Biden Takes The Stage

[ Posted Monday, February 6th, 2023 – 16:55 UTC ]

Tomorrow night, President Joe Biden will mark the halfway point of his first term in office by delivering a State Of The Union speech. He will remind Americans of all the things he has accomplished so far, and he will likely have a pared-down list of things he thinks he might still accomplish even with a divided Congress. All of which is traditional and expected. But what we can all also expect is a "soft launch" of Biden's re-election campaign.

Of course, the official launch of Biden's next campaign could come at any time now or it could even be months in the future. There's no real pressure on Biden to announce, since he seems to already have frozen all other Democrats out of the running. And there's no real mystery left at all about whether Joe's going to run again or not -- all the signs point to him doing so. He's been riding rather high politically ever since the midterms, and the economic numbers just keep getting better and better. Prior to the midterms, there was a lot of grumbling behind the scenes among Democrats about how it'd be better for the party if Biden did gracefully step aside to allow another candidate a shot at 2024, but those voices have all been quelled by the complete disappearance of the much-predicted midterm "red wave." Biden's job approval ratings have even been rising since then, although they still stand just below 45 percent -- which is supposed to be very dangerous territory for any politician seeking re-election. But if gas prices stay low and inflation continues to fall then Biden could be in the 45-50 percent range within a few months, which would be much more solid territory to run from.

So far, the public isn't exactly excited about the prospect of a second Biden term, as the current polls show very low enthusiasm for Biden making a second bid. Part of this is probably the lack of excitement Biden generates in general -- but then, to a large extent, that's why he was elected in the first place. After four years of Donald Trump's relentless and continuing antics and tantrums, America was ready for a little boredom in the Oval Office -- and that's precisely what they've gotten in Biden. But the big question I have been wondering is: does America want another four years of it or not? We'll all be in a very different place in 2024 than we were in the dark COVID days of 2020, after all.

Not completely, of course. Donald Trump is the only Republican who has so far announced his own candidacy, and he could very well become the GOP nominee for the third time in a row. Trump would actually probably be the best opponent Biden could draw, because then the issue of his advanced age would mostly be moot (since Trump is almost as old as Biden). But if for whatever reason Trump is eclipsed within the Republican Party, no matter who wins the nomination is going to be noticeably younger than Biden, who will turn 82 in 2024.

The last time around, Biden won the Democratic nomination with the argument that he was best positioned to beat Donald Trump. As it turned out, this was a winning argument in both the primaries and the general election. Whether it works again is, of course, an open question. Is Biden truly the only Democrat would could beat Trump this time around? That's doubtful, seeing how weakened Trump has become. But if Biden runs, no other Democrat is going to get the chance to prove this, one way or the other. So the question becomes can Biden beat Trump again?

This time around their positions will be reversed. Biden will be running as an incumbent president, for better or worse. We've got most of the next two years to get through, and anything at all could happen in the second half of Biden's first term. Republicans could blow up the world economy by refusing to hike the debt ceiling, the war in Ukraine is going to grind on, the economy could go up or down, and plenty of unforeseen events will pop up along the way (like errant balloons, for instance). How Biden handles it all is going to be critical to his chance for victory in 2024. No matter what Biden says tomorrow night, memories fade and it is doubtful that much of anything which has taken place up until now is going to be any sort of deciding factor by the end of next year -- the public will have all sorts of other things that are fresher in the collective memory by then.

Biden swears that he learned his lesson from watching Barack Obama make history with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and then fail to do the necessary political sales job after it passed. Obamacare didn't become widely supported until the Republicans in Congress threatened to take it away, under Donald Trump. Belatedly, the public saw what they'd be missing if Obamacare disappeared and finally got behind it. Biden keeps saying he's determined not to have that happen, and while it has garnered little notice in Washington, he's already been out there selling his own infrastructure accomplishments. After tomorrow's speech is over, Biden will continue to hit the road so he can point to project after project that is now breaking ground because of the legislation he signed into law.

Meanwhile, the House Republicans are going to be doing everything possible to tarnish Biden and all things Democratic. And even though they didn't get anywhere near the majority they had expected in the House, they still seem willfully blind to the fact that their agenda isn't exactly popular. They have convinced themselves that they will emerge the political winners from the budget battles (whether fought with the debt ceiling or in the normal budget cycle), without putting much thought into the fact that what they are fighting hard for -- slashing federal spending -- is going to have to, at some point, translate into: "here's what we want to cut." If they get their way, in other words, they'll "win" a whole lot of pain for large segments of the federal budget. And other than tinkering around the edges, big cuts to things like the military budget or Social Security or Medicare are not going to be very popular.

