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The current presidential field is making Biden look viable

The population of the United States is 321,650,000, if I can trust the accuracy of my iPhone's Siri. So, for all of these people, you're telling me that Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the best we can find to be president of the United States?

I'm sure I'm not the first person to ask this question. Nor will I be the last. But as we spend the next 14 months looking for someone to replace Barack Obama, I feel like I'm watching a bad used car commercial every time I see one of these so-called leading candidates on TV. Maybe it's these high-stakes campaigns, the kind in which you have to shout to get everyone's attention to be relevant. Maybe they're afraid to show some vulnerability or some uncertainty to the voters out of fear that they'll be cast aside like yesterday's garbage. Or maybe it's that they just say the things they think we want to hear.

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Or, most likely, they're just the best we can do in a country as polarized as this one. The irony here is that you'd think a more moderate candidate, one who can appeal to more than just a small subset of society, has the best chance to connect with voters across the political spectrum and win not only votes but our confidence too.

Enter Vice President Joe Biden. If any of you saw him on the "Late Show With Stephen Colbert" Thursday night, you probably know what I mean. Biden didn't talk politics or tell us how he was going to fix immigration, health care or the economy. Actually, it was the opposite. Biden, who hasn't announced his candidacy, spoke candidly about how he wasn't sure he was up to being president. The recent loss of his son, Beau, Biden said, choking back the emotion, made him uncertain at the moment that he could give 100 percent of his attention to the job, though he was careful not to rule it out. Biden went on to tell stories of his family and his religious beliefs, and showed a humility that we could never accuse a Trump or a Clinton of having.

I can hear my friends countering now that I need to remember that this was television and the interview was not led by a trained journalist but by a late-night talk show host who didn't ask "the tough questions."

And they might have a point, to an extent. Biden has a political track record as vice president, but he didn't talk issues that night. And of course, in a campaign, he'd have to carry the burden of being associated with the polarizing Obama administration.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't an endorsement of Biden for president. His political views may not be completely in line with mine. He's run for the presidency twice before, in 1988 and again in 2008, and he didn't exactly inspire support. The best I can say at the moment is that he has a certain Gerald Ford kind of quality about him — not incompetent but not inspiring either and maybe not as polarizing. Not the most ringing of political endorsements, but it is somewhat an endorsement of him as a human being.

This wouldn't be the first time a presidential candidate got a boost from appearing on late-night TV. Who could forget Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" or Obama showing up in a skit on "Saturday Night Live" weeks before the election? Maybe we'll look back on Thursday night's "Late Show" appearance the same way one day.

His "aw, shucks" kind of attitude makes him likable and trusted. What a concept for a presidential candidate. When was the last time someone said that about Trump or Clinton?

Paul Milton is the editor of the Carroll County Times. Email him at pmilton@carrollcountytimes.com.

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