Is Joe Biden's 'Marry Me Or Die Alone' Gambit Really All That Great Of An Idea?

2020 presidential election
photo by Dominic Gwinn

I have always been the kind of person who will tell her worst enemy that they have toilet paper stuck to their shoe, or their skirt tucked into their tights. Even if I hate you, I still don't want you walking around with lipstick on your teeth. It's just my way and I cannot help it. It will kill me.

This weekend, Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom Vilsack, Joe Biden's top surrogate in Iowa, came out with what I have to believe is the absolute most depressing sales pitch of all time. During a stump speech, Vilsack actually told voters to settle for the person she was supposed to be stumping for. She told them, flat out, that they may like other candidates better, that they make think other candidates' policies are better, but that instead of voting for the candidates they actually like, they should instead focus on the "people in the middle" and what they want — and we can assume that she believes Joe Biden is what they want. Or, I guess, who they'd be willing to settle for as well.


It's not only dangerously close to the GOP talking point that people on the Left do not count as "Real Americans," it's depressing as hell.

I'm gonna need a musical interlude before we get into this, if you don't mind:

Settle for Me (feat. Santino Fontana) - "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" www.youtube.com


So far, Biden's whole gambit has been the political equivalent of proposing to someone by saying "Marry me or die alone and have your rotting corpse eaten by your pet cat!" Someone asks him if he'd halt removals of immigrants, he gets huffy and tells them they should just vote for Trump; someone doesn't buy his claim that Medicare for All is a fabulous gift to corporations, he gets all huffy and tells them to vote for Sanders or Warren.

I don't ... is this a strategy? Is it supposed to be some kind of reverse psychology thing? Is he going for the opposite of "Hope and Change"?

Joe Biden, as you may have noticed if you have ever read literally anything else I have written, is not my candidate. But he has toilet paper on his shoe and someone has got to tell him about it. As I am practically a saint, I suppose it will have to be me. Because if his winning the Democratic primary is as inevitable as he and his camp seem to think it is, this strategy will lose him the election, and all the "Make Brunch Great Again" people will claim that it is the fault of Lefties like me for not pretending hard enough to be super jazzed about him in hopes of reeling other voters they imagine are "stupid" and likely to just go along with us. No thank you! It's not going to be on me, thank you very much.

I also really, really, do not want another four years of Trump. And if Biden runs against Trump, this is one way he's really going to have to get his act together.

I know it's fun to go "Oh, Trump is stupid! He spells things wrong! People like him because they are stupid and hateful and so is he!" or "People only voted for him because they were manipulated by Russian trolls!" and what not, but I am here to tell you that, unfortunately, when it comes to people and how to emotionally manipulate them, he knows what he's doing a whole lot better than any Russian trolls do. He knows his audience. He is good at sales.

I know this, because I am also very good at sales.

You know how he always sounds all delusions-of-grandeur-y? That's not just him being a weird asshole. That's him acting like he believes in what he's selling. You act like you are fabulous, you act like what you are selling is fabulous, and 9 times out of 10, people will just go along with you because it's easier. People like to be excited, they like compliments, they like to feel included and important and on a "team" and they like the whole "it's us against the world, baby" feeling. That's human nature. Trump has been able to turn any attack on him, no matter how specific, into an attack on his followers as well. He also knows, in some ways, how to get us to be our worst selves. You know who likes people who tell other people, publicly, that they've made a spelling error or a grammatical error? No one. No one likes those people.

People can keep saying that Trump is "too stupid" to know what he's doing, but if he doesn't, he's a savant. You don't have to be a fabulous intellectual to be good at sales — most of it is gut instincts, being able to read people and your own enthusiasm and passion. You have to be able to tell people a story they want to believe about themselves. No one is buying anything from someone who says "Eh, it's not the best you can do, but it's okay and in your price range," unless they are only saying that to get the person to buy something more expensive.

Joe Biden, right now, does not believe in what he's selling, and it shows. His surrogates do not believe in what he's selling. The story they're telling us about ourselves is that we can't do any better than him, so we need just to be sensible and take what we can get. While there are certainly some people who actually would love to believe in an America where everyone, just for once, does the sensible thing and happily settles for the statesmanlike compromise candidate while also selflessly pretending that said candidate is all they've ever dared to dream of, it's a truly risky gambit that relies on way too many outside factors. It's a Jenga tower and if someone pulls out the wrong block, we're all screwed.

Personally, I really do think that Warren has a much better chance of winning the general than Biden does, and really disagree with the idea of him as the "safe" candidate. Hell, I think Bernie is a safer bet. Or literally any of the candidates not running a human shrug emoji campaign. But if Biden does win the primary and becomes the candidate for the Democratic party, I sincerely hope he gets some people on his team with a better idea of how to sell him than whoever came up with this shit.

[Twitter]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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