It has begun. This week in an appearance with Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, keeper of the progressive zeitgeist, has come out shooting against Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. Biden’s campaign apparently told Reuters last week that the former vice president was looking at middle-of-the-road options for tackling climate change. To climate alarmists like AOC, such language is approximately the equivalent of killing their puppy.
So, as is her wont, Ocasio-Cortez shot back, saying, “I will be d-mned if the same politicians who refused to act are going to try to come back today and say we need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives! That is too much for me.” Setting aside the fact that this week AOC claimed her predictions about the Earth’s imminent demise were just dry humor, but now is back to “save our lives,” this was her first direct shot at Biden.
Thus far almost all of the Democratic hopefuls have at least genuflected to the ideas and ideals of the new socialist wing of the party. Today Biden gave a strong indication that this is not his game plan. Asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, Biden said, “You’ve never heard me say, ‘middle of the road, I’ve been middle of the road’ on the environment. Tell her to check the statements that I made, and look at my record … I don’t think she was talking about me.”
Let’s be clear, Biden saying, “I don’t think she was talking about me” when everyone knows she was exactly talking about him is as about as dismissive as a political diss can get. Biden is saying to AOC, “You want to have this fight, go for it.” He is throwing the ball back in her court, almost goading her to be more explicit in her attacks on him.
If that wasn’t enough, Biden went on to say, “This idea that I haven’t done anything, take a look at the record. That’s what I’d say. I’m sure she will get the time to look at it.” Oof. This is Uncle Joe at Thanksgiving smiling as he rhetorically shivs his socialist niece over pumpkin pie. “I’m sure she will get around to finding out the facts” is the harshest of stuff, and a clear message from Biden.
Yesterday, Politico reported that Democrats are coveting an Ocasio-Cortez endorsement, currently likely to go to Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. If today’s remarks are any indication, Biden is not lining up with hat in hand for this particular endorsement. In fact, AOC is not particularly popular outside of deep blue enclaves, and while her eventual support may or may not matter in a general election, being at arm’s length from her in the primary is a winning play for Biden.
While every other candidate seems to be jockeying to be the most woke, the most suspicious of capitalism, and the most willing to hand the keys of the government to the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, Biden is at home in the center. And he knows that is exactly where the vast majority of Democrats exist as well.
Both Biden and Ocasio-Cortez sent strong messages. They are not, at least for now, on the same team. While AOC may be right that wildly progressive proposals like the Green New Deal are the future of the Democratic Party, Biden’s massive lead in the polls is compelling evidence that he is correct that it is not the party’s present.
Let the games begin. How this fight turns out nobody can quite know. Except for one thing: it will be helpful and enjoyable for Republicans.