Joe Biden is against Medicare for All, and maybe that’s enough reason to vote for him.
But understand, too, that he wants to both eliminate and raise the capital gains tax, that he leaves sentences dangling without an end and that his disregard for political correctness borders on an impeachable offense.
He’s certainly a character, this 77-year-old ex-senator, ex-vice president and third-time candidate for Oval Office occupancy.
When he isn’t in intense arguments with individual voters, he is convivial to the point of giving many hugs. He mastered gaffes early in his political life, mostly getting by with it, but ran into serious trouble when he campaigned for president in 1988.
He committed plagiarism to the extent of even using someone else’s biography as his own. Right now, he’s at the top of the national polls of Democratic primary candidates but is also a subject of discussion in the impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump.
Some see no reason this will or should hurt his chances. I think it should.
The main case against Trump is that he held up military aid to Ukraine in order to get the country to investigate Biden. When he was vice president, Biden was made point man for Ukrainian affairs.
With no noticeable qualifications other than who his father was, Biden’s son Hunter was soon being paid $83,000 a month to sit on the board of directors of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company believed to be enmeshed in fraudulent dealings.
Biden visited Ukraine and said he would hold up a billion dollars in United States aid if the country did not fire a national prosecutor pledged to further investigate Burisma. The man was fired and the next prosecutor dropped the probe.
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Trump says his concern was Burisma’s corruption, that most of the aid arrived on time and that there was no Biden investigation, case closed. Prosecuting Democrats say Trump was abusing his power to damage a possible political opponent and that the Obama administration and our Western allies thought this prosecutor was himself corrupt.
However, some in the administration expressed deep concerns about Hunter’s job, and they should have. Even minus any illegalities, here was a stark conflict of interest.
Biden said he never talked to his son about the job and Hunter Biden says differently, but the worst thing would be not talking.
Biden should have told him to quit, to get the heck out of Ukraine, and, if his son refused, he should himself have given up his role as Ukrainian point man.
The last thing our government should want is the appearance of such impropriety in matters of national security.
What’s working best for Biden is his personality recognition, his centrism, his connection with the highly respected Barack Obama (who does not seem to want him as president) and his solid African-American support.
Of course, he once said Obama was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate, bright and clean,” and therein lies a serious fault, a way of talking that either reflects a scary shadow self within or a mind constantly getting unplugged.
Capital gains? He mistakenly wants to raise the tax but has allowed his tongue to be misleading. And what do you make of his remarking that “poor kids are just as talented and bright as white kids,” something immediately corrected. He meant “as wealthy kids.”
Things that especially turn me off: He wants free colleges, an idea that won’t work; he wants a $15 minimum wage that will cost more than a million unskilled workers their jobs according to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office; he has adopted a new, politically advantageous belief that people should pay taxes to pay for abortions that they consider the killing of sacred, innocent human creatures.
Some of what I like about him is his willingness to negotiate, his understanding that Medicare for All would be economically ruinous and his hesitancy about the need for a Bernie Sanders socialist revolution.
I would be happier if he were principled.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Email him at email@example.com.