Putting Biden's exit speech through the politico translator

 
US Vice President Joe Biden announces that he will not seek the 2016 Presidential nomination in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 21 October 2015.

The American Geological Survey can do amazing things with those seismographs that go from all calm to a mass of jagged peaks as they confirm earthquake activity.

I wonder whether they had an instrument that measured enormous sighs of relief in Brooklyn, home of the Hillary Clinton campaign, as Joe Biden bade farewell to his presidential ambitions. The mass exhalation of breath of all the Clintonistas must have been quite something.

After her rock-solid and statesmanlike performance in the Democratic debate in Las Vegas last week, Clinton's poll position has been consolidated. The only pesky cloud on the horizon was Joe Biden.

For all those people who don't quite like Clinton - and you don't have to scratch the surface very hard to find huge numbers of these people - but couldn't bring themselves to vote for the self-styled democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, then the entry of Biden into the race could have shaken things up quite considerably.

For a start it would have given Barack Obama a knotty little problem of whom to support. The superbly well-qualified Clinton, or lovable and loyal Biden. It could have certainly taken vital funding away from Clinton towards his camp.

Let's take Biden at his word this was all about whether the time he needed to grieve his son Beau would forbid a tilt at the White House. But certainly his supporters and closest advisers were scoping a run - what they would need to do to put an infrastructure in place, whether the "bundlers" would be able to raise the money to mount a well-financed campaign.

A woman holds up a sign reading "Ready for Joe," referring to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, while U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire September 19, 2015 Biden has drawn support from voters who are hesitant to back Clinton

If it was a clear cut decision for either Biden or his most senior aides, we would have heard before now what his intentions were.

So what are we left with from today's Rose Garden address? Let's play the fun political game of here's what he said, and here's what he meant.

First what he said:

"I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation.... I believe that President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery, and we're now on the cusp of resurgence. I'm proud to have played a part in that. This party, our nation, will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy. The American people have worked too hard, and we have have come too far for that. Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record. They should run on the record."

Let's put that through the politico-translator app. What comes out? Hillary, if you want me to back you don't go around trash-talking the president's record. He did great things. You were part of it and you agreed with it, so don't go dissing him otherwise you'll have me to contend with.

Biden and Hillary Clinton in 2013 Biden had a not-so-subtle message for Clinton in his remarks on Wednesday

Then there's this passage:

"I believe that we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart. And I think we can. It's mean spirited, it's petty, and it's gone on for much too long. I don't believe, like some do, that it's naive to talk to Republicans. I don't think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition."

Translation? Clinton- enough already with the 'Republicans are our enemies'. If you win you're going to have to govern with them, so stop being so bloody divisive. (I think this must be an app from the UK).

And then I put this final phrase in:

"I am absolutely certain that we fully are capable of accomplishing extraordinary things. We can do this. And when we do, America won't just win the future, we will own the finish line."

I had to translate this a couple of times because it didn't seem to bear much relationship to what I had typed in. It came out as - I might not be running, but I would have been a great president.

Joe Biden at the 21 October press conference Biden has promised not to recede from the political stage despite his announcement

But that's not going to happen now - and there is not much left in the road to trip Clinton up - just some Sanders-shaped bumps in her way. Given the troubled and maladroit way the email saga has been handled that can't be entirely ruled out.

And if something did go horribly wrong with Clinton's campaign - wouldn't the Democratic Party turn to the vice-president in its moment of need, saying: "Come on Joe".

And he would say "You bet". No translation needed.

 

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