Biden Isn’t Dropping Out

More post-debate thoughts and a reminder about how US parties work.

Before I say anything else, and so that I am hopefully not misunderstood: I agree that Biden’s performance on Thursday night was horrible and I have called it “disastrous” on a number of times to a number of people. Moreover, I think that it increased the chances of a Trump victory (although as time goes on I am not sure it did so as much as I thought even yesterday). I understand the knee-jerk reaction of many that Biden needs to be replaced. I have seriously contemplated this myself. If I had been on a deadline to write a column for a major newspaper right after I watched that performance, I might have written a similar column. But since no one is paying me to provide my views, I decided to wait and think.

I think that the collective reaction of much of the commentariat was a collective burst of anxiety, which I fully understand. Anyone hoping for a Trump defeat was hoping for an energetic Joe Biden to perform well and convince voters on the fence in key swing states that Biden should get their vote. And, instead, Biden provided what all those commentators feared. (Is anyone actually surprised that a man of his age performed like that?).

Now, I would note, that it strikes me as highly unlikely that any of the columnists who wrote that Biden should go will end up voting for anyone other than Biden in November. Instead, their fears, which are understandable, are that some other group of voters somewhere will respond negatively. Again: that is a legitimate concern. And all the anxiety about a possible second Trump term turned to panic. A panic I fully understand.

And, as per my first paragraph, I agree that the debate was terrible for Biden. Still, I think that once the specific emotional responses fade the following will be what we, collectively, learned from Thursday night.

  • Biden is old.
  • Trump is a bombastic liar.

Let me note as well that most people have long made up their minds about their vote. But yes, as noted, the race is tight and I remain concerned that Trump’s energetic bravado, despite being a cavalcade of bullshit, will impress enough voters on the margin to make a difference in key states.

But, I will note, if a party panics over a singular one-and-a-half-hour performance and seeks to jettison three-and-a-half years of service (not to mention short-circuiting the candidate selection process), that will likely rattle a few marginal voters as well. If part of the concern is that Biden looks weak, I am not sure making the whole party look like it made a massive bad decision is going to make it look strong.

Put another way, in a race this tight, anything can matter, and pretending like a change will be mostly upside and staying put is mostly downside is all guessing and a gamble. I will fully admit I don’t know, but my instinct suggests that staying put is less risky.

But, more importantly, in terms of what will actually happen, this is where I point out how US parties work. Specifically: nothing will happen unless Joe Biden decides he wants to step down, and that strikes me as exceedingly unlikely.

As I have repeatedly noted about Trump since 2016: the party’s nominee is the leader of the party and the party is run by loyalists to the nominee (and this is especially true if that nominee wins the presidency). There is no party leadership that can make an independent decision. Quick! Who’s the chair of the DNC?

No googling!

Well, googling is fine, actually, because that was what I had to do (you know, the Political Science Ph.D. who writes about this stuff almost daily). I didn’t know it was Jamie Harrison (I mean, surely that bit of information has been in my head at some point, but it definitely didn’t stick). I will tell you what I did know: Joe Biden is who nominated Harrison for the job.

American parties are weak institutionally and they are organized around the presidential contest, which makes their nominee/a given sitting president the key actor in the party. Who in the DNC, or even an elected Democratic office-holder, is going to risk going out on a limb to confront Biden and tell him he has to go? More to the point, what are the odds enough of them will collectively do so? (No, you go first!).

Yes, Biden is an 81-year-old man who moves slowly and gave a terrible performance on Thursday.

He is also President of the United States, which makes him kind of hard to buck.

This is just reality.

Just like with Trump in 2016, when there were co-partisans who opposed him and conservative publications who called for him to go, the Democratic establishment, and Democratic voters, will fall back into line after this proximate panic is over.

The only way this doesn’t blow over is if Biden repeatedly turns in performances like Thursday night. I will also state that if the polls truly collapse and stay collapsed then there will be possible room to further this discussion. However, were I to bet, I would bet that the numbers don’t change all that much. I would note that Biden already put in a good performance at a rally in North Carolina and at an official White House event. Yes, teleprompters were involved, but his energy level and voice were back. This kind of thing will reassure enough people for things to progress as they have been.

There is not going to be a process to replace him.

I think this is going to be like Trump’s Access Hollywood tape. It will cause panic for supporters, bolster the confidence of opponents, but ultimately simply serve to confirm what everyone already thought.

I would note, just for the record, that going into Thursday, the popular vote was a toss-up and Nate Silver’s model gave Trump a huge advantage in the Electoral College. So the metric for the effects of the debate will be how much that kind of model changes.

This is not me excusing Thursday night. It is decidedly not me wearing rose-colored glasses. I just think that the following is true:

  1. One event is not as powerful as it can feel in the moment.
  2. Most people have made up their minds and little will change them.
  3. Yes, the margins matter.
  4. The structure of US political parties means Biden will be on the ballot in November.

On balance, we went into Thursday night with a tight race that favored Trump. I think we are still largely in that same place. As always, if the evidence changes I will reevaluate my position.

Let me conclude that making major strategic decisions in the context of anxious panic is probably not a good idea.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Bill Jempty says:

    I will reevaluate my position.

    By the time you and too many others reevaluate their stances, it will be too late. This country will have a dictator next January who will begin targeting his foes. Real blood may begin flowing, not the imaginary type that some defenders of Biden expresss when they say there will be bloodletting if Biden steps aside and Dems start duking it out among each other. Better the imaginary blood than the real stuff.

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  2. Bill Jempty says:

    Let me point something else out.

