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Joe Biden’s History of Selling the Iraq Invasion, Expanding Prisons & Pulling Democrats to the Right

Web ExclusiveMarch 05, 2020
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Following former Vice President Joe Biden’s Super Tuesday wins, we continue our extended interview with Branko Marcetic, author of “Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our look at the comeback candidate of Super Tuesday. Yes, former Vice President Joe Biden, who won nine states, including delegate-rich Texas, while the AP reports Senator Bernie Sanders won the largest prize of the night, California. Sanders used his speech in his home state of Vermont Super Tuesday night to emphasize his difference with Joe Biden.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: One of us in this race led the opposition to the War in Iraq. You’re looking at him. Another candidate voted for the War in Iraq. One of us has spent his entire life fighting against cuts in Social Security and wanting to expand Social Security. Another candidate has been on the floor of the Senate calling for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ programs.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined for Part 2 of our interview with Branko Marcetic, staff writer at Jacobin magazine, reporter at In These Times, author of the new book Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden.

Welcome back to Democracy Now! Let’s continue with Sanders’ point around the Iraq War. Now, many people who have supported Joe Biden might say, well, he, like Hillary Clinton, and a number of other Democrats did support the Iraq War. They voted for it. Your point in your book is that he didn’t just vote for it. He was a leader. He was George W. Bush’s partner in pushing others to support, especially Democrats, of course — to support the war. Can you explain what he did? He then now says it’s a mistake. So, what are your thoughts on that, as well?

BRANKO MARCETIC: Well, you know, 2001, September 11 happened. The country was angry. It was hurt. It was scared. The Bush administration, and really in concert with the media, was really pushing this kind of feeling of vengeance and anger. And Biden was facing reelection in 2002. He had fought that opponent in 1996. He was the first opponent, really, in his career up to that point that could rival him in fundraising. And his opponent made clear he was going to go after Biden for not being supportive enough of Bush on the Iraq War. And Biden did what he always did in elections, you know, since 1978 up to then, which was just to basically try and extinguish his opponent’s attack line by adopting his platform.

So, you’re right. Biden had this choice. And the Wilmington News, at the time, actually talked about this. You know, Biden could either try and be a block on Bush’s agenda and block on Bush’s plans for Iraq — which he actually ended up doing about 2005, 2006, when it was way too late and the winds had shifted — or he could go along with him and get behind him and basically just let him do what he wanted. And Biden at the time was the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. And Biden elected to do the latter. He said, you know, the 90% of the country that was supporting Bush — that was his approval rating, it had gone skyrocketing upwards — he said, “Count me in the 90%. I’m fully behind him.” Biden’s aides told the press that he had privately told Bush that he was OK with the Iraq War, as long as it met certain conditions.

For the next months, many months, throughout 2002, Biden would go on the Sunday shows and on news stations, basically saying that Saddam was a danger, he had to be removed, whether it was now or later, that he had weapons of mass destruction, that he was maybe even in cahoots with terrorists. He praised a covert plan to get rid of Saddam. And he said, “If this doesn’t work, we’re just going to have to go for an overt strategy.” In around the middle of that year, as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, he held hearings on the Iraq War. And he stacked the witness list with people who were overwhelmingly pro-Iraq War. They were saying that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, who were saying that Saddam had ties to terrorists. And actually, Biden even opened the hearings by saying, “We have to get rid of Saddam at some point. Saddam must be removed from power.” He then, after arranging that testimony and leaving out critics like Scott Ritter, skeptics who were saying that Saddam probably did not have weapons of mass destruction, he then went on those same shows, on those Sunday shows, and he then used the testimony, the lopsided testimony that he had arranged, to then argue in favor. He was saying, “Well, look, the experts are saying that Saddam is a threat, so we have to do something about this.”

Of course, there’s the famous vote for the Iraq War, which Biden now claims, “Well, that, you know, I didn’t think they were going to go to war. I didn’t think this was really going to happen. This was a way to give Bush bargaining power.” But that doesn’t explain why a month after, a month or two months after, Biden actually went on a tour — and by the way, he was saluted by the Delaware Republican Party, who said, “Thank you for supporting George Bush, Mr. Biden. We wish you a great trip.” And he went on this tour around Europe and the Middle East to drum up support for the impending Iraq War. He went to Jordan. He went to Israel. I believe he may have gone to Qatar, if memory serves me right. And he also went to the Kurdish Parliament, and he said — you know, he did this speech to the Kurdish Parliament basically saying that the United States will be with you, basically signaling that if the Kurds join them in the war against Saddam, the United States will back them.

