Obama finally surrenders and gives Biden his endorsement: Goodwin

Barack Obama’s very belated endorsement of Joe Biden is provoking a few laughs as well as serious questions. “Leading from behind,” one GOP stalwart said while a stock-market observer called it a “lagging indicator.”

Both are true — in more ways than intended. For while the act itself was hardly cutting edge, given that Biden is the only Democrat still running, much of what Obama said made his backing sound like an abject surrender.

Make that a double surrender.

The first was to the uninspiring Biden. Had he been Obama’s choice all along, the former president would have had no hesitancy in endorsing him early to help make sure he won the nomination. Instead, there were reports that Obama had advised his former vice president to take a pass on the race.

Biden’s public response was to claim he asked Obama not to endorse him, saying he wanted to prove he could win the nomination on his own. No one in the world believed him.

While it’s not clear if there was anyone else Obama wanted, his backing of Biden when there are no alternatives smacks of acceptance rather than preference.

Obama’s second surrender is more profound, for he also bows to the leftist forces reshaping the party.

Recall that during the height of the primary season, the former president warned donors against Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, saying there was no winning constituency for their radical nostrums, especially Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

“The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” Obama said last November. There were also reports that he would lead a Stop Sanders movement if the Vermont socialist became the clear front-runner.

But none of those guardrails was included in the video Obama released Tuesday. In fact, he endorsed not only Biden, but also the former veep’s sharp lurch to the left.

“If I were running today, I wouldn’t run the same race or have the same platform as I did in 2008,” Obama said before throwing a bone to Sanders.

“The world is different. There’s too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards. We have to look to the future. Bernie understands that and Joe understands that,” he continued.

The timing was part of a coordinated effort to make the Dems appear united, with Sanders endorsing Biden Monday in a livestreamed event.

Once again, Biden’s weakness was apparent, with the arrangement looking more like a merger. Biden made a plea to Sanders’ backers, saying, “I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country.”

He also promised that Sanders would lead six “policy working groups” to help shape the campaign’s message and thus the party platform.

Illustrating how desperately Biden needs the Sandernistas, the groups will tackle all the major issues — the economy, education, health care, criminal justice, immigration and climate change.

All six represent areas where Sanders was far to the left of Biden, demonstrating that Sanders wins the ideological battle while Biden wins the nomination. That’s quite a deal.

Lest there be any doubt, Biden said to Sanders, “I promise I will not let you down.”

To keep that promise, Biden must continue to move left, further undercutting the whole rationale of his candidacy. He ran as the experienced relative centrist in the race, and while offering big spending plans of his own, battled the bigger-government, bigger-spending plans of Sanders, Warren and others.

On numerous issues, Biden boasted of authoring prevailing legislation even as his rivals denounced the status quo. Combined with his halting, uneven presence, his approach made him look older than his 77 years in a party bursting with hatred for President Trump.

While the coronavirus outbreak spares Biden months of rigorous retail campaigning and allows him to control his appearances from his Delaware basement, he’ll have to emerge in the fall, if not before. In addition to questions about his health and fitness, the uneasy alliance with Sanders will be a hard sell in swing states.

Already, for example, Biden caved in to the leftists by agreeing to ban fracking, which could be a decisive issue in Pennsylvania. The state has embraced the business and reaped a bonanza in jobs.

Similarly, manufacturing unions throughout the Midwest, including in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, forcefully rejected Medicare for All because it would take away their health plans and force them to join the government plan.

Biden was with them then, but will he be with them in the fall? And if he is, will the hard-core Sanders voters be with Biden?

A final question for the campaign is the choice of a running mate. A recent poll had more bad news for Biden, but did suggest an option.

By 56-44 percent, the poll found that Dems wanted to replace him with Gov. Cuomo. Simultaneously, media outlets impressed by Cuomo’s handling of the epidemic are pushing a Biden-Cuomo ticket as the antidote to the nominee’s weaknesses.

Of course, to make the choice, Biden would have to renege on his promise to name a woman as his running mate.

So add that to his long list of problems, and don’t forget the biggest one of all: In the fall he faces a formidable incumbent who’s itching for a nonstop brawl.

Sick & tired of media

Reader Richard Hamerski spots a double standard. He writes: “Here’s the media on Trump: Thirty percent of Corona virus cases in the world are in America. Trump is terrible, he should not be president.

“Here’s the media on Cuomo: Thirty-three percent of Corona virus cases in America are in New York State. Cuomo is great, he should be president.”

Creepy Joe a touchy subject for Times 

Ben Smith, the New York Times media columnist, asked executive editor Dean Baquet some tough questions in an interview about the paper’s story on a sexual allegation against Joe Biden.

Smith questioned the timing, nearly three weeks after the allegation became public, and flagged the fact that the paper made changes after publication. It removed a reference to earlier complaints about Biden’s unwanted touching of women.

Baquet’s answer dug a deeper hole, saying the Biden “campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct.”

So the Gray Lady agreed the many previous complaints against Biden’s touchy-feely conduct were not important.

Another Smith question: “Do you think that, in your heart, you’re reluctant to promote a story that would hurt Joe Biden and get Donald Trump re-elected?”

Baquet gave the classic denial, “I can’t make that calculation.” In fact, the question illustrates the dilemma the Times has created by being so obviously biased against Trump.

Imagine the paper making changes because Trump’s campaign complained of unfairness.

You can’t, because then they’d have to change the whole paper. Every day.

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