Finally, Joe Biden Launches a '24 Bid. But It's No Gimme

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The man who led the nation 16 presidents ago was taciturn to the extreme. An apocryphal story holds that when Calvin Coolidge passed away, one commentator asked, “How can they tell?”

Word out now in a targeted leak to the White House’s favorite newspaper is that Joe Biden, who should be taciturn, will announce his 2024 reelection bid on Tuesday. That’s the fourth anniversary of his 2020 campaign launch that doomed American energy independence and presaged the current inflation.

We’ll be able to tell the ‘campaign’ is for real when Biden retreats again to the faux library in his Delaware basement where he resided for most of that 2020 campaign. The fact that advance word comes from an unidentified source lends credence to the plan.

No one would believe it if serial liar Joe Biden himself had pre-announced a campaign. He’s been threatening another one for two years now to duck lame-duck status and perhaps convince himself of the possibility.

That delay has been so long that some fellow Democrats feared the 80-year-old gaffe-meister was going to pull a Lyndon Johnson and drop out.

There’s good reason for that fear given what the aged incumbent president faces:

The economy, poor polls, an open southern border, investigations into the family’s business dealings, and serious security lapses, including the Chinese spy balloon that completed its transcontinental espionage mission unhindered by the U.S,, recent Pentagon document leaks online, Biden’s own illegal mishandling of classified documents, and Russia’s intentional downing of a U.S. drone in international airspace with no presidential response.

Polls also show most Americans would prefer a Not Joe Biden candidate. Polls also show the county’s top concern is not what you might expect, issues like the economy or inflation. It’s government itself, as in the Biden Administration.

Perhaps more importantly, there’s what anyone can see for themselves watching Biden’s gait, lost behavior, mental fog, and garbled speech in public.

But then Democrats would have to deal with the heir-apparent vice president that Biden handpicked for the identity boxes she checked. None of which included leadership, speaking skills, or intelligence. She’s so bad, she’s become Biden’s insurance against impeachment.

Watch for sympathetic D.C. media to go all out, however, on Breaking News Alerts as if Biden’s predicted Tuesday announcement was exciting news that changed something. And to ignore what my friend Jim Geraghty calls “the high cost of geriatric leadership” in Washington.

The campaign will use a carefully-edited video to avoid unexpected questions, and for fear of what Joe Biden might do or say live. Watch for the edit cuts.

As for Republicans, Donald Trump and a handful of second-tier hopefuls have been running for months, rather silently, with more expected. Trump wants a huge field of challengers to mock and split the “Not Trump” primary vote, as they did in that 2016 field of 17.

Facing a prematurely desultory summer of weak online readership, media also is desperate to hype GOP bloodletting to help distract from skipping coverage of Biden’s health, his troubled son, and questions about multi-million-dollar money transfers from China to Biden family members that the Treasury Department calls suspicious.

Polls show Florida’s successful Gov. Ron DeSantis as the strongest Trump challenger for now. He refuses to play along, however, remaining focused on his current job, if you can imagine such a thing these days. He married his wife Casey in 2009 at DisneyWorld. She’s a former TV reporter in remission after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2021.

DeSantis is weeks away from announcing a campaign, if ever, but that hasn’t stopped media from building him up and knocking him down already. The New York Times warned its liberal readership not to count DeSantis out before he starts. German-owned Politico has been particularly negative.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal touted its poll: “Trump Tops DeSantis In Test of GOP Field.” Truth is, Trump tops you, me, DeSantis, and 332 million other Americans who’ve yet to announce a 2024 candidacy.

DeSantis, however, is making the rounds of conservative-friendly podiums, including the Reagan Library and Heritage Foundation in Washington. There, on Friday, not far from Capitol Hill where he was elected to three House terms, DeSantis said:

I look around and sometimes Republicans will get into office and they’re almost like potted plants. They don’t want to do anything with the authority they have.

That could be a campaign theme for the lawyer and Navy veteran, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his service with Seal Team One in Iraq.