    Wait too long and Biden/Harris is on 50 ballots and Biden either becomes incompetent is removed by the 25th ammendment/he resigns/the party comes to its senses whatever.

    So there is a new Democratic ticket. But Biden/Harris is all those statewide ballots. Do you think the Republicans won’t challenge any replacements? Where could that end up? The Supreme Court. Do I need to say anything more.

    Democratic leadership needs to come to their senses and fast.

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  3. Davebp says:

    @Bill Jempty: So Harris then? Or do we just flush $220 million?

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  4. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bill Jempty:..Do I need to say anything more?..
    Name the one candidate that the Democratic Party will nominate to replace President Biden. Name them now. Today. Before 5pm edt. Git with it. Time’s a wastin’!

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    I agree that replacing Joe is unlikely. He would have to make that decision himself. But Biden visibly and audibly confirmed for the 48 million who watched, and the millions more who will get their news from TikTok, the exact narrative of his opponents.

    I am pleased that he seems, finally, to be acknowledging that the age issue is real. A simple, self-deprecating acknowledgment at the start of the debate would have done wonders. But like many of us who get older (indeed, checking my math I see that we all do) he seemed to want to bluff his way around the issue, to pretend away his obvious decline.

    I don’t know why people don’t understand that lamp-shading your weaknesses draws much of the sting. When I started going bald I didn’t fight it, I shaved my head, on the ‘walk before they make you run’ principle. You can spend a decade of people laughing at your combover, or you can end it with a Gillette. You have to own the narrative, and the narrative has to be plausible. Biden should have figured that out before the debate.

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  6. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    By the time you and too many others reevaluate their stances, it will be too late.

    I don’t know if we read the same post, but I took Dr. Taylor’s stance as “Biden isn’t going anywhere, so we better hope that this blows over, as historically things like this do.”

    I’m not sure what effect him reevaluating his stance would do anyway.

    Real blood may begin flowing, not the imaginary type that some defenders of Biden expresss when they say there will be bloodletting if Biden steps aside and Dems start duking it out among each other. Better the imaginary blood than the real stuff.

    The Democratic bloodletting would divide the party and lead to a Trump victory. And, as much as people don’t like Biden, he polls better against Trump than any named Democrat.

    Biden’s the only bus going near where we want to go. Hop on and hope for the best, and ignore the weird old man smell.

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  7. Bill Jempty says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Name the one candidate that the Democratic Party will nominate to replace President Biden. Name them now. Today. Before 5pm edt. Git with it. Time’s a wastin’!

    This is a pathetic snarky comment seen far too often around here. You’re saying there is only one democrat in this country qualified to be President? That’s pretty ridiculous and there are too many expressing it.

    Will you still be snarky if the Dictator’s goon squad comes to your door?

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  8. Modulo Myself says:

    What makes this different from Access Hollywood is really simple–the GOP losing in 2016 would have sucked for the GOP because they hated Hillary so much. But the stakes of American politics has always been the oppression of rich guys having to pay few more dollars in taxes vs the oppression the right of trans people to exist. The GOP could afford to lose, because it didn’t matter in any real way. America is a free country for their voters and it will continue to be so. Everything else is just pathetic whining about how unfair it is that we don’t live in a theocracy or whatever.

    But Trump won and put judges in and they did what they were told to do and ended Roe. What he’s promising in 2024 is far more extreme. Yes, it’s probably a bad idea to drop him now, but the debate performance came out of the blue. Age has been the issue for him, and it’s not like it will go away as he turns 83 and has a little time to get used to being old. Once it became clear that Trumpism wasn’t going away, Biden’s presidency should have been devoted to finding a successor in 2024. They can’t pretend to be shocked at what happened at the debate. He’s old, probably sundowning, and he should not be running.

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  9. DK says:

    Who in the DNC, or even an elected Democratic office-holder, is going to risk going out on a limb to confront Biden and tell him he has to go… what are the odds enough of them will collectively do so?

    Does it matter?

    DNC/Democratic Office Holder(s):
    “Yo, Joe, you have to go!”

    Joe (in a hoarse whisper): “No.”

    Okay, so…now what? Poison his Ovaltine?

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  10. @DK: That’s pretty much the point.

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  11. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bill Jempty:..You’re saying there is only one democrat in this country qualified to be President?

    OK. Name five members of the Democratic Party qualified to be President USA and who can get 270 Electoral Votes on November 5, 2024.

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  12. @Modulo Myself: But the issue remains: what are the alternative, how do you get there, and will those alternatives actually be better?

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  13. DK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    1. Someone Else
    2. Someone Younger
    3. Michelle Obama
    4. Taylor Swift
    5. The Deep State

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  14. @Bill Jempty: As I have made clear in a number of places, I find a Trump win to be a truly frightening prospect.

    The problem is, and you would have to admit, that there is s risk in changing candidates just as there is a risk of not changing candidates.

    I am not convinced that changing is the better option. You are certainly entitled to the view that a change is the better option.

    More importantly, and to the point of the post, I don’t think a change is going to happen, regardless.

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  15. Modulo Myself says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Look, I’ll vote for him against Trump. But it’s beyond absurd to pretend that this is how defeating a genuine threat to what stands for democracy should be happening. To go back to Trump–look at how many Republicans in the media who don’t like Trump reacted to his conviction or the raid on Mar A Lago. They were outraged at how he was treated. Reason being is that the difference between Republicans and non-Republicans is that the latter understands the idea of self-inflicted harm, and the former has been trained to get angry at others for what one has done. Biden’s age is a self-inflicted and devastating wound inflicted by the Democrats, and they will not able to make it a fuck you issue like Trump. That’s a problem.