And then, contrary to his claims now — and, you know, I know there’s a lot of debate about is Biden lying, is he legitimately confused about his own record. And I think, with the Biden of 2020, it’s fair to not know which one to say. But I think in this case, the record is clear enough. It’s been fact-checked many times, and Biden keeps saying the same line. So I think he knows he’s being dishonest. But Biden says that he supported — he opposed, I’m sorry, the Iraq War. Immediately after it began, he knew it was a mistake. Completely untrue. Biden was probably one of the longest-running supporters of the Iraq War. Even as the Democratic Party and even the public began to sour on the war, Biden was all in favor of it. He went on Fox, and he said that the — when asked if the position of the Democratic Party should be the position that was being advanced by Howard Dean, who was then sort of, you know, launching into his own sort of progressive insurgent run and famously was very antiwar, Biden flatly said no. By August of 2003, he was calling for something like 40,000 to 60,000 more troops to be pumped into Iraq. His entire case wasn’t that the Iraq War had been a mistake, but actually that Bush was a poor manager of the war, that he had managed a strategy badly, that the causes was good, but it was just it hadn’t been done well.

And in 2004, he decides not to run again. He sort of did this for a while, and he decides, “No, I’m not going to run.” But he backs John Kerry, who of course also voted for the Iraq War, and really, in many ways, is kind of a facsimile in 2004 for what might have happened if Biden had actually run. John Kerry, of course, famously flip-flopped on the war, same as Biden, who kind of went back and forth, wasn’t sure what to — what position to take. And Kerry, like so many centrist, establishment choices, that are kind of trying to just do a lighter version of what the Republicans do, loses terribly. And Biden says in the DNC speech that he did for Kerry, you know, he says, basically, “Kerry is — we’re going to try and get international support. But don’t get me wrong. Kerry will still take action and go to war, if need be.” And this sort of — the Iraq War scenario, the fact that he was such a crucial part of making that war happen, is really a pattern that you can see throughout Biden’s career, not just in the Iraq War.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to Joe Biden’s civil rights record. The former vice president is facing questions now over claims he took part in the civil rights movement as a student in the 1960s. This is an excerpt of a video prepared by The Intercept.

SEN. JOE BIDEN: When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program; I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes. And we changed attitudes.

NARRATION: In 1987, Joe Biden claimed he marched in the civil rights movement.

SEN. JOE BIDEN: When I was 17 years old, like many of you, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate the restaurants and movie houses of Wilmington, Delaware. … I came out of the civil rights movement. I was one of those guys that sat in and marched and all that stuff.

NARRATION: A few months later, Biden disavowed the claim, right before dropping out of the presidential race.

SEN. JOE BIDEN: During the ’60s, I was in fact very concerned about the civil rights movement. I was not an activist. I worked at an all-black swimming pool in the East Side of Wilmington, Delaware. I was involved. I was involved in what — what they were thinking, what they were feeling. I was involved, but I was not out marching. I was not down in Selma. I was not anywhere else. I was a suburbanite kid who got a dose of exposure to what was happening to black Americans in my own city.

NARRATION: Decades later, during the Obama era, and more recently on the campaign trail, he started making the same claims again.

JOE BIDEN: You know, when I was a teenager in Delaware, for real, I got involved in the civil rights movement. We have the eighth-largest black population in America. Most people don’t know that. And I’d go to 8:00 mass, then I’d go to Reverend Herring’s church, where we’d meet in order to organize and figure where we were going to go, whether we were going to desegregate the Rialto movie theater or what we were going to do. I got my education, for real, in the black church. And that’s not hyperbole, it’s a fact. … But I got my education, Reverend Doc, in the black church, not a joke, because when we used to get organized on Sundays to go out and desegregate movie theaters and things like that, we’d do it through the black church.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I was no big shakes, Reverend, in the civil rights movement. I was just a kid. But I got involved in desegregating movie theaters and helping — you may remember Reverend Moyer in Delaware and Herman Holloway organize voter registration drives, coming out of black churches on Sunday, figuring how we were going to move.

