Where’s the justice? He’s only been in office for 17 months, yet the clock is already ticking on Joe Biden’s presidency.
His fate could be sealed just months from now if, as everyone expects, his Democrats suffer the ignominy of being trounced in the midterm elections by a Republican formation that in large part – the Donald Trump part – has turned itself into a fiction-driven embarrassment, a Grand Old Party disfigured by head cases.
There will be intense pressure on Mr. Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a second term, to signal he won’t be seeking another four years. If he doesn’t indicate he’ll be dropping out, he’ll likely be pushed out. Democrats will challenge him in the primaries for the 2024 nomination, as they did with Lyndon Johnson, who was pressured into forgoing a 1968 re-election bid.
Sending old Joe packing is the right thing for the Democrats to do. The party needs to sweep away the gerontocracy currently clinging to power, which includes 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Dynamic, new-generation leadership from the heartland must replace the woke coastal elites.
Mr. Biden says he has every intention of running again. He has to say that at this stage. He wants a rematch, he says, against Mr. Trump. But it’s well possible that Mr. Trump won’t get his party’s nomination either. He’s currently being battered at the congressional hearings on his role in the nightmarish attempted coup of Jan. 6, 2021.
Big momentum is coming the way of Ron DeSantis, the cocksure Florida Governor who one can imagine routing a fragile Mr. Biden, leaving him as he was seen a few days ago when, in a sadly symbolic mishap, he tumbled to the ground after losing control of his bicycle.
Democrats know this. Mr. Biden is admired by the party for being a big-hearted pragmatist with sound American values. They also know, as they’ve been telling journalists in background interviews, a lot of other things. That he’s too damn old, that he looks frail, sounds frail, comes across too often as a stumblebum. That he’s mired in terribly low approval ratings. That he’s up against intractable problems highlighted by soaring consumer prices at the gas pump and grocery counter.
Many of the afflictions are not of his making. Factors beyond one’s control orchestrate the fate of many presidents, and just like Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden has been luckless.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine happened. That was hardly his doing. The invasion, in turn, jacked up gasoline prices and the inflation problem. Inflation was triggered in good part as well by stimulus spending needed to counter the blight of the pandemic. The pandemic was hardly his doing either. In dealing with it while responding to the invasion of Ukraine, he performed creditably.
The conservative-stacked Supreme Court that is wreaking havoc with liberal values is not of Mr. Biden’s making either, nor is the horrific outburst of gun violence, or the actions of congressional obstructionists such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
One of Mr. Biden’s big promises was to restore American confidence and bring a new spirit to the country in the manner of a Ronald Reagan post-Mr. Carter, or a John F. Kennedy post the Eisenhower years. On that, he has failed miserably.
In a survey by Gallup last month, a meagre 16 per cent of Americans said they were satisfied with the direction the country was going. The last poll taken among Democrats on whether he should run again was in January by the Associated Press. Only 48 per cent said he should.
In the short term, there is no hope for a major turnaround. Conditions are expected to worsen. Though employment has been restored, the country is headed, many economists predict, for a recession.
The writing’s on the wall for old Joe, and early in the new year when campaigns get under way for 2024 he should recognize realities and announce he won’t be running again. He’d be a lame duck but that’s not necessarily a big encumbrance. All presidents who serve second terms are lame ducks.
Given his age, there should be no great shame in his bowing out. His achievements include the bipartisan infrastructure package, the COVID relief deal, restoring decency to the Oval Office, and the Ukraine response.
There are those accomplishments, and then there is something else – an achievement that will give Joe Biden a special place in the history books. With his victory in 2020, he saved the country from four more years of a Trump presidency.
Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.