Don’t Let a Biden Succession Crisis Create a Succession Crisis

It took no time for the pundits calling for Joe Biden to drop out of the race to reveal their fundamental childishness by asking for someone — Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, JB Pritzker, Josh Shapiro — whose selection would create as many problems as they might, hypothetically, solve.

Nicholas Kristof, pulling a paycheck from the same people who demanded Biden step down because he didn’t do their job — “hold Mr. Trump accountable for his lies, his failures and his chilling plans” — well enough, even suggested the 71-year old guy running for a must-win Senate seat should take Joe’s place.

Biden can resolve this by withdrawing from the race. There isn’t time to hold new primaries, but he could throw the choice of a successor to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Democratic Party has some prominent figures who I think would be in a good position to defeat Trump in November, among them Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Gina Raimondo, the secretary of commerce. And there are many others. [my emphasis]

These are not serious people, or even very smart about politics.

For both political and legal reasons, it would be doable to swap Biden for Kamala Harris, and for the same political and legal reasons, swapping Biden for anyone else is highly likely to do at least as much harm as good.

There are a number of people making this point succinctly. Jamelle Bouie has said it in a lot of ways worth following. Dan Drezner says it here.

But even these guys are making what I view to be a potentially catastrophic mistake. They think Biden should both step down from the race and resign the presidency, as Drezner lays out this way.

Here’s the thing, though: if Biden were to decide to step aside in the wake of a poor debate performance, the inevitable question would be whether he should step aside immediately. As previously noted, he is only going to keep aging, and the federal government cannot function well with a 10-4 presidency.

Biden resigning this summer would generate three political advantages. First, Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first lady president would be, to quote Biden, a big fucking deal. It would be a suitable final act in Biden’s distinguished political biography. Second, it would make the November election a choice between former president Trump and President Harris. The move would put Harris at Trump’s level and eliminate experience as a Trump argument during the campaign. Finally, Harris being president would remove the inherent awkwardness that sitting vice presidents have faced when running for the top job: being unable to disagree or disavow the sitting president’s policies. Anything that makes it easier for Kamala Harris to not resemble Al Gore is a good thing.

I think these calls for Biden to resign are as facile as the calls for Gretchen Whitmer to march into the convention and take over (much as I might like that to happen).

That’s true for one big reason: It turns out with a House packed with rabid supporters of Trump and led by a better-spoken but equally rabid supporter of this fascist project, having a Vice President is an important failsafe for democracy.

That’s true for two reasons. First, remember what happened on January 6, 2021? Big mob, chants of “hang the VP,” tweets encouraging the mob to do so? The VP may not have a big portfolio on most days. But she does on the day that, recent history warns us, is a fragile moment of our democracy. Certainly, it’s possible Democrats could convince Republicans to let Patty Murray do that job, as Chuck Grassley was prepared to do back in 2021.

But the bigger problem is the target you would put on Kamala Harris’ back if she became a President, running for re-election, without a Vice President as her designated successor. Trump has already made it clear he plans to return to power by any means necessary. Trump has already spent years frothing up his followers to a frenzy that could (and has) tipped into violence with little notice. Indeed, more than a handful of Trump’s supporters have embraced violence, some after getting riled up on Truth Social, others after little more than an incendiary Fox News rant.

The Secret Service did a piss poor job of protecting Kamala Harris on January 6. Let’s not tempt fate or Trump’s rabid brown shirts to make Mike Johnson President.

Besides, very few of the pundits screaming to replace Biden are focused on governance. This Franklin Foer piece, for example, engages in paragraph after paragraph of projection about the motives of Biden’s top aides, argues that it’s not enough to be a good President, Biden also has to campaign competently.

When I talk with aides on the inside, they never question Biden’s governing capacity. Perhaps this is their own wishful thinking. Perhaps they are better able to see how the benefits of experience overwhelm his inability to recall a name. But it’s also the product of a delusion among the Democratic elite about what constitutes effective leadership. Governing competently is different from campaigning competently. The ability to think strategically about China, or to negotiate a complicated piece of bipartisan legislation, is not the limit of politics. It’s not enough to deliver technocratic accomplishments or to prudently manage a chaotic global scene—a politician must also connect with the voters, and convince them that they’re in good hands. And the Biden presidency has always required explaining away the fact that the public wasn’t buying what he was selling, even when the goods seemed particularly attractive. [my emphasis]

The noxious NYT op-ed calling on Biden to step down because he doesn’t do their job well enough is likewise focused on Biden as campaigner.

The president appeared on Thursday night as the shadow of a great public servant. He struggled to explain what he would accomplish in a second term. He struggled to respond to Mr. Trump’s provocations. He struggled to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his lies, his failures and his chilling plans. More than once, he struggled to make it to the end of a sentence.

Mr. Biden has been an admirable president. Under his leadership, the nation has prospered and begun to address a range of long-term challenges, and the wounds ripped open by Mr. Trump have begun to heal. But the greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform is to announce that he will not continue to run for re-election.

As it stands, the president is engaged in a reckless gamble. There are Democratic leaders better equipped to present clear, compelling and energetic alternatives to a second Trump presidency. There is no reason for the party to risk the stability and security of the country by forcing voters to choose between Mr. Trump’s deficiencies and those of Mr. Biden.


[T]he United States needs a stronger opponent to the presumptive Republican nominee. To make a call for a new Democratic nominee this late in a campaign is a decision not taken lightly, but it reflects the scale and seriousness of Mr. Trump’s challenge to the values and institutions of this country and the inadequacy of Mr. Biden to confront him.

