The Long National Nightmare of Biden Speculation Has Ended

After his remarks yesterday expressing sharp disagreement with Hillary Clinton over the nature of Republicans and seeming to revise the semi-official history of the White House decision to assassinate Osama bin Laden, most Democrats I know felt Joe Biden just could not continue to remain ambivalent about his presidential plans, or the lack thereof, any longer. For months you could imagine the Biden talk wasn’t really coming from him, but from the combined imaginations of his friends, MSM Hillary-haters, Democratic panic-mongers, and of course Republicans. But aside from the leaks coming unmistakably close to him and his family that an announcement was imminent, his fairly open criticism of HRC’s theory of governance made it imperative that he clarify his intensions.

He did so today, with–remarkably–the president beside him, in a fairly long (given the circumstances) speech in which his conclusion that “the window has closed” on a presidential campaign seemed almost an aside. Indeed, after hearing him yet again implicitly criticize Clinton’s “enemies” reference to Republicans, and being distracted for a few crucial seconds, I didn’t hear the critical “withdrawal” sentence and for a while wondered if the mystery was going to be continued.

In any event, the deed is done, and the chattering classes can now focus on Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi! Committee tomorrow with the only other thing on their minds being the pasodoble Paul Ryan’s performing with the House Freedom Conference.

UPDATE: Some readers may quite naturally think I’m being a little churlish or simply punditocratic here, focusing on the end of the Biden speculation that didn’t touch most voters instead of the end of the Veep’s presidential ambitions and his pledge to devote himself to a “moonshot” to find a cancer cure.

I hope to get around to a more balanced assessment of Biden’s career and what he might do in the time remaining to him as vice president. But it’s impossible to ignore the context of endless speculation right now, particularly after it became impossible yesterday to suppose Biden himself had nothing to do with it. So the high-minded perspective on Biden will have to wait just a bit.

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.