Joe Biden’s prospective presidential candidacy is in danger of becoming a joke. Every week, some new Democratic bigwig pledges himself to Hillary Clinton. Pro-Hillary groups have already assembled to fend off hostile campaign press. At last weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner, President Obama added to the air of inevitability by teasing Fox News, “You’ll miss me when I’m gone. It’ll be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.”
If there’s any suspense left about the Democratic primary in 2016, it largely revolves around whether an economic populist will challenge Clinton from the left. The prospect of Elizabeth Warren entering the race tantalizes many liberals. But since Biden’s not an anti-Wall Street crusader, his potential candidacy sparks barely any interest at all. That’s too bad. While a Warren candidacy would spark one valuable debate inside the Democratic Party—about government’s role in the economy—a Biden candidacy would spark another: about America’s role in the world.
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The tragic news that forces linked to al-Qaeda have retaken Fallujah is just the latest reminder that George W. Bush’s war of choice was a historic, catastrophic misjudgment. “Any Republican seeking nomination for the 2016 presidential election should at a minimum be willing to admit Iraq was a mistake,” Jeremy Lott writes at RealClearWorld. “It was an error that cost us upwards of $1.5 trillion, thousands of U.S. lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, while seriously hindering our efforts to track down the real culprits of September 11, 2001.”
The issue is going to be tough for Republicans to navigate, given that public opinion has turned against the war, even as powerful GOP factions still support it. Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are probably already gaming out their strategy. What’s less remarked upon is the challenge Iraq will pose for Democrats. The war was foisted on America by a propagandizing Republican administration, and Democratic hawks have been better than Republican hawks at acknowledging error. But as Daniel Larison notes, “Virtually none of the politicians mentioned as 2016 candidates in the GOP were even in national office during the Bush year,” whereas several prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, all have pro-war votes on their resumes. (And it’s hard to believe that any of those three were hoodwinked by Dick Cheney.)
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The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons has been traveling with Vice President Joseph Biden through Asia this week, and wrote yesterday how the vice president attempted to defuse a crisis between China and Japan in the East China Sea. But along the way, Clemons became part of the story himself. Assigned to be the “pool reporter” covering Biden today, Clemons unwittingly found himself inserted in the vice president’s conversation with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. Here is Steve’s report in its entirety.
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BEIJING — On Wednesday, fresh off a visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Joe Biden spent five and a half hours in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping over a series of meetings and dinner. The marathon diplomacy capped a delicate effort by the vice president this week to tamp down Japan’s anger over provocative Chinese actions in the East China Sea while not coming down too hard on China.
Tensions have been growing in Asia among a number of key regional players—particularly Japan and China, which have been squaring off over competing sovereignty claims to five tiny, uninhabited islands that the Chinese call the Diaoyu and the Japanese call the Senkaku. Last week, China raised the blood pressure of Japan’s prime minister—and many a commercial airline pilot—by unilaterally imposing an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, that overlaps with territory Japan and South Korea also claim.
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He took that position after years as a U.S. senator, and taught it during lectures on the separation of powers.
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. It may be tough to tell.