Home / General / Is Biden Running A Good Idea? (SPOILER: No.)

Is Biden Running A Good Idea? (SPOILER: No.)

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Joe-Biden

I’m guessing — hoping? — that the Joe Biden rumors are more slow-news-month smoke than fire. I do know that the idea still doesn’t make any sense.

First, as Tomasky notes, between the lack of a policy rationale and the late entry the primary effect of Biden mounting a primary campaign would be to amplify media narratives that the Clinton campaign is floundering, the email faux-scandal is a thing, etc. A late-entry vanity campaign would be much worse than if he entered the race on a normal timetable.

In fairness, as Jamelle Bouie points out, Biden does have a potential policy rationale:

In 1984, he worked with Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond and the Reagan administration to craft and pass the Comprehensive Control Act, which enhanced and expanded civil asset forfeiture, and entitled local police departments to a share of captured assets. Critics say this incentivizes abuse, citing countless cases of unfair and unaccountable seizures. In one case last February, Drug Enforcement Administration officers seized $11,000 in cash from a 24-year-old college student. They didn’t find guns or drugs, but they kept the money anyway.

In 1986, Biden co-sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which created new mandatory minimum sentences for drugs, including the infamous crack-versus-cocaine sentencing disparity. A crack cocaine user with only five grams would receive five years without parole, while a powder cocaine user had to possess 500 grams before seeing the same punishment. The predictable consequence was a federal drug regime that put its toughest penalties on low-level drug sellers and the most impoverished drug users.

Biden would also play an important role in crafting the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which strengthened mandatory minimums for drug possession, enhanced penalties for people who transport drugs, and established the Office of National Drug Control Policy, whose director was christened “drug czar” by Biden.

His broadest contribution to crime policy was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, commonly called the 1994 Crime Bill. Written by Biden and signed by President Clinton, it increased funds for police and prisons, fueling a huge expansion of the federal prison population. As journalist Radley Balko details in The Rise of The Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, it also contributed to the rapid growth of militarized police forces that used new federal funds to purchase hundreds of thousands of pieces of military equipment, from flak jackets and automatic rifles to armored vehicles and grenade launchers.

The “crime bill” also brought a host of new federal death penalty crimes, which Biden celebrated in his defense of the bill. “Let me define the liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” he said to Sen. Orrin Hatch, “The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties … the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 125,000 new state prison cells.”

[…]

Joe Biden, in other words, is the Democratic face of the drug war.

Yeah, that seems like a great idea in 2016.

As Bouie says, a Biden run would substantially tarnish his legacy, and while he wouldn’t win he could tarnish the Democratic nominee in the way that other rival campaigns wouldn’t. It’s a terrible idea.

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