President Biden has repeatedly declared he’s running for reelection in 2024.
It might not be his choice.
No less a cheerleader than The New York Times last week said Democrats have quickly wearied of Mr. Biden, who has been in office for only 510 days. That’s barely enough time to age a good cheddar.
Mr. Biden would be 82 years old on the next Inauguration Day, but it’s not really his age that’s the issue — everyone has known forever that he’ll be ancient by then. Instead, Democrats are souring on everything Mr. Biden has — or in many cases, has not — done since he moved into the White House.
“Many Democratic lawmakers and party officials,” the Times wrote, “are venting their frustrations with President Biden’s struggle to advance the bulk of his agenda, doubting his ability to rescue the party from a predicted midterm trouncing and increasingly viewing him as an anchor that should be cut loose in 2024.”
Nobody likes to be called an “anchor,” at any age.
The Times report cited “nearly 50 Democratic officials” and “disappointed voters” who are “alarmed about Republicans’ rising strength and extraordinarily pessimistic about an immediate path forward” under the flagging Biden administration.
With “low enthusiasm” from Mr. Biden’s base — nearly every facet of the party is abandoning him, Black people, Hispanics, women, young people and union members, polls show — top party officials question his “leadership, his age and his capability to take the fight to former President Donald J. Trump a second time,” the Times wrote.
More than that, Democrats don’t seem angry at Mr. Biden, only sad and disappointed. They aren’t leaping to his defense as they once did, and there’s this “oh, poor Joe” cloud over the feeble president, who can’t put together a coherent sentence and shuffles to and from the podium as he dodges all questions from the increasingly frustrated media.
In short, Mr. Biden has become indefensible.
Take former Obama strategist David Axelrod, who told the Times: “The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue. … He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality.”
That’s kind of Mr. Axelrod, but it is, in fact, “rooted in reality.” Getting old is, sadly, the one thing you just can’t fight, no matter your power or wealth.
The ever-dwindling support for Mr. Biden among his own party members has been showing in recent weeks, with several more clearly left-leaning media outlets letting it rip on the president.
New York magazine was brutal. “There Has to Be a Backup Plan. There’s a Backup Plan, Right?” writer Gabriel Debenedetti wrote about “the soul-searching that’s happening in every corner of the Democratic Party” heading toward 2024.
Politico, founded by two Washington Post reporters who have been cheerleading Democrats for decades, noted that the Democrats have a very thin bench at the moment (one name that keeps popping up as a 2024 possibility is North Carolina Gov. Roy Asberry Cooper III — so, uh, yeah, who?).
With every conceivable poll plunging for Mr. Biden and the economy in danger of burning to the ground, Democrats, a pragmatic bunch, see the writing on the wall. The Times said “nearly all the Democrats interviewed” have a “deep concern about his political viability.” The piece also said Mr. Biden’s endless gaffes — the White House has repeatedly had to scramble to correct major misstatements by the president, at least half a dozen with serious foreign policy implications — has them seriously concerned.
“They have watched as Biden has repeatedly rattled global diplomats with unexpected remarks that were later walked back by his White House staff, and as he has sat for fewer interviews than any of his recent predecessors,” one Democrat said.
The midterms are going to be a bloodbath for Democrats. Political watchers say the losses could be historic — 70+ seats in the House, half a dozen in the Senate, turning both chambers over to Republicans. Half that prediction and the GOP takes over anyway. And even Mr. Biden’s own Cabinet officials admit that inflation is here for the long haul — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who at first said it wasn’t a “serious risk,” now says we should prepare for high prices to be around through 2023.
And that puts us into 2024. No president has ever been reelected when the economy is in the dumper. Americans simply figure, “Hey, let’s give the other guy a shot. He can’t be as bad as this guy.”
And they just might be right.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times.