Joe Biden’s message discipline problem

Dear Friends,

As a lawmaker, I recall our caucus leaders constantly hammering us on the importance of “message discipline.” Perhaps Joe Biden missed that lesson. Last week, he gave Democratic voters another reason to question whether he’s their best option to beat Donald Trump.

Joe Biden

Predictably, Biden’s comment about cozying up to segregationists brought a wave of pushback. Voters rightfully upset about the content of Biden’s remark are also worried about Biden’s lack of message discipline.

This is not a new problem for Biden. (Here’s a relevant Mother Jones article.) Last month, in a bizarre, meandering response to climate activists in Des Moines, Biden lauded praise on American oil production:

North America is now energy independent. It’s not the Saudi Arabian peninsula. It’s not Nicaragua (sic). It’s not somewhere in South America. It’s not Africa. It’s the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico. And the United States is soon going to be the largest producer of energy of any nation in the world by the end of the 2020s. My Lord, what are we so afraid of?” — Joe Biden, May 1, 2019, Des Moines, Iowa

How many more slip-ups (or perhaps in this case, candid revelations) can Biden afford before voters get cold feet and decide not to trust him with the nomination? It’s ironic, of course, that message discipline and even basic civility don’t apply to Donald Trump. But knowing that, Democrats have to be even more cautious about their nominee’s ability to stay focused and disciplined.

Charles Goldman and I talk about this on today’s Fallon Forum. We also discuss the many important US Supreme Court decisions coming down this week, and the heated debate over paying reparations to the descendants of slaves. Finally, we celebrate a small victory in the grassroots effort to expose the truth in Dakota Access’ push to double the flow of oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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