Palace Coups are Hard Work


Pearl River      Anyone who has spent time lying up in bed watching HBO’s “Game of Thrones” or now the “House of Dragons,” knows that palace intrigue is rift, ambition can be deadly, divisions are constant, and, simply put, it’s very, very hard to take the throne.  All that is the case even for royalty, who can pretend that they have an entitlement based on blood and heritage.  It’s even harder to take someone off the throne once they are there.  For all of us way outside the beltway, “House of Cards,” “Veep,” and “West Wing” are all instructive on what it takes to become a president or stay in power.

Simply put, it’s devilishly difficult to get someone out of the chair or off the thorn, once they are firmly seated.  The other thing all of these more or less fictionalized accounts establish is the truth of several old adages.  One that I have repeated in similar contexts for years is that “you have to have a horse to beat a horse.”  Another of my favorites and always popular is that “if you slap the bear, you better bring the bear down.”  Keep both of those commonplace rules in mind as we go forward, since there can’t be any doubt that what I’m really talking about is the quixotic efforts to get President Biden to stand down from the race for a second term.

There’s no question that Biden absolutely controls this decision, despite all the heavy breathing out there in the media.  The New York Times, for example, seems to have become fixated on getting him to abandon the campaign, both editorially and by marshalling their columnists and filling the news hole.  We counted eight Biden-Go pieces in the main section of the online Times today, and this was just another day in their steady campaign.  They begged Joe, they tried to shame Congress as cowards, they tried to sweet talk Harris, and more.  They have put on a masterclass in poking the bear, and fully demonstrated their impotence,

Talking to a dear friend the other day who is on the Biden-Go team, in essence, I asked him who is the horse?  Did he believe Kamala could win?  He wasn’t sure.  It’s very, very hard, once again, to retreat to the old saw, to “change horses in the middle of the stream.”  In fact, when one horse is still swimming hard, it’s virtually impossible.

When the issue is age, most of the US Senate, on both sides of the aisle, don’t have to look in the mirror to know that Ol’ Joe isn’t the only one who may have lost a step.  That’s also true of a lot of the folks in the House.  Mitch McConnell has brain freezes at press conferences, for example.  Heck, Trump is only a couple of years younger than Biden and blurs the line often as well.  Regardless, whether young or old, any who aspire to power or aren’t just marginal, bit players, don’t want to slap the bear, because they can’t bring him down, and they don’t see the horse that can do better than Biden.

Biden has all the hole cards in this game.  The donors can gripe, but all the dollars now are in the Biden campaign fund, not in some kind of slush fund available to one and all.  The delegates to the convention are Biden committed delegates.  If Biden doesn’t release them, they can’t go rouge and be free agents.  If Biden wants to run, there’s no one who can stop him.

There have been a lot of people out there who have always wanted something different than a rerun election between Biden and Trump.  They are never going to be happy with this situation.  Regardless, the peanut gallery can hem and haw, but none of that is going to change the fundamental political equation, like it or not:  unless the bear walks away or the horse stops running, Biden will be on the ballot this fall.

Happy or sad, what’s the choice?  It’s still Biden or the abyss.