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It's all about Joe Biden

President Biden is kicking and screaming, refusing to give up the 2024 Democratic nomination, and certain Senate Democrats are kicking and screaming, refusing to march off the cliff to placate the ego of an octogenarian president who blew up his own campaign with a disastrous debate and camera-averse follow-up.

Remember these days. We are witnessing something extraordinary and unprecedented. We’re about four months away from Election Day. The Democrats control the White House, have a slim Senate majority, and are within reach of a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The party and its leaders have spent years warning Americans that if Donald Trump returns to the White House, it will mean the end of democracy.

And large swaths of the Democratic Party, in the past two weeks, have chosen to march to their doom to spare the feelings of a senile commander in chief, his stubborn, enabling wife, and his grifting family.

And you thought the Democrats were feckless, complaisant, pusillanimous doves in the face of foreign threats.

On paper, Joe Biden’s effort to remain president and the Democratic Party’s nominee gained strength Tuesday. House and Senate Democrats held caucus meetings on Capitol Hill, and the mood was described as “Funereal. Sad. Divided.” Semafor reported, “Told that others had compared the mood to a funeral, [one House Democrat] replied, ‘that is an insult to funerals.’”

The mood among Democrats would not be funereal and sad if they saw some plausible path to a Joe Biden victory. But each round of new polling data tells the same story: Trump ahead in Wisconsin, Trump ahead in every swing state, Trump ahead nationally. The Cook Political Report has moved Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada from “Toss Up” to “Lean Republican,” and moved Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Nebraska’s second congressional district from “Likely Democratic” to “Lean Democratic.”

Democrats are even worried about some of their bluest states. Democratic Manhattan Borough president Mark Levine told Politico, “I truly believe we’re a battleground state now.”

Because of the Senate map, Democrats already faced an uphill climb; a Biden loss almost guarantees a GOP Senate. It’s a similar story in the House races. CNN’s Harry Enten laid out the numbers:

“Yeah, Joe Biden may be in slightly worse shape in these particular polls, but the fact is, when Biden is down four, five, six points in these polls, you can only run so far ahead of Joe Biden, at this particular point, at least, in the race for the House. It does seem like Republicans are ahead, because Donald Trump is so far ahead. . . . If Donald Trump wins this election, the race for [control of] the Senate, for all intents and purposes, in my mind, is over.”

Not every Democrat is accepting the party’s likely fate. CNN’s Dana Bash reported that “Senators Michael Bennett [of Colorado], Sherrod Brown [of Ohio] and Jon Tester [of Montana] told colleagues in today’s Democratic caucus lunch that they do not believe that President Biden can win the election.”

Tester and Brown aren’t just any Senate Democrats; they’re two of the most vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbents facing the voters this year. In 2020, Trump won Montana by more than 16 percentage points and Ohio by eight percentage points. No one really expected Biden to win either state this cycle, but neither senator can win reelection if Democratic morale and turnout collapse. When Tester and Brown are declaring Biden can’t win, they’re also hinting that they’re worried they can’t win if he’s atop the ticket.

Colorado senator Michael Bennet went on CNN Tuesday night and did everything he could to deter his party from running off the cliff like lemmings:

This race is on a trajectory that is very worrisome if you care about the future of this country. Joe Biden was nine points up at this time — the last time he was running. Hillary Clinton was five points up. This is the first time in more than 20 years that a Republican president has been up in this part of the campaign. Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House. For me this isn’t a question about polling, it’s not a question about politics, it’s a moral question about the future of our country. It’s critically important for us to come to grips with what we face. . . .

We have four months to figure out how we’re going to save the country from Donald Trump. . . . The stakes could not be higher.

If Senator Bennet sounded the alarm any more loudly, people would mistake him for Representative Jamaal Bowman.

I used to joke that former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty was the “generic Republican.” Michael Bennet is close to the “generic Democrat.” He’s not a bomb-thrower or a provocateur. He votes with Biden’s position 98.5 percent of the time. His stark warning stands out because he’s among the last guys you would expect to get in front of the cameras and declare his party’s nominee to be doomed.

You can already find knee-jerk Biden defenders insisting that Bennet is making these public statements out of some residual bitterness over his 2020 presidential campaign, which lasted for about nine months. Right, pal, that’s the only possible reason he could look at the situation and conclude Democrats need a new nominee.

