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Maggie Haberman Is Right about Joe Biden, But It's Completely Beside the Point

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 24, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 24, 2020 |


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A New York Times/Siena College poll out this morning is showing that Joe Biden holds a dominant lead over President Trump, four months ahead of the 2020 Presidential election. Nationwide, Biden is ahead of the President by a whopping 14 points, and holds a lead over Trump in most demographics, including both women and men, although he does trail Trump by one point among white men because we are the worst. A lot can change between now and November, but if this lead holds and there is no nefarious business, Biden should be able to win the election in commanding, runaway fashion.

But here’s the NYTimes’ Maggie Haberman, who is dead-set on orchestrating a horse race:

The key takeaway from that clip is “Joe Biden is still a very flawed candidate, and he’s running a very flawed campaign.” Here’s the thing: Haberman is right. It’s also completely beside the point.

Look: As bad as it was when Trump won in 2016, I think that initially progressives had some very Susan Sarandon energy around Trump’s victory, especially after the Women’s March, the protests to the Muslim ban, and the fight to save Obamacare. Progressives thought Trump would burn it all down, expose all of the evils that we as a country refused to acknowledge, and that in 2020, we could use the moment to finally rebuild the system from the ground up and get it right.

And then the Democratic Party nominated Joe Biden.

For progressives, I can’t imagine a more disappointing outcome to the Democratic primary. Progressives decide to burn it all down and rebuild it, and Democrats nominate a guy who basically represents the beams of the same old system. I got nothing against Biden personally — I mean, I do but it’s not insurmountable — but it’s a bit like the Star Wars franchise re-hiring J.J. Abrams, or bringing in Ron Howard, or how CBS replaced Letterman with Colbert and Craig Ferguson with James Corden. There were opportunities to make real changes, and they reverted to the mean.

That’s exactly what’s going on with Joe Biden. We had this amazing opportunity effect real change, and we decided to return to a guy who represents the very system that led to Trump’s election in the first place. As a progressive Warren supporter, I join progressive Bernie supporters in expressing disappointment in the Democratic party’s decision to nominate Toaster Biden.

But also, pass the f**king toast

All of which brings me back to Maggie Haberman: “Joe Biden is a very flawed candidate.” No shit, Maggie. But also, it’s not the point. We absolutely cannot repeat the mistakes of 2016 and create a false equivalence between a “flawed candidate” and a man who would use the military to tear gas peaceful protestors so that he can hold up a Bible for a photo op. Or a man who intentionally slows down testing during a pandemic to boost his own reelection prospects at the expense of thousands of lives, or a man who separates families and puts children in cages, or who accuses an elderly protestor knocked unconscious by policy of being a member of Antifa, or a President who was impeached for blackmailing a foreign leader (the list of Trump’s wrongs could obviously run 10,000 words).

Saying that Biden is a “very flawed candidate” is like saying, “Well, I know we have a serial killer running for President, but Biden sure has a lot of parking tickets. What a tough choice!” What are you doing, Maggie? I try not to be too cynical when it comes to the motives of reporters, but good god!, please do not try and use this election to sell newspapers, because that’s a very dangerous game to play. If Trump wins reelection, accountability is gone, and so will be the free press, one of the remaining vestiges of our eroding Democracy. Short of running David Duke against Trump, there are no equivalencies here. This is not a race between a Democrat and a Republican. It’s a race between a flawed human being and a supervillain.

As for progressives very real and very fair concerns about Joe Biden? I’ll just say this: He’ll listen. He can be persuaded. Put enough pressure on him, and he will effect change. If the left doesn’t throw its hands up in the air as we seemed to do during the Obama administration and, say, “Welp, good enough, I guess,” and return to Netflix, we could apply that same activist spirit we’ve maintained the last four years toward a system that has never been more malleable. The Women’s March, and the Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in a lot of local changes, but they just pissed off Trump. Imagine a President who is actually willing to hear them out?


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.


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