Jumpin' Jehosaphat! Jump in, Joe!

It’s the latest political soap-opera cliffhanger, and we may have to wait even longer with bated breath and chewed-down fingernails to find out whether Joe Biden will jump into the race for the presidency.  Things must really be looking bad for Old Hill, if older Joe is now being viewed not simply as a possible game-changer, but as a serious challenger.

Nobody is really surprised at the possibility.  Nor are we fooled by Biden’s pretentious conflict about entering the 2016 race, any more than we were when he insisted to reporters back in the run-up to the 2008 election campaign that Obama had not picked him as his running mate.  “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he told the press then.  But considering that Joe Biden has for almost all his adult life been about as “inside the beltway” as a politician can get, whatever pronouncements come from his leering mouth count for nothing.

Sometimes, in fact, they count for less than zero – in the negatives, as “gaffe-a-minute” Biden has many times proved.  Didn’t he bellow to an all-black audience that the Republicans would “put y’all back in chains,” only to apologize later?  (Wink, wink!)  Isn’t he the guy who swore that we would hound the butchers of Benghazi to the “gates of hell”?  Yet not a soul has since been apprehended in connection with that heinous murder of our young ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.  Biden’s bragging is on a par with his administration’s sand-bagging.  And the scourge of terrorism in and from the Middle East has only grown worse.

Biden’s unprofessional, disruptive performance in the sole 2012 vice presidential debate between Uncle Joe and Republican challenger Paul Ryan – which inexcusably remained unchecked by the liberal moderator – would seem reason enough to doubt Biden’s suitability for the Oval Office.  Four years earlier, he had been expected to easily vanquish Sarah Palin in their only debate.  However, the verdict came in as a “tie,” which was as bad as a ”loss” for Joe Biden.

In addition to his uncontrolled tongue, Uncle Joe appears to have uncontrolled hands, which he likes to inappropriately place on women of all ages.  Perhaps some of them like that.  Senator Scott Brown’s spouse, broadcast journalist Gail Huff, didn’t.  After his swearing in, Brown privately told the vice president to “keep your hands off my wife. “

One of Biden’s most egregious public breaches of a woman’s personal space was his unwelcomed hugs and shoulder massaging of Stephanie Carter, wife of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, during his swearing-in ceremony.  Her look of incredulity said it all.  (As vice president, Biden presides at swearing-ins, which can later lead to husband swearing-ats.)

But here’s the rub: while unsuitable behavior is rarely tolerated in Republican politicians, it is shrugged off in Democrats.  The statement “It’s just Joe Biden being Joe Biden” actually carries currency, even among some Republicans.  And when he is compared to the crazy older relative in the attic, it is almost with a sense of endearment, rather than criticism.  It’s become an enigmatic plus for Biden that so many people find him harmless.  But is that the kind of leader we want in the White House?

Perhaps the fact that voters can “relate ” in some way to a candidate while at the same time profess not to take him seriously is cause for hope in the Biden camp.  It was a phenomenon that applied to Adolf Hitler, who was laughed at by many Germans as nothing more than an innocuous Austrian paperhanger, yet he rose somehow to the top of the heap.

A lot of Democrats are getting disenchanted with Hillary and unconvinced that an elderly, disheveled leftie like Bernie Sanders could possibly win the day.  Thus far, the only alternatives have been laughable: Martin O’Malley, who apologized for saying that all lives matter, and Lincoln Chaffee, whose candidacy is about as relevant to the Democrats as George Pataki’s is to the Republicans.

Enter (maybe) Joe Biden, whose ego has always been as massive as his immaculate white lion’s mane.  Still, he might not even be weighing a run for the White House were it not for the waning popularity of Hillary Clinton and the lack of credible Democratic opposition.  In his last two bids for the presidency, Biden barely managed to get 2% of the primary vote.  In one campaign, he was dogged by charges of plagiarism.

But now he is running as a sitting vice president, and his boss is not discouraging him.  Why should he?  Obama can’t stand the Clintons, and having Joe run would allow the president to sit for as long as possible on the campaign sidelines as a matter of neutrality.  He was able to best Hillary eight years ago when she was that much younger and, as usual, thought she had the nomination – indeed, the election – all sewn up.  Throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus is becoming a DNC pastime.

Still, polls show that Biden would be a less formidable opponent to the ultimate Republican standard-bearer than Hillary would.  Does that faze Old Joe?  Does anything?  Besides, fifteen crucial months lie between now and the 2016 election.  Anything can happen.  While Biden can still squeeze the flesh, he must surely be feeling the squeeze of time.  If he were to run, what would he have to lose – except maybe the election?