‘Stay Alive Joe Biden’, implored contributing writer Alex Wagner in the Atlantic yesterday, setting perhaps the lowest ever bar for a presidential candidate.
She posits that Biden ‘exists primarily as an idea, rather than an actual candidate’ and describes how coming off the campaign trail to pitch his premiership from quarantine has been a boon to the former VP:
‘His appearances these days have an almost parallel-universe quality to them: Biden’s audience-less remarks from his home in Delaware have the suggestion of an Oval Office address, and their content seems intended to offer a glimpse into the twilight zone where someone else, someone more empathetic and capable, is president.’
Cockburn can’t help but admire Wagner’s wishful thinking — if only his performances in interviews and pressers didn’t belie her characterization. But he does think she raises an interesting topic: how essential is a fully (OK, semi-) functional Joe Biden to the Democrats’ chances of defeating Trump in November?
Due to the coronavirus, the former president’s presence in the race has been reduced to virtual town halls and media appearances over Zoom from his Delaware home. If that’s all we’re demanding of the presumptive Democratic nominee these days, do we really need the man himself? As Biden so aptly put it in his Wednesday virtual press conference ‘the new technologies are quite effective‘. We’ve already had a pre-programmed hologram Tupac play Coachella — wouldn’t a hologram Joe Biden do a better job in front of the camera than the real thing? The Democratic voters would be just as at ease placing their faith in an algorithm that generated old-timey anecdotes and smiled soothingly at them through the TV. As we watch Holo-Joe return Nicolle Wallace’s soft-balls on MSNBC, real Joe can focus on more suitable activities like napping or watching D-Day documentaries.
Cockburn hopes Biden lives a long and prosperous life and stays safe at home, avoiding the potentially lethal impact of COVID-19. He is, after all, a 77-year-old lifelong asthmatic — despite saying to Jake Tapper ‘at least what I’ve been told by the doctor, I have no underlying conditions that would complicate my circumstance’. The former VP has not been tested for the virus, which he justified by telling Tapper ‘I have had, thank God, no symptoms that I’m aware of’ — this despite the fact asymptomatic people can still have the disease. Just ask Rand Paul. But if Biden were waylaid with the illness — or worse — wouldn’t his campaign team just find a way to work around it?
Other moderate candidates entered the Democratic race in the first place because they didn’t think Biden had the nomination sewn up. Many of them doubted he was mentally sound enough for the land’s highest office — and said as much. But like most of Biden’s memories, such moments have been forgotten — the party line is now confidence in the team around the former VP if he assumes office. Rather than Jelly-Brain Joe, it’s his running mate, his secretary of state and his cabinet appointees who’ll be in the driving seat come January 2021, or so we’re supposed to believe. If all the Democrats need is a figurehead to coalesce around, surely a Joe Biden hologram will do just the trick.