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It's Early Yet, but Already the 2024 Campaign Is the Most Tawdry Ever

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Every presidential election is the most important one, so far. Next year’s is no exception.

But next year’s is also likely the most unusual presidential election, certainly in modern times. Hands down. Yes, so far, the 2024 White House contest involves our two major political parties, as always. It’s very early, of course, still 77 weeks of false promises to endure until Election Day.

The world looks at the United States as the most exotic political zoo on Earth. And that’s perfectly understandable these days.

Things will undoubtedly change in the coming weeks and months. But take a look at the absurdly weird choice and entangled factors facing American voters at this moment:

Both of the overwhelming favorites – Joe Biden and Donald Trump – are campaigning like incumbents, as both have been. But both have serious legal clouds hanging over them. Does anyone care?

Trump has four GOP competitors so far – Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Larry Elder, and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Biden has two competitors – Marianne Williamson and Robert Kennedy Jr., and no one is paying them much attention.

None of these opponents are seriously attacking Trump, despite numerous openings. Are these wannabes actually angling for a job if Trump wins? Because right now they’re waddling down in single poll digits while the savvy Trump dominates the media, as he did in 2016.

In the wings until sometime next month is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Long touted as the main threat to Trump, he’s been focused on another conservatively-productive state legislative session.

That absence, with steady Trump attacks, has seen his support in some polls wane to half of what it once was. This allows the media, who desperately want a Trump nomination for the turmoil, attention, and most of all online traffic, to ask wishfully if he is finished — weeks before he even announces.

This weekend, both Trump and DeSantis and wife Casey were scheduled to appear in the early-voting state of Iowa — Trump for another of his signature rallies and DeSantis for a picnic fundraiser and pair of party speeches.

C-SPAN has archived video of the DeSantis remarks. Trump’s campaign canceled its event, citing a tornado warning.

Meanwhile, a DeSantis-affiliated PAC, Never Back Down, is staffing up in the first 18 GOP primary states and running ads for him in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

Those ads hint at a campaign theme based roughly on “Less Talk, More Action,” touting DeSantis policies and executive actions on abortion, crime, education, and other conservative-friendly issues.

Trump’s anti-DeSantis strategy mirrors 2016 when his relentless attacks and mocking of the 16 other Republicans dominated the news and damaged top contenders beyond repair.

At first glance, this appears to be working for now. The DeSantis test after announcing will be if he can cut the lead and take the heat, dish some back, and display the kind of grace and spine that anti-Trumpers have long pined for.

It’s not free sailing for Trump. He’s survived scandals before, any one of which would have torpedoed the political careers of a less-skilled media ringmaster.

But this time the challenges are legal, some stronger than others in New York and Georgia. A jury in a civil trial found that he sexually abused a female writer in the 1990s and later defamed her. Trump’s appeal will keep that in the news.

But he also faces allegations of fraud in his family company, possible involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and probes into possible election interference trying to overturn his narrow 2020 loss in Georgia.

He became the first former president criminally indicted, in this case for a hush money payment to an adult movie actress.

Trump denies all wrongdoing. That has worked in the past among his stubbornly loyal political base. The question now is will it work on GOP primary voters eight years into his undisputed reign as media magnet?

The Justice Department is also considering criminal charges over Trump illegally removing and keeping classified documents from his presidency.

To compound the unprecedented and tawdry legal aspects of this presidential campaign, Joe Biden did the same thing with classified documents dating back to his days as senator and vice president.

As he often does, Biden plays the aloof executive card, claiming ignorance on how the papers were illegally removed from government security. And then got into an abandoned office he had used, plus the garage and assorted drawers in his Delaware home, where son Hunter was living and running an international influence peddling operation.

Speaking of Hunter, the president’s son is also allegedly under investigation by the Biden Administration’s Justice Department, while the Treasury Department (under pressure from the House Oversight Committee) has released Suspicious Activity Reports on multi-million-dollar money transfers to Biden family members from China.

Despite a lavish lifestyle, Hunter Biden is claiming he cannot afford to maintain child support payments to an Arkansas stripper who bore his child. The Bidens have refused to acknowledge their granddaughter.

Biden aides claim the southern border is secure, if by secure you mean porous enough to allow entry to possibly as many as six million more illegal immigrants, then essentially eliminating any immigration follow-up. Biden’s motive for this is blatant and suspiciously intentional.

AP/Reuters Feed Library

Last week, the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing more than $10 million in payments from overseas to Biden family members and shell companies. For what services, information, or access, we do not know yet.

Such a bipartisan mess of legal problems in presidential front-runners is unprecedented.

Then, there are the polls. An ABC News survey last week put Biden’s job approval at the lowest level ever of any president at this stage of a first term, 36 percent, with disapproval at 56 percent. That approval is down six points since February.

The RealClearPolitics average has him at 42 approve and 53 disapprove. That’s below Trump’s approval in his last year.

The same sites Right Direction-Wrong Direction average is 25-64.

Biden’s issue numbers are underwater on every category save the completed pandemic. Economy, 38-57. Crime 39-55. Inflation 34-60. Foreign policy 41-56. Immigration 35-58.

On Favorability, Biden is 43-53. Trump is 41-53. DeSantis is the only positive one at 44-41.

Less than a third of Americans (32 percent) think Biden retains the mental capacity to be president. For Trump, the mental health number is 54 percent (up eight points from 2020).

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) say Trump has the physical health to be an effective president, only 33 percent for Biden.

Biden’s workdays are short, hardly anything before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. The work weeks are abbreviated too, often just from Monday afternoon to Friday afternoon. Of 18 weekends this year, Biden spent 12 in seclusion in Delaware where visitors and activities are not recorded.

Among blacks, Biden’s support has plummeted from 82 to 52 percent. Among Hispanics, only 40 percent would vote for Biden this time. Forty-three percent would choose Trump, up from 32 percent in the 2020 election.

By luck or incompetent planning, Democrats have no real alternative. Vice President Kamala Harris is even worse at 39-54.

That ABC News poll has additional discouraging news for Biden in case anyone told him. A whopping 68 percent say the 80-year-old Biden is too old to be president compared to 44 percent for Trump, who’s 76.

Hardly a promising launchpad for any reelection effort. And also not a premium choice overall for voters, picking the candidate with the least serious legal troubles who is less disliked than his opponent.

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