    Right now, it’s June. It’s not like given time, his situation will become better. What happens if it’s the middle of October and he looks even worse in a public appearance and then isn’t seen again? No Biden anywhere and Democrats pretending that it’s the media making it a big issue because they’re ageist…it’s just not a way to win.

    They have a week, maybe, to do something and replace him and figure out a way to eat shit. After that, they’re stuck and hoping he doesn’t get worse in public. Whoever it would be–Whitmer, Newsom, I don’t know–at least will not risk total collapse two weeks before the election.

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  16. JKB says:

    I heard, but can’t remember the person though someone with the gravitas, that the parties are swapping. This is something not seen since around 1930. That means a lot of voters are in flux.

    Biden’s performance in this debate has stirred up the bottom of the party. The deep sedimented party voters are now dispersed in the currents due to this disturbance and can migrate before they settle.

    Polls are going to be crap this year as people answer out of habit but are more likely to stop and think before marking the ballot.

    Got 90 days (Sep 20) before early voting starts in Minnesota, Virginia, bit over 100 days before it is going in earnest.

    Will they replace Kamala on the ticket to make the risk of Biden more palatable with someone voters could see as an improvement?

    Will Biden’s doctors pop a blood vessel to force a replacement?

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  17. DK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    how do you get there,

    Biden’s death, or a total collapse in Biden’s national and state polling over the next 2-3 weeks.

    Pretty much the only thing that will move the Biden brain trust: Jill Biden, Valerie Biden, Anita Dunn, Ron Klain, Tim Kaufman, Jim Clyburn et al. Who are the only people who can get Joe to consider dropping out.

    Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, Gavin Newsom, and the Clintons don’t have as much power here as some want to believe.

    Less so the donor class.

    Less so “the DNC” and “Democrats.”

    Less so NYT columnists and the pundit class.

    Less so OTB commenters.

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  18. @Modulo Myself:

    But it’s beyond absurd to pretend that this is how defeating a genuine threat to what stands for democracy should be happening.

    Do you perceive me as not understanding this?

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  19. Mister Bluster says:

    @DK:..name five

    Great list! Taylor Swift would give the Democratic Party the boost it needs to win the election. Her boyfriend could carry around nuclear football. A much better choice than Trump’s tiny hands.

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  20. gVOR10 says:

    Jamelle Bouie is becoming the only reason to keep a FTFNYT subscription. NYT did a mostly hit piece with four of their columnists discussing why Biden should drop out. Gift link. I suggest skimming, or entirely ignoring, the other three. Goldberg’s usually better than this, Stephens continues to be what he’s always been, and I don’t recall previously having been aware of Healy. But Bouie talks sense, and agrees with Dr. T.

    I think the only way to answer this question (whether another D can beat Trump) is by making suppositions that ignore the reality of contingency. If we can somehow keep every single condition the same and simply swap Biden for Gretchen Whitmer or Andy Beshear or Wes Moore, then sure, they could win. But that’s not how this works. The process will raise problems. The challenge of jump-starting a national campaign will raise problems. Critically, none of these people are a Generic Democrat. They will have unforeseen challenges. The question is whether those unforeseen challenges are less challenging than the ones we have in front of us. And I’m simply not confident or certain enough in my powers of prediction to say, definitively, that they will be.

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  21. DK says:

    @gVOR10:

    NYT did a mostly hit piece with four of their columnists discussing why Biden should drop out.

    Right now, not a very relevant discussion as Dr. Taylor reminds us here.

    It’s not should Biden drop out, it’s will Biden drop out. Shoulda, coulda, woulda is downstream of the title of this post: “Biden Isn’t Dropping Out.”*

    Whether an alternative option is better — and what that option might be — is a moot point if there’s no way to reach said option in the first place.

    *Yet, pending upcoming developments, largely poll-related

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  22. David S. says:

    Eh, it doesn’t really matter. Trump’s going to win whether we replace Biden or not. The people prepping accordingly have the right idea. I’m not religious enough to believe the Democrats will be saved by a messiah riding in from the boonies on a donkey. That’s a GOPer shtick.

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  23. CSK says:

    This is pathetic, laughable, and utterly predictable:

    http://www.rawstory.com/trump-claims-he-was-fantastic-in-debate-before-whin-ing/

    It seems he feels he’s not getting the lavish praise due him.

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  24. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Bill Jempty: No, that’s not how this works. We don’t cast votes for candidates because they are qualified. History is littered with less qualified candidates beating better qualified.

    Candidates are elected because they can establish an identity connection with more voters than their competitors. So the question is, which Democrat can bring out Black folks and Hispanics in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Arizona, etc.

    One does not do that *Only through spouting a list of policy prescriptions. It takes a certain cultural awareness and personal charisma to do that.

    Now, in your opinion, which candidate in the DNC has the chops to do that?

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  25. Raoul says:

    Obviously, whether he decides to step down is up to him. Maybe he could be cajoled like the Winston Churchill situation but for that to happen I think we would need a viable replacement. Only one person comes to mind: Michelle Obama.

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  26. just nutha says:

    @Bill Jempty: No, we’re asking who you want to suggest.* I will agree that the snark is uncalled for, though.

    * It’s easy, though ineffective, to suggest taking action x/y/z without having any clue about what that step should be. Almost quintessentially American.

