The big “Beltway buzz” story right now is the possibility that other Democrats—regular, non-“leftist” ones with long-term ambitions—will challenge Joe Biden for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
In recent days, the New York Times released poll results showing that a majority of Democrats would rather someone else be the party’s 2024 nominee, New York magazine asserted that Biden (and Kamala Harris) might be the only Democrats unpopular enough to lose an election to Donald Trump, and Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote simply that Biden is too old to do his job. The Washington Post observed last week, meanwhile, that California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker have responded more assertively to recent news developments than Biden has, and wrote this week about how Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has filled the vacuum created by the administration’s slow response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
According to yet another piece in the Times, this has all not escaped the notice of Biden’s advisers. Unfortunately, there is a problem: human mortality.
They acknowledged Mr. Biden looks older than just a few years ago, a political liability that cannot be solved by traditional White House stratagems like staff shake-ups or new communications plans. His energy level, while impressive for a man of his age, is not what it was, and some aides quietly watch out for him. He often shuffles when he walks, and aides worry he will trip on a wire.
Well, yeah. The aging process’s 100 percent long-term success rate in its matchup against human life is probably not something that can be addressed “by traditional White House stratagems like staff shake-ups or new communications plans”—nor by any other kind of stratagem, though Lord knows people have tried them all! Gas prices and the stock market go up and down, but time only goes in one direction. This issue will probably not be one that recedes in relevance as a potential reelection campaign approaches.
If they really want to win, Newsom, Pritzker, Whitmer, and other 2024 challengers would be advised to work the theme of “Not being too far along the gently sloping downhill march that we all make into the grave” into their campaign rhetoric and materials.