And it makes sense. As I argued, when Biden responded to a focus on his age in January, he correctly said he was doing one amazingly taxing job well, that of being President. But in recent weeks, he has also been in the thick of an equally taxing job, flying around the country and glad-handing potential voters, many of whom carry germs that don’t normally make their way into the Oval Office. He has also had the stress of his son getting convicted in a trial that would never have happened if he weren’t the son of President Joe Biden. This is best understood, in my mind, as a question about whether Biden can do the two jobs required of him.

Aside from his Israeli policy, Biden is, most Democratic voters (and even NYT’s editorial board) will concede, a remarkably successful President. Via whatever means, he has managed to do that job well, even at the ripe age of 81.

If he’s doing his day job well but there are questions about whether he has the stamina to do a second full-time job on top of the first one, the answer is not to send him out to pasture on both.

This is a perceived or real stamina problem, not — at least thus far — a competence problem.

Which means there’s no reason to create another succession crisis in an attempt to save democracy.

The goal here is not just to prevent Trump from winning the election. The goal is to prevent Trump from attaining the Presidency again, via whatever means he plans to pursue. And for that reason, it is highly unwise to add points of potential failure he can exploit where, thus far, there are none.

93 replies
  1. Chris_01JUL2024_0554h says:

    I’ve started reading you first…

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  2. Just Some Guy says:

    FWIW today the NYT is running an interview with Steve Bannon by David Brooks, in case it wasn’t obvious what they’re peddling.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Uh can’t believe I have to say this, but it’s a newspaper interview, it ain’t live on YouTube or whatever.

        But if YouTube were a newspaper, how much would it weigh? /Alito

        • scroogemcduck says:

          Yes, my point was they could have run this interview on any other day, or not at all, instead of counter-programming the news that Bannon, already pardoned once by Trump and currently under indictment, is starting his prison sentence.

    • RitaRita says:

      Brooks starts off by saying that he was going to be correcting or debating Bannon. He just was going to let Bannon have the benefit of a (previously) respected news media to amplify his nonsensical propaganda. Big win for information laundering.

    • WhisperRD says:

      Jesus, this is what the Times has become. Interviewing a felon to help the presidential campaign of another felon. The arrogance! They think if they avoid talking Trump’s crimes, they don’t exist. They’re burning their own credibility in an irreparable way.

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    • harpie says:

      BANNON was on ABC yesterday.
      Jun 30, 2024 at 11:44 AM

      Three days after the debate every Sunday news shows invited an avowed election-denying fascist on the air in an overt effort to legitimize them as good-faith commentators

      The news media is openly pro-fascist [four PHOTOs] [BANNON on ABC / VANCE on CBS / I don’t know WHO that is on NBC / GRAHAM on CNN]

      • harpie says:

        From the #J6TL:

        12/30/20 TRUMP/BANNON phone call:
        [Bannon from his “townhouse on Capitol Hill”, Trump at Mara Lago]]

        BANNON: “You’ve got to return to Washington and make a dramatic return today”

        “You’ve got to call Pence off the fucking ski-slopes and get him back here today. This is a crisis”

        “People are going to go, ‘What the fuck is going on here?’”

        [Focus on January 6, that [is] the moment for a reckoning.]

        “We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, fucking bury him.”

        “We are going to kill the Biden Presidency in the crib”

  3. Ruthie2the says:

    I agree that Biden should continue with both his presidency and campaign, for all the reasons you cite. In addition, I read that Allan Lichtman, the historian who has successfully predicted the winner of elections going back decades (except 2000), doesn’t consider debate performance in his calculations. He thinks replacing Biden could cause Democrats to lose the election.
    (h/t digby)

    Having said that, however, if Biden is up to the presidency but not up to campaigning on top of it, that could be a big problem. It feels like a Catch-22, even if reasoned arguments suggest keeping the ticket as is would likely be not only better but more predictable. The chaos and uncertainty that would inevitably arise from doing something so unprecedented gives me the greatest pause.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      Conflating the calls for him to resign (which are few) with the panoply of calls for him to decide to withdraw from the race isn’t helpful, imo. There *is* precedence for an incumbent’s decision to step aside, after all.

      If that were to happen, a quick selection by Harris of a strategically potent running mate would obviate “chaos and uncertainty,” as well as energize the blue downballot prospects across the board.

      Marcy’s points about Biden’s double-duty burden right now are apt, and letting him concentrate fully on his current job, while Harris and her VP choice barnstorm, makes a shitload of sense.

      If she were to choose Warren, say, they could very credibly make “tax the rich to make Social Security solvent for generations” a rallying call for Millenials to Boomers. That would be a GOTV impetus that the big money power brokers could only flail impotently against.

  4. notjonathon says:

    Hip-hip-hooray. It’s pretty obvious that the people calling for Biden to step aside believe that Biden has a better chance of winning re-election than any other Democrat has of winning.

    • phred says:

      Agreed. The people shrieking over and over about a debate watched by fewer than a third of 2020 Biden voters, do not want Biden to win again.

      This whole tempest in a teapot is as enraging as it is absurd.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        The “tempest” is about his age and his having “lost a step.” He admitted that’s the case in his post-debate apologia. At this point in history and with the stakes as they are, “not as good as I used to be” is a warning sign, not a red herring.