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  27. gVOR10 says:

    I have a happy thought. Set aside politics for a moment and talk about governance. Assume Biden is elected and he dies, becomes incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to continue as prez. Then President Harris inherits Biden’s policies and Biden’s team. And like Nixon after Agnew, a new veep has to be appointed. Newsom, Brown, Whitmer, etc. are, for the most part, too valuable where they are. The appointee should be a popular and experienced party elder, like Nelson Rockefeller was. The obvious choice is Hillary Clinton. Not only is she eminently qualified, a two woman administration would explode GOP heads all over the country. One being Hillary would guarantee it. And rub Trump’s face in it.

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  28. Kari Q says:

    I find the whole discussion to be pointless since Steven is right and Biden isn’t stepping down. But if he did, the nominee is Kamala Harris. First because (if I have been correctly informed) she is the only candidate who can access the Biden campaign cash. More importantly, though, is Democractic voters who aren’t white.

    If Kamala isn’t the nominee, Black voters will be angry, feel dismissed, and like the party does not value them. That won’t help the hypothetical candidate you want to nominate in Biden’s place.

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  29. Kazzy says:

    We saw Joe seem old. And we panic.

    GOPers see Trump lie. And they cheer.

    Maybe rather than wring our hands we should cheer and shout and talk more about Trump’s lies than Joe’s age. We’re doing Trump’s work for him.

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  30. Mister Bluster says:

    Here is a Reuters item that presents How Democrats could replace Biden as presidential candidate before November.

    I ask Citizen Jempty and anyone else how this will play out? Will President Biden volunteer to give up the nomination and endorse a still yet unnamed new candidate? Will some yet unnamed candidate challenge President Biden and somehow secure enough delegates to win the nomination?
    When I cast my ballot in the Illinois Democratic Party on March 19 of this year I voted for President Biden’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention Natalie Phelps Finnie, Patrick H. States and Brandi Bradley. Although I know that they are not bound by party rules to vote for President Biden, when I voted for them I expected them to cast their votes for President Biden at the convention because I want to vote for Democratic candidate President Joe Biden on November 5 as I think that he is the best man for the job.

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  31. just nutha says:

    @JKB: I suspect that most voters are no more likely to switch than you are. I could be wrong but I’ve watched all of this for as long as you’ve probably been alive. Still, it’s theoretically possible your wish hand will fill up before the s**t one does. Hope springs eternal after all.

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  32. Andy says:

    Good post.

    I think there is definitely time to see how things play out over the next couple of weeks.

    WRT the option to continue with Biden vs changing horses, much depends on assumptions. If one believes that Biden cannot win, then changing is the only rational option (if winning is the goal). Contrariwise, if one thinks Biden has a decent chance of pulling out a victory, then the rational option is to go for that since changing carries so many unknowns. There are reasonable arguments either way.

    But I think you’re right that this is all academic since the only real decider is Biden it’s unlikely he will bow out. The irony of weak parties is that the nominal party leaders have such immense de facto authority.

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  33. DK says:

    @Kari Q:

    Biden isn’t stepping down. But if he did, the nominee is Kamala Harris.

    FWIW: against Trump, Kamala Harris was polling 1-2 behind Biden, per a recent Washington Post analysis.

    Not great. But not too shabby.

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  34. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Kazzy: Oh, I agree totally. Will Saleton summed it up very well over at The Bulwark. “It’s sad, for many reasons, that Biden couldn’t effectively rebut these lies. He needs to win this election, he needs to lead the country, and he didn’t look capable of doing either. But that doesn’t mean Trump should get a pass. No presidential candidate in American history has lied as ruthlessly and profusely as Trump. He thinks he can get away with it. Don’t let him.

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  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mister Bluster:..When I cast my ballot in the Illinois Democratic Party PRIMARY on March 19 of this year…

    Good grief! I’m younger then both of them and still can’t catch script errors despite endless proofreads.
    However once I am elected President of OTB I will mandate that the EDIT key be in effect for the rest of the day.

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  36. Jen says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    This is a pathetic snarky comment seen far too often around here. You’re saying there is only one democrat in this country qualified to be President? That’s pretty ridiculous and there are too many expressing it.

    It’s not “pathetic snarky” commentary. It’s REALITY. There IS NO UNIFIED CANDIDATE.

    Polling done post-debate shows Harris at an even bigger disadvantage than Biden. Biden remains within MOE numbers, while Harris loses solidly.

    Democratic leadership needs to come to their senses and fast.

    I don’t know how many times and in how many different ways it needs to be said: Democratic leadership has no power to make changes. This isn’t 1962. Party structures do not pick candidates.

    Everyone jonesing for a smoke-filled back room convention pick needs to come to their senses and quick. It ain’t gonna happen, and I don’t know that it needs to.

    Panicking kills campaigns. It makes strategists do stupid stuff, abandon good plans, and take roads that should be left off maps.

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  37. Jen says:

    @DK: I don’t think Swift is old enough. IIRC, she’s 34.

    Gov. Beshear would be my suggestion, but even that is not without a TON of problems, the biggest of which is that sidelining Harris would piss off an important Democratic constituency. Not smart.

    Newsom only makes sense if Harris is completely replaced. You don’t want to have both the Pres. and VP from the same state in a close election.

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  38. Michael Cain says:

    People talk about a new candidate pulling the party together by November. In vote by mail states, voting starts around mid-October. When I look at the lists of swing states, most of them include Arizona and Nevada. Nevada is a vote by mail state, and Arizona might as well be.

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  39. Michael Cain says:

    I don’t think Swift is old enough. IIRC, she’s 34.

    Wikipedia says she’ll be 35 before inauguration day.

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  40. Kurtz says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    You’re saying there is only one democrat in this country qualified to be President?

