WI:Joe Biden in '88?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by theReturner, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    Joe Biden ran for President in 1988, and apparently thought to be a strong contender during the start of his campaign. However, he got stopped early on because of allegations the he plagarized one of Neil Kinnock's speeches, as well as speeches from Hubert Humphrey and Robert F. Kennedy. Let's say he is able to avoid this, and stays in the race at least until the primaries start...

    Would he be able to win the nomination? If so, who would be his running mate?

    Would he be able to beat George H.W. Bush, assuming he still gets the Republican nomination? If not, what happens to Biden after being a failed Presidential Candidate? And who would the Democrats turn to in '92? Would it still be Bill Clinton?

    However, if Biden can beat Bush, what sort of President would he have made from 1989 to 1993? What would he have done differently from Bush? Would he have been able to win re-election?
     
  2. drcynic Well-Known Member

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    I have always felt the plagiarism charge was unfair. Biden had made that same speech before and always cited Kinnock. He forgot to that time and he was caught.

    As far as winning the nomination, I suppose he had as good a chance as any of them. There was no outstanding frontrunner without Gary Hart. Biden, I suppose could have won. Dukakis could've won. Hell, Paul Simon could've won. It was a very up in the air primary because there was no big name.

    If Biden did win, I think he'd benefit from a running mate from either the midwest or south. Biden is a charismatic man, so he wouldn't need an image VP. Since he was a Senator, he could go for a Governor like Jim Blanchard of Michigan or Mark White of Texas.
     
  3. Æsir Counter-Revolutionary Leftist

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    It's important to note that even if Biden hadn't been hit by the plagiarism accusations, he wasn't in perfect health on the campaign trail and in February 1988 suffered an aneurysm which required him to spend seven months way from the Senate recovering. Biden himself speculated that had he remained in the race the aneurysm could've been worse or remained undetected and he may have died.
     
  4. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    Huh...now that would make for an unexpected POD...
     
  5. Tony Tiananmen Ghost

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    Hold on a second, this alone could make a fine TL:D
     
  6. Æsir Counter-Revolutionary Leftist

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    Actually, I've had a little kernel of a TL based on that bouncing around my head for a while, which I started to write but put on hold because I had other things I was doing and decided I needed to brush up on the history. There's barely anything too it so I'll just put it up if anyone is interested;

    The title I came up with might give you a hint where I was planning on going with this... ;):p
     
  7. Apollo 20 Well-Known Member

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    This is correct and covered in some detail in the Richard Ben Cramer classic "What it Takes", which goes into the personalities of some of the 1988 Dem candidates in some detail. A Biden '88 timeline could have an interesting 25th Amendment component to it.
     
  8. Andrew T Kick 'em when they're up!

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    The Biden "attack video" was produced by Dukakis's genius campaign manager, John Sasso (who was then, inexplicably, forced to resign afterwards, despite the fact that it illustrated he was very, very good at his job).

    If Dukakis drops out earlier, the video doesn't get made, and Biden probably is the nominee (and President-elect).

    I have to think that Lloyd Bentsen would make as good a Vice-Presidential nominee for Biden as he was for the Duke. And the failure of decision-making that led to Dan Quayle was intrinsic to George Bush (who was determined to avoid media leaks). So we probably wind up with the Bentsen-Quayle debate in TTL as well....
     
  9. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    What makes you think he could have beaten Bush?
     
  10. Paul V McNutt Paul V McNutt Banned

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    I think he does better than Dukakis. I saw him speak at 1983 Young Drmocrats convention.
     
  11. Paul V McNutt Paul V McNutt Banned

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    Yes I am that old.
     
  12. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    No worries, man :)

    So, let's suppose Biden narrowly defeats Bush, and then suffers from his health ailment, but survives. How does an economic liberal, socially more conservative Biden Presidency play out?
     
  13. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    Would we still have the Gulf War?
     
  14. Andrew T Kick 'em when they're up!

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    Not sure how I missed these questions; my apologies for the delay!

    A May 26, 1988 Galup poll showed Dukakis leading Bush by 16 points; two months later, another Gallup poll showed Dukakis with a 17 point lead (55-38%).

    It is virtually impossible for any campaign, no matter how incompetent, to blow a 17-point lead in a month, except of course, for one managed by incompentent political neophyte Susan Estrich.

    And all of that is before the infamous tank ride; before airing incomprehensible TV ads; before deciding not to answer misleading charges about his prison furlough program (for the entirety of the election!) and so on.

    Or how about this: Dukakis made more campaign stops in South Carolina (worth 8 EV, where he never had a prayer of winning) than in New Jersey (worth 16 EV, where he had led until August of 1988). Did Dukakis really think he was going to play better in the deep south than in New Jersey??

    The electoral map strongly favors the Democratic challenger in 1988; you start off with the 112 electoral votes Dukakis won -- obviously, the bare minimum for anyone with a (D) after his name -- and add to it the electoral votes from California (47), Illinois (24), Pennyslvania (23), New Jersey (16), Maryland (10), Connecticut (8), Vermont (3), and Delaware (3) and you get a baseline of 246 EVs for any remotely competent Democrat.