JOE BIDEN: In October, I was invited to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis to receive the Freedom Award, a thing when I sat in black churches in the East Side of Wilmington getting ready to — and by the way, next to Jewish — two Jewish rabbis — getting ready to go out and desegregate movie theaters in Delaware. I never, ever thought in my life I would be worthy of, and I’m still not sure I’m worthy of it.

AMY GOODMAN: Excerpts of Joe Biden on his — what was or wasn’t his civil rights record. Branko Marcetic, if you can elaborate on what he has said and then taken back and then repeated?

BRANKO MARCETIC: Yeah. I mean, I would agree with Biden that it is not a joke. The kind of piggybacking on the civil rights movement and claiming to be a part of it when you weren’t is a really serious allegation. And it wasn’t just before — it wasn’t just 1987. He was making this claim for years, you know, especially during the — his anti-busing days, when he sort of would try to triangulate and, you know, oppose busing, but still have the support of the African-American community in Delaware. That claim that he was a civil rights activist — you know, he made other claims. He claimed that — in 1987, he claimed that he and a group of students went to a restaurant, and when a black classmate was thrown out, they all left in solidarity. That year, the Philadelphia Inquirer tracked down that classmate, who was a doctor in Pennsylvania, and he said, “Well, you know, I mean, Biden was a good guy, but, no, they had no idea I was even thrown out. They stayed and finished their meals, and only when they left did they recognize it.” The other thing is, I mean, Biden’s — it is one of the paradoxes of Biden’s career that he does have such a strong African-American support, and he’s had it really from the beginning, when he won the Senate seat, yet he’s often strategically, on key issues, really gone right and gone against African-American interests.

And even some of his language. I mean, Biden, I think one of the formative things about Biden’s views, I guess, of politics and of human nature is the — it has roots in this idea. You know, he has English and Irish heritage, and he heard stories growing up that the English and the Irish were completely different people. They couldn’t live together. These people were just sort of destined to feud and bicker forever. And this is a thing that Biden really internalized. You know, he says in the 1970s, kind of responding to the idea that America is strong because it is a great melting pot — you know, kind of classic liberal line — and he says, and I’m paraphrasing here, but, you know, he says, “Well, that’s poppycock. You know, we know that being Jewish and being black and white and Christian, it tears us apart. It breaks us apart.” And I think that is really fundamental. I mean, you see it in his Iraq partition plan decades later, when he sort of tries to segregate Iraq on ethnic and religious lines. And he says this. He says, “These people just cannot live together. They have to be broken apart.”

The other interesting thing about about his, you know, kind of claim to civil rights activism and support from the black community is, in the '80s, Biden becomes the leading voice, or one of the leading voices. He tours with the Democratic Leadership Council, that corporate-funded, conservative group among the Democrats — it was later chaired by Bill Clinton — that is trying to push the party to the right, made up mostly of white, conservative, Southern men. And he joins them. You know, Delaware is a border state, and he has — he thinks that the U.S. — that the Democratic Party needs to move closer to where this white, conservative South is. And he starts touring around, and he says, you know, “The middle class is under attack. And the problem is that the middle class is not one of these special interests or one of these interest groups.” And what he means by that is not large corporations and their lobbyists and all the different people that are trying to push their interests in the halls of power. What he is referring to there is, you know, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ community, labor, to some extent, as well, poor people. He is saying that these traditional constituencies of the Democratic Party are not the thing that the Democrats need to cater to anymore. They need to try and win over that sort of imagined Reagan voter, the conservative voter. And, you know, he tours through the South saying this. In some cases, in Alabama, for example, he drops a line that he usually brings up about his civil rights activism and about Bull Connor brutalizing black protesters during the 1960s. He drops that line because he feels like it'll be — you know, probably won’t go down well in that audience.

And he even says, you know — at a time when Bernie Sanders, for example, was supporting the Rainbow Coalition and Jesse Jackson candidacy, Biden was expressly against that. He stood against it. He says at a 1986 NAACP convention, he says — and again, I’m paraphrasing — “You can try and put the Rainbow Coalition, African Americans, Hispanics, poor whites, gays, against the middle class.” And then, when he runs in 1987, he says, basically — at one point he rules Jesse Jackson out as running mate, which no one had done. It was a very unusual thing to do, unprecedented thing to do. But he saw Jesse Jackson similar to how Sanders is now this surging economic populist, really trying to repeat that Rainbow Coalition strategy. Biden viewed that as a threat to where he wanted the party to go.