        It’s a tempest no doubt, but it’s only in a teapot if you’re observing from a galactic perspective. From an earthbound perspective, an adjustment is called for.

        • P J Evans says:

          Biden may have “lost a step”, but he’s not suffering from dementia and he’s a good physical shape.
          Keep that in mind, when you’re pushing “anyone else for President”.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          To PJ Evans:

          I’m not suggesting “anyone else.” I’m suggesting Harris with a strong running mate.

          And Biden needs to finish the 4 year job he started 3.5 years ago with what “step” he has left. It’s not ageism, it’s reality.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        So the lickspittle-drenched “Speaker” is bestowing his wisdom upon the entirety of the Biden Executive cabinetry. I’m surprised he didn’t pair it with a Bible-installation edict.

        The idea any Dem would buy into his concept of “incapable to perform the duties of one’s office” is as laughable as his motives are theocratic.

      • CovariantTensor says:

        That’s just totally asinine! They couldn’t get Trump out by the 25th after J6 because even if 2/3 of his cabinet went for it (which it might have) Pence refused to take the office. There’s no way any of Biden’s cabinet would approve, nor Harris. But I guess it made a good news bit.

  5. RitaRita says:

    Good to know that some (previously) esteemed columnists agree with the House Republicans about removing Biden from office.

    What we are seeing is news media acting like a bunch of lemmings. The (previously) respected NY Times sees a bad debate performance as proof of its belief that Biden is too old (but Trump is not) and, without waiting for explanations from Biden, calls for him to withdraw. So, in typical fashion, knee jerk opinion columnists double down and call for the resignation. The chief lemming leads the pack over the cliff and the rest run at full speed to join it.

    • Konny_2022 says:

      The sad thing is that the ” (previously) respected NY Times” is still being hold in high esteem by the media in other countries.

    • harpie says:

      Also, today we’ll hear from SCOTUS about
      their BELIEFs about TRUMP’s supposed “presidential immunity”.

    • harpie says:

      Opinionpalooza: The Day SCOTUS Became President The Supreme Court Has Decided They Know More Than Everyone Else About Everything Ever
      [AUDIO w/ Transcript] Stern/Lithwick 6/29/24

      [Stern]: […] And we are still talking about Biden stuttering on a debate stage instead of how each of these men would staff and run the sprawling government that they would ostensibly be at the head of. If we had a healthier conversation about this, we would be talking so much more about Loper Bright than we would about the debate on Thursday night. But because most Americans, I fear, still fundamentally misunderstand how the wheels of government truly turn, we’re obsessing about Biden’s sore throat and not talking about one of the biggest power grabs that the judiciary has ever undertaken. [my emphasis][…]

  6. John Herbison says:

    I haven’t formed an opinion as to whether Joe Biden should withdraw from the presidential race. He definitely should not resign as president. I recall that Ronald Reagan had a significantly bad first debate performance in 1984. At the second debate he was asked if, at 73, he is too old to be President. He quipped, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” and went on to win re-election by a landslide.

    • Shadowalker says:

      He stood there for over 20 minutes trying to come up with something to say. 20 minutes of really awkward dead air. As I recall, they decided we shouldn’t have debates in the aftermath, not that he should step down. Reagan’s team wanted another debate to clear the air.

  7. klynn says:

    “The Secret Service did a piss poor job of protecting Kamala Harris on January 6. Let’s not tempt fate or Trump’s rabid brown shirts to make Mike Johnson President.”

    THIS! (And yes, I’m shouting!)

    • harpie says:

      And imo, this bit could have used a snark tag:

      Marcy: Certainly, it’s possible Democrats could convince Republicans to let Patty Murray do that job, as Chuck Grassley was prepared to do back in 2021.

  8. Nutmeg Dem says:

    I generally don’t read this blog for political commentary as Marcy is an unquestioned expert on national security issues and Trump’s legal issues but I found her analysis to be spot on and well reasoned. If Biden were to resign the presidency, then both houses would need to approve a replacement and there is zero chance of that happening. It would also mean that Maga Mike Johnson would be one heart away from being president which is absolutely unacceptable. So we will see: if Biden can’t continue, then the only plausible option is Harris.

  9. zirczirc says:

    “But the bigger problem is the target you would put on Kamala Harris’ back if she became a President, running for re-election, without a Vice President as her designated successor. ”

    I think you’re presuming, EW, that in the event Harris were to ascend to the Presidency, the House of Representatives would NOT confirm her choice of VP. I think the 25th Amendment would require her to nominate someone “who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.” I don’t think there’s a passage about timeliness in the amendment, nor is there a requirement to approve the President’s choice. So your unstated point, I believe, is that Mike Johnson would pull a move similar to Mitch McConnell’s with SCOTUS and just leave the office open. That would be an obvious placing of Party above Country, and I don’t think it would look good to the electorate as a whole. However, I think you are correct that Johnson would do it.


    • emptywheel says:

      Correct. If Mike Johnson is next in line, no reason to believe the House would either vote much less pass Kamala’s pick.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Precisely, and that’s after you get past the absurdity of telling the president to step aside in mid-campaign, an unprecedented and uniquely stupid idea.

      • Badger Robert says:

        President Harris would have immunity. By an official act she would arrest enough Republicans to create a temporary Democratic majority. Then the confirmation vote could proceed and the Republicans could later be released

      • CovariantTensor says:

        I mistakenly thought (in one of my comments apparently awaiting moderation) it would be the senate who would approve a new VP (last one was Rockefeller, I think). If it’s the house, much worse. Of course the house wouldn’t approve *any* Democrat choice for VP.

