2016 Elections

Joe Biden Is Out, But Not Down

The vice president's legacy will be his record of service. His thwarted presidential ambitions won't matter.

A lot left to do.

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Joe Biden perpetual trial balloon, more than six years in the making, finally popped today.

The is-he-in-or-is-he-out guessing game was starting to hurt the vice president's reputation, instead of enhancing his status within the party as the obvious choice if something happened to Hillary Clinton. 

We’ll probably never know just what he was thinking in the two months of mounting speculation since August. Maybe he was undecided until the last minute. Maybe he fully intended to announce his candidacy, but found there was little interest among voters or party actors. In any case, whatever he thought he was doing, he was running as Clinton’s understudy. And he’s probably locked up that job.

The Upshot's Nate Cohn gets it right: Clinton has again proven her strength within the party. I’d say that Biden was already solidly defeated last spring or earlier, when Clinton’s endorsement count started rising.

Biden clearly has wanted to be president, but the Democratic Party has never particularly been eager. Nevertheless, he was a first-rate senator for a long time, and a Practically Perfect Veep. These last few weeks, when people were impatient for a final announcement, will rapidly be forgotten and won’t affect his reputation. 

We remember presidents. And politicians who attempted to become president often are remembered for their loss (Hubert Humphrey, Bob Dole). That's wrong. A first-rate governor, senator or member of the House makes a huge difference to enormous numbers of citizens.

Joe Biden is no loser. He’s a hero of the republic.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net

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