Joe Biden probably did the politically smart thing in announcing today that he won't run for president in 2016. Yes, he had a political narrative that might've beaten Hillary Clinton, but she had the state-by-state organization and donor base. As Biden said in the Rose Garden, his window had closed.
But Biden proceeded then to give what, in any other situation, sounded an awful lot like a stump speech. He talked about giving the middle class a fighting chance. He talked about public education, about LGBT rights and, yes, about bridging the political divide.
Why give a political speech on the day you're announcing a non-candidacy?
Maybe it’s because he can’t quite let go, even when he’s letting go. Or maybe it’s because the window isn't completely shut on Biden 2016.
If the FBI declares that Hillary Clinton violated the law in the use of a personal email server, that organization she built could crumble. Clinton would surely fight, but backers will blanch at supporting a severely wounded candidate. Donors will, too. Party leaders will search frantically for an alternative to the alternative, Bernie Sanders. They won't have to look far.
It's all very unlikely. But Biden made a no-lose political decision today. He gave up on a race that was going to be very difficult to win, and he built goodwill throughout the party – including with Clinton supporters –should the FBI turn 2016 into chaos.
In the end, his best shot all along for the presidency remains his best shot now.
Peter St. Onge