I’m sure the Biden-for-President industry will spin this as “I’m still actively considering it,” but from the horse’s mouth came this less than stirring self-commentary:

“Can I do it? Can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment that we’d be proud to undertake in ordinary circumstances?” Biden told an audience of 2,000 people at an Atlanta synagogue Thursday night, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he gave on U.S. foreign policy. “The honest-to-God answer is I just don’t know.”

“If I can reach that conclusion and we can do it in a fashion that would still make it viable, I would not hesitate to do it,” he said. “But I have to be honest with you and everyone who’s come to me. I can’t look you straight in the eye and say now I know I can do it.”

“Unless I can go to my party and the American people and say that I am able to devote my whole heart and my whole soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate.”

This sure sounds to me like “If I had some ham I’d make a ham sandwich, if I had some bread.” When you make “no doubts” a condition for running in the same breath that you mention doubts, it logically means “no”–though with the door left open in case, say, the entire Democratic Establishment comes to your door later on the occasion of some currently unimaginable collapse of support for Hillary Clinton.

If I’m wrong in parsing Biden this way, I’m sure I will be corrected by the vast number of close friends in constant contact with the Veep that he seems to have acquired of late.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.