So, it’s — yeah, it’s one of these historical ironies that despite a career of really taking black support for granted and really working against their interests — you know, we haven’t even talked about his attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare, programs that African Americans support in the highest numbers and that an overwhelming amount of African Americans rely on to live on past retirement, much more so than other demographic groups. But he really, despite taking black support for granted, the fact that he is still surviving and his primary actually thriving because of black support, I think, speaks to how frightened people are and how potent both this establishment consolidation that we’ve seen in the last few days has been, but also this media narrative of electability, which I think, and I argue in the book, is not true at all and is actually repeating the mistake of 2016. But, you know, that’s a whole other topic.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I wanted to ask, following up on that civil rights question, about human rights overall, when former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in South Carolina, which he ultimately won so, so big in the African-American community. His campaign admitted that then-Senator Biden was not arrested in South Africa, as he claimed, during a congressional delegation trip to the 1970s — Biden falsely claimed from the campaign trail at least three times this month.

JOE BIDEN: This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Biden first made this claim in 2013, saying he, quote, “had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto,” unquote, as they tried to reach Mandela in his prison on Robben Island. In fact, Robben Island is over 750 miles from the township of Soweto. Biden’s campaign now says he was separated from his black colleagues at the airport in Johannesburg. And as our colleague Jeremy Scahill has reported at The Intercept, even Andrew Young, who was with him at the time, you know, the former mayor of Atlanta, said they weren’t even really separated.

BRANKO MARCETIC: Yeah. This is pretty typical for Biden. Again, I mean, there’s questions about, is he — does he really believe this happened, or is he knowingly lying? We can never know. You know, earlier last year, he has been — turns out he’s been telling this war story for years, that’s basically an amalgamation of three different stories, largely made up. Biden also — not just the civil rights stuff, during the '80s and earlier, he also claimed that he was an antiwar activist, that he was one of the people that was marching against the war, who was, you know, being shut down by university administrators and that kind of thing. That ended up being not true, as well. He had to, in 1987, admit that he — you know, paraphrasing — “I was never an antiwar activist.” He says, “I was a middle-class guy. I was married by the time the war was coming to an end. I wore sports coats. I wasn't into tie-dye shirts and flak jackets.” It’s a very close paraphrase. You should look it up. That was his real excuse for that. And this is, I think, a pattern throughout Biden’s career, that he will say whatever he has to say, and often just kind of inflate his own accomplishments to make himself appeal to certain demographics. And he’ll go change what he’s saying, depending on what the audience is in front of him.

AMY GOODMAN: Or completely —

BRANKO MARCETIC: I mean, one case —

AMY GOODMAN: Or just simply not tell the truth. And for people who are deeply concerned, who want to defeat Trump, but are also concerned about Trump hurling, you know, phrases like “fake news” at Biden, you can go back to — and this example has been talked about a number of times — in a 1988 speech, Biden referred to, quote, “my ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours” — that line plagiarized from a speech by Neil Kinnock, the British politician whose family actually did work in the coal mines. I was quoting that little excerpt from the Washington Examiner. Just completely not telling the truth, confusing reality — I mean, it’s something we also understand from the president in the White House right now.

BRANKO MARCETIC: It’s a bizarre thing to plagiarize your own family history. And that wasn’t really even the extent of it. And we talked about the civil rights and antiwar activism examples. But also, the thing that really sank Biden’s campaign, that really put the final nail in the coffin that year, was when someone found this clip of him — I believe it was in April 1987 — talking to a voter, similar to how we’re seeing Biden kind of lashing out at voters who don’t support him now, telling them to go vote for Trump or another candidate — which is going to be a great strategy going into 2020, the general election. A voter asked him a very innocuous question, just asked him, “Where did you come — where did you go in your class in law school? Where did you rank?” And Biden took this as a slight, which is another pattern in his career. I think Biden’s very eager for people to see him as intelligent and intellectual. And he says to this guy, you know, “Well, I’m sure I’m smarter than you, if you want to do an IQ test. You know, I came top of my class. I won an award. I got a scholarship.” And this clip resurfaces late in that year, and there’s a big brouhaha over it. Of course, reporters now have got to fact-check his claims that he was telling this voter. And it turns out that he didn’t come top of his class. He was actually near the bottom. He did not win an award. He was nominated for an award. And he — I mean, he had gotten a scholarship, but it wasn’t a merit-based scholarship, that he had claimed to that voter. It was a sort of means-based scholarship, which, really, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but very different to the kind of impression that he gave to people.