    That is not the question. Qualified is different from viable is different from actual option in the current state of play.

    Even in the best of times, there usually sharp disagreement about both viability in the general and what constitutes appropriate preparation for occupying the Oval Office.

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  41. Jen says:

    @Michael Cain: Then I’m totally on board. Pres. Swift.

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  42. Andy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Added to that is the issue is getting on the ballot. I still haven’t had time to research this fully, but it may already be too late in some states (or the deadline is fast approaching) where ballots are set and names can’t be changed.

    Even if there was universal support for changing Biden for someone else, there may not be enough time to change ballots in some states. So just from a process and ballot access standpoint, it would be somewhere between extremely challenging to impossible to make a switch in time.

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  43. Bob@Youngstown says:

    fwiw: (2cents) Joe is suffering from sundowners*. (explains why sometimes on top of his game, other times, way off). The problem is that the mental acuity never gets better. And the real hard part is that the patient is usually in denial. It’s so sad, but it’s reality, it’s called real life.
    Jill is probably the most significant voice that Joe has to hear from, all others are more mired in the politics.

    If Joe can come to the reality of the situation rather soon, and voluntarily withdraw, the party, HIS party, and HIS country can begin to build a viable campaign for November.
    I love Joe, and will vote for him in November. But I would also be very willing to campaign for Whitmer, Klobuchar, Brown, and my personal favorite, Pete Buttigieg. (and don’t forget C. Booker)

    * I am not a doctor, I have no qualifications to make this statement. I only have my personal lived experience.

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  44. Modulo Myself says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I meant that what’s going to weigh the campaign down is that there’s no one to blame but Biden. Trump is able to make it seem as if he’s the victim, and it works for him. But for Biden: probably not. Imagine if something happens in October, and he’s just out there waving and barely speaking except at high noon for 5 minutes, and then we’re being asked to vote for Biden/Harris…It’s possible he will still win. Maybe even still likely, I don’t know. Trump is terrible and unpopular, but it won’t change the facts on the ground. I will go into that voting booth furious that the Democrats fucked the election to this degree, as if nobody could have seen this situation coming.

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  45. Jen says:

    A reminder that Trump is not that much younger than Biden, and is in worse physical shape. Campaigning is hard work, mentally and physically. We literally could be having this exact same discussion in days/weeks/months about the other candidate.

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  46. Bill Jempty says:

    @Jen:

    I don’t know how many times and in how many different ways it needs to be said: Democratic leadership has no power to make changes. This isn’t 1962. Party structures do not pick candidates.

    People with sway in the democratic party. Some people on Capital Hill who have Biden’s ear and trust. Money donors who could make it clear they don’t want to throw their money away on a hopeless cause. Some people have to come forward but probably in private.

    Stop making excuses. Biden’s going to lose if he is still running in November. Then this country faces catastrophe beginning at noon time January 20 2025. Doing nothing is not a remedy. It just guarantees tragedy.

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  47. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bill Jempty:..People with sway in the democratic party. Some people on Capital Hill who have Biden’s ear and trust. Money donors who could make it clear they don’t want to throw their money away on a hopeless cause. Some people have to come forward but probably in private.

    Please name these people.

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  48. Bill Jempty says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Please name these people.

    I don’t follow who gives money to the democratic or republican party.

    Making believe there isn’t a solution is a recipe for disaster. There isn’t a Biden supporter on this forum who don’t believe catastrophe will happen if Trump wins.

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  49. DK says:

    @Mister Bluster: You won’t get any. The people who think they know exactly what has to happen rarely have any workable specifics, just vague gesturing in no particular direction. The devil is in the details, and the details often make the well-laid plans of sideline smarties fall apart.

    “Someone somewhere has to do something (but don’t ask me who, what, or how)” is not a better solution than the status quo. It’s not a solution at all.

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  50. Bill Jempty says:

    @DK:

    You won’t get any. The people who think they know exactly what has to happen rarely have any workable details or specifics.

    Again with the personal attacks. That’s the response of the desperate or people in denial. Tell me what’s your solution if Biden has a total mental collapse in public between now and November?

    I’m not a problem solver but I am somebody who can see a problem. Especially when its a two ton elephant standing less than ten feet away from me.

    Aren’t you acting like Trump? He lashes out at those who oppose or differ with him. I don’t know a member of this forum who don’t see that as a sign of mental issues. At best it is the sign of a very weak insecure person.

    I still remember a regular here voiced hate for Republicans he could neither name or say anything about. That kind of blind hatred has been practiced by Nazis for Jews, Southerners for Blacks etc. etc.

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  51. DK says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Tell me what’s your solution if Biden has a total mental collapse in public between now and November?

    Tell me yours. Where do you get off demandimg a blueprint from me, when you’ve offered nothing but self-satisfied bluster and empty bloviating? Saying sideline quarterbacks rarely offer details is not a personal attack. It’s the truth: y’all don’t have any workable specifics on the who, what, and how of what you want. And y’all hardly ever do.

    You’re not special because you can see the problem. Many saw the problem, that takes no genius — anyone can run around hair-on-fire yelling about what’s wrong in the world. It’s just others can admit we don’t have any super special magic bullet perfect white knight solution, while you’re in denial about your impotence and about the complexity of the situation, its known unknowns, and its unknown unknowns.

    “Have Democratic leaders and donors replace the Joe.” Wow, what a crackerjack plan. So simple and easy. Why didn’t anyone else think of that? I’ll dial up the White House up and let them know.

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  52. Bill Jempty says:

    @DK:

    Tell me yours.

    There isn’t any. As I have said more than once here, it will be too late.

