It’s the morning after the night before and the Democrats are down. While there are some exceptions to this general rule, the most visible among them – Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton (both of whom campaigned hard for Democratic candidates), and Harry Reid (who will not for much longer be Senate majority leader and who was in other ways humiliated) – tended to fare poorly.
However one highly visible Democrat could, and should, come out of this electoral mess stronger than before – Joe Biden.
Joe Biden has often been a figure of fun. He’s easy to tease, not only because he’s prone to making gaffes, but because his generally good and even buoyant nature suggests that he’s not likely to take offense. But he has been a fixture in American politics for decades. He has been both a legislator and an executive. He knows the ways of Washington and is content to play by its social and political rules. He has served the president loyally for six years. He does not shy from the wheeling and dealing that is critical to political work – and from which president has steadfastly shied. Finally, and importantly, he has a longstanding and strong relationship with Mitch McConnell, soon to be Senate Majority leader.
Much has already been made of McConnell’s gracious victory speech last night, over his opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes. Properly so – it signals that McConnell is ready to play ball with the Democrats. But, even if he and the president can still establish a decent relationship, Obama would be wise to let Biden carry some of his water. For there is nothing that Obama can do at this late date to make up for lost time, while Biden has worked closely with MConnell for over thirty years, often productively. If the president is determined to get something done during his final two years in the White House – on immigration, say, or on tax reform, or on infrastructure – at least so far as the Congress is concerned he would do well occasionally to follow while his Vice President occasionally takes the lead.