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Why I don’t think Joe Biden should run for president

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1) Joe Biden is apparently interested in running a third presidential campaign.

2) I've managed to work as a professional journalist in Washington, DC, for more than 12 years without ever speaking to Biden in any capacity.

3) Had I done so, I might see some of the political or substantive appeal that most political reporters claim to see in the man.

4) Biden was a poor candidate for president in 1988. Five Democrats managed to win at least one state during that year's primary campaign. Biden was not one of the five.

5) Biden was a poor candidate for president in 2008. He finished behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses. But he also finished behind John Edwards. He even finished behind Bill Richardson.

6) Previously, Biden was a disappointing chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, misusing that office to provide bipartisan cover for the misguided invasion of Iraq.

7) Subsequently, he compounded his error by pushing a misguided scheme for partitioning the country.

8) Before all that, he was a poor chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, botching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

9) In addition to his poor job overseeing judicial nominations, Biden also did at best a mixed job as a legislator on judicial issues, advancing a deeply misguided drug war agenda.

10) Joe Biden has also done a disappointing job in his unofficial role as senator for Amtrak, fighting for funding but offering neither scrutiny of the agency's baffling operational practices, labor featherbedding, nor relief from misguided federal train regulations that hamper effective passenger rail.

11) To be fair over the course of a career in federal office that is literally older than the median American, Biden was mostly a generic Democratic senator holding a safe seat. There's a reason he's become the beloved wacky uncle of the Obama administration.

12) Biden even has a legitimate major legislative achievement in the Violence Against Women Act, which seems to have played a role in a dramatic decline in intimate partner violence since the mid-1990s.

13) But on the main occasions when Sen. Biden was at the center of a high-profile political controversy — Iraq, Clarence Thomas — he failed to rise to the occasion.

14) His legislative record is deepest on criminal justice issues, and that record contains significant warts. His instincts as a leading tough-on-crime Democrat led him to write VAWA but also to co-sponsor the federal law creating civil asset forfeiture, the law creating the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, and the draconian 2003 RAVE Act.

15) Were Biden to have the misfortune to even briefly appear to threaten Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the Democratic nomination, these basic unflattering truths about Biden's record in public life will be drilled into the brains of all the rank-and-file Democrats who currently have a vaguely positive impression of him.

16) Biden's failure to win the support of Barack Obama is incredibly damning. Aside from reports that Obama gave Biden his "blessing" to run, it's obvious from the huge number of former senior Obama aides who are working for Clinton that Obama does not, in fact, think Biden should be the nominee.

17) Joe Biden should not run for president, but the good news for America is that if he does run he'll get crushed, so his substantive flaws aren't a big problem.

18) It seems likely that I would feel differently about Biden if I had ever attended one of his legendary summer kickoff parties. But like the vast majority of American voters, I have never hung out with Joe Biden and can only judge him on the basis of his decades-long record in American politics.

Delve deeper into the race for 2016 with Vox's new podcast "The Weeds" with Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias and Sarah Kliff.

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