Run, Joe, run

Will Biden ride to his party's rescue?

Your party needs you, Vice President Biden. Your country needs you. We know that this isn't particularly well timed. You are still grieving over the loss of your beloved son Beau Biden just three months ago. And you, like many in your party, perhaps assumed that Hillary Clinton was on a glide path to the Democratic nomination.

But here's where that contest stands. Ms. Clinton's campaign has been lackluster so far, particularly her chronic failure to be forthcoming — you can pick your subject here, but her handling of email while serving as Secretary of State is the latest — not to mention the fact that a certain "Clinton fatigue" is setting in among the electorate, and it's not even 2016 yet. Her poll numbers in swing states are moving in the wrong direction. Sen. Bernie Sanders is pushing the Democratic Party left, potentially alienating swing state voters further, and the rest of the contenders, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, are barely a blip on the voters' radar screen.

Joe, you may be 73 years old, but you are tanned, rested and ready. There simply isn't anyone else out there who could offer a legitimate threat to the Clinton nomination. You are well-known, experienced and respected, but you are also a regular fellow, a child of the middle class. That you are prone to the occasional verbal gaffe is actually kind of endearing — you aren't slick or social media cool or pre-packaged. This is your moment to make a difference. To paraphrase your infamous remark regarding health care reform, the presidency is a big bleeping deal.

Make no mistake, however, this is no love letter like editorialists write to potential presidential candidates up in Boston. We feel we know you better than most, Joe, because you hail from Delaware, which is, after all, just Maryland in miniature with a soft spot for corporate tax dodges, so we can be candid like any good neighbor would be. We have no way to know if you would be a good president or even necessarily a great candidate. Heck, your run for the presidency in 1988 was a disaster, assisted in no small part by your failure to credit the British Labour Party's Neil Kinnock in a speech which, in turn, raised other possible incidents of plagiarism in your past. Your run for the same office in 2008 failed to gain much traction at all and is remembered mostly for spawning the kind of klutzy verbal faux pas that, along with inappropriate neck rubs, have come to symbolize your years as President Barack Obama's number two.

But you have heart, senator, and you are in the mainstream of American politics. When it comes to understanding the regular folk and their economic challenges, you have as much credibility as anyone running in this race. And you don't have to be outrageous to attract attention — either by promising the moon or by condemning the most vulnerable among us. You are not a billionaire and you are not a demagogue. Your positions on issues from marriage equality to the war on drugs have evolved over the years, but haven't they for most Baby Boomers?

Let's face it, the odds are against you winning the nomination. You would be getting into the race relatively late, and the record for late arrivals (think Texas Gov. Rick Perry four years ago) isn't good. You would be expected to throw some elbows and criticize Ms. Clinton. Otherwise, what would be the point, to be a Holly Holm to Ms. Clinton's Ronda Rousey? It might be tough on your family, it might be an odd place to put Mr. Obama and others in the party who have a personal fondness for you. But it's also — and it looks increasingly like you sense this — the right thing to do.

Over in the Republican field, there is much chaos and upset, one act of outrageousness after another. But eventually, the party's flirtation with Donald Trump will run its course and a more credible candidate may emerge, and whoever that person may turn out to be, he or she will surely be battle hardened. The GOP senses Ms. Clinton will be vulnerable. Maybe she will be, maybe she won't — elections aren't usually decided by the status of one's email server. But the greatest danger is that the Democrats will nominate a candidate the public believes is undeserving, one who showed up for a coronation, not an election. Voters want their candidates to earn their spots on the ballot. Only a Joe Biden candidacy can ensure that at this late date. It's all up to you, Joe.

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