    It’s just others can admit they don’t have any super special magic bullet perfect white knight solution, while you’re in denial about your impotence.

    Impotence? When anyone sinks to the level of sexual inneundo because someone disagrees with them, the person is hateful and needs psychiatric attention.

    I know my limitations. Read the last thing I wrote in these old blog posts of mine.

    https://www.wizbangblog.com/2007/12/31/crystal-ball-time/

    You don’t know your limitation because whatever you say must be right and God help those who say differently from you.

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  53. DK says:

    @Bill Jempty: And I hope your self-aggrandizing back patting and lame, desperate ad hominem helps you feel better about the fact that you still don’t have any workable details or specifics on a realistic, viable plan better than the status quo — just like all Democrats with far more power and sway than anyone here.

    The only reason these Democratic leaders aren’t executing this completely-achievable, wholly-doable grand emergency plan is because they lack your super special unique ability to see the problem. That must be it.

    Oxford Languages Dictionary:

    IMPOTENCE
    im·po·tence
    noun
    1.
    inability to take effective action; helplessness.
    “people speak constantly of their social and political impotence”

    Color me shocked that he who cannot read context clues cannot think critically about complex problems while panicking. Helps to calm down and slow down before breaking the glass.

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  54. Bill Jempty says:

    @DK:

    while you’re in denial about your impotence.

    All I say is what I wrote.

    while you’re in denial about your impotence.
    while you’re in denial about your impotence.
    while you’re in denial about your impotence.
    while you’re in denial about your impotence
    .

    Maybe I should make this a reminder every time you make comment here so people can judge what you are. An apology would have been nice. Instead you keep digging deeper.

    The only reason they aren’t executing this completely-achievable, wholly-doable grand emergency plan is because they lack your super special unique ability to see the problem. That must be it.

    As I said repeatedly before, they are in denial there isn’t a possible solution. As are you. The problem is obvious but no one wants to attempt anything even Biden stepping aside for Harris. There’s a solution for you. Biden is going to lose for sure, Harris is unknown. Remember nobody is saying Harris has or is losing her marbles and voters strongly believe that about Biden.

    Now please explain to everyone here you said I’m impotent. What special information do you have for this statement and why you’re not showing blind hatred just like Nazis for Jews or Southerners for Blacks. The countdown starts…………………

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  55. Jen says:

    @Bill Jempty: What you are suggesting isn’t feasible. This isn’t about personal attacks, you’re getting defensive because we’re pointing out a fatal flaw in this idea, and that is that there is a candidate out there who could, in four months, not just simply unify Democratic voters behind his/her candidacy, but ALSO convince independents and moderate Republicans in sufficient numbers to win.

    1) Biden would have to step down on his own. Just reiterating that there is no mechanism to force him out.
    2) For every big money donor telling him to step aside, there’s likely to be at least one if not more telling him to stick it out. (Incidentally, Biden raised $27 million after the debate.)
    3) Even if Biden does decide to step down, that leaves the 435 members of the DNC committee to select a replacement. Is there ANYTHING in past Democratic selection behavior that leads you to think this would happen a) quickly, b) without hurt feelings, and c) select a candidate who can build a NATIONAL campaign in LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS?
    4) That last point is key. It sort of feels like you’re assuming everyone would be on board with whomever the replacement is. That’s…unlikely. The reason we have Biden in the first place is that he was the only one who drew enough consistent support from a very large field in 2020. (I supported Buttigieg, but I absolutely witnessed some wailing and gnashing of teeth during the primaries.)

    Drilling down further, any replacement will have his or her own issues. Gov. Beshear would possibly bring Kentucky into play, but that is not a sure thing. Plus, you’d have a problem with a candidate leapfrogging over VP Harris. VP Harris? As much as I love her, I am not convinced that the US will vote for a woman for the top spot–and certainly not in these circumstances where it’s between a known quantity (Trump) and an unknown one (VP Harris). Gov. Newsom? Okay, now you’re not just leapfrogging VP Harris, you have to bump her off the ticket entirely. Why? Well, people tend to misread the “President and VP can’t be from the same state” part of the Constitution, but it CAN have a real impact in a close race. Do we really want to risk negating California’s electoral college votes? (No, no we do not.)

    The TL;DR here is that it’s just not constructive to suggest a ticket change. If we could magically find someone who satisfies the base, and the money guys/gals, and the moderates, and the swing voters, and get the blessing of most of the 435 DNC members, all while not upsetting a key voting bloc (Black women), wouldn’t we be able to say, “oh, yeah, Candidate X is the obvious choice”?

    The fact that this group–a bunch of people who closely watch politics–can’t zero in on a name that would satisfy those criteria should be a red flag.

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  56. DK says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    …they are in denial there isn’t a possible solution…The problem is obvious but no one wants to attempt anything even Biden stepping aside for Harris.

    Wow, did not know of you’re close personal relationship with Pelosi, Schumer, Jeffries, the Clintons, and the Obamas to know what they’re saying, thinking, and doing privately lol

    The assumption you know what’s going on behind the scenes among these folks right now is the height of arrogance. Sorry, but despite the strange egomania you are showing today, you are not a mind reader. Just because they’re not out in public breaking everything like bulls in a china shop does mean they’re not gaming out scenarios.

    It’s just unlike you they get that while leaping out of bed to set yourself on fire is indeed a solution to waking up with a head cold, it’s may not be the best solution.

    Maybe I should make this a reminder every time you make comment here

    Knock yourself out bro. Not gonna work out the way that you think, though. People might make some judgments about you, too, throwing a childish tantrum over your ignorance of the definition of “impotent.”

