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« Jared Kushner: Whiz Kid of cretinism | Main | Biden's refreshing announcement »

April 24, 2019


Peter G

I have had occasion to point out the same things about Biden's positions over the years. They were, on the whole, the popular positions at the time they were held. Where you see presentism displayed in its full glory is on new social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram which are largely the provinces of the 'woke' youth. Who, as it happens and as you point out with Buttigieg, were not actually present at the time Joe was doing his thing. (I think Buttigieg, parenthetically, is very much like a young Biden. So much that so I included the parentheses.)

Which is why that stat I mentioned the other day about the age of the average Democratic voter is so relevant. They were present for most if not all of Biden's career and have a much more informed opinion about it. They also happen to be the most reliable Democratic voters.

Presentism, in my opinion,is a much heavier burden for the younger candidates than one might think. Especially when it forces them to transit the minefields of very divisive issues. I am thinking of candidates like Gillibrand here, who sought to ride a wave that broke the wrong way.


Von Drehle is wildly uneven in his columns; one minute brilliant, the next an idiot. The attacks from the left on the 1994 Crime Bill are wildly dishonest. Back then, the crime rate was twice what it is today. The murder rate was twice then as well. Not only did the Congressional Black Caucus endorse this bill, so did Bernie Sanders and the Council on Mayors (among many others). The Crime Bill did not contribute to the rise in incarcerations - that happened on the State level.

Ed Doerr

Is it not valid to question the positions of a candidate who said "me-too" to positions which were popular in the moment, but which proved to be misguided and/or counter-productive? I would say that doing so is not only valid, but even necessary.

Was it not valid, in 2008, for Barack Obama to campaign against Hillary Clinton based on her support for the Iraq War, when, at the time of her vote, it was considered politically suicidal to oppose it, and it was the "popular" position, supported by by 90% of the electorate? I would say that Americans were fortunate that the better, and somewhat wiser, candidate prevailed in that contest, and that voters preferred the candidate whose stated views proved correct in the long run, over one whose view were popular at the time, but proved incontrovertibly disastrous.

I don't remember for a fact, but I would be willing to bet, without looking it up, that Joe Biden also voted in favor of our Iraq adventure, just another in what I would also bet is a long, long, laundry list of mistaken positions that Biden has taken over the course of a career that certainly has been very long, and for the most part, honorable. Is it reasonable to expect that journalists would overlook these mistakes, or to think for even a minute that it is a possibility that the GOP will cooperate in the same manner?

If the election of Trump means anything, I think, it means that voters are sick to brink of death of finger-to-the-wind politics and politicians. I would argue that we Dems court disaster by serving up to them another heaping portion of the same...especially one who will be 78 years old by the time he would take office.


I don't disagree with you on much of the above, but I think what made Obama's argument against Clinton so powerful was that he himself had written an op ed opposing the war when it was not the politically favorable position to take. I think some of what PM is saying is that it's too easy for others to criticize many of Biden's past choices when they weren't around at that time.

Peter G

Absolutely valid, necessary and inevitable. In fact that is why Obama chose to run with very limited experience in the federal level of government. His advisors were right, the longer you stay in the more history and votes you accumulate that can be used against you. It was a risky thing for him to take the risk of running when he did. But I am ever so glad he did so. You will not catch me making the argument against youth and inexperience ever again. That does not prevent me from making the argument for experience.

I would disagree about your last paragraph. Trump is nothing but a finger to the wind politician. He is a demagogue devoid of understanding of anything and reckless of consequences. The winds that guided him came from the direction of a landfill. He appealed to baser instincts pretty much exclusively, in particular, racism with a large side order of sexism. You can certainly argue that Biden is too old but then Bernie would be in that class too. And I doubt very many of the hoard of Democratic candidates would dare make that argument themselves. They need those reliable voters too.

Ed Doerr

I understand your point, and PM's. But what you both say also illustrates my main issue with Joe Biden, the 2020 presidential candidate. That is, that I, too, am too young to remember all of Biden's positions as a politician...and I'm 70!

Biden had the chance to run in 2016, when he was 74, but he didn't do it. His running in this cycle makes no sense to me, except maybe if I step back and view the presidency as some sort of lifetime achievement award. That didn't work for Mondale, it didn't work for Dole, and it didn't work for Clinton.

I think that as the campaign wears on, Joe will lose appeal, especially among voters under 40, who we need to be stoked to get to the polls in droves in November to vote up and down the state ballots for Dems.

I simply think that Obama/Biden nostalgia will wane as Joe's gaffes mount up, as I think it predictable that they will. It may be that enough voters are horrified by Trump that any old Dem pol will win, but I'd rather we not test that theory...a theory that absolutely tanked in 2016.

If we Dems can't turn the page on the Clinton/Gore/Biden era, and offer a candidate that looks to be a better fit for the 21st century, we will deserve whatever we get.

Ed Doerr

In past comments, I already have placed Bernie in the "too old" class with Biden. I do recognize, however, that he has built quite a following, especially among the young, starting from Nowheresville about four years ago. That, coupled with his winning performance on Fox last week, which I watched, compels me to keep the door open for him just a crack (but no more).

It is my most sincere hope that someone emerges from the pack of Buttigieg, Harris, Booker, or even Warren (she's in her late 60s, I know, she but doesn't look or act it, and she came late to the political game). Please forgive me if I've forgotten someone.

I had early hopes for O'Rourke, but he seems too much the cheerleader, and lacks the heft for national leadership, I think. The rest seem like vanity candidates, or to be auditioning for VP. (Castro comes to mind...and he wouldn't be all that bad a choice, I'm tempted to think.)

