David Axelrod is now the most influential Democrat to date to have called for Joe Biden to reconsider his run for reelection. But in doing so last weekend, he did the same thing that pretty much every other Democrat has done. Which is to say, he refused to acknowledge the party’s real problem.
The real problem isn’t Biden. It’s Kamala Harris.
Biden is certainly borderline comatose, his brain a clump of blackened rot, but I truly believe there are enough synapses still flickering inside for him to be aware that he can’t and shouldn’t be running for a second term. He knows he’s too old. He knows his tenure has been a wreck. And he knows that with each passing day he’s in office, nothing is getting better, and everything is getting worse.
But what he also knows is if he says he withdraws from the campaign, the only option party leadership has is to back his vice president. What’s the opposite of “brilliant”?
To be sure, there would technically be other, better options, like Gavin Newsom or even Dean Phillips, who is formally running against Biden. But that’s not how national party politics works. It works by protecting incumbents. Or, in the event that there isn’t one, backing the next best thing. As vice president, that’s Harris.
Compounding the problem is that Harris is one of their precious affirmative action hires, shielded from criticism by nature of being not just a woman but a Woman of Color™️. To deny her ascent would be to go against everything Democrats profess to believe — that nothing is more important than diversity, equity and inclusion.
They’re stuck. Every serious Democrat, including Biden, knows that Harris can’t be their nominee, which, in effect, would make her the party’s leader. She doesn’t know anything. She can’t talk. Voters hate her.
It’s the sweetest irony that the Kamala problem is Biden’s own doing. He put her on his 2020 ticket after boxing himself in with the promise to elect a woman. And in the Year of Patron Saint George Floyd, there was no chance it wouldn’t be a black one. (So plain was that fact that even an unemployed plus-sized black lady from Georgia openly, shamelessly, and repeatedly put forth herself as Biden’s potential running mate.)
To be fair, it did the trick. Biden won the nomination, and thanks to Harris, he satisfied the Jim Clyburn-Joy Reid faction of the party, ensuring the high black voter turnout that would be crucial in landing him on his rickety knees in the Oval Office.
But then we got to see her perform, and, well, let’s just say she’s no Beyonce.
Ultimately, if there were any way for Biden to retire, as I’m surer than anything he wants to do, Harris would have to be the one to make it happen. She would have to say publicly that should her boss withdraw, she has no interest in seeking the nomination and that she will support a different Democrat instead.
It’s then another sweet irony that the only person who can possibly save Democrats in 2024 is Kamala Harris.