Ready, Set, Joe

It's Biden time.

I WANTED the next president to be a woman—enough with the parade of dudes. I wanted the next president to be Gen X—okay, Boomer? And I wanted the next president to have it—the ineffable blend of charisma, novelty, and coolness that propelled Bill Clinton and JFK to the White House.

In short, I wanted the next president to be Kamala Harris. She was the candidate I was emotionally invested in, the one I believed could unite the various factions of the Democratic party and take the fight to Donald John Trump. Over the course of three Senate hearings, she demonstrated her toughness, filleting Jeff Sessions, Brett Kavanaugh, and Bill Barr—she maimed them and memed them. She showed out in the debates. Everywhere she went, people loved her. And she put the fear of God in Vladimir Putin. The Russian bots came out in force with the “Kamala is a cop” bullshit—as if being a cop is some sort of liability, when the actual president is a robber!

And then, just like that, Kamala was gone, shutting down her campaign a few weeks before the December debate. This was devastating to me, as it was for all of her supporters. Not only did I have a suddenly-outdated sticker on my car, but I wasn’t particularly passionate about any of the remaining candidates. I felt like a sports fan watching the playoffs after his team has been eliminated. (Whoever your favorite candidate was this election cycle, you are likely to relate.)

Rather than campaign for a candidate, I campaigned against one—Bernie Sanders: fraud, narcissist, Useful Idiot for Putin. Better to expose the one candidate whose nomination would herald a second Trump term, I figured. The time to get in line would come eventually.

And now it has. As Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke have shown us, it’s time to unite under one banner: Joe Biden’s.

I’ll admit: I wasn’t always so keen on Joe. During my Kamala heyday last spring, in fact, I was very much opposed to a Biden nomination:

I tweeted about this a lot:

Never mind that my economist friend “Edward G. Robinson”—who went to high school with me in New Jersey, but has lived most of his life in various Middle West states—patiently explained that Biden was the best bet in his neck of the cornfield, and showed me poll after poll and statistic after statistic to support his case. Never mind that the natsec folks I knew were all in on Joe. Never mind that Joe’s poll numbers among Black voters were really, really good. I didn’t care. The thing is, I didn’t want Joe. I wanted Kamala Harris. The heart wants what it wants.

I expect that Elizabeth Warren supporters feel that way about Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg supporters feel that way about Mayor Pete, and the YangGang about Andrew Yang. I know that Berners feel that way about their Socialist Messiah, because—and this might come as a shock—they are not exactly shy about expressing themselves on the Twitter.

Here’s the thing, though: most of us won’t get our first choice, the candidate we really wanted, the one we thought could unite the country and take it to Trump. My friend in Nebraska was right, and so were the natsec people—like it or not, as of this moment, the only candidate who can unite the country and defeat Trump is Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

And now that I view him as leader rather than rival, I like what I see.

Return to decency

First and foremost, Joe Biden is not an asshole. He’s a genuinely kind, caring, decent person. This has been his calling card for his entire political career, but it’s not fake. I think Obama named him VP because he liked him, above all; he valued Joe’s decency and compassion. Don’t sleep on this quality. After three-plus years of one of the lousiest humans to ever draw breath in the White House, having a literal good guy in charge would be a welcome change.

Trump fears Biden…

Donald John Trump actively broke the law, extorting an allied country and abusing his power—and getting himself impeached in the process—in order to manufacture “dirt” on Joe Biden. Note: manufacture dirt, because there is no dirt.

Trump did not do this for any other candidate, and is in fact actively campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Only Joe scares him. Why? He knows Joe will kick his ample ass from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. Not only that, but after all the Hunter Biden stuff, Joe is now personally invested in seeing Trump and his minions pay for their crimes.

…and so does Putin.

The Russians supported Trump’s gambit in Ukraine. Their bots spread deza to help Trump—and also to help Bernie. This indicates that Putin would rather not see a Joe Biden presidency. It scares the shit out of him. And it should. To a large degree, Barack Obama Neville Chamberlained Vladimir Putin. Biden won’t make the same mistake.

Democrats, unite!

As I wrote last week, Joe Biden is the Democratic Establishment that Bernie Sanders keeps railing against. You can see it in the way the other (actual) Democrats have endorsed him heading into Super Tuesday: Mayor Pete, Amy, Beto, Harry Reid, and plenty more on the way. (Bernie, meanwhile, has the endorsement of the fractious “Squad,” Marianne Williamson, Michael Moore, and the mayor of New York that no one likes). Biden’s Administration will draw from the most talented group of politicians on earth. He will appoint top people to the positions, not hapless schmucks like Ric Grenell and Betsy DeVos, then sit back like Captain Kirk and let them do their thing. And it will be awesome.

Age is just a number.

Joe Biden is old, yes. Too old for the job, in a perfect world. But in his case, it’s okay, because, again, he will have the best and the brightest—the actual best and the brightest, not the ironical best and brightest like the Halberstam book—in all the key positions, including VP. If something happened to Joe and he had to step down, or, God forbid, he died in office, his Administration would continue his work. Whereas if something happened to a President Bernie Sanders, who would take his place? Susan Sarandon?

But the debates…

Look, Biden is not the fanciest talker. He never was. He overcame a wicked boyhood stutter, and that affects his ability to articulate himself in a debate setting. But it’s easy to tell, if you watch the expressions on his face and listen to the words he’s saying, that he knows his shit. Trump won’t dare debate him anyway.

And the other negatives…

I don’t like the Anita Hill stuff. I don’t like the handsiness. I don’t like that he’s run for president a few times before and never gotten this far. I don’t like that he’s yet another old white man. But I will take any of these things over Trump. Bernie’s negatives are far, far worse than Biden’s, as I’ve detailed previously—and that’s just the stuff we know about; Bernie will get crushed in the general, which is why literally every Trump surrogate is supporting his campaign:

This is not the time to get cute or apply purity tests. The Democratic primary is like in the old days, when Blockbuster was still a thing and “streaming” was what urine did in the men’s room, and the whole family went to the video store together to pick out a movie to watch. No one got the film they really wanted; what was rented was the video they could all agree on, the one that could satisfy the most important demands of the entire family. Joe Biden is that video rental.

Is Joe my first choice? No. He’s likely not yours, either. But he’s the best choice, the only choice, for this moment in history. Vote Joe.

Photo credit: Phil Roeder. Vice President Joe Biden holds an event with voters in the gymnasium at McKinley Elementary School in Des Moines, where he addressed a number of issues including the recent escalation with Iran. Iowa member of Congress Abby Finkenauer was also on hand to announce her endorsement of Biden.

Susan Sarandon is a still shot from Rocky Horror Picture Show.