But, the first primary voting is a long way off, and buckets of blood will flow under the bridge between now and then, and these thoughts are nothing more than sausage talk among politics junkies (none hooked more hopelessly than myself).


We are seeing articles from neurologists surface, who argue that not only are Biden and Sanders too old, so is Warren. (And it seems the only really successful President, although not recognized at the time, who did well becoming President in his sixties is Harry Truman.)

To Peter's point, Obama had limited federal experience - but he still brought an unusually strong CV for a 47 year-old, starting with a very worldly childhood (including being raised in part by his Kansas Republican grandparents); became the first African-American Editor of the Harvard Law Review (and not because of his race: he was the one classmate universally trusted among the factions); Rahm Emmanuel notes how his experience as a community organizer in a notably tough city served him well in later years; Professor of Law at the University of Chicago for 12 years; a successful State Senator where he was credible among both Democrats and Republican; a successful, thoughtful author.


Sanders was extremely impressive on Fox. I'm no fan but have to hand it to him, and he is generally running a smart campaign (David Sirota's appointment and some others notwithstanding) I do worry about him winning the nomination and then losing in the general.


I never hear anyone mention that Trump would be 75 when he would start his second term. I wonder why that is? Is three years really the difference between acceptable and too old?


As this horror show drags on and the probability of 4 more years of Trump increases, I'm more and more convinced that Democrats should focus on elect-ability rather than who could best govern. Age is a factor in the former for sure, but polling is valuable despite its failings in 2016 and if it points to Biden for the nomination, it would be insane to nominate anyone else. "Sleepy Joe" can use his executive time to nap. I'm totally OK with that. I'm sure he'll pick an experienced and razor sharp cabinet and veep to guide the tough decisions.

Ed Doerr

First, let us agree that nowhere did I state or imply any support whatever for Trump.

The first reason I have not mentioned Trump's age is the orientation of my audience, which I can reasonably assume is pretty solidly anti-Trump.

The second reason, and the main reason, is that his age is far, far, down the long list of all the excellent reasons not to vote for Trump. So far down the list, in fact, that his age doesn't even rate a mention.

Peter G

Who could argue with that?


I do love his kickoff video:

This is no time for blowing sunshine up the electorate's butt. Get rid of Trump and save the sunshine and smiles for 2024.


Whoever wins the nomination will have earned it and therefore will have the wind and her / his back. I don't believe Joe is the only one who can beat Trump. There are a few others.

Ed Doerr

I just turned 70 last week (after months of dreading the day). I must say, Max, that I agree with the neurologists, whom I admit I have not read.

My memory is nowhere near as sharp as it was 15 years ago, for instance. Also long gone is my ability to place accurately sequences of events in time past. I cannot perform basic math in my head nearly as quickly or reliably as I did in years gone by.

These are just the first three things that come to mind via the most cursory self-reflection. Imagine the scope of deterioration that would be revealed if I were subjected to rigorous neurological examination! The potential findings are so horrific (to me), that I would never willingly allow it.

The simple fact is (and I really do think it is a fact) that we have absolutely no clue in April of 2019, which Democrat will be most "electable" in November of 2020. Never have long-range electoral predictions had less value than in recent years. That is the case, I would posit, due to the very many not-yet- fully understood vagaries of our electronic 21st century world, especially in the chaotic U.S.

Just as a for instance, when I was young, a "crisis" meant that our arch-enemy, the Soviets, was setting up nuclear capabilities within 100 miles of our shores, so we rolled up our sleeves, and prepared to join them, with some regret, in blowing the world off its axis. When that crisis was resolved, in about a week-and-a-half, we didn't have another crisis until a year later, when our president was assassinated.

Back in the old days, you see, a crisis was something really significant, events that an average man in the street could easily see the significance of. And in the 13 year period of 1962-74, we know in retrospect, the U.S. ping-ponged from crisis to crisis in a massive societal upheaval, the significance of which we really have yet to absorb fully, although we ceased even to think about it long ago.

Today, the notion of "crisis" has been greatly enfeebled. A "crisis" is whatever Trump, or whomever happens to be the POTUS, says is a crisis on any given day.

Why, just a few weeks ago, we had a terrible "crisis" at our southern border. Our national media descended on that dreary locale, where they stayed for days and days, providing us with constant up-to-the minute breathless reports on the developments, which had the potential to change America forever!

Then, something happened. The redacted Mueller Report happened. And everybody, especially the media, forgot all about the border crisis.

The border crisis was no longer a crisis, it seemed, even though it had not been resolved. Because now we had a bigger, better, new and improved, "constitutional" crisis, fraught with deeper significance than we inadequate citizens possibly could imagine.

In other words, a "crisis" has devolved into being just one more way to sell laundry detergent.

In this new reality, I think that neither Biden nor his candidacy will age well over the next two years. He has rendered good service, but it is time to make way for a new generation of Democratic leadership.

We need someone who contrasts markedly standing next to Trump. That contrast starts with visual contrast. Someone who looks young, vital, open to the future, inviting voters to partake of hope. We don't need someone who looks a lot like Trump, and invites journalists to make surface Tweedledee and Tweedledum comparisons, thus inviting voters to make a coin flip choice, or a choice based on partisanship, or simply to stay at home.

Which candidate that most likely is, I don't profess to know. About which candidate that most likely is not, I have a decidedly strong inkling.

Ed Doerr

In the category of "This Just In"...

Ed Doerr

Sorry, my link didn't work.


Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you did. That wasn't aimed at you. I'm not very blog-savvy so I don't know who I'm addressing or if I'm addressing anyone at all when I decide to throw in my 1 cent.


Happy Belated. '49 was a good year in terms of my circle of friends.

Ed Doerr

No problem.

Ed Doerr

Thank you. All good wishes are happily accepted.

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