Joe Biden’s Government of National Salvation?

Up until now I’ve been very skeptical of the talk about Joe Biden running for president, figuring it was the product of his “friends” who saw themselves as prime movers in a late-breaking campaign that would save the Democratic Party and the country. But if this suggestion from Carl Bernstein, as reported in Politico by Nick Gass, is somehow accurate, count me as an active opponent of Biden ’16:

“[O]ne thing that I keep hearing about Biden is that if he were to declare and say, because age is such a problem for him if he does, I want to be a one-term president. I want to serve for four years, unite Washington. I’ve dealt with the Republicans in Congress all my public life,” Bernstein told CNN’s “New Day.”

“I think there’s a conversation going on to that effect among his aides and friends,” he said. “It could light fire to the current political environment.

Now I can understand the one-term pledge as a way to avoid images of Ronald Reagan’s second term, since Biden will turn 78 in 2020. I mean, we can’t all be Jerry Brown.

But rationalizing this necessary concession to the Way of All Flesh as a prerequisite to some sort of party-straddling Government of National Salvation is a really bad idea. Given the experience of the last eight years, the premise, as Bernstein hints at, would have to be that Biden can cut deals with the GOP that Obama, for all of his rhetorical bipartisan in and beyond 2008, could not. Obama, after all, aimed at and largely failed to execute an appeal to grass-roots Republicans to force their leaders to come to terms with him. In Biden’s case, it would be all about Bipartisanship From the Top that would, as Bernstein puts it, “unite Washington.” Hell, he might as well choose Joe Lieberman as his running-mate and make Ron Fournier his communications director.

Now there’s still no reason to assume Biden will run, or that if he does he will go in this direction. But I’d feel better if he’d laugh it off. So go ahead and say it ain’t so, Joe!.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.