Despite multiple recent claims of inappropriate touching, and a career of regressive political positions, former Vice President Joe Biden has done the totally expected and announced he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for President.
The announcement came in the form of a video, which Biden, 76, tweeted out along with text that looks oddly careless for the occasion. It presages the design of his folksy, traditionalist campaign, the slogan of which is simply “Joe,” repurposed to look like an American flag. It’s simple, not scary, and American — American. Let that sink in. Anyone with a grandparent who texts will be familiar with the punctuation.
The video begins with an invocation of the violent white supremacist rallies and counterprotests that swarmed Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. President Donald Trump infamously said of the conflict that there were “very fine people on both sides.” Biden says in the video, “I knew the threat to our nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime.” He goes on at some length about how bad Trump is.
“I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen … Everything that’s made America America is at stake.”
It’s notable that Biden doesn’t discuss his record or his platform, opting instead to sell himself as not-Trump and draw unspoken comparisons between his presidential run and a stream of iconic images: the Statue of Liberty, a rally for women’s suffrage, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
While Biden entering the race is no surprise, it remains a deflating proposition. Just weeks ago the media cycle was ablaze with accusations from half a dozen women that Biden touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable. And Biden was already uninspiring enough as a candidate. He voted for the Iraq War and wrote the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which was a major contributor to the U.S.’s mass incarceration crisis, and then there’s his awful treatment of Anita Hill when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas — behavior he still hasn’t apologized for.
This is going to be a long two years.