Best I can tell, there are three possibilities about Joe Biden’s plans for 2016:

The first is that he’s made up his mind one way or the other and is for some reason delaying announcement of his decision to the breathlessly waiting media world.

The second is that he hasn’t made up his mind, but the variables that would affect his decision (e.g., Hillary Clinton’s general election head-to-head numbers in December) haven’t matured yet.

And the third is the one Margaret Talev of Bloomberg Politics suggests in the first sentence of her column today:

If Vice President Joe Biden was looking to the first Democratic presidential debate to fuel demand for him to jump in the race, Tuesday was not his night.

You get the sense it’s this possibility number three that the commentariat has almost universally adopted, which is why Biden keeps getting labeled a “loser” in last night’s proceedings. But what was the man supposed to do? Call a press conference just as the candidates were arriving at the Wynn? Hop a plane to Vegas himself?

From Talev’s account, it seems this last bizarre scenario was actually in the minds of many journalists yesterday:

Before the debate, a surprise Biden appearance had always been a far-fetched but tantalizing possibility: Would he hop aboard Air Force Two for a last-minute flight to Vegas and dramatically announce his 2016 plans in time to take part? CNN had let it be known it had a Biden podium in reserve just in case.

I think we are in the realm of science fiction here, folks.

In any event, the rush to write off Biden this morning is no more rational than the rush to deem him a candidate up until yesterday. I still think the vice president should speak for himself on the subject as soon as possible. But perhaps now the frenzy over blind quotes from Dick Harpootlian will abate for a while.

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.