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Some Inconvenient Questions for the Democratic Frontrunner
The first Democratic Party debates are coming up just over a week, June 26 and 27thin Miami. As of now, Joe Biden is the leader of the pack, by a wide margin. So it’s a safe bet that his many opponents will put him in their crosshairs, trying to knock the wind out of his sails. But the real piñata won’t be Uncle Joe. It’ll be Donald Trump.
Everybody will be going after the president because they all know that removing him from office – if not by impeachment than by election – is what matters more than all the other issues combined.
But there are other issues, the kind Joe Biden would rather not talk about, if he doesn’t have to. Taking a position on a controversial issue will stir things up and cause problems for him with either the progressive wing of the party or the moderates, depending on which side of an issue he’s on.
Biden is going into the debate hanging on to the image of the truth-telling centrist liberal. That image has already taken a hit with his flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. For decades Biden was for it. Now, trying to stay in tune with the left wing activist base of his party, he's suddenly against it and wants the law repealed.
That said, here’s a list of questions for frontrunner Biden that might reveal him to be even more out of touch with progressives. But that’s his problem, not that of the journalists asking the questions.
Bernie Sanders has said he’s in favor of voting rights for prisoners. Are you?
It recently came out that in 2006 you said that while you support Roe v. Wade, you do not see abortion as "a choice and a right. I think it's always a tragedy." Do you stand by those remarks?
What are your thoughts on allowing 16-year olds to vote for president?
Do you agree with some Democrats who want to add seats on the Supreme Court?
What about reparations for the descendants of black slaves? Years ago you were against it, how about now?
How about free tuition for everyone who goes to a public college? Are you in favor of that?
What about Medicare for All, with no premiums and no co-pays.This is a high priority issue for progressives in your party. Are you in favor of it? How much will it cost?
You talked about a “white man’s culture” that has “got to change.” What does that mean? Are blue-collar white men – a voting bloc you're counting on to win the White House -- part of that culture that has to change?
You haven't signed on to the Green New Deal, as proposed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- but you've come up with your own version of the Green New Deal. Your plan will cost nearly $2 trillion dollars -- for openers -- and critics say will put a lot of blue collar Americans out of work. Will your clean energy plan close down factories in the Rust Belt? Won't that be bad news for blue collar workers?
Should rich people pay a top tax rate of 70 percent -- or even higher?
What’s your position on adding two new states to the union as some progressives are calling for – Washington DC and Puerto Rico?
What's your position on legalizing marijuana nationally? You don't have to answer this, but have you ever tried marijuana.
There’s a growing movement in your party to impeach President Trump? You have not supported it. Why not? If he wins a second term, would you be in favor of impeaching him then?
Uncle Joe is more at home bashing Donald Trump than he would be answering those questions. And can you blame him? The downside is greater than the upside.
But if Joe hems and haws, if he waffles, he runs a the risk of confirming what his critics say about him – that he’s just an old moderate pol out of touch with today’s Democratic Party.
But the questions I’m suggesting are to the point and direct – and so should the answers be.
For the record, I’m not naïve about these things. I know the journalists on the debate panel won’t ask most of them. But it would be enlightening if they did. The answers would force Biden to go beyond well-rehearsed talking points.
Joe Biden may be the frontrunner going into his party’s first presidential candidates debate, but if he had to actually answer those inconvenient questions, he might not be the frontrunner coming out.
Simply bashing Donald Trump, the piñata, is a lot safer.