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Not Stepping Aside – What Do We Do?

Democrats are good at killing themselves politically in elections. We are also good at not pushing back when our candidates are under fire. Instead, we find excuses to promote others as substitutes. Or, we take our voting to other extremes such as voting for Disney characters, the family dog or cat, themselves, etc. You do not believe such? Twenty-sixteen was the year of the “Others” vote which put a potential criminal and now an indicted “potential” criminal in office. I have displayed the voting numbers often enough. They were an ~ three times what they were in the previous election and other elections as well. Cute voting action and results, wasn’t it? Now, we have a sector of our media and others asking whether Biden should step aside due

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Democrats are good at killing themselves politically in elections. We are also good at not pushing back when our candidates are under fire. Instead, we find excuses to promote others as substitutes. Or, we take our voting to other extremes such as voting for Disney characters, the family dog or cat, themselves, etc.

You do not believe such? Twenty-sixteen was the year of the “Others” vote which put a potential criminal and now an indicted “potential” criminal in office. I have displayed the voting numbers often enough. They were an ~ three times what they were in the previous election and other elections as well. Cute voting action and results, wasn’t it?

Now, we have a sector of our media and others asking whether Biden should step aside due to his age and supposed gaffs in public.

I am not sure I could say things correctly in public 100% of the time. It was never in my nature. My results in other endeavors such as supply chain speaks for itself having cut $millions in costs, improving job performance, and department related efficiencies. The last three pandemic years of issues were mostly supply-chain related. Even now the Saudis hope to harm us using supply as its cudgel. By far, we survived a pandemic caused economic disaster because of Biden’s economic and supply chain policies.

So What Do We Do with Biden? Annie has some answers to the question.

Biden WILL NOT Step Aside – So What Do We Do? annie asks you . . .

Because of President Biden, Trump lost.

Because Trump lost, NATO was strengthened.

Because NATO was strengthened, Ukraine didn’t fall.

Because Ukraine didn’t fall, Russia is in disarray.

Because Russia is in disarray, Putin is panicked.

Because of President Biden.

— Jane of the North (@JaneotN) June 28, 2023

As anyone who’s been reading my posts is aware, I’m a strong Biden/Harris adherent (not uncritically).

But I am, of course, concerned about Biden’s age. And though it’s grossly unfair, the fact that the mainstream media focuses so intently on Biden’s age—rarely mentioning that of his likely opponent, the 77-year-old, dissolute, quadruply indicted, insurrection-inspiring, Putin/Kim admirer who’s publicly stated his plans to dismantle our democracy—reinforces the issue in the public’s mind.

This past Sunday, blogging friend Infidel753 had several links to articles on this topic. One in particular forced me to reexamine my position that Biden must run in 2024 despite his age. I’m sharing my thoughts with you in the hopes that our dialogue here will perhaps help clarify the ongoing debate.

A.B. Stoddard is a thoughtful conservative political columnist now with The Bulwark (a conservative anti-Trump enterprise). Her article for that publication on August 31 blared: “To Beat Trump, Democrats Need a Whitmer-Warnock Ticket.” Her article is worth reading and considering—though it would have been more appropriate a year ago.

Stoddard maintains that voters find Biden’s age disqualifying; thus, she makes the case that Democrats must turn to “younger talent in 2024.”

Let me state at the outset that I find both Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock strong and attractive political leaders. They are two of a number of strong and attractive younger Democrats in office, and I look forward to their future endeavors.

For now, I’m focusing on several of Stoddard’s major points.

Those Ubiquitous Polls

Stoddard’s premise is based in large part on the polls, which she calls “alarming.” So perhaps it’s time to revisit the words of Simon Rosenberg, who gained prominence last year as one of few who said there’d be no red wave.

Rosenberg points out that polls are merely a snapshot in time with little predictive value.

“Like 2022, polling right now is not doing a good job capturing what happens

when people actually vote—which is we [Democrats] keep winning.”

He is referring to the special elections in places such as Jacksonville (Florida), Colorado Springs (Colorado), Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Taken together, this is all very encouraging, and to me, this data matters much more

than polls paid for by Rupert Murdoch or what is clearly an outlier (CNN).

A recent Wall Street Journal poll was conducted by Trump’s election strategists, but no mention was made of that fact.

We’ve known since 2022 at least, that the Republicans have been throwing biased and poor quality poll results into the mix. Unfortunately, the press largely accepts unquestioningly and parrots whatever comes out.