Without DeSantis, media are now dragging Chris Christie out of the archives to inflate any kind of Trump challenger. You may remember Christie as the two-term, New Jersey Republican governor caught on camera hugging Barack Obama like a savior.

Christie ran against Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire GOP primary. He finished sixth with no delegates, dropped out immediately, and has spent much of the time since opining on one of those boring Sunday morning talk shows you don’t watch.

Ron and Casey DeSantis
Ron DeSantis Facebook

Joe Biden is chronically late for most everything. If he indeed announces on Tuesday, some expenses of every trip will need to be covered by the campaign.

But announcing now will give the notoriously poor fundraiser two months to haul in enough money to impress. A major Biden fundraiser is set for Friday in Washington.

No Biden campaign manager has been announced. He needs to find someone willing to live in Wilmington, Delaware, for two years. Other campaigns have been recruiting staff for months. So, they’re late doing that too.

Presidents with low job-approval ratings have had difficulty gaining reelection, meaning they haven’t. In 1980, Jimmy Carter’s were in the 30’s. He lost. Trump’s job approval in 2020 reached 49 percent, but the four-year average was 41 percent. On Election Day, it was 46 percent. He lost.

George H. W. Bush’s job approval was 80 percent at one point after foreign policy successes. But it began 1992 at 46 percent. Then, challenges from Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, plus a troubled economy, dropped him to 29 percent at one point.

Campaigning for his son seven years later, Bush told me he knew two weeks before the 1992 election he was destined to defeat. At election time, his approval was 34 percent. He lost.

However, Bush’s grace in defeat helped drive up approval. It surged to 43 percent that same month, 49 percent the next month, and was 56 percent when he left office.

Lyndon Johnson’s average job approval was 56 percent. But a failing Vietnam War, urban riots, and internal party challenges from Sens. Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy dropped him to 36 percent by March of 1968, when he abandoned his reelection bid.

That decision turned the White House over to Republicans for two terms.

Biden’s job approval has fallen consistently from 57 percent at the start of his term to 40 percent now, according to Gallup. Other polls put him in the upper 30’s.

At the moment, his two Democrat challengers appear minor. But just to save Biden one potentially disastrous TV appearance, the party ruled out any primary debates.

The two other announced party contenders are Marianne Williamson, 70, an author who also ran in 2020 before dropping out to endorse Bernie Sanders, and Robert Kennedy Jr. He’s a 69-year-old environmentalist, anti-vaccine activist, and namesake son of his senator father, who challenged Johnson and was assassinated in June of 1968.

Other ambitious Democrats, including Govs. J.B. Pritzker and Gavin Newsom, stand in the wings as political EMT’s awaiting a serious Biden stumble during these 16 months before the party’s nominating convention in the stricken city of Chicago.

Bernie Sanders, who turns 82 this year, has given no indication of another run. He already has three houses.

Biden’s campaign will surely focus on Trump’s personality, the turmoil surrounding his tenure, the Jan. 6 incident, and the indictment(s) connected to his predecessor.

Career pol Biden’s claims of grand, under-appreciated legislative achievements simply do not resonate with Americans still facing high interest rates, the threat of recession, and five-percent inflation as a result of that same exorbitant spending legislation.

Also, census data reveals that since 2020, some 2.6 million Americans have fled crucial counties that Biden won that year.

If Trump is the GOP nominee, age seems less likely to be a deciding issue. He will be 78 next year, the same age as Biden when he became the oldest president. The Democrat sets a new record every day and would be 86 after another term.

However, if Republicans select one of their other wannabes, Biden’s campaign slogan may become “Ooopsie.”

Most of the Republican alternatives are in their 40’s or 50’s. Gov. Ron DeSantis would be 45 to Biden’s 82. The contrast on a debate stage would be dramatic.

In a karma kind of way that would turn the tables on Democrats, perhaps causing them to duck debates if the opponent is not Trump.

In 2008, Democrats mocked the Republican candidate, John McCain, a Navy veteran and former POW, for being way too old to be commander in chief. At that time, McCain was 72. That’s 10 years younger than incumbent Biden will be next year.

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