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Assault on America, Day 425: Bloviating Biden wins one for the ruling class in South Carolina

Joe Biden South Carolina
It took about four weeks longer than he originally anticipated, but Joe Biden finally got his initial Democrat primary win in South Carolina on Saturday. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting (finally, they got the count right!), Biden received 48.4%, Bernie Sanders took second with 19.9%, Tom Steyer finished third with 11.3% and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg ended up in fourth with 8.2%. Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar were fifth and sixth with 7.1% and 3.1% respectively.

In a place that often rotates between picking prospective outsiders (Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama) and siding with the establishment favorite (Hillary Clinton (2016) and John McCain), the Palmetto State’s voters opted for the ultimate establishmentarian this time around, a man who’d been summarily rejected in locales with decidedly more emphasis on “retail politics” and candidates that related to them on a personal level.

Not South Carolina. As one of the original thirteen colonies (and arguably the last one to consent to breaking away from Great Britain) and the epicenter of anti-union fever in the antebellum south, South Carolina exhibits an independent spirit all its own. Politics observers note that the state rarely reflexively follows the lead of the other early voting states – probably because they have so little in common. This year Palmetto State Democrats went for the safe bet mostly because they expressed misgivings about the electability of the race frontrunner (Bernie Sanders), not due to undying allegiance to Biden. The man is the ultimate default choice.

And to think, just a few weeks ago poor Joe’s presidential aspirations were left for dead. But then Democrats started getting really, really terrified of Bernie Sanders ending up as their nominee and suddenly a little life was breathed back into Biden’s down-for-the-count campaign. Two angrier-than-heck debate performances and a bunch of campaign events later and the swampy establishment finally received some good news!

It had long since been argued that South Carolina’s large African-American Democrat population would boost Barack Obama’s vice president and right-hand man, and they came through when the situation called for it. Back slappin’, pearly white tooth grinnin’, hair sniffin’, nude swimmin’, everyone’s favorite good guy Biden was on the ropes and his firewall held. Praise be!

The question now turns to whether Biden can capitalize on his newfound momentum or if South Carolina is just a one-time anti-Bernie flash-in-the-pan. Even before the state’s Democrats voted, the intra-party freak-out was in high gear. David M. Drucker reported at The Washington Examiner the other day, “Bernie Sanders is causing the Democratic establishment acute heartburn, with many party regulars worried the socialist Vermont senator is throwing away a golden opportunity to defeat President Trump.

“As Sanders, 78, has cemented front-runner status in the Democratic primary, veteran party operatives, prominent liberal figures, and elected officials are sounding the alarm. It’s not unlike the Republican establishment's freakout as Trump barreled toward the GOP nomination four years ago. Top Democrats warn that Sanders would lose to the president and would be a disaster for the party down the ticket…

“’Last night, on CNN, Bernie Sanders called me a political hack. … That’s exactly who the f--- I am! I am a political hack! I am not an ideologue. I am not a purist. He thinks it’s a pejorative. I kind of like it! At least I’m not a communist.’ James Carville, Democratic strategist, former adviser to President Bill Clinton in The Hill, Feb. 13, 2020.”

Drucker’s piece includes quotes from twenty-four Democrats ranging from senators and congressmen to pundits and local party leaders, all openly deliberating whether nominating Sanders would be a mistake inviting an inevitable disaster. As I was reading the opinions it struck me this is exactly the same type of apprehension establishment Republicans and some conservatives conveyed about Trump’s taking over of the GOP four years ago.

Therefore, the opinions of the “experts” should be taken with a hefty grain of salt. Or a lot of grains of salt. Whatever makes skepticism taste better as it travels down your throat.

We haven’t yet reached Super Tuesday and already this Biden hype seems destined to be short-lived. First and foremost among the worries is the candidate himself. While many pundits offered kind words of encouragement regarding Biden’s public persona, beneath his less than polished exterior remains a candidate who’s struggling to draw crowds and the people he does attract usually appreciate him only because of his perceived electability prowess vis-à-vis Trump. The man thinks there are “at least three” genders. Enough said.

Compared with the man he served under for eight years, Barack Obama, Biden displays little of the same “wow” factor that once had MSNBC’s Chris Matthews feeling a thrill up his leg. Watching Biden speak and listening to his words you get the sense he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about in the moment and his limited intellectual capacity is constantly in catch-up mode with his overly active oral sound machine. The longtime Delaware senator, for example, tossed out a stat (that 150 million Americans have died from gun violence in the past thirteen years) in last week’s debate that drew comment and note from conservatives but his fellow candidates – and the program’s “moderators” didn’t bother refuting the glaring overstatement.

It’s almost like people feel so sorry for Joe that they don’t ever doubt the underlying bases of his arguments. He’s all in his head, right? Like a mentally slipping aged relative at the Thanksgiving dinner table or a spoiled child in need of stern discipline, Biden rambles and people wonder, ‘is this true or is he just making an idiot of himself again?’

Secondly, South Carolina’s demographics aren’t exactly commensurate with a typical blue state. The southeastern sunny bastion draws thousands of northern retiree transplants every year, and of course contains a large African-American population. Older white voters and black voters are the ones most loyal to the stodgy Democrat establishment. Don’t forget, Hillary Clinton won South Carolina by forty-seven points over Sanders in 2016. Hillary’s big victory came after barely squeaking past “The Bern” in Iowa and getting drubbed by the Green Mountain State socialist in New Hampshire four years ago.

