BIDEN: I think that -- that Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real, and he has credibility on it. And that is the absolute enormous concentration of wealth in a small group of people with the new class now being able to be shown being left out. There used to be a basic bargain. If you contributed to the profitability of an enterprise, you got to share in the profit. That's been broken. Productivity is up, wages are stagnant.BORGER: But Hillary's talking about that, and....BIDEN: Well, it's -- but it's -- it's relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. Hillary's focus has been other things up to now, and that's been Bernie's -- no one questions Bernie's authenticity on those issues.
Cue groans in Clinton campaign headquarters.
In an interview with the "Today" show Tuesday morning at the White House, Biden sought to clean up the controversy caused by his comments to Borger -- noting that "what I meant was for the last five years she’s been engaged in foreign policy -- for four years here." As for Sanders, "even when income inequality wasn’t as serious as it is today, it was his drumbeat,” Biden said. “[Clinton's] coming up with some very good ideas but Bernie is pushing the envelope on this.”
Read between the lines of Biden's answers and you get this: Bernie Sanders is doing better than most people expected because he's authentic and actually believes what he says. Hillary is fine but, let's be honest, she is talking about these issues now because Bernie is forcing her hand. He's credible on issues of economic inequality; she's not really.
It's not all that surprising that Biden threw Clinton under the bus to Borger if you remember the duo's history. During his long consideration of a 2016 run against Clinton, Biden -- and his inner circle -- made it very clear that he resented Clinton's attempts to cast herself as the natural heir to Obama's two terms in office. And it's no secret that Biden has long viewed Clinton as an overly cautious, poll-tested sort of politician -- the antithesis of his say-what-you-mean-and-mean-what-you-say approach to public life.
Biden did offer a bit of a warning to Clinton (and everyone else running for the Democratic nod) when he announced, back in October 2015, that he wouldn't run for the nomination. "I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation," Biden said at the time.
Regardless, Biden's comments could hardly come at a worse time for Clinton -- or a better one for Sanders. Clinton's widely assumed lead in Iowa appears to be eroding with less than three weeks to go before the caucuses -- raising the possibility that the Vermont socialist could sweep the first two states to vote and throw what looked like something close to a coronation for Clinton into chaos.
Here's another way to look at what Biden's comments will do to the "Bernie rising/Hillary struggling" narrative -- via Homer J. Simpson:
Biden, of course, knows what he is doing. Which is what makes it all the more delicious, politically speaking.