    You are in denial about not knowing what Democratic leaders are discussing privately vis a vis rescuing the election – – and that you don’t have any workable, viable, feasible solution.

    Yes, on this very delicate and complex problem, you are impotent. As is nearly everyone besides Biden and his small circle of close advisors.

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  57. DK says:

    @Jen:

    A reminder that Trump is not that much younger than Biden, and is in worse physical shape.

    Doesn’t matter anymore. In a split screen up close that 51 million people watched this week, Biden spent the first 40 min looking and sounding seriously ill, while an old but animated and very much alive Trump spewed lies and bile for 90 min. Trump didn’t do himself any favors, but he didn’t have to: Biden did Trump the best favor possible by reinforcing voters’ #1 concern.

    Maybe the bell can be unrung? — again, pending what happens in upcoming polls. But Biden and his team really let us down, making a hard climb much harder. And based on his vigorous and energetic performance less than a day in N. Carolina, seems this may have been avoidable. Very unfortunate.

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  58. Jen says:

    @DK: Well, the next sentence I wrote is essential to the point I was making: Trump could fall, or have a heart attack or stroke, and the shoe is then on the other foot.

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  59. DK says:

    @Jen: From your keyboard to God’s ears!

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  60. wr says:

    @Bill Jempty: “Doing nothing is not a remedy”

    You keep saying that… and you never seem to understand that doing nothing is literally all we can do, unless someone’s got a hankering to be the next Sirhan Sirhan. (Note to Secret Service — that is meant as a negative idea, not a positive suggestion.)

    You keep nagging and hectoring and blaming everyone around you, apparently in the belief that if we all just believed as strongly as you — or heck, maybe if we just clapped louder — some great change would come into the world.

    But that’s just fantasy. You might as well be lecturing us on the heat death of the universe and insisting we’ve got to do something about it.

    If Joe Biden wants to stay in the race, Joe Biden will stay in the race. There may be some insane set of circumstances that could change that — but not in any way that would be even marginally affected by any of the people who post here.

    I enjoy your headlines and your anecdotes about your writing career, but I’m getting kind of tired of being lectured to about not sharing your beliefs strongly enough, especially since what I believe is going to have exactly as much impact on this as what you believe. Zero.

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  61. wr says:

    @Bill Jempty: “Now please explain to everyone here you said I’m impotent”

    Oh, for F’s sake. You are always talking about how you’re a writer. Well, every writer I know — and I know a lot of them — understands that the meaning of words is often changed or defined by their context. In this case, it’s obvious that DK was referring to political impotence, not sexual impotence. Somehow you are either entirely unaware that this word does not simply refer to sexual prowess or you are pretending to be so that you can kick up your heels and throw a tantrum in an attempt to divert attention from your ridiculous argument.

    Honestly, I don’t know which would be sadder.

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  62. just nutha says:

    @wr: Sure, but if he admits that it wasn’t a sexual innuendo, he won’t be able to keep being outraged at our collective stupidity and…
    (dare I say it)…
    impotence.
    (I guess I do. 😀 😛 .)

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  63. Eusebio says:

    Hopefully the Biden team has gotten the message and is looking to reassure that Biden can still look and sound like a capable public speaker. He sounded much better speaking to a small group Thursday night after the debate–this was actually kind of an infuriating, I mean why tf didn’t he sound like that a couple hours earlier–although he should have skipped the cringe-inducing dog faced pony soldier origin story involving John Wayne, American Indians, and a reservation. And as already noted, he looked and sounded much better at the NC rally the following day; however, that was a teleprompter event. Please show us that he can still do public events other than the low-pressure small group affairs or the teleprompter dependent ones.

    I will be on the lookout to see if they give more visibility to Kamala Harris…could maybe be a sign? She was in the tough spot of having to give post-debate interviews late into the night Thursday. She was very impressive on the network I was watching, and I later read that she was impressive on another network. She even looked different…I thought she looked quite serious and/or stern in the fraction of a minute she was on camera while being introduced, and she kept her game face throughout the interview. More importantly, she sounded sensible and authoritative with no breaks in word or thought, a la the “speaking in paragraphs” sometimes attributed to people like Pete Buttigieg.

    And I am presuming that, if Biden decides that he should step aside because he can’t do what’s needed for the next 4 months, then Harris will be presidential nominee. There are plenty of good future candidates, but Harris would almost have to be the alternate in 2024. It’s not that I’m a big Harris fan…I always thought she was just fine, but–and perhaps this is what the VP role has done to her–she’s seemed a bit smart alecky yet whiny. But what I saw Thursday night after midnight was none of that. She was compelling, like you might expect of a former prosecutor, DA, and state AG. Given a few months, she may be just the one to prosecute the electoral case against a corrupt politician and sex offender.

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  64. PT says:

    I feel like we’re missing the forest for the trees. Politics be damned, Biden showed us what we already knew, that he’s an 81 year old man fer chrissake. We need to wake up. He needs to wake up.

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  65. Tony W says:

    Here’s my theory – Biden did it on purpose.

    He’ll prove he is fine in future debates and appearances, but he just made the case that the House and Senate MUST go into Democratic hands just in case Trump wins the White House!

    So now Biden appears strong and vibrant and virile and manly and everything ‘Muricans love in their president, but they remember that he might not win – so they go and vote, and they support Ds for Congress.

    That’s what I got. That’s it.

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  66. PT says:

    We say he isn’t dropping out when actually we should be demanding that he does. It’s actually a pretty significant job he’s running for.

