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What do the anti-Trump and anti-Biden folks have in common? Failure

Efforts to dump President Biden from the Democratic ticket after his disastrous debate performance seem to be fizzling. What is transpiring increasingly feels like the failed movement in 2016 to prevent Donald Trump from being the Republican nominee.

Back in 2016, conservative commentators wrote blistering columns and editorials and went on TV to warn against nominating Trump. The donor class was nervous. There were also some Republicans who opposed him, though once he secured the delegates to win the nomination, the number willing to say so publicly dwindled.

There were last-ditch efforts to oust him during the convention and then a weekend of panic after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in the fall. But ultimately, Republicans mostly fell in line, and those who didn’t were accused of helping Hillary Clinton.

Among the reasons the movement to stop Trump failed was that those who opposed Trump could not unify around an alternate plan. People who didn’t like Trump supported different candidates or advocated different approaches to beating him. 

A similar situation is now taking place among Democrats. The left-wing media is overwhelmingly in favor of scrapping Biden and, for the first time in his presidency, are actually covering him critically. Every day, we get leaked reports about how infirm he has appeared behind the scenes in addition to columns, social-media threads, and TV rants about how Biden’s team is gaslighting everybody about his health. 

Also, while a handful of Democrats have been willing to come out publicly to call for Biden to drop out, most of them are airing their grievances privately. As Representative Mike Quigley, one of the Democrats who has called for Biden’s ouster, told our Audrey Fahlberg, “The line is: ‘I agree with you. I’m not going public — yet.’” 

At the same time, like anti-Trump Republicans in 2016, there is no agreement on what the alternative should be. Should Vice President Kamala Harris simply be anointed? Should a small committee of top Democrats plop in Governor Gavin Newsom or Governor Gretchen Whitmer? Should it just be thrown to an open convention? Should there be a “blitz” primary with forums hosted by the likes of Oprah and Taylor Swift?

In the past day, since Biden stated unequivocally that there is no way he is getting out of the race, you can detect a shift. While there are still critical statements of Biden among elected Democrats, for the most part they are being delivered in private. The most emphatic statements are on the pro-Biden side (such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declaring, “The matter is closed”) while the critical statements do not go as far as demanding Biden drop out (such as Senator Mark Warner saying, “Now is the time for conversations about the strongest path forward”).

Increasingly, you are hearing Democrats saying that they need to put this all behind them to focus on beating Trump.

It’s true that the media is still in attack mode, and there’s a decent chance Biden will have additional bad moments that will lead to more calls for him to step aside. But if he can keep those to a minimum until he is formally nominated, he may now ride it out.

At that point, as I wrote yesterday, everybody will pivot to arguing that Biden has a great team running things and that even a senile Biden is better than Trump. 

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