Bernie didn’t prevail in a single South Carolina county in 2016, which basically indicates Clinton enjoyed a wide cross-section of support whereas Sanders’ was a niche candidate.

One could even make the argument that Biden’s 2020 tally was unimpressive and lackluster by comparison to Hillary’s. If anything, perhaps Sanders can take heart that his not-so-solid south is starting to warm to his kooky “free stuff for everyone” and “Trump’s a racist” agenda. After all, he still managed an uncontested second-place finish and his percentage total was only six points less than four years ago when it was just him and ‘ol Crooked Hill to choose from. This year’s field is much larger and the leftwing vote is split between “The Bern,” Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren and loony climate change nutcase billionaire Tom Steyer, who blanketed South Carolina with ads and pandered to black voters as though it were still the Jim Crow 1950’s.

Steyer again failed to win a delegate in South Carolina and dropped out. Anyone gonna miss him?

There’s no way the old south’s liberals like Fritz Hollings would ever get behind a man like Bernie Sanders (of course Hollings died about a year ago). Joe Biden’s probably shaken the hand of every potential establishment voter in South Carolina. No wonder he won big there.

Thirdly, Biden’s main competition wasn’t even on the ballot in South Carolina. Billionaire latecomer Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden don’t really have all that much in common but they do compete in the rapidly evolving not-Bernie lane and grovel for establishment support. The other so-called “moderates” completely flamed-out on Saturday. Palmetto staters didn’t buy into the spiels of frat-boy-looking Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, which seems to indicate there was a consolidation around Biden as the not-Bernie choice.

This certainly won’t hold in other places where the demographics aren’t as favorable to Joe as they were in South Carolina. “Mayor Pete” is certainly struggling after great results in Iowa and New Hampshire a few weeks back, but he’s likely to receive a reasonable share of young voters and other “woke” hipsters and isn’t as saddled as Biden with an aura of over-the-hill-ism.

Though it’s not exactly a straight-up valid comparison, Donald Trump won South Carolina with a little less than a third of the vote in 2016 with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz virtually tying for second place, both with over twenty-two percent of the vote. The Republican field was much stronger from top-to-bottom, which, again, suggests Biden should have done even better there.

Lastly, Bernie shouldn’t worry too much about the South Carolina setback. His supporters are much more solid behind him than Biden’s and they back him because he’s consistent (yes, in socialism) and “authentic.” Joe is neither of these things, and the lack of intense feelings towards the establishment favorite will rear its ugly head sooner rather than later. Super Tuesday is on the doorstep…and it ain’t looking pretty for Biden. Sanders’ “bros” will be even more determined now.

Joe just doesn’t have anything but his name and resume propping up his candidacy. Mass hysteria over the up-until-now nothingburger coronavirus has done more damage to Trump’s reelection chances than anything the Democrats could’ve possibly inflicted in a million days of campaigning. Unfounded fright over a potential (but not likely) outbreak of pandemic disease has weighed down the otherwise robust economy (as revealed by the stock market crash), and people are even starting to talk about a possible recession because folks are so scared.

It’s almost as though Democrats are behind the nationwide overreaction, but you can’t help but think they shot their cannons a little early. By November no one will be talking about the coronavirus, the economy will have recovered and the Democrats will be stuck offering Bernie Sanders – or Biden – as their nominee.

South Carolina at least made Biden semi-viable again. But it seems his best hope at this point is to force a brokered convention and win with the support of the hated (by the grassroots) superdelegates. It won’t be pretty.

For their part, Republicans appear to love the rise of Sanders and its political possibilities. David M. Drucker (again) reported at The Washington Examiner, “The rise of Democratic contender Bernie Sanders has top House Republicans optimistic the party will recapture the majority this November, and they have their fingers crossed he will seize the nomination.

“The Republican Party lost the House in 2018 amid heavy defections from key voting blocs dissatisfied with President Trump. With Sanders emerging as the Democratic front-runner this month, House Republican leaders are convinced the GOP is now poised to win back the chamber. In interviews Thursday, they characterized the socialist Vermont senator as a virtual panacea for nearly every political challenge the party faces heading into the fall, and his success is helping them whether he gains the nomination or not.”

In two words, yes and no. Yes, Sanders’ presence would help GOPers make their case as the election’s not-Bernie choice, but if party leaders don’t eagerly adopt and support the winning Trump platform (especially the more popular immigration planks), then they could easily blow the election.

Let’s not forget Sanders will bring his own brand of voter enthusiasm to the fall campaign. Republicans must nationalize the election on issues, not use “The Bern” as a crutch and an excuse to mount a content-free “safe” effort. That’s a ticket to disaster… it would be Mitt Romney, 2012, all over again.

Joe Biden will no doubt enjoy his South Carolina victory, but he shouldn’t get cocky. Super Tuesday looms large on the horizon and his prospects don’t look nearly as promising in the days ahead. The Democrat presidential race is more confused than ever, and the Palmetto State only made it worse.

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