“It didn’t come to me right away, but finally I recognized the model for Joe Biden’s unusual campaign, the former president whose pitch Biden’s most closely resembles:
George W. Bush.
I’m referring to Bush’s first presidential bid, in 2000, which is remembered mostly for its surreal climax: the seesawing returns on election night, the Florida recount, the Supreme Court ruling that effectively decided the contest in his favor. To the limited extent that political junkies recall his slogans and stump speeches, the phrase “compassionate conservative” comes quickest to mind.
But Bush’s strategy and success arguably hinged less on selling himself as a new kind of Republican than on being seen as a tested, trusted, traditional brand. His surname did much of that work, and he augmented it with a sustained oratorical emphasis on propriety. He pledged to “restore honor and integrity” to the White House in the wake of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. He would end the melodrama of the Clinton years and expunge the shame by having the nation essentially pick up where it had left off — with a Bush at the helm.”