A Biden-Patrick ticket as a return to novelty 

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/10/14/a-biden-patrick-ticket-as-a-return-to-novelty/

“I’m telling ya. Who’s on first, 
What’s on second,  
I Don’t Know’s on third.” 
— Bud Abbott, from Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”

Speculation abounds these days that President Obama will endorse Vice President Joe Biden for president in 2016, with the caveat — are you ready? — that Biden pick former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick as his running mate and serve for only one term.

The scheme sets up Patrick as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2020.  According to this theory, a Biden presidency would be more of an Obama III administration, rather than a Biden I, presidency.

Such musings are not as crazy as some have suggested.

Patrick’s allies, eager to enhance his legacy, have been carefully orchestrating his national ascendency, just as Obama leaves office.

And Obama seems to believe that Patrick – a long-time friend who shares his political temperament and progressive objectives – is his rightful heir, not Biden, Hillary Clinton or Senator Warren. Remember, last year when the president that Patrick would make “a great president”?

Could America embrace a Biden-Patrick ticket? As conservatives know – and the country would learn – the combination of Biden and Patrick would be equally hypnotic and hilarious, a marvel of the irrational and illogical, endearing, yet entertaining. Much like Abbott and Costello.

The contrast of these characters is striking. Biden portrays the bumbling laugh-getter (a veritable Lou Costello) while Patrick plays the crafty straight man (Bud Abbott).

Next year, at 73, Biden would be the oldest elected president (Ronald Reagan was 73 at the start if his second term). Dauntingly, Biden would have to defend Obama’s eight -year record while avoiding the inartful buffoonery of his well-known verbal fender benders.

Consider: national healthcare (a “big [expletive] deal”) and the stagnant economy (he called “J-O-B-S” a “three letter word”). Other matters, like global climate change (will someone tell him that supposed climate change on Mars is not man made?) and global political upheaval, will likely evoke laughably stammering explanations as well.

Two months before the 2008 election, then as a vice presidential candidate, Biden was nearly apologetic: “make no mistake about this, Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am…”

As a counter balance to Biden’s bombast, Patrick is more measured, a smooth, Teflon salesman; projecting integrity, perhaps, but still lacking substance. And his record of regressive achievement and rhetorical asininity is no less impressive.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have been a “big deal” to Biden. For Patrick, though, it was not just a website upon its troubled rollout in 2013, rather, it was a “values statement.” Because the Massachusetts Health Connector was unable to conform to ACA’s myriad rules and regulations, however, state sponsored healthcare was thrown into chaos.

Patrick calls himself a “pro-growth progressive.” After his eight years as governor, “growth” might be defined as an increase in state expenditures, unfunded pension liabilities, taxes, child poverty rates, and income inequality. With a seeming distaste for capitalism as governor, he has now discovered it by joining the private investment firm Bain Capital, earlier this year.

Even assuming that Biden runs, wins the nomination, and picks Patrick as his running mate, would this ticket win next November?  Even so, would this chain of events actually position Patrick to win the presidency himself in 2020?

Only two men in Massachusetts history have been elected governor and then vice president (Elbridge Gerry, 1811 and 1812; and Calvin Coolidge, 1919 and 1920). Coolidge is also the last public official to be elected governor, vice president and then president (1924).

But as history knows, Deval Patrick is no Calvin Coolidge. As governor, Coolidge gained national exposure during the 1919 Boston Police Strike, when he famously declared, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” During the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, governor Patrick advised residents to stay indoors as a “shelter in place.” Coolidge was decisive and reticent; Patrick sheepish and ponderous.

There are, surprisingly, uncanny parallels between the 1920 and 2016 presidential elections. As noted by Coolidge biographer, Amity Shales, “in a time of enormous budget deficits and high taxes,” small government conservatives Warren Harding and Coolidge, “campaigned on a theme of normalcy.” As a repudiation of oppressive progressivism, their victory in 1920 ushered in The Roaring Twenties.

By comparison, Biden-Patrick, constructed as a continuation of Obama’s progressivism, would be a caricature, an absurd return to novelty.

The prospect of this team? As Lou Costello said, “Today. And Tomorrow’s pitching.”

Contributing columnist James P. Freeman is a New England-based writer and former columnist with The Cape Cod Times.

Also by James P. Freeman:

Pilgrim Nuclear and the paradox of green energy

Heroin and heroism

Blue state gone purple: Is Massachusetts liberalism in decline?