        • P-villain says:

          It’s both houses of Congress. And with a 50-50 Senate and no VP to break the tie, that vote is also problematic.

      • pfarqeu_04JUL2024_0921h says:

        25th section 4 enables them to make Kamala Acting President, Biden doesn’t need to resign, he could be the spare.

        They’d need 2/3 in both houses to prevent him from resuming office.

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        • Rayne says:

          Your Aussie-based understanding of US government is showing, first time commenter.

          The Vice President has a unique role as President of the Senate; they cast tie-breaking votes. They also play a role in the certification of the election.

          A “spare” has no such role.

          Perhaps this is what you’re advocating, though — a situation in which Democrats willingly screw themselves and this democracy.

    • klynn says:

      Kamala is wise enough to see this threat. What about naming threat, based on what happened Jan 6th, and then remaining VP. Joe finishes term but a new Pres candidate fills his spot on the ticket? Make it someone younger than Biden but with even more experience than Kamala. It’s not a perfect set-up but it addresses the threat?

  10. Colin Howe says:

    “The Secret Service did a piss poor job of protecting Kamala Harris on January 6. ”

    Wait, what?

  11. Desidero says:

    Biden is a crappy campaigner. He was in his 3rd disaster when Clyburn & Covid (little need to campaign) saved him. Now he’s in his 4th meltdown.
    But he’s a great president (much better than Obama & Clinton, I would say – bring out the knives).
    People think too much of ideals, vs practical outcomes. One of the more humorous but accurate takes was “Let’s Weekend at Bernie’s this sucker”. As long as Biden’s team largely holds, the direction will hold. Any change will produce weaknesses MAGA & the Supreme Court & all the clever smarmy & superficial pundits will exploit. We don’t know which will be catastrophic. Status quo – usually improving – is our friend here. The non-devil you know is better than the many devils you also know. No one will be happy with whatever replacement anyway, so just hold tight.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Shirley, the Democratic Party has as many people as their are pundits, willing and able to campaign boisterously and effectively on behalf of their party and president. Even Fascist demagogues, like Trump, exist only because there’s an entire party apparatus that allows them to.

      • Desidero says:

        Trump is a very talented fascist demagogue who doesn’t need a party to succeed.
        Ross Perot (not fascist) got 19% of the vote against Clinton & Bush. Of course breaking out a new candidate in just 4 months takes a lot of campaign skill.
        [Rayne – I’ve been on moderation 3 yrs now of my 14 or so on this site – possible I might get off it already? It’s already hard enough being out of time sync with discussions overseas.]

        [Moderator’s note: we do not guarantee a window of time in which comments clear moderation regardless of time zone. /~Rayne]

  12. Error Prone says:

    A cliche is, “Know who you’re dealing with.”

    I could not find a list more recent than 2018. The hit piece was by “The Editorial Board.” So, who’s that? From the 2018 names, I have to conclude that Joe and his campaign staff have a better grip on things than a bunch of nobodys. Tell me, please these are not nobodys. And explain that they have real gravitas beyond saying it’s because they get an NYT paycheck.

    Why have they not updated a list and bios of who they are? Or have they? If anybody is a better web searcher than me, please reply if you know of a better link than the 2018 one I found.

    • Rayne says:

      The Board and the editorial management team have deliberately obfuscated who the Board is if you can’t see it right there at the same page an Editorial Board op-ed is published. In the absence of a published list, you can reasonably assume upper most management signed off on this — hello, A. G. Sulzberger, chairman.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nicholas Kristof, in particular, hasn’t been serious for quite some time, since before he ran for a seat in Congress without living in the state in which he ran. BushCheney and Trump’s, we invent our own reality, has metastasized.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A necessary reminder for the pearl-clutching pundits who would tear down the house without having the means to rebuild it:

    The goal here is not just to prevent Trump from winning the election. The goal is to prevent Trump from attaining the Presidency again, via whatever means he plans to pursue. And for that reason, it is highly unwise to add points of potential failure he can exploit where, thus far, there are none.

  15. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Philly’s Inquirer finally supplied some balance with their editorial calling for Trump to drop out. Why this was not the obvious reaction from such media mandarins as the Times, those who’ve both-sidesed this race into a normalization of Trump, speaks to the reflexive group-think that seems to have started in the debate’s first moments–about which pundits later spoke of getting “panicked” texts that meant they spent the rest of the event on the phone.

    Essentially nothing mattered after those first minutes. Not Biden’s more solid responses, and not Trump’s descent into incoherence and increasingly flagrant lies. The entire “Dump Joe” movement thus emanates from stuttering responses (probably partly in response to moderators’ cowardly adherence to no-factchecking premise) at the outset, along with bad visuals due to the cold that had Biden breathing through his mouth. C’mon, man. We’ve all been congested. That doesn’t make us “slack jawed.”

    The media wants a story. Clicks. Eyeballs. So they made one. Who cares about democracy, really?

    • Error Prone says:

      If you are a moderator with a kill switch on either mic, you are positioned to kill a mic, and say, “One moment,” and then repeat the question. If you don’t do that you’re a fixture. Part of the layout equipment. AI bots could do the kind of moderation used.

