, on the other hand, has pretty much always been considered a source that caters to the more well-to-do and, therefore, slants its stories in that direction.
Which is why the following news stories perplexed me until I figured out the purpose. Neither story adheres to the principles of journalism that I was taught of sticking to the facts. Although, not labeled as such, they are close to falling into that pit called “analysis” by so many news sources today. While those sources portray analysis as something fully factual, it is not. It is a hybrid between fact and opinion. Neither story is labeled as opinion, but that is the closest designation for both stories than either the purely factual or the analytical presentation of subjects considered news worthy would encompass.
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Both stories purport to be about Biden. However, the story from Reuters is most decidedly not. It actually uses Biden as a cover for a push for Warren.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As summer ends and the race for the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential nomination shifts into a higher gear, former Vice President Joe Biden’s perilous position atop the vast field stands to be tested under even more pressure.
“Biden is the weakest front-runner in a contested primary in a long time,” said Democratic operative Joel Payne, who worked on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign and attributed Biden’s standing largely to voters’ familiarity with him rather than his performance on the campaign trail.
What follows is some blabber about Biden’s name recognition, then comes the re-direction.
Beyond Biden, the story of the contest’s first few months was the rise of Warren, whose relentless campaign schedule and formidable state-level organization have made her a serious threat to win the nomination.
She particularly has emerged as a rival to Biden in Iowa, a state he desperately needs to win to reinforce his argument that he is the candidate best equipped to take down Trump.
But questions persist about Warren’s ambitious liberal agenda – she advocates “big, structural change” – and whether she can attract moderate and black voters, as Biden does.
Skinner said Warren can expand her appeal beyond siphoning liberal voters from Sanders and other candidates on the left.
“She actually is starting to draw moderates. She doesn’t feel like a Bernie (Sanders). She doesn’t feel like she’s out to blow things up,” Skinner said. “I see her as someone who can draw supporters from Bernie and from Biden.”
Biden is desperate, and Warren is relentless and ambitious. The paragraph right before the above quote is all too telling:
Biden is also viewed skeptically among some Democrats who dismiss him as an out-of-touch moderate in a party moving leftward. Even so, “if Biden is able to minimize his vulnerabilities, it’s still his race to lose,” Payne said. [emphasis added]
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On the other hand, the second story, from The New York Times, asks the reader to emphasize with Biden. His is the story of the reluctant leader. The story echoes Biden’s claim (as yet without proof) that world leaders called and begged him to run.
“How badly do you want to be president?” Joseph R. Biden Jr. was asked after a recent speech in Prole, Iowa. The answer to such an inquiry would appear self-evident in the case of Mr. Biden, who began his running-for-president routine more than three decades ago; in other words, very badly, one would assume.
“I think it’s really, really, really important that Donald Trump not be re-elected,” Mr. Biden said, more of a rationale than answer. He then launched into a classic Biden roller derby of verbiage in which he listed all the reasons he found Mr. Trump so distasteful. He landed on a question to himself.
“Could I die happily not having heard ‘Hail to the Chief’ play for me?” the Democratic front-runner asked. “Yeah, I could,” he said. “That’s not why I’m running.”
An interesting aside in this story is the inadvertent admission of the purpose of polls:
“There is a situation where the electability argument within the context of this primary becomes self-perpetuating,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a Democratic strategist who served as a top campaign and White House aide to Barack Obama. “Everyone thinks Biden’s the most electable, therefore voters tell pollsters that he is more electable — and therefore more people think that, and it sort of all goes around the circle.”
To strengthen the tug toward empathy:
Friends of Mr. Biden suggest that he decided to run for president in large part because he could not have lived with himself if he did not. “Joe has this thing called the ‘Look in the Mirror’ test,” said Ted Kaufman, Mr. Biden’s longtime chief of staff who served out Mr. Biden’s term in the Senate after he became vice president in 2009. “Clearly he has the best chance of beating Trump. And if he did not run this time and Trump won, then what would he think of himself when he looked in the mirror?”
The above statement earns a “Really?” What does he see in the mirror now?
Al Gore after losing the presidency did not just sit back. He became active in pursuits to address climate change and founding organizations to promote policy changes in regard to environmental issues.
When Jimmy Carter left the White House, he managed to find ways to help humanity. He founded a non-profit with the goal of advancing human rights. He was very active as a diplomat during the Clinton and GWB administrations, including international vote monitoring. He is currently the honorary chairman of the World Justice Organization and still teaches at Emory University and works with Habitat for Humanity.
After the 2016 primaries, Bernie did not sit back and soak up adulation for past accomplishments. Beyond working in the Senate to pass legislation, he was out dong voter registration drives and promoting progressive candidates and webcasting on Facebook’s streaming service with guests addressing the important issues of today. He founded the Our Revolution organization and is undoubtedly the impetus behind the founding of the think tank for progressives, The Sanders Institute (currently suspended during the election season).
Biden, on the other hand, taught some classes at the University of Pennsylvania. wrote some very lucrative books and lent his name to the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania (he does not serve nor has he served in any type of leadership role there).
Does Biden look in the mirror and see himself the equal of those who have worked toward the goals they have espoused when NOT running for office?
Although there were already a number of candidates who have developed policies that address the needs of the US American public, Biden felt “obligated” to run even without the benefit of policies other than a return to the past. Even if he plans to return to sometime in the past before Reagan, this is not a direction the country is looking for as its future. But, he is being forced into this because, well . . . obligation.
It is not hard to whiff a heavy scent of obligation around Team Biden, as if they were positioning him as a kind of Democratic savior. “We didn’t really intend to be going on this journey,” Jill Biden said at a fund-raiser in Sun Valley, Idaho, this summer. “But when it came down to it, too many people were saying, ‘Joe has to run,’ ‘Joe has to run.’”
In other words, Mr. Biden now feels a responsibility — or “special calling,” in the words of Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware.
So here is Mr. Biden, answering his “special calling.” He has always been a gifted retail campaigner with a knack for snapping into empathy mode whenever people share their stories of grief and hardship.
It is hard to miss the sympathy for Biden that this quote demands. However, it does beg the question of just who these “too many people” were. Readers should also question what it means that Biden has “a knack for snapping into empathy mode.” A person who is naturally emphatic does not have a mode. That is who they are, at all times.
The closing paragraph of this article sums up Biden’s run with a reminder that could also draw sympathy if the reader knows the story of Biden’s promise to his first wife that he wold someday be president. The wife, and two children, that he so callously used in a recent campaign ad to elicit yet more sympathy for his campaign.
In this scenario, Joe Biden is happy to leave the big plans and boisterous crowds to others and offer himself as a reluctant soldier for normalcy. That could be enough to get him the nomination and even into the White House, where, let’s face it, he has always wanted to be.
In other words, if not now, when? And if there is not a clear reason why, maybe the better question is just why not?
If not now, there will never be a when at his age. With no future vision, the why not for Biden is because his “time is up.”