BUTLER: Will Joe Biden’s Blue-Collar Image Survive 2020 Scrutiny?

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Joanne Butler Contributor
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Joe Biden has been on the political st­­age since 1972, when Gerald Ford was president. Yet he’s been a background character during his decades in the Senate and eight years as vice president. Today, however, he’s no longer in the shadows. For the first time in his life, the glare of the media’s spotlight is focused directly on him. And Americans are going to learn who he truly is.

In Delaware (a very tiny state), Biden’s persona was “compassionate dad.” When his daughter and first wife were killed in a car accident in 1972, he made a promise to his surviving children to come home from the Senate every night. He’s still a legend among Amtrak conductors who work the Northeast Corridor rail line.

The compassionate dad persona got Biden re-elected six times. If he had refused President Obama’s offer to join him in the White House, my bet is he’d still be the senior senator from Delaware.

While being vice president for eight years gave Biden nationwide exposure, it always was in the shadow of the charismatic Obama. Biden was forbidden to carve out a larger national image for himself, lest it remove a single atom from Obama’s shining star.

Thus, Biden was stuck in the political equivalent of Planet Pluto for eight years. It’s why Texan John Nance Garner, who served as House speaker and later as vice president to FDR, described the VP job as “not worth a bucket of warm piss.”

So who is Joe Biden? Some say he’s a blue-collar lunch-bucket guy. They should come to Delaware. The state’s last auto assembly plant closed in 2009 (wile Biden was in the White House) and rotted for a decade before being demolished. Where was his concern for the blue-collar lunch-bucket folks 10 years ago?

Biden says he wants to return America to normalcy. What’s normal? An emboldened People’s Republic of China seeking hegemony in Asia, aided by stealing American-developed secrets? Open borders with illegal immigrants involved in drugs, gangs and crimes? Anemic job opportunities? A stock market shrinkage that would leave millions of Americans poorer, and in fear for their retirement savings? Carving out more benefits for certain interest groups, while leaving white working-class people behind?

Is this Joe-Biden-normal?

Biden also is trying to position himself in the center-left of the Democratic party. If elected, however, he’d be pushed to govern even further to the left.

Since 2017, Democratic hardliners and political operatives have moved more leftward than the average American. But it’s from this pool of people that Biden would have to choose his Cabinet and sub-Cabinet staff. These hard-left Democrats expect to be rewarded if Biden’s elected, and they’ll complain loudly if they’re not.

How does Biden plan to walk the tightrope between selling himself as a comfortable centrist while being pressured to govern to the hard left?

Answering these questions and many others is how the close scrutiny of a presidential campaign helps voters.

Welcome to the spotlight, Mr. Biden. Let’s see who you really are.

Joanne Butler was an international trade specialist at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the Foreign Agricultural Service at USDA in the George H.W. Bush administration. In the George W. Bush administration, she was a senior adviser and speechwriter at the Department of Labor.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.