  16. Fancy Chicken says:

    I read somewhere yesterday that Trump was whinging yesterday that all this coverage of Biden’s performance was taking away from attention on how well he did. (His words, not mine.) Fantastic, let all this get under his skin and take attention away from him.

    What I truly, truly don’t understand and think gives off an odious air is that it’s not a given that Kamala Harris would of course be the one to step into Biden’s place should he decide not to run again.

    It’s not only flat out insulting to her but it also sends the message that the Dems don’t believe she’s doing a good job as veep and sends a very dangerous message should something happen and she be called to step into Biden’s shoes should some disaster happen.

    It just seems so politically stupid that I’m flabbergasted there is discussion of anyone else other than Harris to replace Biden regardless of her polling numbers as no one has great poll numbers at the moment.

    I’m an Independent and this sort of idiocy is what drives me nuts about Democrats.

    • Fancy Chicken says:

      What I mean to plainly say is that Dems screw stuff up when they overthink and try for perfection rather than good enough.

    • zirczirc says:

      If Biden drops out of the race, Harris is the only choice. We made it in 2020. I like her, but even if I didn’t, she’d still be the only choice. Not nominating her if Biden drops out would be political malpractice of the nth degree. But I don’t think he’s dropping out.


  17. Error Prone says:

    Reviewing CNN online debate highlights several times (never all at once, it’s too much Trump that way) –

    I have to wonder that yes, Biden was shaky, his demeanor unclear, but Trump? He projects aggressive derogatory name calling, and aggressive bragging where much falsehood has been noted. Body language to match. Not a statesman’s demeanor. More street fighter. What’s the guess on which of the two was more a turnoff to undecided voters who watched? I can only feel my own perception, but Trump looked really bad. A bomb thrower.

    It would surprise me if Biden does not ride out the hand-wringing by people who wanted more from him. He is the incumbent President, and undecided people saw Trump push too hard against that fact and that Biden’s done the job at least well enough in office. My take is better than I expected, and pretty good, while other EW commentators have expressed stronger job approval words. And Trump spoke as if viewers were his true believers, not ones who might wonder, “Is that any way to talk to somebody who defeated you when seeking a second term?”

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    Pull Out

    Pence says Donald should hang it up
    Don’t let Trump harangue it up
    He did enough to dang dang it up
    No more coups to bang it up

    Stormy says please pull out
    We don’t need your what about
    Trump can blame it on his gout
    Or his sagging old downspout

    Valets give their own avowal
    They urge Trump to throw in the towel
    No more food heaved, it’s so foul
    cleaning walls as he goes on the prowl

    It’s time for Trump to take a hike
    ‘Cause he’s not the one who rides a bike
    Or the one who honors Ike
    He’s the one for a Nazi Reich

  19. Harry Eagar says:

    I am trump’s age. Dunno how I’ll be in 4 years but I know how he’ll be.

    Stick with Joe.

  20. zscoreUSA says:

    “plans to return to power by any means necessary”

    As early as February 2021, Bannon began pushing the plan to make Trump Speaker in 2023. Roger Stone, Gaetz, and Meadows joined the chorus.

    From there, who knows what combination of violence and hijacking the 25th Amendment they would have attempted to use to return Trump to presidency.

    The 2022 midterm didn’t take the Senate, and the House only had a tiny margin, so that plan didn’t go any further. So that Trump-Speaker plan was abandoned.

  21. ggonsbutlongenough says:

    I’ll second him not resigning the presidency. It sounds good from the right angle, but isn’t actually all that beneficial. Joe as a lame duck would actually be very valuable.

    I can’t agree less that going to an open convention would introduce a new point of failure that’s any riskier than our current position. Joe is a deeply unpopular president. A lot of that is polarization. You’ll never convince the brainwashed to see reality until it comes home to roost as a vulture in their own home. However, the up for grabs voters and folks likely to stay home due to a motivation issue have been a problem all year. And I didn’t think we’re going to win them back with Biden.

    As my soon to be targeted for the gulag Mexican heritage neighbor said last week “Trump’s done a lot for Israel”. These people really only see a certain frame of the president and physical demeanor and shadow groks of personas isn’t a large part of it, it’s all it. They couldn’t couldn’t get past her emails and they won’t get past his age.

    You guys can stay on the Titanic playing your merry instruments. Either way we’re already on the Atlantic surrounded by bergs and this captain is not watching the waters; he’s eying a memory of New York that no longer is possible.

    Sunk cost fallacy. Don’t be a victim.

    If Biden were to die, we’d get through it. Well guess what, the happy warrior Joe Biden *is* dead. That man does not exist in the way he once did. We need to mourn and honor him, but our country is far more important than his ghost’s ego or that small voice in your mind that says doing something courageous and right is too dangerous.

    • Rayne says:

      Comments like this reveal who has and hasn’t actually participated in the Democratic Party at state and local level.

      It also exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of what opinion polls cover — in this case polling mentioned doesn’t address Democratic voters — and has placed a LOT of faith in polling some of which is deeply skewed ideologically. Rasmussen, for example:

      538 drops Rasmussen Reports from its analysis

      Daily Poll Watch: Rasmussen polls are so biased that even Fox News has shunned them << note the date - why'd it take 538 so long?

      • ggonsbutlongenough says:

        Eh, Rasmussen is garbage you’ll brook no argument from me. But whatabout, every other poll, including the recent ones where even Democratic support is down double digits?