    That leaves you with the following battleground states: Ohio (23 EV), Michigan (20), Missouri (11), Colorado (8), New Mexico (5), Nevada (4), and Maine (4), which give the Democrat a lot more potentially winning combinations than the Republican.

    That's pretty similar to the position Obama was in headed in to 2012, which made him an early 2:1 or 3:1 favorite; I'd say that's where a generic Democrat would be in '88.

    I would imagine we would have something like it; whatever your idealism, Kuwait's oil reserves are simply too important to hand over to Iraq. But certainly I cannot imagine anyone handling Gulf War I more effectively than George H.W. Bush in the short term, given that the senior Bush essentially called up friends from his rolodex to assemble a true multilateral coalition. Heck, he managed to get us air bases in Saudi Arabia for an attack on Iraq; that's virtually inconceivable.

    (Of course, that decision would have significant long-term consequences in terms of enraging a younger Osama bin Laden and driving up his recruitment efforts, but I did say "in the short term.")
     
  15. tchizek Well-Known Member

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    I actually think the question is "Would a Biden administration setup the prerequisites that let Saddam think he could get away with an invasion of Kuwait?" Remember the invasion/defense did not come in a vacuum. There was a lead up and then April Glaspie told the Iraqi's "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts." Which they took to be a free reign to attack Kuwait, even if that was not what she meant.

    An Ambassador that either did not say that or said more strongly that the US would protect the borders of Kuwait would probably avoid the first Gulf War. Now whether a Biden appointed Ambassador would be that person is a open question.
     
  16. Whanztastic BohemianAmerican Defenestrater

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    I agree with this assessment.

    This seems to be hard to avoid. The lines she gave were standard diplomatic noncommital fare. We'd just supported the regime for 8 yrs so far against Iran, and nobody would say Saddam was 'stable'. But in reality, it depends on what a TL writer wants to do with it...

    The problem with the Biden TL is that the aneurysm surgery was Feb. '88, a critical campaign time, and needed a 7 mth recovery... For him to survive the campaign, he will have to get it treated earlier with a less invasive treatment. How I don't know... it is brain surgery after all.

    Edit: The only way I can think of the aneurysm being avoided/delayed is if he takes a physical prior to running, gets diagnosed with high blood pressure
    (I don't know if he even had it...) and starts taking medication which prevents the aneurysm from developing.
     
  17. SiddFinch1 Well-Known Member

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    well Dukakis was also hurt by his bland answer to Bernard Shaw's question about how he would react if his wife was raped...Perhaps Biden with a little more fire would have given a better answer...

    Although Biden has a tendency to say stupid things so he could have imploded very easily
     
  18. Whanztastic BohemianAmerican Defenestrater

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    Potential scenario -

    In early 1987 Senator Joe Biden's physical shows strong risks of hypertension. Already mulling a run for President, and not wanting hypertension to show on a later, publically released physical, Senator Biden takes the necessary life style changes, regular excercise and better eating, and his blood pressure lowers. A fit Biden becomes a staple image of the campaign.

    On Aug. 23, at the Democratic debate at the Iowa State Fair, Sen. Biden says, "Like Kinnock, I was thinking..." Dukakis campaign manager John Sasso attempts to make an attack video with selective editing, however the play is noticed by the candidate who fires Sasso over the issue.

    Delegate wins:

    2/8 Iowa:
    1. Simon - 16
    2. Gephardt - 15
    3. Biden - 13
    4. Dukakis - 8

    2/16 NH:

    1. Dukakis - 8
    2. Biden - 5
    3. Gephardt -3

    2/23 Minn.
    1. Dukakis - 36
    2. Jackson - 28
    3. Biden - 22
    4. Simon - 5

    2/23 SD

    1. Gephardt - 6
    1. Biden - 6
    3. Dukakis - 3

    2/28 Maine
    1. Dukakis - 15
    2. Biden - 8
    3. Jackson - 6

    Now comes Super Tuesday - Gore and Biden have been hammering Dukakis on his liberal strains, with Gephardt adding to his bad for labor. Gephardt is proving like a non-dynamic Biden and labor is not trusting him.

    Biden will prove the blend of several candidates - a friend of Labor like Gephardt, a homegrown American with strong values like Gore, strong experience in the Senate like Simon, and isn't Dukakis.

    Come November, I could see an election map like so, Biden pulling on more traditional Democratic coalitions like labor and the middle class white male, the 'silent majority' coming home, if you will:

    1988 election.png

    1988 election.png
     
  19. LHB Sabotabby on a tin roof

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    This. In my Iran-Contra TL one of my first instincts to go with was for Biden to get the nomination since it looked like he would have had a decent shot assuming the Donna Rice scandal removes Gary Hart just as OTL. Unfortunately there wasn't a situation that could butterfly Biden's poor health and he has to bow out due to his aneurysm nearly killing him.

    If you can get an early enough POD to butterfly away his aneurysm, he doesn't get slammed for plagiarism, and the Donna Rice scandal still happens you can get the right setup for a Biden nomination and from there a good shot at the White House.
     
  20. Whanztastic BohemianAmerican Defenestrater

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    But what does he do when he gets there?