Political Animal


January 10, 2013 4:54 PM Ezra’s Case for Biden ‘16

By Ed Kilgore

At Ten Miles Square, Ezra Klein has noticed something that a lot of early 2016 handicappers haven’t quite digested: Joe Biden is in the news an awful lot these days. He reportedly brokered the “fiscal cliff” deal that Republicans are now attacking as a Waterloo for their party, and he’s the point man in a campaign against gun violence that more Americans are probably following than anything to do with fiscal policy.

As Ezra documents, Biden’s old-school charm may seem un-cool, but it works in a Washington environment full of very un-cool people whose idea of a hipster is Paul Ryan. It’s still not obvious that these qualities will translate well to the campaign trail against big-time competition (notably you know who). It didn’t work much magic in 2008. But he’s right: Biden shouldn’t be written off too early:

Don’t laugh when you hear that Biden wants to run for president. Biden is one of the most successful vice presidents in history, and one of the most successful politicians of a very difficult era. He may sometimes make himself a punch line, but he has the record of a heavyweight.
Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on January 10, 2013 5:12 PM:

    From here in 2013, if Hillary doesn't run a Biden v. Christie race is a real possiblity. My only concern is Joe is getting a little long in the tooth. Nothing ages a politician like being elected President.

  • Mimikatz on January 10, 2013 5:16 PM:

    Having had a couple of serious health scares I can fully understand Hillary Clinton deciding she would like to take it easy and enjoy being a grandmother. The same is true for Biden as with Hillary--I could support him if he picked a politically talented and competent person as VP who wpuld step in after Joe served one term. But basically I think we need to have some fresh faces in the Dem presidential race. And most of all I'd like to see a little more time elapse in Obama's second term before we spend too much time on what will happen in 2016. Remember that gripping race between Hillary and Rudy Giuliani in 2005-7?

  • Daryl McCullough on January 10, 2013 5:19 PM:

    I don't want to be "age-ist" but Biden will be 74 in 2016. That's 5 years older than the oldest person (Reagan) elected President for the first time.

  • Peter C on January 10, 2013 5:24 PM:

    We have 3 years before this is an important topic; let's fight todays battles today and worry about future problems in the future. I expect that in 2016 I'll prefer the democrats who have acted like democrats between now and then. I like Joe. I like Hillary. I hope to like them both in 2016.

  • mb on January 10, 2013 5:52 PM:

    I'd be thrilled to be able to vote for Biden in 2016. I think he'd make a great president.

  • jjm on January 10, 2013 5:58 PM:

    Well, I admire, respect and TRUST Joe Biden. I'd be a 'yea' vote.

  • c u n d gulag on January 10, 2013 5:58 PM:

    Hell, 74 ain't old, in the early part of the 21st Century.

    Just like, 30 years ago, 69 wasn't old for Reagan, in the latter quarter of the 20th.

    We're talking about well paid, well-cared for medically and psychologically, elite and pampered, politicians.

    Hell, both of those guys are younger, in retrospect, than Abe Lincoln or General Grant - and only slightly older than Teddy, when he ran as the Bull Moose cadidate in 1912.

  • Matt on January 10, 2013 8:05 PM:

    c u n d gulag:

    It's true that life expectancies have increased dramatically since the birth of the Republic, but the length of time people are "vital," for lack of a better word, has not gone up nearly so much.

    I'm not saying Biden is going to be in his dotage come 2016. But he'd be in his 80s in his second term. That really does mean something in terms of your ability to take in new information, process it, deal with stress, think creatively, and all the rest. Neither Biden nor anyone else is immune to that change, anymore than anyone avoids going through emotional and intellectual changes during puberty.

    Biden's successes as a VP have come as a policy-wrangler and a smiling face for the cameras, which are skills he's practiced for his entire adult life. (Remember, he was first elected to the Senate with a few days to spare on the minimum age requirement.) He's doing well at a job he's extremely well adapted to. Obama's job is very different in many ways from anything Biden has ever tried his hand at.

  • Anonymous on January 10, 2013 10:33 PM:

    I really like Joe. I say go for it, Joe!! If he commits to a single term (he will be 74-78), and he is in the same shape as he is now, I see no reason why he cannot run.

    I would like to hear an honest assessment from his wife, of course, and if we do, we will know that pigs are flying.

    Biden-Hickenlooper 2016

  • ajay on January 11, 2013 4:35 AM:

    Hell, 74 ain't old, in the early part of the 21st Century.

    It wasn't that old even in the mid-20th century - Churchill was 70 when he became prime minister in 1940. He had a couple of health scares over the next few years, but it's generally thought that he did OK. Jean-Parisot de la Valette, grand master of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, was 70 when he commanded the defence of Malta - and no one's going to be asking Joe Biden to stand up on the ramparts of a besieged castle in full plate armour in 100-degree weather swinging at the heads of his enemies with a two-handed sword.

    Though, admittedly, if he wanted to it would be fairly awesome.

  • T2 on January 11, 2013 9:11 AM:

    if not an aging Biden or an aging Hillary, who? Who's in the wings? No name pops into my mind. And Democrats need to fix that now...get some names out there.