You may have noticed this exchange in Biden’s interview with George Stephanopoulos:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, if — I mean, on a more practical level, the Washington Post just reported in the last hour that Senator Mark Warner is — is assembling a group of senators together to try and convince you to stand down, because they don’t think you can win.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, Mark is a good man. We’ve never had (UNINTEL). He also tried to get the nomination too. Mark’s not — Mark and I have a different perspective. I respect him. 

Yes, Virginia senator Mark Warner explored running for president back in the 2008 cycle — back when he was just a former governor — and he decided not to run before the 2006 midterms. Biden didn’t even announce his 2008 presidential bid until January 7, 2007. Do you really think Warner’s been sitting around for 18 years, waiting for just the right opportunity to inflict vengeance upon Biden?

The idea that Warner’s desire for an alternative nominee stems from some sort of unresolved bitterness or jealousy of Biden’s presidency is nonsensical, in light of all the other evidence.

Warner, like Bennet, votes with the Biden administration’s position 98.5 percent of the time. Bennet and Warner aren’t seething with resentment of Biden; they just want a nominee who can win, and they no longer believe Biden can do that.

In the minds of Biden and his defenders, every Democratic official’s statement that Biden can’t win is driven by sinister motives and personal resentment.

It’s not just that the polls are bad, it’s that the Biden campaign’s plan is to just keep doing what it’s doing: have the president issue brief statements, read off a teleprompter, take no questions, have no unscripted moments, get more sleep, and hold no events after 8 p.m. — as if that’s going to somehow change the dynamic of the race. Remember, for the last few months, the Biden campaign and the DNC have enjoyed an enormous spending and advertising advantage, and there’s little sign that that had any effect on public opinion.

Meanwhile, more stories keep emerging of a man who is simply too old, too tired, and too mentally unfocused to perform the duties of the presidency.

German officials, aware of Biden’s fatigue at night, sought to accommodate the president by planning a June 2022 event with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the early evening.

The informal event, a soiree at the Alpine resort Schloss Elmau during the Group of Seven summit, was arranged as a confidential meeting on Ukraine in a relaxed setting. Biden didn’t show, surprising the chancellor and his aides, officials said. Instead, Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived and announced that Biden had to go to bed, according to two people who were there.

During a fundraiser at the Four Seasons in New York in June 2023, Biden spoke for five to 10 minutes and then took a few questions, said attendees who bought a ticket. They were struck by how fragile he seemed. At one point, Biden couldn’t recall the word for “veteran.” The president asked the group to help him find the word, saying he wanted to refer to a person who had served in the Army or Navy.

By Tuesday morning, it was starting to feel like the effort to oust President Biden from the ticket was losing ground after he insisted he wasn’t going anywhere and a number of prominent Democrats came out to forcefully support him. However, it seems now that all Biden’s team managed to do was to apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, but not to resolve the underlying injury.

Bad news keeps coming. Swing state polls show Biden falling further behind Trump and a number of Democrats have come out with skeptical statements both publicly and privately, ranging from telling him to drop out to expressing concerns about his ability to beat Donald Trump. And now NBC is reporting that fundraising is suffering, quoting one source as saying, “The money has absolutely shut off.”

The two biggest developments came this morning, as Representative Nancy Pelosi said that, “It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run” — outright ignoring the fact that Biden has already won all the primaries and has declared that only the Lord Almighty could convince him to drop out of the race. Then, actor George Clooney not only said Biden shouldn’t run, but revealed that Biden was demonstrating the same sort of mental decline at the $30 million Hollywood fundraiser the actor had helped organize that he did at the debate (which was about a week-and-a-half later).

This is shaping up to be the worst of all worlds for Democrats. Had Biden swiftly dropped out after the debate, Democrats could have moved on to a plan B by now. Alternatively, Democrats could have all rallied around Biden, went with the “bad night” excuse, and the issue of the nomination would have been resolved (even if the issue of the mental fitness was not).

What’s happening now, however, is that enough Democrats are backing Biden that he is feeling no real pressure to drop out. So they can’t start moving on to plan B. However, he is still being pummeled every day by leaks or other top Democrats coming out with critical statements.

We are nearing two weeks since the disastrous debate, and there is no end to this crisis until Biden either drops out or gets formally nominated. If he hangs on and secures the nomination next month, he will be badly damaged by the weeks of attacks on his mental fitness from within his own tent, and likely fatally wounded. If Democrats oust him through some drawn out process, it will leave the party deeply divided going into the fall.

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