Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during...

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the I Will Vote Fundraising Gala on June 6, 2019, in Atlanta. Credit: AP/John Bazemore

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

You caved. Big time. 

Now you look weak. And a presidential candidate can’t look weak. Surely you know that.

What a shame; the avuncular thing was working. Even the stand-off impishness. But waffling on something as fundamental as the Hyde Amendment? It could spell the end for your presidential viability — and it’s not just about the issue at hand.

The Hyde Amendment matters to millions of Americans against or ambivalent about abortion to varying degrees. Prohibiting federal funds from being spent on the procedure, except in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother, has been a small concession — calling it a compromise is too strong —  for these largely religious American constituencies since 1976. The Hyde Amendment survived seven presidencies during that time, including Jimmy Carter’s, Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s.

So what gives?

You do, actually. And that’s the point.

This was a test and you flunked it. Americans wanted to see whether you’d stick by your guns under fire. You rolled on your rifle instead and fired it — at your own campaign.

Prayers for a speedy recovery.

Your newfound opposition to the Hyde Amendment won’t appease the hard political left. You should know that, too. Nothing appeases those on the progressive left. Theirs is a game of moving goal posts; make one concession and they’ll demand three more. To them, you’ll always be a reactionary white DINO male (Democrat In Name Only.) You’ll never be one of them. Capitulating on the Hyde Amendment only put blood in the water. Sharks are now circling.

How didn’t you see this coming? You got elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 — a year before Roe v. Wade — and one would think you’d have your abortion talking points down. But I guess you and your team got rattled by this strident new progressive left and by the strict new pro-life laws passed in Alabama and other states.  You wondered, can we secure this nomination while defending the Hyde Amendment? Will we be the bird in a turkey shoot at the June 26 debate? Bean counters may have done math.

But there’s more to politics than math or klieg lights. Voters are constantly taking the measure of the candidate, even when they don’t agree with them on all things. So far, a large plurality has liked what they’ve seen in you, which is all you need to take the Democratic nomination. Expect that to change in the polls ahead.

There’s a self-inflicted hole caused by panic in the good ship Biden. It came faster than many of us expected, and it’s genuinely sad to see regardless of how one feels about Hyde.

Backbone, man. Backbone.

William F.B. O'Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.

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