New Orleans It’s a good thing that President Biden is getting a rock star welcome in Israel from all reports, because, fair or not, he’s getting a beating in the good ol’ USA. The sharks are swimming all around him and the water is roiling.
The Washington chattering class is marking his birthdays like a death sentence. He is now almost older than Ronald Reagan was at the end of his term, and he was widely believed to be nearing senility. A second term would put Biden in his mid-80s. Critics acknowledge he’s still sharp as a tack and engaged, but he’s losing a step. I watched Clint Eastwood in a new movie flying overseas. He’s got shaky shoes too, but he still floored a guy with a punch and got the girl at the end of the movie. Just saying.
The polls are being weaponized. 33% approval rating seems almost Latin American, where presidents of Peru have been recorded in the single digits. Among young voters, a New York Times polls seems to say he’s almost there since…
just 1 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds strongly approve of the way Mr. Biden is handling his job. And 94 percent of Democrats under 30 said they wanted another candidate to run two years from now.
I worry that some pundits and party people are creating a circular firing squad here. Biden has caught some bad breaks with Ukraine, inflation, and recalcitrants in his own party blocking the path to progress, but it’s hard for me to say he’s doing a sorry job, so throw him overboard. I also worry that the historic record is bad when we look at the results of this kind of internecine warfare on an incumbent president. The Vietnam War was the Achilles heel for Lyndon Johnson, but that enabled the election of Richard Nixon. Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Jimmy Carter was at least a factor in wounding him enough to pave the way for Ronald Reagan’s first term. This kind of thing has no guarantee of ending well, and with midterms coming up, it could lead to Biden being crippled over the next two years as a walking, talking lame duck, if we’re not careful, and that means kissing all of our dreams goodbye.
It’s hard to avoid the question for the Democrats of “if not Biden, who?” If you think the Republicans are struggling to come up with a consensus on “if not Trump?”, the Dems would face the same problem in spades. Those that were beaten by Biden would be unlikely to emerge. Primary voters would still be key and many of them would stay with Biden, as they did with Carter, even while wannabes give ammunition to the opposition. Biden has been counted out before and has bounced back, so caveat emptor.
I don’t have the answer, but I know it’s not pretty, and I know people ought to be very, very careful we don’t make a mess worse than what we’re facing now.