And, you know, there’s an episode I want to mention, as well, just gives you another kind of picture of the way that Biden will just say whatever he has to say at any given moment. In 1978, when you have this taxpayers’ revolt, this right-wing revolt against taxes, Proposition 13 passes in California, which people are trying to roll back in California now, basically making it a lot harder to raise taxes in the state. It sets off a flurry of similar anti-tax measures across the United States. The businessman who was probably most associated with that, with that measure, who really backed it, Howard Jarvis, he actually endorses Biden, along with a few hundred other candidates. Biden’s office releases a statement saying they’re delighted to hear that he’s endorsed. He is delighted to have been recognized for his fiscal conservatism and keeping spending and taxes low. A few days later, Biden goes to a mostly black audience in Delaware, and he tells them, “Proposition 13, this is a really bad idea. This is a terrible thing. We have to watch out for this.” Someone obviously brings up the fact that he was endorsed by Howard Jarvis, and he says, “Well, you know, I can’t help who endorses me, and I have no feelings either way,” you know, about his endorsement. So, you know, again, very duplicitous.

I think it’s also important to note that when he pushed these tough-on-crime measures, that it was a cynical vote-gathering move. It was — he knew that this was not the right thing to do. Biden had criticized Nixon for imperiling civil liberties, for seeking greater wiretap powers against organized crime. He had criticized Reagan for his tough-on-crime policies, saying, “Well, you know, it costs a lot more to send your kid to Yale or Harvard than it does to keep one person in jail for a year.” So he was well aware that this narrative that tough-on-crime measures were the best thing was the — he was well aware that it was bunk, that it was a right-wing talking point. And he knew the perils of it. I mean, he warned about overcrowding in prisons. He said, “If the prisons get more crowded” — he said this in the 1970s. “If the prisons get more crowded, the anti-crime hysteria of the past decades, the political campaigns that prey on this hysteria are going to be — are going to look like a small fry compared to what will come next.” And ironically, he was the one who ended up really pushing what came next, which was this turbocharged war on crime that we saw in the ’80s and the ’90s.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’ve got the examples of him just simply not telling the truth and then the examples of just outright confusion.

JOE BIDEN: I have a simple proposition here: I’m here to ask you for your help. Where I come from, you don’t get far unless you ask. My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over. If you like what you see, help out. If not, vote for the other guy. Give me a look, though, OK?

AMY GOODMAN: “I am Joe Biden, and I’m running for the U.S. Senate.” I mean, obviously, he’s running to be president of the United States. And for people who are deeply concerned about President Trump, who want to simply choose the winningest candidate who could take Trump down, what about people’s concern over Joe Biden’s confusion and mental acuity?

BRANKO MARCETIC: You can make a long, running list of these incidents that have happened in 2019 and 2020. You know, there’s already supercuts of it on YouTube. You know, there was an incident not a few — just a few days ago, I think, after the South Carolina win, where he said that “We hold these truths to be self-evident. Men and women are created — uh, well, you know the thing.” He couldn’t remember the Declaration of Independence. He’s forgotten Obama’s name on the trail. He’s called Theresa May “Margaret Thatcher.” You know, there was this infamous answer at one of the Democratic debates, where, when asked about the legacies of slavery, he started going on about how you need to put social workers in black households and get them to play the record player while the kids are asleep, before pivoting to an answer about Venezuela for no reason.

I mean, I think this will be one of the interesting things, actually, about — as this consolidates into a two-way race. And we’ll see if Elizabeth Warren decides to keep going or if she’ll actually drop out and back Sanders, maybe give him a bit of a boost in the coming week. But if it is a two-way race, Biden has been coasting until now on minimal public appearances, or at least unscripted public appearances, minimal face-to-face interviews. In the debates, because they’ve been so packed with candidates, he’s usually only spoken for about 10 minutes. And even that has been in these kind of one-minute to 30-second soundbites, like all the other candidates. When the debate becomes a one-on-one thing, when it’s just two people on stage, Biden is going to have to talk for maybe anywhere between 40 and 60 minutes per debate. He’s not just going to be able to put out soundbites. He’s going to have to respond to things Sanders is saying. He’s going to have to respond and build on points that he’s made.

