Joe Biden as Hamlet: Make up your mind, already

This Pete Souza White House photo shows Biden as we often see him -- with a big smile.

This Pete Souza White House photo shows Biden as we often see him — with a big smile.

To run or not to run. That is the decision facing Vice President Joe Biden. By all accounts — inside the Beltway, across the political spectrum, and from potential donors and supporters nationwide — the vice president has not yet decided whether to face the grueling task of launching a third bid for the presidency.

It’s hard to blame him. If you watched Biden’s recent interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, you would see a man still reeling from the death of his son Beau from brain cancer, who reportedly urged his father to run one more time.

“I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, No. 1, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and No. 2, they can look at the folks out there and say, ‘I promise you that you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this.’ And I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there,” Biden told Colbert.

That would suggest he’s a no-go, but news reports full of “leaked” information claim that some would-be Biden donors are waiting in the wings, itching to write those checks (Hollywood Reporter, Reuters). Dr. Jill Biden reportedly has given a third run her blessing (CNN). There’s no shortage of stories with reports that he will or he won’t run and the problems he’ll face if he does (The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, BuzzFeed News, just to name a few). There’s a “draft Biden” website, which will gladly take your money and your email address — just in case. You also can check the money odds of a Biden run at PredictIt.org (currently at 57 cents, down six cents as of this writing).

If he decides to run, Biden already faces the problems of being a late entry. Filing deadlines for several states are approaching. Many staff members already have been hired by other candidates, in multiple states. Many donors already are committed. Some unions already have made endorsements, although others reportedly are holding back until Biden jumps in — or doesn’t.

Biden faces a raft of obstacles. He turns 73 later this year, although that’s still a year younger than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and only a few years older than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Several polls, still basically meaningless at this point, register support for Biden, mostly at Clinton’s expense, but the numbers and headlines fluctuate daily.

Biden’s media coverage is currently positive, especially in the wake of his son’s death, but it wouldn’t be long before many in the media start dumping on him for his history of “gaffes.” GOP opponents would bring up the plagiarism charges from his 1988 run — potentially more serious than the never-ending but essentially non-scandalous story of Clinton’s email server.

There’s also Biden’s questionable hands-on behavior to members of Congress and their families as lawmakers are sworn in at the beginning of a term — a duty he clearly loves but which struck some people as more than a little creepy.

So who knows what the vice president will do? Time is running out; the first Democratic debate is less than a month away, even though more are needed (yeah, we’re talking to YOU, Debbie Wasserman Schultz!). So with apologies to William Shakespeare, here is Biden’s soliloquy.

To run, or not to run: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Fox News pundits,
Or to take arms against a sea of Republicans,
And by opposing end them. To run, to sleep —
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That candidates are heir to. ’Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To run, to sleep —
To sleep, perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of candidacy what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this electoral coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of long political life.
For who would bear votes and policy statements of time,
The vote that was wrong, the senator’s gaffe,
The pangs of despised positions, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare ballot? Who would voters bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary office,
But that the dread of something after election,
The undiscover’d statement from whose bourn
No candidate returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those votes we have cast
Than fly to other policies we know not of?
Thus conscience does make candidates of us all,
And thus the political hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the vote cast of thought,
And elections of great pith and moment
With this regard their voters turn awry
And lose the fall election. — Soft you now!
The fair Hillary! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.

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