Who Will Replace Joe Biden?

Nobody remembers the year 1968 more vividly than the people who lived through it.

Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. Lyndon Johnson was forced out of his presidency during the primaries, a scant three and half years after being elected in a landslide victory.  His “war” on poverty floundered as his war on the Vietnamese people escalated. In the minds of many of us, the iconic image of that war was the photograph of a terrified little girl running from the flames of an American napalm strike.

For more than six weeks now we’ve been witnessing terrified and defenseless children running once again from terror in the air; this time in a non-state called Gaza. As of this writing, the Israeli saturation bombing and cutoff of food, water, fuel, electricity and shelter for the Palestinians continues, the very definition of a crime against humanity. Joe Biden and his administration have embraced these atrocities in thought, word and deed, even to the extent of publicly disputing the independently verified ever-growing body count of the dead.  With the exception of the “Courageous 18” in the House, both parties in Congress march in lockstep with the president’s policies.

As in Vietnam, the corporate media network has been the steamroller for the official Washington line and lays out or ignores anyone who dares to disagree. Embarrassingly, the New York Times and CNN have acted as bullhorns for both the Biden administration and the rightwing government of Israel. The Times desperately continues to search for nefarious tunnels, an endeavor reminiscent of its futile search for the imaginary “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. Not to be outdone, the purportedly liberal MSNBC brazenly silenced its three Muslin commentators during the first weeks of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza—without a peep of protest from its other hosts who, as perpetual cheerleaders for the Democratic Party, sail smugly onward in their game show format with political retreads waiting eagerly in their onscreen boxes to drop their pearls of banality on the audience.

However, these barrages from mainstream media have not been successful in shoring up Joe Biden’s plummeting approval ratings among young voters, people of color and progressives—the very voters who carried him into the White House in 2020. As his numbers tank, potential opponents pop up in anticipation. Biden is being challenged on the Left by Cornel West and Jill Stein, on the Right by Joe “Oil Can” Manchin, and spookily, by Bobby Junior. His chances for re-election grow dimmer by the day as the atrocities in Gaza continue unabated.

Shades of 1968. With discontent boiling, Senator Gene McCarthy broke with his party and challenged Johnson over Vietnam in the primaries. Bobby Kennedy took note and jumped in too.

As their votes piled up, Lyndon Johnson took a walk.

Is there a president whisperer relaying this uncomfortable history lesson to Joe Biden in his Oval Office? Does he/she/they explain to him that when—like Johnson– his house of cards collapses, it’s very likely that he will bring down a wide swath of Democratic officeholders with him? Those people won’t be happy when all of that pork runs out of their pens.  Biden will probably hand in his presidential parking pass in early 2024.

Will Joe Biden escape legal culpability for his active complicity in crimes against humanity? If history is any guide, of course he will, just like his modern predecessors: Truman, Nixon/Kissinger, Clinton/Albright, and Bush/Cheney to name a few. Ultimately, the establishment historians like Kearns-Goodwin and McCullough will get to work sanitizing the events in Gaza with successive coats of whitewash, revising history in the fashion of Ken “Dialing for Dollars” Burns and his incredibly dishonest interpretation of Vietnam as a “tragic misunderstanding” rather than what is really was:  a brutal invasion which led to the deaths of over two million people and the catastrophic ecocide of an environment.

But somehow those darn old facts have a habit of sprouting up through the papered-over cracks in the Disneyized narratives. Air Force General Curtis LeMay, the architect of WWII’s firebombing campaign on Japanese cities, once admitted that “if we lost the war, we’d all been prosecuted as war criminals.” Unfortunately, that exceedingly slim possibility did not deter him from calling for bombing Vietnam “back to the Stone Age” twenty years later.

(Today’s test: What do Vietnam/Cambodia, Iraq and Gaza have in common? Answer: No air force.)

So, say goodnight, Joe. Your lifetime membership card in the War-and-Wall Street faction of the Democratic Party is expiring. It’s a shame that you can’t take all those AIPAC toadies in Congress with you, but I guess someone has to stay behind to stave off Trump and his little band of white fascists.

Who will replace Joe Biden? The tumultuous struggle to replace Johnson in the summer of 1968 contains a lesson for all of us. Ignoring the seismic shift of the voters, the bigwigs of the Democratic Party rammed through a stiff with blood on his hands during their infamous “police state” convention.  Hubert Humphrey belly-flopped the following November, ushering in the Nightmare of Nixon.

The longer Joe Biden remains in office, the more Palestinian children will run in terror and die in the rubble of Gaza.

Don Santina’s latest novel, “A Bullet for the Angel,” is a noir tale of murder and gentrification in 1959 San Francisco. He can be reached at lindey89@aol.com.