Joe Biden is in a lot of trouble these days. And therefore, so are we.
The nation faces a broad panoply of problems and challenges at home and abroad and the way we address them is to talk about something else because, mental health. That’s because our commander in chief is the most feckless national leader in the lifetime of anyone alive now. Joe Biden is not even in command of his own mouth or mind.
He takes long weekends every week. His “work schedule” is crammed with one, maybe two, events a day, and most of them end up displaying yet another gaffe, misunderstanding, outrageous untruth, or invisible friend of his. No wonder he spent so much of the 2020 campaign in a faux basement library.
Despite all the warnings of lack of energy, drive, and mental discipline, his Democrat Party mates picked this old man to defeat the mean tweeter. He did. Or rather, they did.
And what they got was what they always had, a mediocre old man with a weak mind, an undisciplined tongue, a penchant for tall tales that were entertaining until he became leader of the free world, and a scumbag son whose serial misbehaviors would engulf the complicit father if American justice and media operated as they should.
But now his party is openly disappointed with what they’ve always had but promoted anyway. So, they’re talking out loud by name to sympathetic media about his many failings, as if they were Republicans.
This, as my RedState colleagues have pointed out, is the start of a campaign to justify denying their incumbent party leader the 2024 nomination, an unprecedented modern move in American politics.
But there’s a problem, a very large problem. There is no bright star to follow, no qualified alternative, not even an imperfect Ted Kennedy who challenged the flailing Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Much of the blame for that should fall on Barack Obama, an historic figure who was all about Barack Obama and let his party down, and by extension the country. Both of our major political parties are in the prolonged throes of reinventing themselves for younger generations in a new time.
That’s not so easy to do when the parties’ leaderships include Biden (79), Nancy Pelosi (82), Steny Hoyer (83), Jim Clyburn (83), Chuck Schumer (72), Donald Trump (76), and Mitch McConnell (80). In fact, it’s impossible to do with that creaking crowd, whose members are less than enthusiastic about relinquishing power.
Obama is “only” 60, but his focus on Obama left his party to wither outside D.C. In return for his inattention and arrogance, midterm voters in 2010 discarded 63 House Democrats and six Senate Democrats. They even gave a Massachusetts Senate seat to the GOP.
At the state level, the Obama damage was devastating. Voters ousted nearly 1,000 Democrat officeholders nationally, flipping control of 20 state legislative chambers and six governorships to the GOP, which eventually came to control 34 of the 50.
Bad enough in a normal year, but, as required by law, those election victors immediately set to work designing reapportionment from the 2010 Census.
Not surprisingly, those new districts were favorable for Republicans. And since state Democrats have still not recovered even half those 1,000 seats, similar favorable district redesigns reoccurred this Census cycle.
In effect, the 2010 Obama shellacking at the state level, where young politicos gain experience and statewide name recognition, snuffed an entire generation of Democrats from the party’s farm system while boosting an opposing cadre of Republicans.
So, who’s left to revitalize a national Democrat Party without Joe Biden? There’s Kamala Harris, who’s 57. But intelligence, leadership potential, political and speaking skills were not the reason Biden chose her as VP. Her performance has been underwhelming and at times puzzling.
There is Bernie Sanders, who is 83 but has not ruled out another run.
Historically, modern Democrats lean toward senators as candidates for president (Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, McGovern, Mondale, Gore, Kerry, Obama, Hillary Clinton, Biden) and for vice president (Johnson, Humphrey, Muskie, Mondale, Bentsen, Gore, Lieberman, Edwards, Biden, Kaine, Harris).
Both Obama and George W. Bush could have chosen younger vice-presidential partners to raise their political profiles as heirs apparent. But they opted initially for the apparent gravitas of an older Washington veteran.
They could have changed VPs for a second term, bring in some youth, but that’s seen as admitting a mistake, rather than setting the party up for continued success.
Ronald Reagan in 1980 chose a much younger (13 years) George H.W. Bush as his vice president, a decision that set up a 12-year GOP rule of the White House.
Two other possibilities for 2024 replacement nominees for Biden could theoretically be Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. Klobuchar is “only” 62 and comes out of Minnesota’s progressive Farmer-Labor Party where her only previous political job was county prosecutor.
In the Senate since 2007, she has a reputation as an effective legislator with a strong temper. She abandoned her own 13-month campaign for president in March of 2020 to speak effectively for Biden.
Klobuchar’s name, however, may be a problem. It violates my personal theory that, with the obvious exceptions of men like Eisenhower and Washington, many U.S. presidents have had last names of seven letters or less.
At 40, Buttigieg’s name looks too long too. An effective speaker and debater, especially against Democrats’ 2020 field of old fogeys, he did well that year. He won the Iowa Democrat caucus and finished second in New Hampshire before dropping out and campaigning for Biden. He was rewarded with a Cabinet job: Transportation Secretary.
Cabinet members, however, have had difficulty seeking the presidency. Only eight succeeded, none in 94 years.
Unlike most recent Democrats on the federal stage, Buttigieg is a military veteran (Navy) who served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Only three mayors have ever become president: Calvin Coolidge (Northampton, Mass); Grover Cleveland (Buffalo, NY), and Andrew Johnson (Greeneville, Tenn.).
In 2010, Buttigieg ran very unsuccessfully for Indiana state treasurer. In an interesting, connected move with rather obvious political implications, Buttigieg recently changed his residence and voting registration from Republican Indiana to Democratic Michigan, where the 72-year-old Debbie Stabenow is in her fourth term as senator.
Buttigieg’s cover story for moving there is that his husband’s parents live in Michigan.