Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a new video ad on guns. The ad serves multiple purposes.
First, he shows frankly how easy it will be to show President Donald Trump as the loudmouth who makes big promises but never delivers. This is an attack that works well on just about any subject - e.g., a trade deal with China, a super-duper health-care plan, economic growth above 3 percent, a big and beautiful infrastructure plan, a wall Mexico would pay for, eliminating the deficit. Calling him out as a blowhard is effective insofar as it's a response Trump can answer only with more overblown, self-congratulatory rhetoric (i.e. more talk); he cannot deliver what he's been promising. Like all good ads, the video reinforces what many voters know, namely that Trump knows and does little and that his only true talent (aside from bullying) is self-promotion.
Second, the last few seconds are perhaps the most important: "Joe Biden has beat the NRA twice. And will do it again." In a statement accompanying release of the video, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield explains, "Joe Biden dealt the NRA two of their biggest defeats in history by passing the 1994 bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as being instrumental in passing the Brady background check bill." The point here is that talk is cheap, and there is no evidence that any of Biden's opponents, who are offering quite similar proposals, will be able to fulfill their promises on guns. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has been in Congress since 1991 (first in the House and now in the Senate for 12 years) but cannot make a similar claim.
One can make the case that Congress has changed since 1994, that the National Rifle Association has permanently cowed the current crop of Republicans, and that it is much more difficult to pass anything through today's Senate. But if anything, that criticism applies even more to Biden's opponents, who make a host of pie-in-the-sky promises (eliminate college debt, Medicare-for-all) but have no track record of major accomplishments.
Third, a good deal of Biden's supporters think he is the most electable. However they rightly or wrongly arrive at the conclusion that Biden is more electable than, say, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., it is a firmly and widely held belief among primary voters. Biden therefore doesn't have to do back-flips to convince Democratic voters that he is the safest candidate. However, we've already seen polls in which multiple candidates are outside the poll's margin of error. If lots of people appear very capable of beating Trump, what will differentiate them? For some voters, it will be personality or gender or race, but Biden makes the case that ability to govern should rank very high.
Democrats saw that whatever is not accomplished and nailed down by a Democratic president can be easily swept aside by a Republican president. Time is limited, and rarely does a president have four, let alone eight years, to govern with a friendly Congress. That puts a premium on a nominee who can effectively govern and who requires no on-the-job training.
In sum, the ad is effective not only in exposing Trump as a windbag and liar, but also in separating Biden from the crowd of pro-gun safety opponents, some of whom are more eloquent and all of whom (with the exception of Sanders) are younger. In this case, Biden argues, we might just want to hire someone who knows how to get the job done.