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  67. Thomm says:

    @wr: personally I think his tantrum over the word is simple projection with a suopcon of TMI.

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  68. Richard Pohl says:

    Biden’s base has held, solidified and been energized. Fact checking of Trump’s lies is beginning to hurt him. Pundits are oblivious to the strength of the online movement backing Joe. In 2016, a much smaller, weaker online movement fueled maga, Joe’s is much stronger. In addition, Trump made major gaffe’s-
    such as ‘Black and Hispanic jobs’ that have gone viral in those communities. In short, hold the handwringing for now.

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  69. Jen says:

    @PT:

    when actually we should be demanding that he does

    Dropping out is a huge risk. I remain unconvinced that voters will elect a woman. I think Democrats need to come to terms with this fact–FAST–and do everything in their collective power to reelect Biden. He can step down either before or after the 2026 midterms (I’d suggest before to give Harris the longest runway to succeed). In fact, my hunch is that this is the plan.

    There was a phenomenon observed when Hillary Clinton ran for Senate, repeated after she took over the SoS job: people “weren’t sure she was up to it” and “were supportive of a woman holding the job, just not her” before she got in each position. Then, her approval numbers in both jobs were very high. Once she was in there, doing the work, people approved.

    This is not an uncommon thing for female leaders. I don’t like it and don’t understand it, but it exists. And risking this election by “demanding” that Biden step down isn’t wise.

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  70. Fog says:

    Folks, please don’t feed the troll. Mr Jempty comes into comments and proclaims that not only is the sky falling, but it’s on fire, and soon blood will flow. OK, but when this old man was younger the response “You gotta better idea?” was considered valid, since it allowed the listener to judge the seriousness and depth of the speaker’s opinion. The fact that Jempty was asked for his better idea and could only respond with insults and diversions proves to me that here, on this topic, he is just another troll. He’s here only to stir things up and give bad advice. He offers nothing more.

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  71. wr says:

    @Fog: I really don’t agree with Mr. Jempty’s current crusade and can’t understand what he thinks he’s accomplishing. But I can’t see him as a troll. He contributes far too much to other forums, and he is in other areas generous with stories about himself and his life, eager to participate in conversations.

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  72. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Fog: @wr:

    I agree with @wr. Jempty’s a good guy, better yet, an interesting guy. Events are frightening and unsettling, emotions are running high. We are all – well almost all – on the same side as to the threat Trump poses, and many other issues as well. I would regret it if Bill left the forum.

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  73. @wr: @Michael Reynolds: I agree 100% that Bill is not a troll.

    I will note that long-time readers might note that he has a very hard time conceding even an inch when he gets in this mode and frequently see personal slights that aren’t intended.

    I will note, as I think I did above, I can see why he has the position he does, but I think he should be willing to at least acknowledge that others may have legitimate positions as well.

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  74. @PT:

    We say he isn’t dropping out when actually we should be demanding that he does. It’s actually a pretty significant job he’s running for.

    It is all cost/benefit at the moment, at least to me.

    I concur that a better candidate would be better. But I am unconvinced that getting a better candidate is possible. And, really, the only viable option is Harris.

    There is significant downside risk to making a change now.

    Moreover, and to reiterate, it becomes a massive collective action problem for there to be coordinated demands for him to step down.

    And let’s all remember: all of this is not about fears about Biden. It is about fears of Trump.

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  75. PT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Of course that’s right, but my anxiety is indeed bursting. Age issues don’t tend to improve over time. I’d be ok with Harris, but like Jen said above that plan comes with it’s own set of concerns.

    Cheers

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  76. @PT: The anxiety is real.

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  77. Andy says:

    Ezra Klein (Gift link)makes some great points about weak parties and the failure of the Democratic Party to deal with Biden’s deficiencies and unpopularity and do the job a party is supposed to do.

    As I’ve said, I don’t think Biden can win and if one believes that Biden can’t win, then the only rational option is switching to another candidate even though that is high risk when taken in isolation. But at this point, it is probably too late for that even if there was a unified view that could overcome the collective action problem – which there isn’t.

    So what is the theory of victory for Biden at this point? This early debate – which is what his campaign wanted – was supposed to show America a competent Biden contrasted with an unhinged Trump. What’s the plan B? Hope is not a strategy.

    As Klein says, he could counter his debate performance by having unscripted interviews from outlets that won’t throw him softballs. He could prove the debate performance was really just a cold or a one-off bad night. But he hasn’t done that that so far and there is no talk of that among insiders or the campaign and that is very telling.

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  78. Skookum says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Agree 1oo%, including Pete for Prez (although I was pleasantly surprised by Harris’s post debate interview–calm, frank, loyal yet did totally deny Biden’s poor performance). Having experienced that chaos created by family members who still have financial and legal power but less judgment and mental acuity from cognitive impairment, I believe that Biden staying on the ticket will have a painful and horrific ending…a nightmare that will unfold in slow mo. Jill Biden will be the de facto candidate by proxy.

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  79. The Q says:

    “OK. Name five members of the Democratic Party qualified to be President USA and who can get 270 Electoral Votes on November 5, 2008 not named Hillary”

    Thank God the Dem Party didn’t listen to bullschite like this in 2008.

    Amazing, Joe is Feinstein writ large. According to aides, he has 6 hours of lucidity a day, usually 10AM – 4PM. That’s when they schedule the bulk of his appearances. At 9 PM, he was a dottering old fool.

    To paraphrase Woody Allen, “we have a choice between a known old man who is losing key swing states and the unknown promise of a new young Obamaesque Democrat who may lose as well. Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the correct choice.

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