From “Joe Biden’s ‘Electability’ Argument Is How Democrats Lose Elections,” a 5.7 Vanity Fair piece by Peter Hamby:
“Since Vietnam, every time a Democrat has won the presidency, it’s because Democrats voted with their hearts in a primary and closed ranks around the candidate who inspired them, promising an obvious break from the past and an inspiring vision that blossomed in the general election. Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton. Barack Obama. All were young outsiders who tethered their message to the culture of the time.
“When Democrats have picked nominees cautiously and strategically falling in line, the results have been devastating, as Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton made plain.
“It’s not a perfect rule: While Gore and Clinton didn’t quite electrify the country, they still won the popular vote. And George McGovern was a heart candidate who got slaughtered by Richard Nixon in 1972. But the McGovern wipeout is kind of what Biden and his loyalists are clinging to: the idea that this Trump moment, like the wrenching 60s, is so existential and high stakes that Democrats will overlook their usual instincts and do the sensible thing.
“Theatrical and Irish, Biden surely is hoping that he can be a vehicle for both passion and pragmatism. But if he wins the nomination next year, it will be because Democrats went with their heads, not their bleeding hearts.
“In the view of Dick Harpootlian, a South Carolina state senator and ardent Biden supporter, ‘This is just not a normal year. I believe that pragmatic Democrats will vote in larger numbers than what you would call the ideologue candidates. Joe’s record in Congress wasn’t particularly stellar, but they understand the importance of winning in November of 2020. The folks that I talk to, they aren’t looking for a socialist, or trying to make a statement on the basis of identity or sex or gender. They want somebody to run the country in a normal fashion that typifies the dignity of the office. People want stability.’
“How’s that for a bumper sticker?”