THE DEM “DUMP JOE!” BANDWAGON IS ROLLING
A certain conventional wisdom about the 2024 presidential race has dominated political discourse for much of this year: Donald Trump is unstoppable when it comes to winning the Republican nomination but cannot hope to retake the White House come the general election.
What endears him to his party’s base repels the independent and moderate voters he needs to win the presidency. So, Joe Biden is clear favorite to be elected for a second term.
That conventional wisdom is now smashed to smithereens – and not in a good way, for those who don’t want to see Trump back in the Oval Office.
Indeed, he is more than ever a shoo-in to win the Republican nomination: Four indictments and 91 criminal charges have only served to rally his party’s base tighter around him, leaving rival candidates in the dust as also-rans.
No, suddenly it’s Biden who’s perceived to be the loser with an increasing number of Democrats now fearing that if he runs again the likely outcome is the unthinkable – a Trump victory.
For the moment very few have the gumption to go public with such fears. But it is being whispered whenever top Dems gather behind closed doors. Take my word for it: a nascent ‘Dump Joe’ movement is in the making and it will be a serious political force before the year is out.
It is being propelled by two interlinked factors: Biden’s age (he will be 82 next year) and his dire poll ratings, which have sapped Democratic confidence that his re-election up against Trump would be just a formality.
Fresh evidence of his descent into senility is daily visible for those with eyes to see. Some left-wing commentators claim it’s being exaggerated by the media. The opposite is true: America’s overwhelmingly pro-Democratic mainstream media has done its best to look the other way. But it is now too omnipresent even for his media cheerleaders to ignore.
At a recent ceremony to honor a military veteran, Biden simply wandered off the stage without saying anything and shuffled slowly to the exit – before he’d even completed the presentation. The camera zoomed in on the old war hero’s bewildered face. He was almost in tears as what should have been the greatest day of his life crumbled before him. It was heart-breaking to watch.
More often Biden is just embarrassing – and does America no favors on the world stage.
At the recent G20 meeting in India he had two goes at pronouncing the name of Saudi Arabia’s strongman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He stumbled: ‘Mohammed Bin Solemn… excuse me, Mohammed bin Salam.’
In Hanoi, he labored to make a joke about the ‘famous song’ Good Morning Vietnam. It’s a movie. He referred to developing nations as the Third World, a phrase that went out of use about four decades ago. He reached for a quote from an old John Wayne film to describe climate change deniers as ‘lying dog-faced pony soldiers’.
That must have been fun for the translators. And he claimed that climate change was worse than nuclear war. Onlookers scratched their heads.
Vietnam is now, amazingly given the horrors of the Vietnam War, one of America’s most important allies on the Pacific Rim. Its leaders were spared further embarrassment from a president who’d clearly lost the plot by the intervention of his press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, who has her own challenges with the English language. She cut his mic and ushered him out, no doubt for a glass of hot milk and bed.
The big losers in all this will be the ad agencies who make a fortune out of slick political commercials in presidential election years.
The Republicans will have no need of such expensive propaganda in 2024. They just need to recycle the countless clips showing a president of unstable gait, his speech slurred and stilted, his eyes barely visible behind narrow slits on a botoxed face. A man whose time as Leader of the Free World should clearly be behind him.
It can only get worse. The presidency ages you in dog years and Biden, already an ‘old’ 80 (81 in November), will age even more than his years the longer he is in the job.
The idea, as senior Democrats continue to insist, that he can fully function in the toughest job in the world for another five years (when he will be 86) is simply incredible and insults our intelligence.
The American people already know that. In a recent Wall Street Journal poll, 73 per cent thought he was too old to run again, with 60 per cent going as far as to say he was not ‘mentally up for the job’. A CNN poll shows even 67 per cent of Democrats now don’t want him to run again (up from 54 per cent in March).
His approval ratings are also poor at 40 per cent, and a large majority of voters are ‘seriously concerned’ about his senility and doubt he’ll last a full term.
These are not polling numbers providing a springboard to victory.
Indeed, current Biden v Trump ‘match up’ polls put them neck and neck on around 45 per cent each. In the swing states that will determine the election, Trump is often ahead, though not (yet) by a statistically significant amount.
But this is not where Team Biden thought they would be against a rival mired in criminal proceedings.
It is too close for comfort – and is likely only to get worse as Biden continues his physical and cognitive decline.
Who could confidently rule out the possibility that Biden will be in no shape to run at all by this time next year? You’d think Jill, supposedly a kind, caring wife (yeah, right), would be having a private word with him.
Senior Democrats remain in denial about all of this, at least in public. That’s partly because there’s no obvious alternative. True, a slew of Democratic governors from California to Illinois to Pennsylvania stand ready to throw their hats into the ring should Biden pack it in. But nobody’s clear there’s a winner among them come the general election.
Party managers are united, however, in the view that, whatever the question, Vice President Kamala Harris is not the answer.
She was chosen in 2020 to counter arguments against Biden’s age. In office she’s become the least popular VP in polling history, an albatross round the Biden ticket with close to zero support even among Democrats – the Dan Quayle de nos jours.
But the fact Harris is a plonker only complicates matters for the ‘Dump Joe’ forces. After all, if Biden had a decent VP it would be all the easier to nudge him out.
Even so, a few voices are at last going public. This week one of the Washington Post’s phalanx of self-important Democratic thumb-suckers, David Ignatius, finally broke ranks to opine that Biden should not run again.
Others will follow. An anti-Trump liberal conservative in the New York Times already has.
The dam is beginning to crack. Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi – like Biden part of the gerontocracy that is incapable of giving up power (at 83 she’s running again for the House!) – was not exactly categorical when asked during an interview on CNN this week if Biden might drop out.
She then smirked, laughed and dodged questions when quizzed about Harris.
Democrats know they’re between a rock and a hard place. They just can’t bring themselves to admit it – yet.
Of course, Trump has plenty problems of his own.
The litany of charges about to be aired in various courts could reveal matters so distasteful that even a chunk of his cult-like support could desert him, opening the door for other Republicans to have a better chance of the nomination.
But for now it is Trump who is sitting pretty and Biden who is assailed by troubles on all fronts, not just age and terrible polling but impeachment and the ongoing Hunter Biden scandal too.
With Biden still heading the Democrat ticket, there’s a new conventional wisdom in town: Not only is Trump clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, as things currently stand he should now be regarded as favorite to win back the White House in November 2024.
That prospect will terrify many folks on both sides of the debate. But perhaps it might also put some backbone into those who realize it’s time to ‘Dump Joe’.
Andrew Neil is arguably Britain’s most distinguished conservative journalist. Former editor of the Sunday Times and current chairman of The Spectator (the world’s oldest surviving weekly newsmagazine in the world), he hosts the widely watched The Andrew Neil Show on British television.