by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s clear that Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden is prone to verbal gaffes on the campaign trail. Jonathan Tobin asks at National Review Online whether those flubs matter when Biden is seeking to challenge Donald Trump.
To those Democrats who hope he possesses the magic formula for beating President Donald Trump, former vice president Joe Biden’s latest string of gob-smacking gaffes is a sign of authenticity and even lovability.
To those Democrats who doubt that the 76-year-old veteran of nearly five decades of political warfare is the man to lead their party in 2020, Biden’s predilection for making verbal errors is proof that he isn’t up to the task. Biden’s inability to speak impromptu without putting his foot in his mouth reminds them of how badly he flopped during his previous two presidential campaigns. They (and many Republicans) hope that his mistakes will derail his path to the nomination. And even if he does succeed in becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, they assume that his mistakes will cost him the general election. …
… But Biden’s ability to stay atop the polls despite all of these problems should give pause to those who assume that his endless gaffes will be his undoing. As much as his mistakes reflect a lack of verbal discipline and a sketchy command of policy details, such shortcomings may no longer matter as much as they once did in American politics.
As Biden’s defenders never tire of pointing out, his gaffes are no worse than the ones the current commander-in-chief makes on a near-hourly basis. Four years ago, most pundits were sure that with each successive controversial statement, Trump had committed campaign suicide. What few outside the Trump camp understood was that the more Trump spoke in an unpresidential manner, the more his supporters liked it.