In Washington, a seemingly crazy scenario is currently circulating through the political grapevine. In its focus are three well-known Democrats: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The latter two only recently pledged their support to Biden who is the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee.
From Conspiracy Theory to Real Possibility?
The following scenario has so far had been a fantasy of fringe right-wing operatives and conspiracy theorists. However, when Republican Douglas MacKinnon’s, a former White House writer for President Reagan and George H.W. Bush, wrote a piece for the Hill in which he asked the question of whether Democrats would be inclined to replace Biden on the ticket for Hillary Clinton as the presidential candidate and Barack Obama as her Vice President, it became an openly discussed scenario.
There have certainly been doubts about Biden’s chances in the race, and Mackinnon outlines the main reasons why. There is the accusation of sexual assault and the alleged corruption in the case of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Moreover, as Mackinnon eludes to, Biden’s cognitive skills have seen far better days.
Would the Constitution Allow It?
Mackinnon then illustrates how constitutional hurdles could be mastered by utilizing the ambiguity of two constitutional amendments.
While the 12th Amendment states that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States” the 22nd Amendment states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President”.
Prima facie, the wording appears to exclude Obama from ever becoming Clinton’s running-mate. However, as Mackinnon emphasizes by referencing Professor of Constitutional Law Michael Dorf, the relevant word in the Amendment might be “elected.”
Bypassing the 22nd Amendment
The ratio is simple, though unproven. If Obama were picked as Clinton’s running-mate and Clinton needed to step down from the presidency, Obama would succeed her and thus becoming president for the third time without being prohibited by the 22nd Amendment as he would not have been elected. The stipulations of the 12th Amendment would, therefore, also be overcome, as, in this scenario, Obama would have been eligible to become president again, thus making a vice presidency legally possible.
Still Not Realistic
Nevertheless, Mackinnon’s scenario is unrealistic for several reasons.
Yes, Biden’s cognitive skills may have deteriorated due to age. His rhetorical stumbles and Freudian slips are well known. However, does anyone honestly believe that absurd statements and illogical remarks will make the difference in a Trump-Biden debate? Is there indeed supposed to be a distinction in the rhetorical skillset of Donald Trump and Joe Biden? Think again!
Moreover, even the alleged “scandals” that the Trump team attempts to fit onto Biden like an ill-fitted suit, such as the allegations of corruption against Hunter Biden and Tara Reade’s allegations cannot be sincere reasons why Joe Biden could or should be taken off the ticket.
Assessing the Accusations Against Biden
Yes, Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma looks “swampy” in retrospective. However, it was not outside of the natural course of action in political Washington. Anyone who discredits the latter may need to take a look at the president’s advisory board and pay close attention to surnames beginning with “T” and “K”.
Yes, Reade’s allegations must be taken seriously; however, the same applies to the legal principle of being innocent until proven guilty. The latter is not a partisan double standard but the rule of law. At this point, Reade’s allegations are not the Damocles sword Republicans, and Fox News had hoped they had at their disposal. Reade’s statements are opaque and rather inconsistent. Moreover, the notion Joe Biden could have had a history of sexual misconduct that remained dormant during an extremely intense vetting via the Obama team in 2007 seems inconceivable. Had there been even a slight suspicion of wrongdoing, Biden would not have become Obama’s vice-presidential candidate.
The most crucial point, however, is the fact that Biden is leading Trump in all relevant polls. A recent national poll has Biden leading by 50 to 41 per cent, while the average of national polls has him leading by 46.8 to 42.4. Moreover, Biden also leads the critical swing states of Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
No, the Democrats will not dispose of Biden, despite all of his apparent imperfections. With Donald Trump, the formerly required level of decorum, class and yes, general aptitude has been depreciated significantly. And with a nation eager to move on from its 45th president, voters are more inclined than ever to forgive any mistakes Biden may or may not make on his path to become the United States’ president in November — and rightfully so.