When The New York Times begins publishing op-eds saying Joe Biden should not run again, and that he should announce it soon, then the gig is officially up. Biden is a lame duck. Perhaps someone should tell him.
Columnist Bret Stephens is right to note that the president would be 86 years old at the time of the next election cycle, and that he now “seems … uneven. Often cogent, but sometimes alarmingly incoherent.” More simply, Joe is old and tottering—and he’s unpopular to a startling degree.
As Stephens notes, even passage of a multi-trillion-dollar “infrastructure” spending bill didn’t boost his numbers much. He suggests the president liberate his party by freeing new (and younger) candidates to begin exploring a path to the presidency.
Sure, the question of Joe’s future “need(s) to be discussed candidly, not just whispered constantly.” At the same time, can we also ask the other obvious question candidly?
Why did the media cover for an elderly septuagenarian with clear age-related issues, thrusting him into a job he was never truly capable of holding—and subjecting the nation to a dangerous period without a strong leader? It’s fine to have a mea culpa moment, and truth delivered late is better than truth denied forever, but as the nation stumbles along with a puppet president there should be some accountability.
Just a year after a record 81 million Americans voted for Biden, they’re now being told it didn’t work out. Sorry. It’s coming within the timeframe of the traditional presidential “honeymoon,” that brief period presidents are normally at their zenith of political power and brimming to pass a bold agenda.
Perhaps we should give the public some adjustment time to avoid whiplash from this quick pivot. After all, it wasn’t long ago that the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin was telling them Biden was completely fit for duty, someone who “with his aviator sunglasses (plus his promotion of exercise during the Obama administration), projects vitality and energy.”
Just more than a month before the election last year, a Forbes article claimed Trump and Biden might be “super agers” who would be expected to significantly outlive other men their age. Trump’s activity on the campaign trail perhaps warranted that description, but Biden not so much. He spent more days underground than Punxsutawney Phil and showed frequent difficulty with coherency on the campaign trail, from trying to describe COVID losses “for the past hundred years” to quoting “you know, the thing.”
Days after Biden’s election victory last year, Matt Viser of the Washington Post tweeted that “Joe Biden would often jog onto stage, showing how physically vigorous he is and attempting to dispel questions about his age. Now that he’s the oldest president-elect in American history, that doesn’t change.”
Has it changed now, Matt?
The truth is that establishment Democrats wanted Joe, and they selected him, despite his age and numerous warning signs regarding his mental acuity. He was the blank canvas on which anything could be written, and he could be sold as a “moderate.”
As Bernie Sanders surged in the polls in early 2020 with 45 delegates after the first three primaries and Joe languished in a distant third place with 15, the party took control. Rep. Jim Clyburn stepped in and delivered an influential endorsement in South Carolina that pushed African-American support to Biden’s campaign, propelling him to victory. Stories immediately appeared claiming Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg had “no realistic path to the nomination.”
Despite trailing early in fundraising behind the well-organized Sanders fundraising machine, the Democrat establishment pivoted to push donations to Biden. As the NYT admitted in an article at the time, “The elite world of billionaires and multimillionaires has remained a critical cog in the Biden money machine.” Bernie’s small-dollar donors were no match for the large bundles of corporate and PAC cash.
With a lot of help from a sycophantic media, Biden was elected president of the United States, without serious inquiry regarding his physical and mental abilities. Now, suddenly, it’s time to plan Joe’s exit before the new Oval Office carpet has fully settled in place?
We should note that it wasn’t Joe stumbling up the stairs of Air Force One that troubled Democrats into questioning Joe’s fitness. They didn’t question his stability when he at times spoke gibberish. They didn’t seem worried when his physical exam failed to report on his cognitive ability.
No, his collapse in the polls is why Joe is suddenly being challenged on the question of running again, and despite Chuck Todd’s protestations, it can’t be blamed on Trump.
It turns out that the public is a bit smarter than Democrats guessed. Reading prepared speeches from a teleprompter is not a substitute for leadership. Neither is putting one’s head down on the presidential podium like a child in the face of tough questions about a military failure in Afghanistan. The blame game can only get a president so far.
After voters finish expressing ire at the press for being misled about Biden’s abilities, perhaps they will turn and express sympathy for the old man who so desperately wanted the job. Having run twice before, the party eventually picked him, but not before the gas had run out of his tank.
Joe may have always been a politician, but the man behind the podium now is not the same as the one who ran in 2008, and certainly not the man who ran in 1988. Stripped of his dignity, he has become a caricature of a president, adorned with all of the symbols of the office, but lacking the substance necessary to perform.
Every Trump voter can still name his key issues: closing the border, beating China, restoring American jobs, making America energy independent, and above all, to “Make America Great Again.” Less than a year into his presidency, it’s hard to recall Biden standing strongly for anything in particular, having served more as an official signer of policy goals for leftist special interest groups than for his own agenda.
The truth is that even as his campaign wobbled toward the finish line last year, they were still struggling to coin a definitive slogan. That few can remember the eventual decision speaks to the vacuousness of this man and this presidency.
Joe is in the process of sinking not only himself but also his party in the upcoming midterms and possibly the 2024 election, so the door to retirement is being planned. Perhaps Democrats will at least give him the courtesy of a final national address, a chance to read from the presidential teleprompter one final time. At the end, he can sign off blissfully with, “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America … end of message.”