        I’ll vote for Biden in November if he’s the guy across from Trump. No arguments here. But, we’re playing a weak hand when we could mulligan from one of the most strongly loaded decks in American history. We’ve got excellent candidates who have never run that have just been piling up behind this generation of boomers.

        • Rayne says:

          I should not have to spell this out: polls are the results of those who can be reached. They do not consistently reflect Democratic voters or even Democratic voters + leaners; the one poll you can rely on is the Democratic primary results.

          By all means, continue to amplify rightwing talking points using bullshit rationalizations. Who the fuck do you think you are helping? And how long do you think you’re entitled to a platform here for that?

        • ggonsbutlongenough says:

          Not allowed to reply to rayne for whatever reason (not assuming malace). I’m at against the right wing echo chamber as the next sane human being, but this is not a right wing talking point and shouting me down, attacking my expertise intelligence or motives has almost nothing do with my arguments.

          Plug your ears and sing nana nah can’t hear you, if you must. Just, know that’s it’s as childish as it was on the playground however long ago that was.

          I have never voted for a Republican, you do not know my level of involvement, and your dismissal of all external evidence is as worrying to me as parallel behavior on said right.

          Look. If you don’t want me around here, I’ll get going. I have no love of this place, but enjoy these possibly final words.

          You can usually tell it’s all going to shit when folks start eating their own shit over paying attention to the outside world. It’s what had ruined the right and it is what will ruin us if we let it.

          But yeah. Go #sportsballteam!

        • Rayne says:

          Reply to ggonsbutlongenough
          July 1, 2024 11:57 am

          Definitely not “malace” [sic].

          Look, you want Biden out of the race? I suggest you stop your bloviating here, get your ass down to the closest Democratic Party office, and ask them how to do it. Otherwise you really are just talk and you’re just spouting the same crap the rightwing is spewing.

          Congrats on your 6th comment to date at emptywheel. If you were a regular here you’d know that the threaded comments only go four wide after which you must include a Reply To and date/time of comment to which you’re replying. But do go on to tell all the regulars here how you think things are supposed to run in the Democratic Party and at this site.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Good example of what happens when consuming too much Faux Noise. But you have a lot of company in the corporate press.

  22. Badger Robert says:

    Roosevelt was a sick man by 1944. Harry Truman was ready. VP Harris is ready, even more than Truman.

    • CovariantTensor says:

      Harris may very well be ready. The problem is, the general public doesn’t know it because she’s been mostly out of their eye the last four years. Biden did nominally put her in charge of the border crisis. If she could have worked that magic, as if anyone could have, that would have been a slam dunk for her. But all that happened, as I recall, is some stupid conspiracy theory about her wanting to sell her book.

      But no “should have” is going to help now. As Marcy points out, an open convention would be fraught with peril. The best non-Biden alternative would be for him to resign the presidency, leaving President Harris without a VP and no guarantee one could be confirmed (to handle the ceremonial electoral vote count, among other things) by the senate before election day. Going forward with President Biden as the candidate for 2024 may be, to paraphrase what Winston Churchill is alleged to have said about democracy, the worst possible thing except for any conceivable alternative. And by no means do I want to belittle what Biden has achieved in his first term, but he is looking and acting noticeably frail compared to four years ago, and not likely to improve over the next four (and I’m not just talking about being beaten down by a bad cold, which can happen to anyone. He should have mentioned it at the beginning of the debate. But…should have).

  23. The Hang Nail says:

    We call for Biden to resign because it is the right thing to do. If we argue that he should remain on the ticket for pragmatic reasons we concede that Trump, with all his diplorable attributes, should remain on the ticket for GOP pramatic reasons. Wasn’t that one of the main critiques of a Trump presidency?

    The idea is that if we call for a change now the dems can go into their backgrooms and unite behind someone and then present a unified voice at the convention. If it’s Harris, great, but it could be someone else as well. Why wouldn’t we explore this option? If they can’t unite behind someone and remain with Biden then it looks like the Democrats are disfunctional. Everyone will see this as the Democratic leadership gaslighting us. This is not just a “bad day”. The guy is not getting younger. We all have aging parents and know where this is going. It will be a de facto Harris vs Trump campaign. It won’t take long before FOX news points this out. The chances of Biden lasting a year, much less 4.5 years is very slim. He could easily be incapacitated from a fall, a stroke or a multitude of health issues at any moment. That’s on top of his obvious stamina and cognitive deficits. So there is a strong chance Harris would end up president.

    So what happens when FOX news points this out over the next 4 months andd does its usual maltreatment and low-blow propaganda against Harris? How does the Biden camapign respond to this line of argument when Harris is not the official candidate? It will be awkward to say the least. They will want to find ways to get Harris’s profile elevated without conceding that she is the de facto candidate. And if they put their heads in the sand and and ignore the strong chances that Harris will be the presdeint eventually if Biden wins they will look like they are hiding something.

    The bottom line is that team Biden was caught. They tried to hide Biden from press conferences or any other situation where he could not say scripted things from a teleprompter and the second he is in that environment he shows his age. The only way Biden can legitimately run is if he does interviews and pressers and townhalls where he can demonstrate that he is capable of making decisions and thinking on his toes. It’s Monday after the debate and he has still not done that. What does that tell you? A teleprompter speech is not good enough.

