Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Obama and Biden Speak as One (updated)

In the midst of rampant "Biden will run" speculation on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, a lot of pundits pointed to the fact that Obama and Biden were having lunch together on Tuesday - as they always do - and that the specter of whether or not the Vice President would run was likely to be discussed.

Watching President Obama stand alongside VP Biden during his announcement today, I tend to think that they were right. I suspect that the two of them planned - not only the timing - but the substance of what Biden would say. That's because Biden's speech was quintessential Obama. And yes, that goes for his remarks at about 6:06 when he talks about the need to end divisive partisan politics in this country.

I believe that we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart. And I think we can. It's mean spirited, it's petty, and it's gone on for much too long. I don't believe, like some do, that it's naive to talk to Republicans. I don't think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition. They're not our enemies. And for the sake of the country, we have to work together.

As the president has said many times, compromise is not a dirty word. But look at it this way folks, how does this country function without consensus? How can we move forward without being able to arrive at consensus? Four more years of this kind of pitched battle may be more than this country can take. We have to change it. We have to change it.
That was a warning shot directed at Hillary Clinton who, in the Democratic debate, called the Republicans her "enemies." It was also directed at Bernie Sanders who has repeatedly suggested that it is "naive" to talk to Republicans.

I'm sure that both Obama and Biden will endorse Clinton once she is nominated and they'll campaign all-out for her election. But the message is clear...don't get into the gutter with Republican divisiveness. Instead, present the American people with an alternative that takes the high ground.

I know this is something that disturbs a lot of people on the left. But Biden is suggesting that the only way to end this ugliness is for one Party to heed the words Barack Obama penned about 10 years ago.
I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate...

Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will. This is more than just a matter of "framing," although clarity of language, thought, and heart are required. It's a matter of actually having faith in the American people's ability to hear a real and authentic debate about the issues that matter.
It's also about allowing the American people to clearly identify the cause of our polarization - Republicans who are intent on demonizing the opposition - and to ensure that they have an alternative in Democrats who stayed above the fray.


  1. I understand what they're saying but the problem is Hillary has seen it and experienced it firsthand. They're already talking about impeaching her on Day 1 if she gets elected. All the outreach and the result is a more radicalized Republican party. HRC is saying if you want to play that way then by all means let's roll. Not saying it's right but you tend to get leery when every time you put out your hand the other side tries to rip it off.

    1. It's an erosion of your own power to let Republicans dictate your strategy.

    2. She's not but she won't be buffaloed either. HRC has seen that movie too many times. If they're serious about working together fine. If not she's willing to battle it out.

  2. "That was a warning shot directed at Hillary Clinton who, in the Democratic debate, called the Republicans her "enemies.""

    Did you notice that it was immediately preceded by a warning shot directed at Bernie? The part where he said, "I don't believe, as some do, that it's naive to talk to Republicans."

    1. I just updated with the transcript and your excellent point about it also being directed to Sanders.