If Joe Biden was sitting at home last night, watching the Democratic debate in hopes of seeing a reason to join the race, he didn’t get it. He got quite the opposite.
He saw a strong, confident, even personable performance by frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He saw a candidate adept at both covering her weaknesses and at magnifying her strengths, although to be honest Clinton wasn’t exactly pressed hard by her opponents. She needed the debate to regain the offensive, to talk to America about something other than her email server and to silence the doubters within her own party, and she more than met those goals. She still doesn’t have the political skills of her husband — few do — but last night she came closer to that mark than I thought possible.
Overall, Biden and the rest of America also saw a serious, well-informed discussion of the issues, rather than a contest to see who could repeat the party line most strenuously. They saw a field of five candidates, only two of whom are running serious campaigns, nonetheless draw important contrasts with their Republican counterparts on gun control, foreign policy, kitchen-table economics and frankly on their basic grasp of reality.
And they did NOT see a party obsessed with its resentments and filled with anger, grasping at every chance to lash out at enemies both foreign and domestic, and both real and imagined.