Those of you who have followed me know that I strongly believe Biden should have jumped yesterday at the opportunity to expose and terrify Trump, while also improving his own standing with Democrats and Independents. Instead, Biden’s response set himself up for further criticism, looked terrible, and endangered all Democrats by approaching the matter with the same swampy bullshit that Trump has infused into politics.
Thankfully, Biden “clarified” his statement today on Twitter, and though it is nowhere near perfect, it is a far better answer than that which he gave yesterday:
I want to clarify something I said yesterday. In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office — unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 28, 2019
But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial. That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump’s conduct, not mine.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 28, 2019
This is legitimate and a huge improvement.
As you can see, he implies he would do as he always has and comply with a lawful subpoena and testify. He also rightly states that he doesn’t think there is any lawful basis for a subpoena. But that would be something that a court would decide, and Biden’s statement implies he would not be making the decision on his own. Perhaps it will be a ruling by Justice Roberts, perhaps the entire court. We are in unprecedented territory here, so we don’t know.
I still strongly believe Biden should have issued the second tweet first; that he believes there is no lawful basis for the subpoena and that the impeachment is not about him. He should continue to vehemently assert that important point.
But I think he would send a powerful and important statement if he followed that with: “If I am lawfully subpoenaed to testify, I relish the opportunity to address the false allegations against me. I would love the chance to strongly set out the actual facts, and inform all Americans about my role in the Obama administration’s tremendous work for Ukraine in furthering United States policy. There is a reason that Russia worked to elect Trump.
“I only worry that my testimony would distract from the only real issue, Trump’s extortion of Ukraine and his refusal to answer any questions about his policy. However, it is always a privilege to speak directly to the American people and answer every question posed. No American official should hide from legitimate questions about policy work. I am sick of the ridiculous accusations made by a desperate president and Republicans. Trump won’t answer a single question, and is so scared of the American people that he ordered every employee to ignore subpoenas.
“Such behavior is disqualifying for the presidency. The president works for the people and should never hide from questions. I will never do so.”
I think a line in the sand like that would drastically alter the narrative and the race. It would scare the living shit out of the Trumpers and make them re-think about even calling Biden. The contrast between the two men would define both of them. And it would humiliate Trump, something Trump hates.
It would bait Trump into even more mistakes, and possibly get Trump to demand that he testify, too. Except Trump would get destroyed on the stand and his buddies know it.
Biden would still retain the ability to wait until a “valid subpoena” is issued (meaning he could challenge it, if desired), and if the subpoena is affirmed by a court, he’d likely have had to testify anyway.
I am glad the Biden “loosened” his stance. I do think he needs to continually point out that his actions have nothing to do with the impeachment question. He can maintain that point strongly, while also stating that he would simply love a chance to “clear up all the lies.”
As an aside, if Biden sounded strong and confident, possibly baiting Trump into further mistakes, humiliating Trump, Biden would vastly strengthen his position with respect to the primary even if he never testified.
He has a chance to demonstrate to Democrats exactly why he’s the one to eviscerate Trump from the American landscape. If he couldn’t do it, then we need to know anyway. And, quite frankly, Biden needs to know it, too. He says he is running because he believes he is the best candidate to ensure Trump’s defeat, finding out he might not be that candidate should be something that he accepts and appreciates.
In my mind, Biden’s stature would only be strengthened as a lifelong public servant if admitted he mishandled an opportunity to help convict Trump and stepped aside.
The entire point is to beat Trump. Only Biden has this golden shot at demonstrating how an honorable person approaches public service and bullshit investigations. He did better today, but he should do much more. He still has time. No one else has the opportunity he has. He best grab it.
firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MiciakZoom