Middle Class Joe? More A Carefully Crafted Campaign Slogan Than A Description Of Objective Reality

Written by on March 19, 2019

One of these guys works with his hands… and the other works for Wall Street


Writing for CNN over the weekend, David Gergen came up with a novel warning for Biden. who he asserted “must do much more than assemble a campaign team, match Bernie Sanders in micro-fundraising, and set off on the campaign trail. He must also offer a compelling rationale for why he wants to be president… So far, Biden hasn’t signaled what his clarion call will be… [W]hen he declares, Biden might break precedent by promising up front that he will serve for only a single term– ‘one and done’… Unlike other politicians who always seem grasping for power, Biden would have a credible argument that he is truly putting country first.” Biden, of course has always been the quintessential politician grasping for power for power’s– and ego’s– sake. He has no program for America, just for Joe Biden. The ultimate careerist.

I don’t know whether Gergen was a campaign advisor on the successful Warren G. Harding Back to Normalcy campaign or not, but it would have certainly been right up his alley and the premise is what attracts him to an empty suit like Status Quo Joe. Speaking for wealthy white people, “from my small corner of the country,” he wrote, “People want to go beyond getting rid of Trump but are not yet ready for epic new battles over a hard-left agenda. Rather, they are most eager to get the country back on track, restore civility and sanity to our lives and bring a healing to our people.” He wants Biden to “begin keeping a list of Republicans as well as Democrats who might join his administration– his own ‘team of rivals’ representing a variety of views and backgrounds. There is plenty of precedent for presidents reaching across the aisle to bolster their governing capacities.” He seemed especially excited about how JFK picked Ford Motor Company president Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War catastrophe, to run the newly renamed Department of Defense (after Robert Lovett, “architect if the Cold War,” turned him down).

It’s no secret to DWT readers that this is a progressive blog and a pro-Bernie blog. My feeling is that since FDR died, America has a series of mediocre presidents, some better than others, but no historically great. Bernie, I feel would be the change America craves– that transformational greatness we’ve muddled along without. I’d be perfectly happy with Elizabeth Warren as well. The rest… meh. Better than Trump, one and all. But what a low bar! The only credible nominee who I fear would make a predictably terrible president is Biden, something I have believed for 4 decades and something I’ve been endeavoring to explain all year. Monday morning, Marc Caputo and Holly Otterbein added to the No-Joe canon with a Politico piece that goes to Biden’s personal integrity, ‘Middle Class Joe’ Rakes In Millions. “‘Middle-Class Joe’ Biden has a $2.7 million vacation home. He charges more than $100,000 per speaking gig and has inked a book deal likely worth seven figures,” they wrote. Yes, he’s full of shit with his carefully crafted image as a lunch-pail Democrat, a working class guy the way Randy “IronStache” Bryce is a working class guy. Biden, Inc has an explanation though.

Since leaving office in 2017, the 76-year-old former vice president has watched his bank account swell as he continues to cultivate the image of a regular, Amtrak-riding guy. He’s repeatedly referred to himself as “Middle-Class Joe” on the campaign trail and in speaking engagements as he publicly mulls whether to run for president.

While his finances might be unexceptional by the standards of well-heeled Washington politicians, Biden is unique among the top Democratic presidential hopefuls because of his avowed distance from the upper class. It’s central to his political identity. But if Biden runs, his newfound wealth could give his Democratic and GOP opponents an opening to attack him as disingenuous, or at least less than advertised.

For Biden and his supporters, “middle class” isn’t so much a financial status as it is a state of mind, a sensibility that’s ingrained in his political DNA. In a party where voters have grown increasingly wary of income inequality, Biden’s use of the nickname functions as an us-vs-them foil that tells both middle- and working-class people he’s one of them, the little guys sneered at by the elites.

“I know I’m called Middle-Class Joe. It’s not meant to be a compliment. It means I’m not sophisticated. But I know what made this country what it is: ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Biden said in Kentucky last year, a refrain he’s used repeatedly for years, including when he floated a potential presidential run in 2017.

And Biden’s supporters argue there’s nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about his fatter bank account since he exited the public sector after almost 50 years.

Trumpanzee takes to Twitter to boost Biden Monday morning

Who would dare point out that his entire time in “public service” has been effectively serving the interests of Wall Street and corporate fat cats who have, in turn, served Biden and his family well? A quid pro quo? You bet your ass. Biden, Inc likes to claim that Biden’s “entire career has been dedicated to trying to make life easier for hardworking people in this country. The American people know that.” That’s a laugh and a half and the opposite of the truth. Caputo and Otterbein acknowledge that “Skeptics on the left see it differently.”

Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said Biden’s earnings on the speaking circuit and elsewhere reinforce his negatives as a Washington insider and deal-maker who cashed out once he left office. At least at the outset, the former vice president is expected to rely on a traditional network of big-money Democratic donors to bankroll his campaign more than his rivals, as opposed to an army of small-dollar givers.

“Joe Biden is the opposite of an outsider and the opposite of someone who will challenge big corporate and moneyed elites on many, many fronts. And his big money and speaking deals would be just the cherry on top of that larger totality of circumstances,” said Green, whose group supports Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “This would be an exacerbating data point in a larger story of him being the wrong person in a moment when people want someone to shake up the political establishment and take on corporate and wealthy elites.”

Democratic voters have grown increasingly concerned with vast income inequality; how to address it is a central issue in the nomination fight. But when it comes to the candidates’ own wealth, Biden’s primary opponents might have a hard time attacking him on his recent money-making ventures because many of them are wealthy themselves.

…Working-class white voters certainly didn’t hold Trump’s wealth against him in the 2016 election, and Biden’s supporters believe he’s the Democrat best able to win them back. They point to some polls showing Biden leading among whites and less-educated voters as well as the rousing support for him last week at the International Association of Fire Fighters union convention in Washington.

The union’s president, Harold Schaitberger, said Biden’s connection to working-class voters is undeniable because Biden– a Scranton, Pa., native– is genuinely middle class, regardless of how rich he is.

The International Association of Fire Fighters union is a relatively conservative union and in the last few years has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of Republican politicians like Kevin McCarthy (CA), Chris Collins (NY), Ron Johnson (WI), Peter King (NY), Steve Stivers (OH), Fred Upton (MI), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Mike Bost (IL), Dean Heller (NV), Dan Donovan (NY), Greg Walden (OR), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Jeff Denham (CA), Tom Cole (OK), Rodney Davis (IL), Paul Cook (CA), David Joyce (OH), John Katko (NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)… And of course, lots of shit Blue Dogs and corporate Dems– from Jeff Van Drew, Kyrsten Sinema, Dan Lipinski, Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Anthony Brindisi to Joe Crowley’s campaign against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Perfect for Biden– and another stain on Obama’s legacy.

Better than Trump!


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