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Joe Biden’s time really is up, so who takes his lane?

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Joe Bidens time really is up so who takes his lane

It was the symbolic soundbite of the night. While responding to accusations of being a racist, former Vice President Joe Biden launched into an emotion recitation of his civil rights record. For a minute there, it seemed like he might be able to control some of the damage done by the massive blow Senator Kamala Harris inflected on him. But then, Biden said something remarkable.

“My times up. I’m sorry.”

And with those words, Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign was over. He won’t be calling it quits any time soon. His poll numbers likely won’t even drop that much despite a very poor overall debate performance. But it was a gaffe nonetheless; you never give up your time in a debate. You fight for every second, talking over the moderators if necessary and breaking in with rehearsed lines at just the right moment. This was a rehearsed line by Biden. His team had prepared him. But he wasn’t prepared enough. Whether he forgot the continuation of his civil rights defense or if he’d said everything they’d planned for him to say, it was an awkward moment that will haunt him until he calls it quits.

And the symbolism is clear. Biden is the old Democratic Party, the party of the Clintons and Kennedys. Even Obama’s legacy is arguably long in the tooth as the mercurial party that idolized him is already looking for a more progressive model. And Biden isn’t it.

Joe Biden’s time is up for the same reason Ronald Reagan became a Republican. Neither left the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left them.

The only question that remains is, who will pick up the moderate mantle? Who will run in that lane who has a chance of competing with the three frontrunning Medicare-for-All radicals, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris?

Will it be Pete Buttigieg? The South Bend mayor has been an enigma so far, seemingly radical and moderate at the same time. But he was adamant about taking a measured course to single-payer instead of forcing 180 million Americans to change to government-run health insurance, so that immediately puts him closer to the center than the three progressives ahead of him.

Will it be one of the other three Senators currently stuck in single-digit polling, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, or Cory Booker? They can’t seem to make it in the crowded leftist lane, so maybe they’ll make the switch to the middle and try to be a better Biden than Biden.

Will Andrew Yang step up? He didn’t do much to help his case last night, showing very little passion and fueling more confusion about his trademark plan for universal basic income.

At this point, it’s anyone’s guess, but if I were forced to pick one, it would be Buttigieg. Not only is he doing better in the polls than the others, he also had an impressive debate performance. He’s a natural at this whole politics thing. Too bad he’s a progressive Democrat. He has the brains to be a good Republican if he could just get his ideology in order.

It’s clear Joe Biden no longer has the mental fortitude to fight the long battle for the nomination. He’s campaigning on autopilot after four decades of trying to keep up with his party’s evolution. But even now, he’s already running out of gas.

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