- - Monday, May 4, 2020

Even if the sexual assault allegations by former Joe Biden staff member Tara Reade turn out to be false, there are still problems the former vice president faces.

The first and most important of these is whether he can win his party’s nomination.

I’m generally suspicious when it comes to politics. Why has Ms. Reade waited until now to come forward? Mr. Biden has run for president before and several times for senator. He was vetted before Barack Obama picked him as his running mate. The timing seems too convenient. Are there forces within the Democratic Party — Bernie Sanders supporters, for example — who don’t believe Mr. Biden has the mental capacity to endure what will be a brutal campaign? Are they undermining him by canceling or delaying party primaries? Will he show up at his party’s convention (if there is one) with an insufficient number of delegates to clinch the nomination, setting off a “trade war” among delegates won by Mr. Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others?

Even The New York Times editorial board, no friend of President Trump, has called for a full investigation of Ms. Reade’s assertions.

Then there’s the question of how Mr. Biden presents himself. In the controlled environment of his home, Mr. Biden has had difficulty stringing together coherent sentences during online interviews and often seems confused. Mr. Trump is no great orator either, but the president comes off as Daniel Webster to Mr. Biden’s Porky Pig.

Mr. Biden’s positions on China have been especially uninformed. In a speech one year ago, Mr. Biden responded to fears expressed by some that Beijing was a major foreign threat: “China is going to eat our lunch? They’re not bad folks, folks … They’re not competition for us.”

Early this year Mr. Biden criticized Mr. Trump’s decision to halt air travel from China, calling it “hysterical, xenophobic.” He later changed his position as he has on so many other issues. Could this have had anything to do with son Hunter Biden’s lucrative business deals in China?

Republicans also have a file full of quotes from Mr. Biden’s fellow Democrats. Mr. Sanders may have been the most critical. During the debates, Mr. Sanders attacked Mr. Biden for supporting the invasion of Iraq, for his trade policies, which Mr. Sanders claimed cost the United States over 4 million jobs, and for Mr. Biden’s support of American trade relations with China.

Sen. Kamala Harris also repeatedly attacked Mr. Biden. She said Mr. Biden’s criminal justice policies contributed to “mass incarceration,” that Mr. Biden opposed busing, and that Mr. Biden supported the status quo when it came to health care.

Only two months ago, Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused Mr. Biden of favoring the reelection of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and that despite his claim to the contrary Mr. Biden was not instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

They weren’t done.

On the campaign trail, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg repeatedly criticized Mr. Biden, saying his support of the 1994 Crime Bill “did so much harm,” that he supported the invasion of Iraq, which Mr. Buttigieg called the worst foreign policy decision in his lifetime, and that Mr. Biden had the same Washington, D.C., mindset when we need to bring new voices to the capital.

Sen. Cory Booker subtly raised the state of Mr. Biden’s mental health when he expressed doubts the former vice president could win the presidency without “fumbling.” 

Now they all have, or will likely soon, endorse Mr. Biden, claiming he would make a great president. Voters have a right to ask if Mr. Biden once made bad decisions, how will he suddenly make good ones as president? 

These and many more sound bites from Democrats critical of Mr. Biden now and in prior years will likely show up in Trump reelection ads.

• Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, is the author of “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan, January 2020).

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