    My hope is that they are telling the press one thing while meeting in the backrooms to hash out an alternative. If they are not doing that we are screwed. This is sooo sad. Any competent person should be able to defeat Trump and yet they are blowing it. This is got to be one of the biggest, most epic screw-ups in history. If Biden stays on the ticket and loses no one should ever employ anyone on his team to be a pundit or on a campaign. If he stays on and wins we can never criticize candidates on any level. It’s all about the party platform. If we are okay with that fine.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m going to start pointing out the number of comments commenters who talk about the Democratic Party and voters as if they are separate from themselves, who insist that Biden’s candidacy should be questioned or eliminated, who essentially repeat rightwing talking points.

      This one has 14 comments to date here.

      • Error Prone says:

        I am more impressed by AOC than Harris. By far.

        I was more impressed by Bernie than the Clintons 2016, and Biden 2020. But my one vote is what it is. I had no problem voting Biden when he was the 2020 choice. Biden has been good. I think he’s the best option, 2024, and should not drop out. He does not project a dependence upon Harris as much as upon Blinken, Jake Sullivan and others. He handed her the border, not a generous thing to do, and she seemed to be little motivated to do much with it. That is a Dem voter view. Not an Inner Party view. I liked Ellison for DNC, but he got undermined and Tom Perez was unimpressive. Haim Saban liked Perez and had a wild hatred toward Ellison, Obama and Biden were more comfortable with Perez, and Saban’s money talked its share too.

        I think Biden is too soft on current Israeli conduct. But he is who we have, and has done pump priming infrastructure funding, where it had not happened earlier. Inflation appears to be the result of Trump-GOP House tax mischief, a delayed effect, and it lands against Biden.

        If Biden chooses to step aside I feel he should have a free hand in endorsing a successor, Harris or otherwise, and it’s his money and delegates to redirect. An open convention seems ominous, with too many bad choices possible. A Harris cramdown seems also a bad option.

        Joe is fine.My gut instinct is people who wanted more of a progressive are expressing frustrations in poll responses, but when its a ballot to be filled out, Trump and the brain worm guy are on that ballot too. So, Joe will get those votes. GOTV among the young is a worry to my mind.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Well, you’re certainly advocating for the Right thing to do, but it won’t help the Democrats or the country.

  24. eddiegraces says:

    Marcy, I agree.
    But what about the role of the vice president in counting the electoral votes?
    Could Harris do it while (hopefully) president elect?

      • CovariantTensor says:

        Reagan was president then, and H.W. Bush VP. Yes, he would have certified his own victory over Michael Dukakis. But, not analogous to this hypothetical. The VP also acts as president of the senate. With no VP, the senate is split 50-50, so no guarantee e.g. Schumer would become president of the senate.

  25. docwillf says:

    Isn’t the more serious issue not Biden’s debating capacity but the overall cognitive abilities of which the recent debate is evidence? I am both a general medical practitioner and in recent years a psychiatrist, It seems highly unlikely that Biden does not have some degree of dementia. His debate performance may have been atypical: he probably has good days and bad days, of which last Thursday may be one of the worst. And his character and high native intelligence partly protects him and the country from the consequences of his decline. (Trump also probably has some degree of dementia. Because of his lifelong psychopathy, Trump is therefore much more dangerous.) Nevertheless, to the degree that Biden is demented, he should not be President. The only way to determine that would be thorough cognitive testing. (Not just the cursory exam the results of which Trump touts.) Biden’s family and advisors are negligent if that has not been done. Nevertheless, in the heat of the ongoing crisis, with Trump threatening the survival of the republic, one can understand that they are in denial. Regardless, if it’s known that he has substantial cognitive impairment, he must stop seeking another term. He is probably competent enough to finish his term if his limitations are well recognized. But it would be an extreme act of political and governmental malpractice for him to continue running for President.

    Note that the demented are never a good judge of the extent of their impairment. The worse the impairment, the less the impaired person is able to recognize it. Biden’s friends and family have the responsibility here. As Biden’s life has been political, his friends include those among the most politically competent. What is most needed now is medical (neurological) expertise. Take him to the doctor forthwith! And then come up with the politic explanation that makes swifty possible a new presidential nominee and a transition of responsibility.

    For all of us, it’s a question of normalcy bias. Normally, normalcy bias has survival value. It doesn’t here. See, e.g., the Wikipedia article on normalcy bias: In a crisis, one must first acknowledge the abnormal situation and form a plan using cognitive functions that the danger tends to impede. We need to do that now, the more quickly the better.

    (I haven’t posted for a year or so and don’t seem to have been able to find information on the criteria for usernames.
    Please let me know if I need to make changes.)

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME USERNAME and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. I have corrected your username this one time from “docbillf” to the correct “docwillf” — make a note of this and check your browser’s cache and autofill. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      First, your comment at 414 words is overlong. Optimum length is 100-300 words; the longer the comment, the more new and evidence-supported material it should contain and not opinion.

      Second, Biden is doing the job competently; we have NOT been hearing comments leaked or otherwise from inside the White House that he’s not fully functioning. If you paid attention to his other speaking engagements you’d notice he has not had problems making extemporaneous comments when he is cold-free.

      Thirdly, whose physicians and psychologists would you trust: those assessing Trump, or those assessing Biden? We still don’t have all the facts about Trump’s health during his term in office.

      • docwillf says:

        Thanks for the info re my previous user name, Rayne.

        Re length, the comment contains three essentially independent points. Should one try to split a comment that addresses separate issues?

        Re opinion, I shared mine, as it does qualify as expert opinion on a technical (i.e., medical and psychological) subject.

