Joe Biden's presidential run is on life support — it's time to pull the plug

Joe Biden Oval Office getty ck

Never-Trumpers are clear-eyed in a way that many Democrats are not. We are sort of the Dutch uncles of American politics. For us, there is one goal: ensuring that Donald Trump and his plans for a retribution-driven, all-powerful presidency never see the inside of the White House. If Joe Biden is useful in achieving that, we’re all for him. If he is not, then we are cold-blooded about replacing him. 

In contrast, a lot of Democrats have been too polite to openly criticize their own party’s presumptive nominee. Fortunately, though Never Trumpers have been accused of a lot of things, they’ve never been accused of being overly polite. So let’s rip off the scab. 

Despite almost two weeks of gentle urging to reconsider his position, Joe Biden has now dug himself in and refuses either to demonstrate he’s still up to the job or to step aside as the nominee. His best argument, easily dispensed with, is that quitting the race would be undemocratic, since he won the primaries. But Biden, by refusing to participate in primary debates, sold Democratic voters a pig in a poke. Had he taken the stage and let America see what they saw two weeks ago, we would not be having this discussion now. 

But for the moment, let’s ignore Biden’s debate performance. While I personally don’t agree with all of his policies, Biden has, overall, been a good president. But he is the worst communicator to occupy the Oval Office in my lifetime. Although he largely stuck the landing and guided the country out of COVID, voters’ faith in Biden’s ability to handle the economy is at historic lows. 

Despite two years of often-spectacular growth, half of Democrats believe we are in a recession. Half of Americans think the unemployment rate is at a 50-year high when, in fact, it is at a 50-year low. Half of Americans think the stock market is down, even though the S&P 500 has gone up about 25 percent over the last year. If I believed this sort of rubbish about the economy, I might be unenthusiastic about voting for Biden myself. 

All this is 100 percent Joe Biden’s fault. This would never have happened to Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, or even George W. Bush. Sharing good news is one of the most basic of presidential skills. And Trump is a master at pounding home a message, even if it’s complete nonsense. But Biden is different. Forget selling voters on his vision, Biden hasn’t been able to effectively communicate basic facts. 

I don’t care what the reasons are for this. All I care about are the results. And Biden simply does not have the communications skills to deliver those results. 

The situation is dire. Four years ago at this time, Biden was 9 points ahead. Now he is five points behind. In 2020, Biden eventually won nationally by four points, and by much less in the key states that put him over the top. So you do the math. 

Now let’s factor in the age issue. Biden has been dogged by concerns about his age since 2020 Those concerns blew up into a full-blown crisis after the debate. Biden has had two weeks to handle this, but every time he speaks without a teleprompter, he only makes things worse. When asked whether he had watched his own debate performance afterward, his answer was, “I don’t think I did, no.” 

Take a look at his public appearances over the last few months. Is anyone really comfortable gambling American democracy on Biden not having another “episode” when it is too late to do anything about it?

The only way Biden can stay on as the nominee is if he has a plan to address these problems and can execute it. It’s great that Biden is a “fighter” and gets up after he gets knocked down, but platitudes are not a plan. And even if he did have a plan, Biden now lacks the necessary political skills to execute it. He hasn’t been able to sell his accomplishments for the last three years. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be able to do that over the next three months, much less address voters’ very real — and growing — concerns that he is now too old.

And let’s not even discuss how, after what we have seen, Biden is supposed to convince voters that he’ll still be fit to serve four years from now.   

The possibility — now the probability — that Trump will win the election is all too real. If Biden stays in the race, Democrats will have to rely entirely on the anti-Trump vote to get them to 270 electoral votes. But the anti-Trump vote is already baked in. Democrats could be running a tuna casserole in Biden’s place, and it would be guaranteed to get something like 45 percent of the vote.

Voters deserve something to get excited about, something to be for, instead of just something to be against. Since Biden can no longer provide that, there is no reason to keep him. 

Kamala Harris has her own communications issues but she can certainly think on her feet. And I think Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, as the nominee would fundamentally remake the race. Either of them would be a big improvement over Biden.

He has to go. 

None of this gives me any pleasure. I was an early advocate for Biden. But we cannot afford to be sentimental. There is too much at stake. 

Party officials and elected Democrats, ask yourselves, ‘Do I really believe that the Joe Biden of 2024 is the best possible candidate to beat Donald Trump?’ If the answer is ‘no’, take a public stand and do your duty. 

Chris Truax is a Republican and an appellate attorney. 

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