Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE officially launched his presidential campaign on Thursday. He couldn't have done it in a more awkward, authentically challenged way — via a video message.
The 76-year-old front-runner-for-now is apparently following the dubious strategy of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future MORE. Clinton also launched in a perfectly homogenized, almost Hollywood-like production of her campaign four years ago.
The problem is, a video doesn't connect or inspire voters the way a live announcement in front of a raucous crowd could. Now Clinton and Biden share one very big thing in common: a campaign launch lacking energy.
There's also reported squabbling among Biden's advisers leading up to the big day. It reportedly got so bad that one former Biden aide told Time recently that he's "never seen anything so half-assed." Tell us how you really feel ...
“They’re improvising and doing last-minute planning. The guy has been running for President since 1987 and can’t figure the basics out, like where to stand on his first day? This should make everyone very nervous," the former aide added.
Then there's the matter of Biden's schedule. Instead of spring-boarding off all the media coverage he'll undoubtedly command on Thursday, Biden will again mimic Clinton in taking a long weekend break before making his first campaign stop on Monday in Pittsburgh.
With 20 other Democrats running for the nomination — and thereby slicing up the press coverage pie multiple ways — waiting four days before appearing on the stump is not taking advantage of his position as the candidate with the best name recognition.
Then there's the issue of fundraising. This headline in Tuesday's New York Times is an ominous one: "Joe Biden Plans to Enter the 2020 Race on Thursday. He’s Starting With $0."
The story goes on to underscore just how far behind Biden is, with no tangible small-donor base.
"It is an urgent task, especially for a politician not previously known as a prolific fund-raiser," the Times story reads.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRestless progressives eye 2024 Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (I-Vt.) has raised $26.6 million, $10 million of which remain from his last presidential bid and Senate campaign.
"Mr. Biden begins at $0, and it would take his raising more than $100,000 every day until Christmas just to match what Mr. Sanders had banked at the start of April," the Times notes.
Biden has run for president several times before. Each time, he didn't come remotely close to earning the nomination. Polls show — for now, anyway — that he is best positioned to beat President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE, making him the safe choice. But safe choices don't tend to do well in these situations — think John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Storms a growing danger for East Coast Israel, Jordan, UAE sign pivotal deal to swap solar energy, desalinated water GOP seeks oversight hearing with Kerry on climate diplomacy MORE, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai MORE or Jeb Bush.
Then there's the matter of what the Democratic Party, and arguably the media, increasingly doesn't want: old, white, establishment. The establishment part is especially important, because one could argue the past two presidents elected were anything but establishment, in Trump and former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden celebrates start of Hanukkah The massive messaging miscues of all the president's men (and women) 'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency MORE. Both men were seen as outsiders. Both were sent to change the status quo of Washington.
Unfortunately for Biden, he's the most prominent example of a living, breathing establishment politician.
And then there's what one would have believed was Biden's best asset — the kind who can overcome fundraising deficits or stumbling out of the gate: his former boss. Obama left office with an eye-popping 59 percent approval rating. Given how polarized the country has been for the past decade, any president approaching 6-in-10 approval is something any candidate would love to have as their chief endorser.
But curiously, Obama will not endorse his vice president out of the gate, sources told The New York Times in a February report. Remember how the headlines used to describe the relationship between Obama and Biden?
“Barack Obama And Joe Biden's Unforgettable Bromance” — NBC News
“Barack Obama and Joe Biden Visit a Bakery Together Proving the Bromance Is Alive and Well” — Entertainment Tonight
“Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Ultimate Friendship” — Vanity Fair
Add it all up, and you have Biden launching a presidential campaign through a pre-packaged video, infighting in the campaign before it has even launched, no events planned for days after launching, a huge lag in fundraising, and the president he worked for won't endorse him when he needs it most.
The old saying goes: It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish.
Biden better finish strong, because the start couldn't be going much worse.
Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill and co-host of "WOR Tonight with Joe Concha and Lis Wiehl" weeknights on 710-WOR in New York. Follow him on Twitter @JoeConchaTV.