Joe Biden is a drag for the Democrats in almost every way. Polls show that most voters think he’s too old, and they believe he’s not physically or mentally capable of being president. And then there’s the problem of his terrible record. Yet some still say he’s still the Democrats’ best hope.
Despite his weakness, Washington Post associate editor and columnist Ruth Marcus insisted during a “PBS NewsHour” panel discussion that Democrats need Biden on the ticket because that would leave the Democrats with either Kamala Harris or a bitterly divisive battle driven by identity politics.
“There are problems with Joe Biden’s candidacy,” she admits. “There are many Democrats behind the scenes and a few publicly who talk about his age, who talk about other problems with his candidacy. But let’s be serious. I’m old enough to remember — I’m sorry to say — I’m old enough to remember 1980 and what happened in the Democratic Party when it was riven by division. And if somebody were to emerge and challenge Joe Biden at this stage in the campaign, him having decided to run, his vice president, who, if he didn’t — if he somehow chose not to run, if she were not the nominee, that would create some divisions within the demographics of the party.”
She added, “I think the Democrats are going to war with what they view as their strongest candidate — and with good reason, that’s Joe Biden.”
New York Times columnist David Brooks agreed, insisting that Democrats are “lucky” to have Joe Biden as their candidate. Ouch.
Brooks argues that there’s really no alternative better than Joe Biden, despite concerns about his age. “His approval ratings are low, but anytime you look at some alternative, whether it’s the mystery moderate from the Midwest, or Gavin Newsom, or anybody else, things start unraveling really fast. And so the Democrats are lucky, frankly, to have a candidate in Biden.”
Brooks argues that what Biden has working for him is that the economy is getting better and that international relations are improving. That’s a cute story. Polls show that Americans don’t think too highly of the Biden economy, and Biden’s recently brokered peace deal with Japan and South Korea is a laughable accomplishment compared to the various peace deals that Donald Trump brokered between Israel and a number of Arab nations. But hey, not even the legendary David Brooks isn’t above projection.
So Marcus and Brooks agree that Biden is the strongest candidate the Democrats have right now, which is quite sad. In 2008, Joe Biden was polling worse than Kamala Harris in 2019 and only became relevant when Barack Obama named Biden as his running mate to compensate for Obama’s lack of experience. In 2020, Biden was pitched as the most electable candidate, whose biggest flaw was the fact he was a garden-variety old white man that the Democratic Party hates.
Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate was no less a diversity hire than was Ketanji Brown Jackson. If Biden drops out, she has little-to-no chance of winning. Many think Gavin Newsom could be the future of the party, but between his disastrous tenure as governor of California and being yet another heterosexual white guy, it’s debatable whether he has much of a shot.
But Biden isn’t polling very strongly against Trump, with various outfits showing a race that is too close for comfort. Keep in mind that polls generally showed Hillary Clinton with a healthy lead over Trump in 2016, and polls in 2020 showed Biden performing much better against Trump (and better than Hillary), and yet the race came down to a few thousand votes in a few battleground states.
Bottom line: if Biden is the best the Democrats have, they’re in trouble.