The good news: Sorry, there isn’t any.
The bad news: We’re not even halfway through Joe Biden’s last term as president.
Yet, America’s next interminable political campaign is already underway. And for the moment, it looks like the same two characters will compete for the Oval Office again. You know who they are.
Now, the calendar is set for 2024, historically early. Biden says he wants to take even more time off this year to ponder his “intent” to seek reelection. Some 40 percent of Biden’s term has been time off, out of sight, in places that don’t keep records on his activities and visitors.
Every time he’s in public, Biden looks to need rest. His gait is weak, His squinting eyes have trouble even with the teleprompter’s large type. His mind is blurred too, even at recent events with people standing next to him. And his speaking is robotic, if robots sometimes mumble.
Two things need to happen now.
First, the person(s) who tell Biden what to do everywhere — to say hello in meetings, then to sit down, and not to take questions — need to write up another note for the obedient commander in chief:
My fellow Americans, It has been the greatest honor of my long life to serve you as president. We have accomplished in this short time an historic amount of progress, as I promised in the 2020 campaign. I am immensely proud of what we’ve done together.
As Speaker Pelosi put it so well the other day belatedly, ‘The hour’s come for a new generation to lead.’
As a result, I have decided not to seek another term as your president. Jill and I look forward to supporting the Democratic ticket in the 2024 election and many years after. I am certain the party will choose the best candidates.
And second, as my wise colleague Kira Davis notes, a fresh field of younger Republican candidates needs to challenge Trump in primaries for the 2024 nomination. They will once they get a reading in seven or eight months.
There are numerous qualified competitors, including some Trump helped to acquire valuable experience, such as Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, and Mike Pence. Others may emerge, such as Tom Cotton. Of course, a large GOP primary field fueled by ambition could split the votes and let Trump win again with just his loyal plurality.
You know that Trump is not quitting anything on his own. That’s what got him where he is in life, and it’s a good part of his appeal. Nor will Trump step away from a race because someone dares to suggest it’s time for the good of the party of Lincoln.
The broad array of impressive achievements forged in his single hard-driving, tumultuous term, including an historic energy independence, entitle the ex-president to the chance to compete fairly as only the third man to seek the White House three times.
And his large, if slightly diminished, base of loyal followers deserves a chance to be heard and back him again or not. Not everyone agrees with me.
May the strongest real Republican win. The country needs the best possible alternative after the dangerous worst we’re enduring now.
Times have changed since 2015 when the billionaire descended that Trump Tower escalator to ascend to the nation’s highest office. The country has changed. And so has Donald Trump.
For one thing, he’s seven years older. Hopefully, a little wiser, and maybe a little less openly angry and hyperbolic. But not enough to affect his impressive determination and drive.
Remember the 2020 campaign when Trump spoke at three and four packed rallies in as many states every day? While the 78-year-old Biden sheltered in his basement? And look what we got.
Trump’s campaign announcement last week disappointed a RedState colleague.
But its calmer, less raucous, more organized tone gave hope to some of us that the 76-year-old had learned a modicum more self-discipline since leaving office. Not to lose the fire that conveys his conviction. But to be seen controlling it.
While decisive, Trump’s behavior toward opponents and his own aides is not always likable, or even civil. Unpleasant, but that’s OK in my eyes. Federal politics is not beanbag. I’ve been there. I don’t need to like any president. I want to respect them.
When Syria used chemical weapons on civilians after Trump’s warning, he promptly erased the launching airbase. When Iran’s terrorist general Qasem Suleimani, whose IEDs killed hundreds of U.S. troops, showed up in Baghdad, Trump took him out with two Hellfire missiles.
In 2019, Trump approved an attack on Iranian radar sites for shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone. But when he learned of the estimated casualties, he canceled the raid in mid-flight as disproportionate.
When Syria ignored Barrack Obama’s phony “red line” warning not to use chemical weapons, he dithered. But when given a chance to get Osama bin Baden, he didn’t. Joe Biden opposed that raid as VP. And as POTUS, he rejected Pentagon guidance on the Afghan withdrawal, which produced a deadly debacle.
It’s probably too much to hope for Trump to be more judicious all the time. But perhaps Trump 2.0 won’t feel the need to punch back for every perceived sleight, to save his rhetorical ammo for the important combats like the ones that enabled him to fight so effectively against the comfortable currents of Washington’s stale establishments.
Those achievements included his drive for deregulation, tax cuts, job growth, military modernization, religious freedoms, a conservative Supreme Court majority, and to free the nation’s devoted military volunteers to crush the murderous ISIS terrorists that his apologist predecessor so badly underestimated as “the JV.”
I will forever remain impressed that of the 17 Republican candidates that 2016 cycle, the New York City billionaire with a Fifth Avenue penthouse, the political amateur in his first campaign, was the only one to detect and tap into the festering frustrations, anxieties, and angers of millions across flyover country.
They rewarded him with just enough votes in just the right places to send Hillary Clinton, the conniving heir to Bill’s job, into a shock that prevented her from conceding on Election Night.
So great was that shock that it spawned a vicious revenge cycle that has permeated even once trustworthy government agencies like the FBI and endures to this day, including scandal hoaxes, Deep State conspiracies, two impeachments, and now, a special prosecutor, who could possibly help Trump.
The party Trump wants to lead again has changed too, for the better, thanks to him. It’s more populist, multi-colored, multi-lingual, and less country-club brunchers. He was sloppy and not always judicious in his midterm endorsements. He picked too many on the basis of denying the 2020 election results with him. Voters dissented.
The S.S. Hindsight has sailed now, as midterm results showed. Americans have moved on to a new set of pressing concerns, including inflation and the looming likelihood of a recession.
If Trump wants to lead again, as opposed to just being president again, he needs to move on too and tell us his future goals. Tellingly, he did not harp on 2020 in his announcement. In fact, he didn’t even mention it, another hopeful sign.
Our parties’ presidential nominations should not be awarded by seniority, as they were to John McCain in 2008, Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Trump in 2020. You’ll notice all three lost. Presidential nominations need to be earned, as Trump’s was in 2016 and Obama’s in 2008. Both men won in the general election. Not a coincidence.
The same goes for both parties in 2024.
Joe Biden needs to face the reality of being born on this day 80 long years ago. Donald Trump needs to scrap for the crown again this time. He will.
And win or lose, the GOP and the rest of us must learn to live with our fellow voters’ collective decision.