She Was Right About Joe Biden
The oddity of Carolyn Maloney's "clean up"
Last week, Carolyn Maloney, the Upper East Side congresswoman running for her political life in a redrawn Manhattan district, said something curious during a televised debate with her two opponents, Jerry Nadler and Suraj Patel. Nadler, a fellow congressman from the West Side, asserted he wouldn’t be backing Joe Biden’s re-election until he saw how Democrats performed in the midterms. Patel, running otherwise as a generational change candidate, said he supported the 79-year-old Biden fully. Maloney had a different answer. “I don’t believe he’s running for re-election,” she said.
This predictably kicked off a media cycle in which, after a number of days, Maloney was forced into an apology. She gave a seemingly heartfelt one, with a caveat, during a CNN appearance. “Mr. President, I apologize. I want you to run,” she said. “I happen to think you won’t be running, but when you run or if you run, I will be there 100%."
“You have deserved it,” she added. “You are a great president and thank you for everything you’ve done for my state and all the states and all the cities in America.”
This was assessed, by the cognoscenti, as a “bad” cycle for Maloney. It was distracting, certainly, forcing her to account for stray debate remarks rather than focus on her campaign messaging. What was interesting about the affair, to me at least, was how little of what Maloney said would be controversial for the average Democratic voter. It’s not even clear her comments would have, privately at least, rankled the average Democratic donor. Whom she was apologizing to—Biden, Biden’s staff, nebulous party leaders—is an open question and may speak to a fealty politicians have to a certain dated decorum. A politician isn’t always supposed to speak her mind and here Maloney supposedly “goofed.”