Who Cares If Joe Biden Really Believes in Bipartisanship?

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Tonight Joe Biden repeated something he’s said before:

Josh Marshall is shaking his damn head:

This is an example of something that’s sort of amused me for a long time. If you ask people about politicians, you’ll almost invariably hear nothing but cynicism. They lie constantly. They tell people what they want to hear. They flip-flop. They say different things to different audiences. They’re always repeating talking points. Etc.

And yet, in real life, most people take politicians at 100 percent face value: if they say something that’s not obviously preposterous, we simply accept it. Cynicism goes straight out the window. (Unless it’s someone whose guts we hate. Then everything they say is automatically a lie.)

I have no idea what Joe Biden “really” believes about working with Republicans. But I will say this: he’s a politician. There’s zero reason to think he truly believes what he’s saying here. There’s also zero reason to think he doesn’t believe it. The fact that he said it is simply a null input.

At the same time, Biden isn’t an idiot. Of course he knows what the modern Republican Party is like. But like Obama before him, he also knows that lots of people really like to hear paeans to bipartisanship. We political junkies may hate it, but ordinary people who don’t inhale cable news are suckers for the idea that we can all get along if we just give it a try—and there are way more of them than there are of us. Biden knows this, so that’s what he tells people. Whether he really believes it or not matters not a whit.

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