Last week, I said that Joe Biden had committed suicide with his restated support for the Hyde Amendment that bans Medicaid coverage for abortion. Apparently, Biden agreed, for the next day, he recanted and swore fealty to the liberal agenda by flip-flopping to oppose Hyde.
While he did avert political death by his switch, he inflicted a serious wound on his candidacy from which it may not recover.
Biden can and will be savagely attacked over a host of conservative or moderate positions he has taken over the course of his 35-year career that are distinctly unfashionable when examined under the lens of today’s progressive movement that dominates the Democratic Party.
His support for capital punishment, opposition to marijuana legalization, current disagreement with Medicare-for-All, and his past opposition to gay marriage — among many other positions — will hurt him badly in the Democratic primaries.
But worse than any of these views is the question of trust. Can the left trust him? Having flip-flopped, will he flip again?
Today’s “progressives” are not likely to look kindly on an unreliable ally in the Oval Office.
Biden will also have to spend time defending his past support of NAFTA, the Pacific Rim Treaty, welfare reform, and the Iraq War.
His flip over abortion makes it likely that all his opponents in the late June Democratic debate will take aim at his past positions and dismiss his conversion to the left as opportunistic and undependable.
Did Biden understand the impact of his apostasy over abortion funding? Is he tone deaf? Can we expect other sour notes? His record is clearly too conservative for today’s Democratic electorate.
The facts of the Medicaid abortion debate are far less exciting than its rhetoric. Seventeen states with a combined population of 124 million (38% of U.S. total) allow Medicaid funding for abortion that the feds will not reimburse.
They include California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington state and most of the big states.
So a Medicaid abortion ban is not as serious as it sounds. If liberal states get bent out of shape, they could include payment for bus fare into their states as part of their reimbursement.
But all of these liberal hot-button issues will come back to haunt Biden as his rivals pile on.
Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write a syndicated column each week. They are conservative commentators and are featured regularly on news talk shows. Contact him on Twitter at @DickMorrisTweet or Dictmorris.com.