That's if they succeed, which is pretty doubtful, seeing as how they can't even agree among themselves what precisely it is that they're fighting for. They all know what they're fighting against -- Joe Biden -- but they have no cohesive plan for what they're actually fighting for.

Both Biden and the Democrats in Congress will likely benefit from the Republican House, because it seems almost guaranteed that they will be seen as overreaching in their partisanship. The House Republicans will toss lots and lots of red meat to their MAGA base, but for the rest of us it's going to be a rather tiresome performance. If Kevin McCarthy even survives as speaker for the next two years, he's going to have to let the extremists in his party roam free and unfettered. Which means a whole lot of very unhinged behavior in the committees during all the investigations they have already launched. The American public didn't exactly send Republicans to the House with a mandate to do nothing but throw bombs for the next two years, but so far they don't seem aware of this fact at all. Which will only make Biden and the Democrats' job easier in the 2024 campaign, because they can point to their own positive agenda for America and contrast it with the lunatics running the House insane asylum. This might, on its own, be enough to propel Biden back into the Oval Office and the Democrats back into a majority in the House.

At this point, though, Joe Biden seems like a lock for the Democratic nomination -- barring any unforeseen circumstances. Biden has successfully rearranged the Democratic primary calendar to his own tastes and there are currently no Democrats even seriously considering launching a challenge to him. About the only thing that could change any of this would be something major happening -- such as a medical issue arising. Biden might win another term if he is seen as healthy and ready for four more years, but the man did just turn 80 years old.

Barring anything of that sort happening, Biden does indeed seem ready to run, no matter how long he waits to make a formal announcement. So tomorrow night he won't actually say the words, but the subtext for his entire speech is quite likely to be: "I am running for a second term as your president."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


13 Comments on “Biden Takes The Stage”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    No matter what Biden says tomorrow night, memories fade and it is doubtful that much of anything which has taken place up until now is going to be any sort of deciding factor by the end of next year -- the public will have all sorts of other things that are fresher in the collective memory by then.

    I think that’s conventional wisdom with which I disagree. And the midterms support me: recall that enough voters remembered the J6 (and ongoing) threat to our Republic along with Dobbs threat to our reproductive rights…to keep the Senate and — in the face of voter restrictions and Gerrymandering — almost keep the House in Dem hands. This time Dems did a lot better with messaging than did Obama, admittedly a low bar.

    That’s why the Repugs narrowly talking House, while regrettable, has enormous upside. Let the crazies do their thing and roll into 2024 contrasting all the cray-cray with popular and successful legislation under the Dems.

    If I was Hakeem I’d regularly publicize Dem’s carefully crafted legislation that addresses real problems. Act as though they retained the House and show what Murica missed out on because they didn’t. To be clear , I do not mean Dear Elizabeth’s “I have a plan for that du jour” from the primaries, I’m thinking less frequently than that combined with a well crafted information campaign in support of their ideas.

    The idea is to keep using the nut jobs against the nut job party.

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Sorry I missed yesterday’s Motown review but, I enjoyed all the background info to go along with some hot platters.

    Here’s my two cents, what I would have brought to the party:

    Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler). Marvin Gaye

    Slave. The Temptations

    Ball of Confusion. The Temptations, again. Don’t get me going.

    Celebrate. Rare Earth (indeed, a rare white band in the Motown stable)

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    See, one can successfully post multiple links provided one knows the relevant animal sacrifice protocols.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Why not do it over again ... where it belongs. :)

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Put those four lovely links over in the previous comment thread before comments there are closed.

    Can you read me!?

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Okay, I’ll go through it again.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, let that be a lesson not to miss any more of our little shindigs, okay?

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yes, Board Mother!

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Here’s the Permalink.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There's no real pressure on Biden to announce, since he seems to already have frozen all other Democrats out of the running.

    He's cleared the field! He's cleared the field!

    This is no small moment of celebration for this Biden fan. I guess being POTUS has its advantages, eh? :-)

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    And that’s how it should be. In the face of a hostile Republican Party and Manchinema Joe went and got her done to the tune of being a transformative President. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    Biden turned out to be a better President than did Obama…something I surely wouldn’t have predicted back in 2008. Effing Obama the Great Disappointment, I always say.

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