You know, this is one of these things that you — for some reason in the media, you are not allowed to say. But it is painfully clear that this is not the Joe Biden of 2012, if you watch his debate with Paul Ryan. It’s not even the Joe Biden of 2015 or 2016. He has lost a step. There is something going on. And he has benefited from a lot of friendly media. He’s benefited from being able to disguise these difficulties he’s having. And, you know, I mean, he didn’t even campaign in a lot of these states that he won, didn’t even have offices there. But there’s a real question of: Is Biden going to be able to match Trump if he becomes the nominee? Trump is also incoherent, and a lot of times the things he says doesn’t make sense, but he’s not stumbling over his words. He’s not forgetting what he’s talking about. He’s not forgetting names. He’s very confident. And Trump is a very energetic campaigner. You’re seeing him — you know, even during his presidency, one of the complaints that a lot of people in the establishment have is that Trump is always doing rallies. I mean, Biden is campaigning, and he can barely muster — you know, he can barely bother to campaign in all these states and do rallies. And that’s a really big question. I mean, I can already see Trump on the debate stage making fun of Biden as he forgets one name or another, the same way that he did to the Republican candidates in 2016. It’s not a nice thing to think about. For a while it was uncomfortable to watch. Now it’s honestly quite, quite scary.

AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up, you have argued you think that Trump could run to Biden’s left. Explain what you mean.

BRANKO MARCETIC: OK. Let’s look at why Hillary Clinton lost. On the one hand, Democratic turnout and overall voter turnout fell to the lowest in 20 years, because I think people were not excited about either of these candidates, once they learned about Hillary Clinton’s record. The other thing was that Trump did manage to poach some voters that could have gone to Hillary Clinton. One of these things was on war. Of course, we know Trump is a hawk, who has expanded the U.S. military presence and involvement across North Africa and the Middle East. But he also sort of presented himself as a less hawkish alternative to Clinton. He didn’t want to sort of advance things in Syria, advance U.S. involvement there. He didn’t want to get more involved in the Ukraine war. Clinton did.

Interestingly, now Trump — and this is a really, really remarkable and possibly terrifying thing — Trump is the first president since Jimmy Carter not to lead the United States into a new war. Not only that, but he may well be going into 2020 as the man who finally ended the the two-decade-long Afghanistan War that Obama campaigned on doing and he didn’t do, that we know has been a sham this entire time. Biden, with his support for Afghanistan, with his support for Iraq, with his support for a whole bunch of military interventions over the years, is really weak to Trump on that.

On trade, Biden, just like Clinton, pushed TPP. He pushed NAFTA. Those things are going to hurt Biden in the Midwest against Trump, who, you know, again, whether disingenuously or not, that was a case he made, and he’s going to make the case again to those Midwestern states, to states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and so on.

Another thing is Social Security and Medicare. Biden has a long history, a long, well-documented history, though his campaign may deny it, of trying to cut these programs, that a lot of — that are incredibly popular among both parties, among broad swaths of people. He has tried to cut them. Trump ran in 2016 on protecting these things. That was a very different Republican move — of course, again, disingenuous. But I think he will make mincemeat of Biden for his record on this. I mean, Trump, not for lack of trying, has failed to cut these programs so far. But he’s succeeded in not doing so. And that puts him in a pretty good position.

And I want to also mention that even if Biden is able to win against Trump, we have to think about what happens after that, because Biden goes in the presidency, he will have to work with Republicans. He’s said many times he’s going to work with Republicans. He’s open to working with them. One of the things that the Republicans want to do, one of the things that Mitch McConnell keeps saying that he wants to do with the next Democratic president, is to finally take aim and cut those major entitlements, Medicare and Social Security, the things that Biden’s been saying for decades, and trying for decades, to want to do. It is very, very likely that a President Biden would work with the GOP to cut this. And if that happens, that leaves a lane open for the next far-right candidate, who may well be a lot more competent and better than Trump, who will look at this and go, “Well, you know what? I’m going to run on extreme sort of racist policies, the kind of stuff that Trump has been running on, but I’m going to combine it with expansion — with reversing these cuts to Medicare and Social Security.” That would be the smart thing to do for the GOP, which has this increasing economically populist direction that it’s taking. And if that happens, that is a really terrifying thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Branko Marcetic, I want to thank you very much for being with us, staff writer at Jacobin magazine, fellow at In These Times, author of the new book Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden.

To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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