Even though we're still two years away from the 2016 presidential election, Joe Biden's friends in the Senate — people he's known, worked with, campaigned for, and schmoozed with for years — already have a preferred Democratic candidate. It's not him.
As Politico noted Thursday, not one single Senate Democrat has publicly encouraged Biden to run for president. The next best thing would be to say nothing and not endorse anyone this early, but most Democrats have already backed Clinton. Although both served time in the Senate, Biden was a Delaware senator for over thirty years and Clinton was only New York senator for eight. But seniority doesn't always count for loyalty, as was demonstrated when Clinton lost the nomination to an even less senior senator, President Obama. But friendship is fickle and fleeting, or as Biden's friend Sen. Debbie Stabenow put it, “I think the vice president is terrific, but I think it’s Hillary’s time."
Even Sen. Tom Carper, also from Delaware, isn't quite ready for Biden. The closest he got was telling Politico, “I have supported everything he’s run for since I was a Delawarean, and I got there in 1973. And I am not going to speculate on what he’s going to do," and “I look forward to being part of any conversation that comes around."
Obviously, Biden will have to be his own friend. In the past few months he's been playing up his own competency for the job, stating that he would be "uniquely qualified" to be president thanks to his time in the White House, as he said in February on The View. And yet, Biden has an image problem. Clinton is so far ahead of him in the polls that his presidential posturing is seen as a joke. He himself is also seen as a walking, talking gaffe-machine, which hides his qualifications — including decades in the Senate, and extensive foreign policy knowledge.
A July 2013 GQ profile even tried to get to the bottom of why Biden isn't always taken seriously, particularly as a presidential candidate: "He is the most quietly effective politician in D.C. (Don't laugh.) ... So why is the man who could be the next president also the butt of so many jokes?"
Possibly because we can't reconcile the idea of someone being so down-to-earth personable — Biden's not the first or last person to call something a "big fucking deal" — and intelligent. "There's a sense that there's an inconsistency in being able to relate to people personally and being...innovative," Biden told GQ. "Being very...substantively informed. Put it that way." Hopefully, Biden won't take it personally if his friends think Clinton seems more substantively informed.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.