Politics & Media
Sep 14, 2023, 06:29AM

Joe Biden and the Cowboys

In a parallel universe, Biden and Trump disappear.

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My wife’s a political moderate who, like most Americans, doesn’t focus on presidential elections until two months before it occurs. She can’t stand Trump, and voted against him twice; she liked Obama and supported him, but also pulled the lever for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. She’s part of a demographic—married with grown kids, educated, middle-aged, appalled at ever-increasing supermarket prices and put off by all the “woke” and “non-woke” arguments—that political consultants target. Given the choice of a Biden-Trump re-match next year, she might sit it out (although she’d welcome the opportunity to vote for Michelle Obama, should the Democrats come to their senses and persuade the former First Lady to run).

We were driving to a movie theater the other day—the awful My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, a glossed-up travelogue that was mostly incoherent—and she surprised me by talking about Sen. Mitch McConnell’s two “brain freezes” in the past month, as well as the photos of 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whom she correctly said “looks like a corpse.” And Biden’s monthly deterioration is a running source of gallows humor. (As of Tuesday, his latest fabrication was claiming he was at Ground Zero on 9/12/01; quickly refuted by numerous news outlets showing he was in Washington. And what was that rambling about John Wayne and the Indians?) When I told her that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who does appear cognitively aware) is running again at 83, she simply shook her head in disgust, as she did when I mentioned that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who’ll turn 90 in a few days, isn’t up for reelection until 2028.

It could be that the country’s voters are indifferent to the old age of so many elected officials in Washington, and will focus, as usual, on the economy in 2024. But it’s hardly insignificant. It’s inconceivable that California Democrats haven’t privately told Feinstein to retire, and let Gov. Gavin Newsom choose a younger person to replace her. It’s not as if the balance of power in the Senate would shift—McConnell, who also needs to go, is a pickle for Republicans since Kentucky’s governor is a Democrat—and might strengthen the “weak bench” of national Democrats.

I agree with the non-partisan position that Senators and Representatives should be subject to term limits—say three terms for the former, and six for the latter—but that idea, popular around 20 years ago has petered out. It’d be a start to implement a retirement age of 75 in both chambers: not entirely fair to those that are still sharp and fit, but it would prevent, say a 74-year-old Senator from running for reelection. Likewise, why not limit Supreme Court Justices to 20 years on the bench? Lifetime appointments are nuts.

Ross Douthat’s latest New York Times column, “Why is Joe Biden So Unpopular,” was tossed around like a beachball on social media—pro and con—but the putative conservative relied mostly on transitory polls that show ebbing Biden support from African-Americans and Hispanics to make his case, as well as “a general depression hanging over Americans, especially younger Americans, which has been worsened by Covid but seems rooted in deeper social trends.” I don’t buy this analysis: it’s true that the economy is yo-yoing, but on Election Day next year I can’t conceive that Biden (if he’s on the ticket) won’t rack up decisive majorities of blacks, Hispanics and the youths who bother to vote.

Douthat’s conclusion is similarly muddled: “Biden got elected, in part, by casting himself as a transitional figure, a bridge to a more youthful and optimistic future. Now he needs some general belief in that brighter future to help carry him to re-election. But wherever Americans might find such optimism, we are probably well past the point that a decrepit-seeming president can hope to generate it himself.”

I don’t recall in 2020 Biden claiming he was “transitional” or a “bridge to a more youthful and optimistic future.” Biden was “decrepit” three years ago, and likely it was only because he wasn’t forced to campaign daily because of Covid—when his gaffes, some so monumental that even the largely Democratic media would have to report them—that he was able to defeat Trump. This is no brief for Trump, who at 77, is on another planet entirely, thoroughly out of his narcissistic and mean mind, even if he can usually form complete sentences.

In a different, and more sensible, dimension the DNC and RNC would put a halt to a Biden-Trump repeat, and use their power to give Americans a choice between, say Democrats Jared Polis or Gretchen Whitmer (if Michelle can’t be persuaded to run) and Republicans Glenn Youngkin and John Sununu. Drafted at their respective conventions, old-school style. I harbor no illusions this will come to pass—even if a reasonably aware 12-year-old understands that Biden and Trump are unfit for office—mostly because common sense is now passe.

—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023

  • I completely agree with everything you said except that trump can form full sentences. His language is often incoherent, IMO. Thanks for a comprehensive overlook!

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