I’ll say it again: President Biden is NOT running for re-election.
Of necessity, there will be a lot of smoke and mirrors by the Democrats to obfuscate Mr. Biden will be a one-term president, albeit not by being defeated but by not running again. (Think of it as Mr. Biden avoiding the door hitting him on his way out.) Crucially, the sooner the GOP recognizes this, the greater the party’s chances to regain the White House in 2024.
It was apparent even in 2020 that Mr. Biden, if elected, would be a one-term president. His cognitive decline was starkly evident at the time. Concerned their leading crop of candidates would prove too progressive to defeat then-President Donald Trump, the Democratic establishment, now led by former President Barack Obama’s circle, sought a nominee who could be packaged as a moderate to attract blue-collar voters and independents. Mr. Biden fit the bill.
Further, this nominee would need to be someone other prospective Democratic White House contenders could live with for four years as they crafted and built their own strategies for 2024. Any longer, however, and these prospective candidates would prove prickly and problematical to the establishment, as blinding ambition can rarely be delayed for long. Given his age and obvious mental infirmities, Mr. Biden fit the bill.
Finally, and of paramount importance, the selected nominee had to be putty in the hands of the Obama circle. Having groveled and grifted and proven, if not his loyalty, at least his venal obedience, throughout the eight years as President Obama’s vice president, Mr. Biden fit the bill.
In the end, the Democratic establishment’s strategy succeeded – by the narrowest of margins, in both the presidency, the Senate, and the House. One would think this would lead to a more cautious agenda, which would allow the Democrats to build for the future. This school of thought assumes the Democratic establishment chose Mr. Biden to be a two-term president. But the Left plays the long game.
Unfortunately, their opponents make the mistake of thinking the Left measures their long game in years. The Left measures it in decades.
Consequently, it becomes apparent what occurred over the past two years of the Biden administration and their slender Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. Following the 2020 election, understanding the history of mid-term elections, the Democratic establishment understood their slim House majority, and likely their Senate majority, would disappear in 2022. Given President Biden was deliberately chosen to be a one-termer, the course of action was ineluctable: put the pedal to the metal until you hit the mid-term wall. If sacrifices had to be made, the Democratic establishment was going to make sure they got everything possible from these electoral martyrs to big government.
Wittingly or unwittingly, the Democrat’s Kamikaze Congress proved more than up to the task. Working with the time-limited Biden administration, through his executive orders and their appropriations and legislation, the Democratic Congress funded and implemented Leftist policies and organizations for generations. Then, the Democrats awaited the voters’ wrath.
It never came. Republican ineptitude and unforced errors allowed the Democrats to retain the Senate, even as the GOP barely eked out a scant majority in the House. As a result, the Democratic establishment faced in intriguing opportunity: how to maximize the one-term President Biden’s utility in implementing unpopular Leftist policies while still managing to regain the House, strengthen their Senate majority, and elected a new Democratic president in 2024?
As we are well aware, the Democratic establishment is nothing if not intriguing.
First, they must perpetuate the illusion President Biden may run again. This will prevent him becoming an immediate lame duck and retain whatever leverage he may have with Congressional Democrats. Even articles claiming Mr. Biden is waiting too long to make a decision will be put forward by the party and his rivals. Both serve the purpose of perpetuating the deliberate misperception Mr. Biden has a decision to make or, really, that he is even capable of making it.
Secondly, the Democratic establishment has reconfigured their presidential primary schedule to “promote diversity,” notably moving South Carolina to the forefront. Conventional wisdom believes Mr. Biden has orchestrated this to grease his re-election. This view is mistaken; and it further perpetuates the narrative that Mr. Biden is a cognitively astute political operator. (Interestingly, much of this comes from GOP pundits who claim Mr. Biden is senile on one day, and an evil genius on the next.) The changes in the Democratic primary process will empower the people who chose Mr. Biden in the first place: the Obama circle that presently runs the Democratic establishment.
This change in the nominating calendar is essential to achieving the third goal: the Democratic establishment being able to delay Mr. Biden’s announcement he is not running. Game it out: the longer it takes for President Biden to announce he is not running again, the more leverage he has as president. It also constrains potential progressive presidential contestants the Democratic establishment/Obama circle believes are not electable or sufficiently malleable. Moreover, the schedule change empowers the Democratic establishment/Obama circle to put forward their chosen candidate at the last moment – well after the GOP’s internecine nominating bloodletting has publicly commenced. Like Mr. Biden before them, this chosen nominee will likely have high national visibility; extant or easily obtained funding; and, with the support the Democratic establishment/Obama circle, cruise to the nomination. (Think governors or past Obama administration members.)
The delay in Mr. Biden’s announcement also serves a very practical goal. According to the American Jewish Committee:
The story of the scapegoat is derived from the book of Leviticus in the Torah, and is translated from the Hebrew word ‘ăzāzêl, meaning “absolute removal.” It is said that every year on Yom Kippur, collective grievances and sins are placed onto a physical goat that is sacrificed, as a symbol of the washing away and casting aside of wrongdoing.
While 2022’s defeated Democratic officeholders were deemed noble martyrs to “progress,” come 2024 President Biden will share a far more ignominious fate: he is to be the Democrats’ scapegoat, loaded with the party’s governing sins and put out to pasture. This will facilitate the next Democratic nominee and Congressional candidates to campaign as “moderates,” and not be tainted by the unpopular policies of the past president. After all, the heavy political lifting has already been done from 2021-2022; and it is now merely a matter of providing the maintenance of the Leftist agenda. On his part, having served his purpose to set up the Left for decades to come, there will be some mealy-mouthed partisan paeans to Mr. Biden’s tenure; however, the electorate across the political spectrum will be happy to see him leave. With his ultimate announcement, then, the Democrats will have a fresh slate to rebrand themselves free from the electoral baggage of their departing, unpopular figurehead. The ark of such a dizzying transition from hero to scapegoat would seem worthy of Aeschylus. Yet, after over fifty years of swamp monster “Joe being Joe,” it isn’t tragic, merely fitting.
As for the GOP, the response is simple: oppose the Democratic administration, not the Biden administration. A cursory examination of Mr. Biden clearly reveals he is not a governing first-term president gearing up for re-election. He is governing as a second term president who is precluded from seeking re-election; and, consequently, is unfettered from the political constraints of having to face the electorate. To focus one’s political attacks upon Mr. Biden is akin to shooting at a hologram: there is nothing to hit. President Biden is the puppet not the hand – that is the Democratic establishment/Obama circle. No matter who the Democrats nominate for president or any office, their failures are not only on Mr. Biden. They are on the entire party. Every Democratic candidate is culpable for them.
Say it with me, GOP: President Biden is NOT running for re-election.
Now, get back to the hard work of winning in 2024.
A Human Events contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003-2012, and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars; and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Radio Show," among sundry media appearances.