More to the point, at this time in 2012, no poll showed Obama defeating Mitt Romney. That’s why one of the people instrumental in Obama’s success (I can’t remember which one) said recently that the Democrats should stop being “bedwetters” and get into gear for Biden/Harris.

Biden’s Performance in Public

Stoddard notes that:

“This vulnerability cannot be wished away with Bidenomics or some Red Bull and

vitamin B shots. Biden can’t effectively counter the impression that he is too old

because he can’t interact with voters, or reporters, frequently and vigorously.

“Being up to the job in private is another story, to be sure—he can nap and do his job

quietly and effectively with help from an able staff. But if he were capable of

portraying himself as possessing the requisite energy to publicly carry out the duties of

the hardest job on the planet for another five and a half years, he would simply be doing so.”

Well, he just did.

Robert Hubbell itemized “Biden’s five-day world tour.”

          “President Biden has just completed a grueling five-day trip around the world. His schedule included the following:

“Thursday: Depart DC, layover in Germany for refueling.
“Friday: Arrive in India; Biden meets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“Saturday: Biden participates in seven separate meetings at the G-20 summit in New Delhi.
“Sunday: Depart India arrive in Vietnam; Biden participates in four meetings, then holds a press conference.
“Monday: Biden participates in seven events/meetings in Vietnam; departs for Anchorage; arrives in Anchorage and delivers remarks honoring [9/11] first responders. Departs for Washington, DC.
[Hubbell includes the president’s full calendar, but the link has been updated to today. It still shows a busy schedule.]

         “Five days, three continents, twelve meetings, one press conference, and five presidential daily intelligence briefings—that is a lot by any measure! The G-20 meeting was a qualified success, given the complications presented by Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s stance toward Taiwan. As summarized in the NYTimes by Michael D. Shear,

“In three days of diplomacy in Asia, President Biden rallied world leaders to help

finance poor nations, fortified the coalition backing Ukraine and struck a deal with

Vietnam to counter Chinese aggression.”

But Hubbell points out that “after a grueling schedule and multiple diplomatic successes,” the media focused on how he looked at the closing Anchorage press conference. “He spoke softly and appeared tired,” The Times wrote, and Biden had closed his remarks by saying “I am going to go to bed.”

That bit of humanity set off a flurry of “Biden’s too old, Biden’s doddering, etc, etc.”

Hubbell concludes:

“In short, Biden’s five-day world trip was an unqualified success. Except in right-wing

media outlets and its ‘centrist’ sympathizers.”

I watched his Anchorage speech, primarily a tribute to the 9/11 first responders, which he made before an audience of service members stationed at the base from which the flights took off 22 years ago to protect the skies after the towers were hit.

He went off script to note the dangerous divisions at home and to call for American unity. I found his speech affecting.

He did look and sound tired. Who wouldn’t?

In truth, Biden has always bungled words, fought the remnants of his childhood stuttering, told hokey stories that went on too long. None of that seemed different to me.

But how many American politicians could have met with all those world leaders and obtained the agreements he did?

His accomplishments are inextricably linked to his experience, which is inextricably linked to his age. He manifests a wisdom, collegiality, and grace in his interactions on the world stage.

And after he made the Anchorage speech, he didn’t exactly rush off to bed. He made his way among the service men and women, shaking hands and smiling broadly, as did nearly all of them in greeting him.

The Looming Possibility of a “McConnell Moment”

I can’t disagree with Stoddard’s contention that the potential for a “McConnell moment” is a serious worry.

“Biden doesn’t have to end up in a health crisis in the hospital for the bottom to fall out.

Should he have an episode like the two Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has

now had, freezing up and temporarily unable to speak, the party will have to move

quickly to replace him in order to have a shot at winning a majority of voters next

year. (McConnell is 81; Biden is less than three months shy of his 81st birthday.)”

McConnell’s apparent seizures have been attributed to a serious fall in which he suffered a concussion. Biden fell not long ago, and though the press and right-wing were all abuzz about his alleged frailty, he quickly got up and was fine.

The circumstances of that fall aren’t well known, but they were instructive. He had delivered an address at the Air Force Academy graduation and then handed out diplomas, greeting and saluting each of the hundreds of graduates, on his feet for hours.

When he left the lecturn, his path was dark, and he stumbled over a sandbag no one had seen. Those details appeared in a letter to The New York Times from an attendee, the parent of a graduate, who remarked how difficult it would have been for anyone of any age to stand for hours—saluting, handing over the diplomas, and chatting with each graduate.

