This doesn't offend me with Biden in the way that saying nothing might with other candidates, because if you want to know what he thinks and what he might do he has a fifty-year public record you can check on. I don't think he has to say anything for anyone who cares to know what his administration would be like. For me, the big plusses are his decades-long work to expand health insurance coverage and his consistent dislike of foreign wars (he repeatedly urged Obama to pull out of Afghanistan immediately.)
But if Mr. Biden hopes to maintain his advantage as November draws near, Wisconsin Democrats like Mr. Zimdars have some advice, akin to the famous medical principle of “do no harm,” or the cautionary words of the hit HBO series “The Wire”: “Keep it boring.”
Being politically milquetoast is Mr. Biden’s appeal, they said, driving his ability to attract progressives in Milwaukee, moderates in suburbs like Waukesha and more rural voters in places like Adams County, one of the 22 counties in the state that voted for Mr. Trump after backing President Barack Obama in 2012.
They don’t lament that Mr. Biden is not a historic candidate like Mr. Obama or Hillary Clinton, or that he lacks bumper-sticker progressive policies like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — they’re grateful for it.
The negative is that he has essentially followed the shifting preferences of the suburban, north Delaware votes who elected him, for example in opposing school busing and turning very "tough on crime" in the 80s and 90s. This leads people like my sons to say that he "doesn't believe in anything."
But maybe it means that he believes in democracy. Isn't it the job of representatives to do what their constituents want? If he had taken a strong stand in favor of busing or against mandatory minimum sentences he just would have lost his seat to a Republican, and how would that have helped?
Because of these conversations with my sons I have been thinking about this exact issue a lot lately. I believe strongly in democracy, and as an instinctual moderate I am not necessarily moved by strong, contrarian stands. If the people want something, who are politicians to stop them? On the other hand I am also not much impressed by the many empty suits in American politics who really seem to believe in nothing except themselves. And sometimes the people want pretty terrible stuff.
Where I end up is admiring men like Obama or George Bush I, who were moderates mainly interested in getting things done but did have a consistent tendency across their careers; they were found near the center, wherever it was, but always on the same side of it. I think Biden has generally been like that.