Sanders, Clinton and Biden: Presidential battle royale

Read this week's cover story on Bernie Sanders at

Every week is an odd, head-scratching, groaner of a week for the GOP presidential hopefuls (or hopeless). But this past seven days were also a bit “Say what?” for the Democrats.

Everything came to a head with Maureen Dowd’s Sunday column on Joe Biden. The New York Times scribe reported that the vice president is seriously considering entering the presidential fray—even this late in the game, with nearly zilch in the campaign coffers and zero electioneering-team infrastructure. Biden allegedly wants to honor his late son Beau’s wishes by jumping into the race, a noble decision if there ever was one.

But let’s not pretend that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have the nomination all but locked in. She’s got establishment support, nearly 70 million bucks in the bank (and counting), and a get-out-the-vote machine humming in primary and swing states.

Let’s not forget that, even though there is not a worthy adversary in this cycle’s primary, she’s experienced and sharpened when it comes to electoral-politics maneuvering, too (courtesy her 2008 loss to the president).

And, if you’re supporting Biden or urging him to run because he’s more liberal than Clinton, well, that’s not necessarily true, either.

Plus, there’s already Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, making waves with progressives and the hardcore left-leaning. Yes, The Bern’s candidacy is truly a Kucinich moment; he just might, but likely won’t, move the party platform away from its business-moderate resting point. But it’s not like Biden is some liberal lion, either. (Read this week’s cover story, “Summer of Sanders,” on page 14, for more on Bernie’s campaign).

But maybe, as Nate Silver pondered in an essay this week, Democrats need a rip-cord option, in case a stone turned reveals some kind of Clinton Achilles’ heel. The elections guru forecasted that Clinton has an 80 percent chance of securing the nomination—but there’s still that 20 percent.

Crazy stuff happens. And the Democrats’ other option, Sanders, wouldn’t fare well in a general election. So, perhaps a Biden factor wouldn’t be a bad move for the left after all. He can keep Clinton real. He can fortify the party platform.

And, in a worst-case scenario, he can be Joe to the rescue.