Will Anyone Call Joe Biden on His Bullshit?


Bidenapalooza is due to start any day now, according to Axios. It’s Bidenmania, folks; everyone is preparing for Bidenmentum.

Mike Allen, the site’s founder and a notorious hack, has a “scoop” this morning describing what Biden’s message will be. (I do not think you should be allowed to call a scoop anything that the campaign in question would clearly want to be public.)

What is that message?

What he’ll say: Biden will spell out the stakes for the country, and talk about what kind of people we’re going to be. He’ll emphasize the kind of politics he’s running against, and what kind of leadership the moment calls for.

This is almost entirely meaningless. This is a description of what all campaign announcement speeches do. In many ways, it is a description of all political rhetoric. Mike Allen has published the Wikipedia page for “politics.”

Anyway, the important point is that Joe Biden is coming, bitches, and you all better be ready to saddle up and step aside for the anointed frontrunner. But, as the New York Times points out, there will be some challenges. First, getting into the race kind of late (April 2019 should not be late!) means he’s behind on money, and Biden is already “not previously known as a prolific fund-raiser.” According to the paper, Biden would have to raise “more than $100,000 every day until Christmas just to match” what Bernie Sanders had in the bank at the start of April.

How is Biden going to make up this massive deficit against the candidate who’s been running slightly behind him in early polls? With big donor money. This presents another challenge, which the Times characterizes as “dueling imperatives” at a time when other candidates are swearing off big money entirely:

The dueling imperatives were apparent in Mr. Biden’s activity in the last week. He rallied striking union workers near Boston on Thursday, proclaiming, “Wall Street bankers and C.E.O.s did not build America — you built America!” At the same time, he has been setting up calls with influential political contributors, according to a person familiar with his activity.

You could call this “dueling imperatives,” or you could call it being two-faced, or just lying. You might even say it’s more accurate to say that Joe Biden is telling striking workers he’s their friend while taking money from, and therefore being beholden to, the class of people oppressing them.

According to Axios, Biden’s first fundraiser will be with David Cohen, the executive vice president of and principal lobbyist for Comcast. Comcast is one of America’s most hated companies, and for good reason. It represents everything that sucks for the modern consumer-citizen, for whom things like internet or TV access are extremely basic necessities, but who are usually given the option of purchasing it from just one or two companies. In many places, including in my apartment, Comcast is literally the only choice for internet service; in other areas of the country, another company dominates. If you don’t like your cable provider, you have to keep it anyway. They raise rates after an arbitrary point of time; they charge way too much to begin with. If you call to find out why your internet is out or your TV channels are disappearing, the customer service is terrible, and everyone who works for them is probably miserable, too, dealing with irate customers.

Not for nothing, Comcast also supports many terrible policies that no one likes, including ending net neutrality and repealing broadband privacy protections. Not to mention, cable companies also generally treat their workers poorly.

Comcast sucks. Everyone hates Comcast. And Joe Biden is going to kick off his presidential campaign by begging for their money. This is not a “dueling imperative” with his pretense of worker solidarity. This is a betrayal of regular people, though no one expected anything different from him.

And it’s not just going to be Comcast; it’s going to be hundreds of people who got rich off exploiting and underpaying their workers, or by investing in those companies and whose financial interests lie in those companies being able to continue to do that. Some of those donors, according to Biden, will literally be “major Republican folks.”

This is not just a matter of hypocrisy. It is a fundamental decision about whose dollars and whose influence and whose interests will drive your campaign, and therefore your presidency. This is the question you’re answering when you choose to power your campaign with big donor money and not swear it off in favor of regular people: Who am I for?

Will anyone put it to him this way? Would anyone in the media who has a chance to interview Joe Biden actually ask him about the fundamental conflict between representing the interests of workers and taking money from the class that oppresses them? You might get a Chuck Todd asking him whether it’s Bad Optics to salute workers and take money from big donors at the same time, if you’re lucky. But it’s not just optics; it’s the whole ballgame.

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