Biden, Get the Puck Out

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz – Public Domain

I’m going to say this as politely as I can under the circumstances: Joe Biden, get the puck out of the race. Democratic operatives and Jill Biden, get him out. You are all committing political malpractice (again), on our backs.

I write as a leftist who actually gained some respect for Biden and the progressivism he has shown in his first term, despite detesting him throughout most of his political career, e.g. for the misogyny he displayed toward Anita Hill during Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings, thereby helping to usher Thomas onto the Supreme Court; for co-authoring Clinton’s malicious crime law; and for his full-throated support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

I’ve since lost all that respect for Biden again, and more, for materially supporting Israel in its ongoing slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza (read my polemic on the subject here)—blood which Biden doesn’t even care to wash off his hands.

But it doesn’t matter what I think. Biden is unelectable. Period. The fact that his favorite columnist Thomas Friedman, and the New York Times editorial board, see and say this, is a mic drop moment.

Biden did not just have a bad night on the debate stage. He is not capable of having a good night on any debate stage, because he is experiencing senescence. Forget the fact that Angry Grampa, who absurdly challenges Trump to carry his own golf bag, totters around like the wind could knock him over, and stares off with wrong expressions in wrong directions like a Chuck-E-Cheese animatronic figure. You don’t need a medical degree to tell that Biden has early stage dementia. The whole world diagnosed it on June 27. Biden essentially had one job to perform that night: to snatch from Republicans the talking point that he is physically and mentally decrepit. Instead, he confirmed it. Trump, on the other hand, appeared lucid and ‘hinged,’ and showed that he can take coaching. By comparison, Biden’s marbles were falling out on the stage. Of course Trump is still a malignant, proto-fascist narcissist who lies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But in the pathetic contest for last egotistical White geezer standing that is the 2024 presidential race, Trump wins.

Which brings us back to Democratic malfeasance. If I hear one more sanctimonious Biden surrogate lecture us that we’re better off with Mr. Infirm than Mr. Unhinged, while haughtily predicting that progressives will fall in line behind Biden by election day, I’ll projectile vomit at my television screen. Not because it isn’t mostly true that we’d be better off. A president governs by tentacled delegation across a vast corporatized system. Biden is not going to trip and fall onto the nuclear button. On the other hand, Trump will almost certainly oversee a national ban on abortion; deport masses of undocumented immigrants regardless of how long they’ve lived here; seal off entry again to Muslim immigrants; mobilize the military against protesters; ram through more tax breaks for the mega rich; enable Putin, Netanyahu, and other despots and butchers to seize and destroy whatever they want; and give the oil and gas industry carte blanche to kill life on earth.

But the constituencies who say they will not vote for Biden WILL NOT vote for Biden—including legions of ardent young activists incensed by Biden’s hypocrisy in condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine while cheering Israel’s invasion of Gaza. These potential voters simply aren’t swayed by Israel’s propaganda that protesting its policies of apartheid, occupation, and genocide is antisemitic. That is a beautiful and hopeful development.

It would be more hopeful if Democrats had the wisdom to channel their ardor into a progressive movement, especially as we watch Europe, including European youth, swerve right.

Instead, Democratic operatives vainly hope that people who state that they will not, under any circumstances, vote for Biden will yet somehow vote for Biden. This form of head-in-the-sand hope is not a strategy.

It’s not a strategy any more than it was when Democrats caved to Mitch McConnell in stalling Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because they were overconfident Hillary would win. Or when they picked Kamala Harris, who is as fake as a wood-paneled wall at McDonald’s, as Biden’s running mate, from among a field of truly inspiring Black female politicians.

It’s not a strategy any more than when a college professor lectures freshman not to drink because it might hurt their grades.

Doddering, Palestinian blood-soaked Biden is going to lose. His legacy will be to deliver us the very thing he performs trying to save us from: Trump and domestic fascism.

There is just one way Biden doesn’t lose. By bowing out, his preferred legacy intact, so that the delegates to the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August can replace him with someone popular.

By which I mean popular with progressives; with young voters; with non-White voters. The Democratic candidate for president, whoever it is, is a lock with moderate and mainstream Democrats in deep blue states. But s/he is not a lock with disaffected leftists, liberals, and independents in the swing states that will decide the election.

So, Democratic operatives, don’t give us Kamala Harris, who is even less popular than Biden. Don’t give us California Governor Gavin Newsom, from a state already in the bag for Democrats. Or Dean Phillips who didn’t show in the primary. Or RFK Jr. who showed in the primary that he’s crazy. Or who from where Sherrod Brown. Or some boring milquetoast.

Give us Barbara Lee, or Stacey Abrams or Jamaal Bowman, or Jon Stewart, or Bernie Sanders…

Just don’t give us ‘it can’t be done.’ You can at least take from Biden his favorite refrain: “…[blah, blah], there’s nothing we can’t do if we act together…[blah, blah].”

Plus, replacing Biden would scramble the Trump noodle. He and his MAGA minions have made an industry of attacking Biden. It would fully flummox them to have to figure out how to run Trump against someone new.

This is not to insult the elderly or infirm. Biden’s offense is not that he is aging, but that by clinging to power he is threatening our welfare, as the recent New Yorker cover illustrated. The call for Biden to step aside need not be polite because his refusal is not polite. The demand must be stentorian to match his stubbornness.

The time for pretending is over. The time for begging is over. The time for gently guiding Biden off stage by the waist is over. Remember how bad the hangover was on the morning of June 28? It’s going to be way worse on the morning of November 6, and last way longer, if we don’t act swiftly.

The time to take away Biden’s keys to drive the presidency—for the rest of our safety—is now.

Meanwhile, let’s also apply the wisdom of the late Immanuel Wallerstein: voting is only the beginning, but definitely not the end of political and civic engagement.

Ben Rosenfeld is a civil rights attorney in San Francisco. Twitter: @benrosenfeldlaw.