When the press asked how he was after the fall, he laughed and said: “I got sandbagged!”

Significant Downsides If Biden Were to Withdraw

Stoddard herself makes a strong case for Biden and Harris based on the remarkable accomplishments of the first two years, and she acknowledges the unfairness that a president who has achieved so much should be asked to step aside against his personal wishes.

Still, the disaster of Trump’s possibly retaking the White House looms above all else.

Stoddard’s suggested dream ticket–Whitmer and Warnock–though appealing, is highly unlikely, probably impossible. She is counting on Democrats’ coming together in this crisis and fulfilling the scenario she describes. But she’s probably wrong.

Biden has managed to be so effective by holding the moderate/liberal/progressive factions of his party together. It seems to me unrealistic to think that the various ambitious Democrats would readily form a consensus around the “W ticket” (or any other).

More likely, if Biden were to withdraw, there would be major battling that would not serve the party—and therefore our country—well.

VP Harris, who I believe and have written is as underestimated as Biden, would not simply step aside, and her strong support among Democratic Black women would not readily be transferable. And the usual benefits of incumbency would be lost.

As my loyal commenter Richard pointed out in response to one of my posts, historian Allan Lichtman created a Keys to the White House model that has enabled him to accurately predict every US president since 1982.

Two of those keys are incumbency and the lack of intra-party battle. Both keys would, of course, be lost if Biden weren’t at the top of the ticket.

It’s also true that mounting a presidential campaign is a highly labor-intensive, obscenely expensive endeavor that takes time. I don’t believe one could be successfully mounted at this point.

At the Grass Roots

Stoddard talks of polls that show Biden’s support among Black Americans has dropped twenty points. I find it impossible to believe that more than a few Black people would support the demonstrably racist, white supremacist, white Christian nationalist Republicans who are suppressing their votes and denying/rewriting their (our) history.

And I agree with Simon Rosenberg that the polls show us less than does the actual voting. While acknowledging “we have work to do” (reaching out to voters in the various constituencies), Rosenberg says consistently that he’d rather be where the Democrats are now than where the Republicans are.

There are tens of thousands of small grass roots organizations throughout the US that are laboring for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. In red states (and purple and blue states), women and their supporters have been energized by the Supreme Court’s striking down Roe v Wade, followed by draconian laws in state after state.

Abortion, along with gun safety, climate change, and LGBTQ rights, are energizing young people as never before. These developments show up in voting; they don’t show up in polling.

In 2018, 2020, and 2022, Americans surprised the pundits and voted for democracy.

Biden was criticized before the 2022 election for talking about democracy as much as he did. But he was right, and VP Harris has been crisscrossing the country with this message.

None of these sensible Americans are going to vote for Donald Trump or advocates of Trumpism; nor are they going to vote for third party candidates.

We are about to face a government shutdown and possible vote to impeach President Biden based on absolutely nothing—nothing more than Kevin McCarthy’s cowardice in facing down the far-right zealots who gave him the speaker’s gavel on the fifteenth round.

The House members who won a narrow majority by promising to tackle immigration, inflation, and crime have spent nearly all their time on wild goose chases to attempt to confuse the public into thinking that Biden is as corrupt as Trump.

But there is no one in public life more resilient than Joe Biden.

I agree with Stoddard and others who say the Democrats need younger leadership. The party is clearly moving in that direction: we saw that in Nancy Pelosi’s wise plan to turn over the key House positions to Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar.

For now, though, Joe Biden is insistent that he wants to “finish the job.” That’s the bottom line. He is running. He has no intention of stepping aside. Actuarial tables say he can be expected to live another 11 years—at least four years beyond the end of his second term. He remains uniquely suited for this position in this nation—in this world—at this time.

He still has much to give us, and I hope and believe that Americans will see that’s true.

So what should we do? As he’s our confirmed standard-bearer, anyone who sees the vast Trumpian danger and questions Biden’s ability based on his age should stop the hand-wringing and consider instead his accomplishments, wisdom, and leadership. Sign on and support him—and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

We have an urgent binary choice in 2024:

Into whose hands will we place our country? Those of a criminal who seeks to emulate the world’s cruelest despots, and is favored by them?

Or those of the world’s strongest advocate for democracy, a decent, accomplished, seasoned leader who is highly respected by our allies?


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