    • CovariantTensor says:

      Biden was never a great public speaker, and overcame a stutter. I’m neither a medical professional nor a psychiatrist, but I have seen scant evidence Biden suffers from dementia. It doesn’t automatically happen when one reaches the age of 81.

    • Error Prone says:

      If impaired beyond speaking defect, Biden has been a consensus person trusting his advisors. A personality drift into paranoia or persecution delusions seems unlikely. He has help. I am somewhat ignorant of his cabinet but what I do see is professionals who if needed would not let love for Joe stand in the way of 25rth Amendment duty. If it comes to that. I don’t feel trepidation.

  26. docwillf says:

    It’s a mistake to presume that there is no scientific expertise or to overestimate one’s capacity to judge the expertise of those who have more of it. Media coverage has treated Biden’s mental issues as questions of opinion. But there is solid medical knowledge about dementia that shouldn’t and ultimately can’t be ignored.

    I don’t think we have ever had adequate assessments of Trump’s mental condition, and I see no prospect we’ll ever have one. Ronny Jackson is assuredly no expert, and those who have warned about Trump generally are certainly closer to the mark but have not generally had scientific credentials. Trump’s issues are both cognitive impairment, which could be assessed on a firm scientific basis, and psychiatric issues broadly considered, which are all scientifically less secure and more controversial. I don’t think there are substantial psychiatric issues with Biden, but there is a serious neurological issue (i.e., whether and how seriously he is demented) that can be definitively scientifically evaluated. Biden’s friends and family should insist on that evaluation and as committed democrats, so should we. It’s not just a political question, even if Republican are quite content to leave in that way regarding both candidates.

    • Shadowalker says:

      It’s a moot point. The national DNC already renominated the Biden/Harris ticket to head off any shenanigans the OhioRNC might pull to keep both off the ballot, since the Democratic convention will be past the deadline to be included on the ballot.

      • ButteredToast says:

        The Democratic National Committee did not renominate Biden/Harris, as it’s not responsible for selecting delegates or choosing nominees. However, Biden has amassed more than enough pledged delegates through the primaries to be renominated at the convention on the first ballot. The only situation in which he wouldn’t be the nominee is if he became incapacitated or announced he declines the nomination and releases his delegates.

        • Shadowalker says:

          They did it virtually. They sent an email to all the delegates (which are chosen by each state’s DNC, that’s what primaries are for) according to the bylaws and charter of the conference, this was done before the debate. So the convention, which is more to fire up the base, the vote will be a formality and for the cameras.

  27. klynn says:

    A bit OT.
    I was noticing how the US Men’s and Women’s gymnastic teams look like America, just as the Biden administration looks like America. Just as the Democratic party looks like America. There were 20,000 guests giving a standing ovation for the gymnasts and 8.2 million tv viewers cheered from home.

    “I’d just become leader and I’m excited and President Trump’s there. And I look over at the Democrats and they stand up. They look like America,” he told Sorkin. “We stand up. We look like the most restrictive country club in America.” – Kevin McCarthy

    There is power in looking like America. Thankful for Biden’s amazing administration and leading his team.

  28. CovariantTensor says:

    Whatever the calculus of Biden leaving or staying on the ticket, I am angry at him and the party establishment for putting us in this mess in the first place. Had Biden kept his at least implicit promise he’d be a single term president then bow to the younger generation, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I got the distinct impression the vast majority of Democrat voters, including me, did not want Biden on the ticket again. Nobody asked me, unless you count the choice I had of going for Dean Philips instead. Had Biden demonstrated his ability to run and win in a competitive primary I would have been fine with it.

    In 2016, for a change, I did have a chance to be counted in the Democratic primary, though in most cases the nominee is a forgone conclusion by the time the primary reaches New York in April. But the party seemed adamant about choosing Clinton (apparently blissfully unaware of how much baggage she has on both the left and right). My intuition is that Sanders could have won the primary had the DNC not held its thumb on the scale (for example, by counting the “superdelegates” up front for Clinton), and he very likely would have won the general. Once again, the Democratic party is now showing its skill in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    But all that is water over the dam now.

    • Rayne says:

      You lost me at Bernie, the candidate who isn’t a Democrat but relied on the Democratic Party’s resources to run against a Democrat. Nope.

      But you really didn’t have me on board because you initial claim was week from the beginning — — and you completely discounted the events happening as Politico reported on comments made to unnamed advisers who have not gone on record. Trump didn’t go away to lick his wounds, he continued to agitate while hanging on to classified national security documents.

      • CovariantTensor says:

        But why wasn’t anyone serious in the primary? Were Widmir, Newsome, Booker, etc. all waiting to run in 2028? I can’t believe the DNC didn’t have something to do with it. Maybe for fear of a “circular firing squad”? What we have now is way worse, and it isn’t just about the debate. The debate was just his big opportunity to blow up the rumors of his declining cognitive ability, and he blew it, fair or not. I agree with you and Marcy that there are no good options for replacing Biden, but it could have been predicted and avoided long ago.

        p.s. Widmir has the added creds that she was almost a victim of the very brownshirts Trump has enabled. But that’s in an alternative universe.

        • Rayne says:

          You reveal your own disconnection from the Democratic Party when you post uninformed shit like this. Seriously, go get involved in the party at local level.

          Sometimes it’s as easy as discovering how much work it takes to raise money and personnel to learn which candidates won’t survive the race. DNC funds the ones who can pull it off.

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