Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius says Biden should not run again in 2024, mainly because of sagging poll numbers and concerns about the president's age

Veteran Washington Post newsman David Ignatius is out today with a column calling for President Joe Biden to not run for re-election  in 2024. Donald Watkins, longtime Alabama attorney and political practitioner/observer, wrote in 2022 that Democrats should dump Biden, and he agrees with Ignatius' take today. Under the headline "Today’s Washington Post: “Biden Should Step Aside,” Watkins writes:

Today, the Washington Post published a lengthy editorial opinion written by columnist David Ignatius calling for Joe Biden – and Kamala Harris – to step aside in 2024 and allow someone else to become the Democratic Party’s nominees for president and vice president.

As Ignatius sees it:

“Biden would carry two big liabilities into a 2024 campaign. He would be 82 when he began a second term. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC poll, 77 percent of the public, including 69 percent of Democrats, think he’s too old to be effective for four more years. Biden’s age isn’t just a Fox News trope; it’s been the subject of dinner-table conversations across America this summer.

Because of their concerns about Biden’s age, voters would sensibly focus on his presumptive running mate, Harris. She is less popular than Biden, with a 39.5 percent approval rating, according to polling website FiveThirtyEight. Harris has many laudable qualities, but the simple fact is that she has failed to gain traction in the country or even within her own party.”

In other words, Joe Biden is too old, and Kamala Harris is too unpopular. Ignatius fears that these two liabilities would open the door to a second term for Donald Trump.

I agree!

Ignatius' column apparently has no connection to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's call Tuesday for an impeachment inquiry of  Biden. In fact, Ignatius does not even mention the McCarthy gambit.

Here is the gist of the Ignatius column: Biden has made plenty of mistakes, but all in all, he inherited perhaps the biggest mess from his predecessor, Trump, in American history. Despite that, he got a staggering economy back on track, got the COVID pandemic under control, has presented a firm, united front in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and his Department of Justice is seeking to hold a rogue president, Trump, accountable in a way that never has been done before -- and this is particularly important considering the insurrection of January 6, 2020, was the greatest threat to our democracy since the Civil War. The primary goal of this political moment is to keep Trump from ever occupying the White House again. Biden accomplished that goal in 2020, but Ignatius is not sure Biden-Harris are the best team to achieve that goal in 2024, mainly because of concerns about Biden's age and sagging poll numbers, with Harris faring even worse than her boss in polls.

Still, Watkins takes a dim view of the Biden administration, writing:

On January 16, 2022, I published an article titled, “Democrats Must Dump Biden in 2024.” Here is what I wrote on why Democrats need to select someone else as the presidential and vice presidential nominees in 2024:

"Biden won the 2020 election primarily because former president Donald Trump demonstrated his colossal incompetence during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans were also tired of Trump's non-stop daily drama, buffoonery in office, braggadocious conduct, constant chest-pounding, narcissism, and megalomania. Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. The election was not stolen. There was no massive fraud in the nationwide voting, as alleged by Trump and his minions in more than 60 court cases that he lost. In many of these cases, Trump-appointed federal judges ruled against him.

The qualities that made Joe Biden an unattractive presidential candidate in 2020 are worse today. Biden does not embody the presidential leadership qualities Americans need in this divisive moment.

Additionally, Biden is too old, slow, and weak to lead America in today's fast-paced, rapidly changing world. It is also apparent to me and other objective observers that Biden is suffering from senility, which worsens with the passage of time.

Biden's approval rating is underwater in 40 states. Here are some of the reasons why:

Inflation is out of control. The nation is on the verge of a recession. Gas, food, and housing costs are still sky high.

Biden’s absent-mindedness caused him to leave classified national security documents at three separate locations. There is no excuse for this kind of reckless and dangerous conduct, whether it was perpetrated by Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

The Biden administration has offered no practical, workable, non-racist solution to the migration crisis at America's southern border.

Biden's hasty troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 was an unmitigated disaster. Additionally, Biden's initial response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 was too little, too late.

Biden’s voting-rights protection legislation sank like the Titanic in 2022. Long-established constitutional rights of women are being ripped from them without a real presidential fight to protect them. Biden's Attorney General is doing nothing to stop the wholesale dismantlement of constitutional protections for women.

Biden still has "burrowed-in" Donald Trump political appointees running the U.S. Department of Justice in Southern states, with no plan to replace them.

The list of Biden’s presidential leadership failures goes on and on. . . .

Vice President Kamala Harris is NOT the answer for Democrats in 2024. Harris has failed to deliver on every major initiative Biden entrusted to her. She failed to deliver the votes necessary to pass Biden's voting-rights legislation. She has shown no ability to lead the Biden administration's efforts to solve the crisis at our southern border.

The same holds true for Biden's clean-energy initiatives. Harris simply does not understand the world of clean energy or electric vehicles, beyond what she reads from the teleprompter during White House press conferences.

If Kamala Harris has an area of problem-solving expertise, I have not seen it. Today, Harris functions more like a glorified Biden cheerleader.”

Now that the Washington Post has joined my call for Biden and Harris to step aside in 2024, the Democratic Party should push to find attractive candidates to run for president.

In the AM Newsletter today, Axios' David Allen says the Ignatius column likely was painful reading for Biden:

President Biden, befitting his generation, loves newspapers and the classic columnists. David Ignatius, Tom Friedman, and David Brooks top his list.

  • Ignatius, 73, a well-wired Washington Post foreign-affairs columnist who writes spy novels on the side, is out with a column (page A23 today) with the blunt headline: "President Biden should not run again in 2024."

Why it matters: Biden, 80, still sees himself as a young go-getter. Here's a respected voice he has known for 40+ years telling him that by plunging ahead, he "risks undoing his greatest achievement — which was stopping Trump."

"Biden has never been good at saying no," Ignatius writes, adding that the president has a "chance to say no — to himself, this time — by withdrawing from the 2024 race. It might not be in character for Biden, but it would be a wise choice for the country."

  • "Time is running out," the columnist adds. "In a month or so, this decision will be cast in stone. It will be too late for other Democrats, including [Vice President] Harris, to test themselves in primaries and see whether they have the stuff of presidential leadership."

Ignatius praises Biden for passing "some of the most important domestic legislation in recent decades":

  • "Biden has in many ways remade himself as president. He is no longer the garrulous glad-hander I met when I first covered Congress more than four decades ago."

But Biden, the columnist adds, "would be 82 when he began a second term."

  • "Biden's age isn't just a Fox News trope; it's been the subject of dinner-table conversations across America this summer."

The bottom line: Biden confidants tell me that's not a conversation in his head, or in his White House. Democrats haven't coalesced around anyone else. But Ignatius has said out loud what few people will tell the president.

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