It’s Joe Biden’s 81st birthday. The occasion got me wondering whether he’ll be President on the afternoon of 20 Jan 25.
Specifically, can he pull together a coalition of voters who’ll pull the lever for him on 5 Nov 24? For many Democrats in 2020, he wasn’t our first pick in the primary. I voted for Elizabeth Warren, even though the primary race was over by the time New Yorkers had a chance to cast a ballot.
Still, I voted for him in November 2020, not only because I thought he’d be mildly competent but because the other guy scared me half to death.
He has had success. Last week, I heard Franklin Foer, the author of The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future, make a convincing case for the incumbent’s accomplishments.
The problem is that progress tends to be necessarily incremental. Lowering prescription costs has been enacted, but it’s only ten drugs, not until 2026. The tax incentives to fight climate change in the Inflation Reduction Act will take time many don’t think we have. His gun safety act, necessarily a legislative half-loaf, can’t prevent mass shootings in the short term.
In July 2023, David Brooks of the New York Times asked, “Why is Biden not getting the credit he deserves?” He points to the Misery Index, a “crude but effective way to measure the economy” by adding the inflation and unemployment rates.
The Fed controls the increased interest rates. Biden has in the past released gasoline from the strategic reserve, but the supply chain determines the prices.
North by northwest?
Brooks notes the rates when Reagan (11.4), W (9), and Obama (9.5) won reelection. Biden’s was at 7.7 then; in October, 7.5 (unemployment rate – 3.8 plus Inflation rate 3.7). “Household net worth is surging.” Yet then and now, about 3/4 of the population in Gallup polls think that the country is heading in “the wrong direction.”
I always thought that was a peculiar question. Certainly, I think the country is going in the wrong direction with the book banners, election deniers, and the like. But I wouldn’t put that on JRB. Immigration is a serious problem that the White House and Congress should address, but the House has proved that its priority doesn’t involve governing. The Supreme Court rolls back issues of justice regularly.
Brooks cites the anthropologist Raoul Naroll, “who argued that every society has a ‘moral net,’ a cultural infrastructure that exists, mostly unconsciously, in the minds of its members. America’s is in tatters. This manifests a loss of national self-esteem…”
Brooks states that “during the Trump era, Americans… lost faith in one another,” with those supporting 45 “converted to the gospel of American carnage” and those opposing him “appalled” that their fellow Americans could support him.
Of course, there is a lot of existential stress in society, a post-COVID malaise, and hearing about the successes of Bidenomics cannot cut through.
Moreover, per Newsweek: “Americans are running out of savings as stimulus checks end across the country and the economy stares down a potential recession. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Americans had a 22.7% savings rate in 2020, which fell to 3.4% in September 2023. The average American family may have more than $40,000 in household savings, according to job platform Zippia, but the median household savings is just $5,300.”
The old age issue
For decades, Joe Biden was prone to verbal gaffes, including when he was Vice-President. I have noticed that he will likely devolve into a word salad, mainly when tired. That would explain the rambling comments when he arrived in Hawaii after the Maui fires. My daughter had no idea what he was talking about. Being versed in Bidenese, I explained he was comparing the pain the folks were feeling with the loss of his daughter and first wife; it was weird.
When the polling shows that Biden is currently losing to djt in the swing states – if you can believe the polls – some folks, such as former Obama advisor David Axelrod, suggest Biden step aside in favor of another candidate. But who? Certainly not Kamala Harris, whose negatives are similar to Biden’s.
A challenge from a Democrat
I wouldn’t mind someone challenging Biden in the 2024 primaries, though. And I don’t mean RFK, Jr., who was Steve Bannon’s Trojan horse and is now presumably running independently. The contest may focus his message better.
Oh, wait, there’s… what’s his name again? Oh, yeah, Dean Phillips, a Minnesota congressman I had never heard of. Andrew Yang, who ran for prez back in 2020, touts Phillips: “Dean is what most Americans want: a sane, moderate 54-year old presidential candidate who will work to make things better. I joke that Dean should change his name to Generic Democrat, because polls show that Trump loses to a generic Democrat by 8 points.”
And Marianne Williamson is running again. The pundits dismissed her as a flake last time, but punditry is highly overrated, as President Hillary Clinton could tell you.
Of course, there are the Republicans, the five on the debate stage on November 8, and the guy who has been in court a lot. No, I didn’t watch the debate or djt’s counterprogramming.
The nominee isn’t going to be Chris Christie, who endorsed Trump in 2016 after he dropped out of the race, thinking djt would become more presidential with CC’s advice, and then blasted the Big Lie in 2020.
Tim Scott was such a nonentity that the big news was that after the event, he said he had a girlfriend, Mindy Noce. Then, he “suspended” his campaign. Do people ever “unsuspend” their campaign?
I read from multiple sources that Vivek Ramaswamy was the person others wanted to punch in the face. Or maybe Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis could step on him with their three- or five-inch heels.
Speaking of Haley, the Boston Globe noted: “There’s been a spate of recent commentary arguing that former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is emerging as the top rival to former president Donald Trump in the Republican presidential sweepstakes. Our Scot Lehigh noticed it in New Hampshire. But other commentators have been keen on Haley of late, including in The New York Times, Politico, and National Review.” I feel that she’d fare better against Biden than djt would.
The same old song
But barring divine intervention, djt will be the GOP guy . Now, some of his potential voters indicated that they might not vote for him if he’s convicted of severe crimes. But by Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, djt may have enough delegates to seal the nomination. If Republican voters were strategic, they’d vote for someone else, but…
And a third-party candidate could cloud things. No one following Joe Manchin’s career believes he’s leaving the Senate to go fishing.
If 2024 is, in fact, a rerun of 2020, I’ll vote for Joe Biden – or whichever Democrat is on the ballot – because the other guy is even scarier. Heck, the GOP is terrifying. The national Republican party is filled with AINOs—Americans in name only.
Worse, a former U.S. Attorney and noted legal analyst, Joyce Vance, urges Democrats to “have a serious conversation with the American people about what Donald Trump intends to do if he wins again.”She warns: “If Trump wins in 2024, we lose the Republic. That’s not drama, and that’s not overstatement. That’s what Trump is promising.”
James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor in New York’s Southern District, agrees. The final paragraph: “Trump says he wants to ‘terminate the Constitution.’ To do this would require more than an executive order. But if the unthinkable happens and he regains power, we can say a fond farewell to the rule of law and to John Adams’s statement that we are a ‘government of laws, not of men.'”
Yet, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl believes Americans Seem Alarmingly Open to djt’s “Campaign of Revenge and Retribution.” That’s scarier than the guy himself.
Ultimately, I think Biden, or more likely some of his surrogates, will lean into the abortion issue, noting that djt appointed the three Supreme Court justices that helped to overturn Roe. They’ll note that in every state where voters spoke on the issue, they’ve rejected the radical restrictions.