Shoulda Stayed On Amtrak, Joe

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readOct 26, 2019

With Biden campaign cash low, lavish spending on private jets, and a badly botched voter outreach, new questions about Hunter Biden have emerged.

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. August 10, 2019. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

“You don’t have to do this, Joe. You really don’t.”

The words of former President Barack Obama should have been a canary in the coal mine for a career politician like Joe Biden.

Whether Obama withheld it, or Biden refused it, an Obama endorsement at the beginning of the former Vice President’s run on the the Democratic nomination for President would have perhaps sealed his candidacy.

Without it, Biden was immediately off to a shaky start.

In a year that should be a walk-on for any Democrat in the race, the best Democrats have managed to come up with in three-years of Donald Trump is Joe Biden. With Biden as the Democratic nominee, the great minds of the Democratic Party presumed, Democratic Obama voters who stayed home in 2016 would come out in droves in 2020.

They’re partially right: Former President Obama’s popularity with Democratic voters, especially in critical voting demographic sections like among African-Americans, cannot be overstated.

Joe Biden’s connection with Barack Obama was the former Vice President’s only real advantage in the presidential race. The lack of a vociferous Obama endorsement hurt the Biden campaign right out of the gate.

There were other danger signals at the beginning of the Biden campaign as well; there are even more now. Biden’s tendency to gaffe, rather than being lost amid the gale of rude Trumpian Tweets, gave ammunition to Trump apologists defending their standard-bearer for his “mis-statements”.

One person’s innocuous gaffe, it would seem, is another’s racist comment.

Biden also had a fair amount of baggage going into this race; a best-selling book was published last year on corruption in Washington and one chapter was on the Biden’s.

More specifically, questions were raised about the younger Biden’s $50,000 per month job with a Ukrainian energy consortium during the time Vice President Joe Biden was point-man on stamping out corruption in the Ukraine.

Information about Hunter Biden’s dealings in China soon followed the Ukraine story, as it closely intertwined with the impeachment proceedings against Trump that are currently underway in the House of Representatives.

Now, new questions have emerged about Hunter Biden’s work in Romania while his father was representing U.S. interests in stamping out corruption in that country.

Wherever former Vice President Joe Biden went, it seems, Hunter Biden prospered. These questions, and questions about Hunter Biden’s personal life, were bound to come out; Biden’s campaign should have been prepared.

U.S. media outlets friendly to the Bidens and to Democratic prospects for 2020 can, and are, repeating the message as often as possible that no evidence of any crimes by either Biden has ever been brought to light.

This may be true. But while almost certainly not illegal, any Democratic strategist worth their consulting fee would agree the optics aren’t good. Hunter Biden’s non-apology apology interview was probably not the best idea, either. Hunter Biden’s admissions of “poor judgement” were tantamount to a confession.

The report about the Biden campaign’s relatively low cash funds contrasted badly with some of his closest Democratic rivals, who out-raised him in the last quarter. It also contrasted badly with a disclosure that the Biden campaign spent $924,000 on private air travel during that time.

From the everyman who once billed himself as “Amtrak Joe”, this type of elitism doesn’t look good, but that wasn’t the most embarrassing thing to befall the Biden campaign this week.

The online rollout of the Biden campaign’s plan to reach out to Latino voters didn’t go as planned, if there even was a plan. Before publicly announcing the outreach campaign, “Todos con Biden”, the Biden campaign failed to first acquire the legal rights to the domain name or secure the Twitter handle.

Guess who did.

That’s right, the Donald Trump campaign, in an act of epic trollerly, acquired both and set immediately to embarrassing the Biden campaign, and possibly American politics, into oblivion.

Any potential Biden voters who accessed the website found a landing page that said “Oops. Joe Biden forgot about Hispanic people,” in two languages with a link to Trump’s own Latino voter outreach program, “Latinos for Trump”, which was rolled out by the Trump campaign months ago.

Yes, it’s terrible that a U.S. President should behave in such a way. In all fairness, it likely wasn’t Donald Trump’s idea; Trump is a 76-year old man with as much tech savvy.

What Trump has that Biden doesn’t is obviously a digital media game that is light years ahead of Joe Biden. Indeed, Republicans and the Donald Trump campaign learned a great deal from President Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign in all its digital media glory.

Did Democrats learn anything?

The Republican Party’s unflinching autopsy of 2008 has given Donald Trump news and powerful tools in his re-election campaign. Unless Democrats start playing the game they’re in, instead of the one they wish they were in, Democrats are going to lose to Donald Trump in 2020

Democrats don't have to be outclassed if they can be outspent, out-matched and out-gamed.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)