Me, Joe Biden wants the election of a president with a much larger degree of international gravitas to fire people up against nuclear (and missile) tests.

That’s the warning from Benjy Sarlin and Bradley W. Plum when they published a cover story in the New York Times on Wednesday devoted to the reason Barack Obama insisted on “the three legs of America’s economic stool,” which Jonathan Chait called “the Benjy Biden presidency.” The trio have been chronicling what they claim is the “plank” Biden would extend to the presidency. They claim to have run through a list of numerous qualities of a presidential candidate Biden would bring to the Oval Office. But there are, evidently, still no restatements of anything they say.

Much of this is understandable, considering what a long, sad and self-serving flight they put on his name. The whole thing is a charade. Let’s ponder a few of the most obvious complaints.

Despite rising debt, lost jobs, the ability to drill for oil or drill for nuclear missiles, the advent of getting high-speed internet, and the exhaustion of Western petroleum, “Darth Vader” Biden, as always, plays very low-key. He doesn’t spend much time pontificating about what he wants or needs as president, either. And as for policy proposals, Biden sits on the stump too long, and a manager often decides what to keep and what to take down.

It wouldn’t be much if Biden didn’t have presidential ambitions of his own. He does—this is true because the initial projection of the Democratic Senate majority-winner in North Carolina last November was made before anyone had a clue who he was (or even understood the name Obama). He sees, therefore, that he needs the electricity to run the fast-growing “loan money” machine at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or at least the largest banks in the country. He wanted to try to impress at least a few others with these ambitious ambitions for decades. Biden has been remarkably good at making himself interesting and politically important despite being an inept mayor of Wilmington. That style shows in a few key policy successes, like health-care reform.

However, the administration never worked out a deal with Democrats in Congress to do much else in that area. (That includes abortion and a comprehensive immigration bill as well as bailouts for some firms and balance-of-payments arithmetic.) Trump’s relationship with Congress has become a mystery, particularly since he became president and took office. What the cast of characters in the Trump White House really wants is new export revenue and, if necessary, $1.5 trillion of tax cuts or less. That’s not big enough for the Democratic team to solve their domestic problems without a huge expansion of the Treasury (or something else more productive). And Biden would need to negotiate something—any way—with Iran about being able to go nuclear (or perhaps to move the entire Middle East into the world).

President Trump has made his position for change clear on at least two fronts, the main one being that he wants a one-world health-care system. Some budget analysts have estimated the extent of the available federal funds for providing health care for the poor at roughly $675 billion over the next ten years. Some Trump critics accuse him of kicking the issue down the road. (Perhaps a reckoning might come at the same time the next House Democrat is up for reelection in November.) Whatever, it’s hard to see what need there is to expand government funding for health care beyond a general redistribution of income.

And for all the populist-minded talk about a national Health Savings Account, even if it works out, it would have to be available to the poorest people—which would be an attack on Medicare. A new stimulus might be an answer to this issue, but it’s a wet dream.

I get it that Biden’s friends on the Democratic side are putting up with being kind of sidelined by him. But maybe they should stop. As Biden has spent years getting in the way of the Democrats, it would be a shame to see him squashed and put in the lap of someone else.


ROSS KLEIN contributed to this story.