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925 Silver Collection

Biden’s Tough Decision

by Bill Lasarow

Senators Scott and Goldwater and Representative Rhodes hold an informal press conference following their
August 7, 1974 meeting with President Nixon to discuss Watergate matters.Oliver Atkins / The White House file.

I had another article ready to go in this month’s TDC eJournal that I’m going to shelve after what happened this past Thursday (it’s not time-sensitive, so hopefully next month). My Substack commentary, posted on Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s presidential debate, asserted that it would not be a meaningful policy discussion but a display of age versus honesty, integrity versus unscrupulousness — a test for voters to choose civic virtue over corruption, lies and dictatorship. What we all saw projects that the latter will triumph in November, so place me in the column of observers who believe, with certainty, that would mark the end of the American experiment launched by our Founders.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in San José, February, 2024. Photo courtesy of Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.

In 1974 Senator Barry Goldwater led a contingent of Republican Senate and House leaders into the Oval Office where they informed then-President Richard Nixon that if he did not resign he would be impeached and indicted. Joe Biden is no Richard Nixon. This is not about criminal wrongdoing — at least, not on Biden’s part.

Following Thursday’s debacle Biden will not be able to overcome the age issue, no matter how well he might rebound in the coming weeks. He will decline or die over the next four years; we all knew that, but the point has now been driven home. The days in which memory and physical frailty take center stage will only increase. He will not find a fresh vigor sufficient enough or long enough to turn this performance into a glitch akin to President Obama’s first debate performance in 2012.

Joe Biden and Tucker Carlson with that bewildered expression. Courtesy of CNN.

Joe Biden and Tucker Carlson with that bewildered expression. Courtesy of CNN.

And so the time has arrived for this president to make his own tough decision to withdraw his candidacy and declare that his Vice-President will take his place. Kamala Harris can then select her running mate from a strong list of potential partners and focus voters on a competition that will support rather than undermine her candidacy.

A year ago I concluded, as did a number of others, that Biden would best serve the national interest and his own legacy by announcing he would step aside and declaring an open primary season. That opportunity has passed. An open convention in the context of this election would court political disaster because there is not enough time to conduct a vigorous competition for the nomination and then bring the Democratic Party together sufficiently to execute a meaningful campaign strategy.

Nancy Pelosi calling for help after insurrection broke out on January 6, 2021. Video still courtesy of Alexandra Pelosi.

After his strong showing at the State of the Union there was a valid case made that here is our binary choice, Biden or Trump34, and just get over the rest of it. Had that moment resembled this one, would that case have been remotely convincing? I think not. Would it have been asserted that the only Democrat who could certifiably win in November is Biden? My view has been just the opposite. There are at least, at a minimum, six to eight Democrats better suited to win (okay, they are: Harris, Shapiro, Whitmer, Newsom, Booker, Moore, Cooper and my own choice, Buttigieg), with Biden being the one most vulnerable to defeat.

Most Americans fail to understand just how horrible a second Trump34 term will be for them personally, for America, and, yes, for the world. Consider just one example, Trump34’s repeated statement that if he were President, Putin would never have invaded Ukraine. Of course not, Biden could have retorted, Trump34 is both an ally and acolyte of Putin. But did Biden point this out? Did he ask us to consider what it would mean if America took up an alliance with Russia and against NATO? Did he ask us to speculate on what the last 80 years would have looked like had President Roosevelt thrown in with Hitler and Hirohito after France and China fell?

The shuffling gait conveys a political challenge at the most superficial visual level. But Biden had no command of the very facts that he was supposedly reviewing in his preparation. Forget the minor gaffes such as citing the 15 million job growth during his term as 15 thousand. He could not quote how, after the post-pandemic inflation reached 9%, he oversaw trimming it down to the current 2.8%, a number that is still shrinking. He could not summon John Kelly’s name when quoting him. He failed to even respond to the lie that Nancy Pelosi had declined Trump34’s offer of 10,000 national guardsmen, or to the even worse lie that she has accepted full responsibility for the events of January 6th. When asked to address abortion, the single key issue impacting the rights of millions of young women, he started by defending his border policy against the false accusation that one immigrant who had murdered a young girl somehow means that millions of immigrants are doing the same. Even when pointing out that Trump34 himself had killed his bipartisan immigration reform bill, he could not summon the name of the Republican Senator who worked closely with him to craft it, James Lankford. In a ridiculous exchange about golf, Biden even changed his supposed handicap from 6 to 8 when Trump34 challenged the first number.

Graphic presented by The Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is an American conservative and libertarian 501 nonprofit public policy think tank known for its rejection of both the scientific consensus on climate change and the negative health impacts of smoking.

The list of such failures was long. Normally friendly commentators justifiably compared it to failing to hit a baseball sitting on a tee. My educated guess … calling up and selecting from the swirl of facts and turning them into talking points in real time was asking too much. At 81 it is not abnormal for those things to turn a bit mushy. Even when monologuing for two minutes he visibly lost his train of thought. In any other context, hey, so what? He’s 81. In this context, OMG!

It would be heartening to see Biden make his own tough decision. But if he cannot, Chuck Schumer and a contingent of Democratic Party leaders must meet with him in the Oval Office. This coming week, not in mid-July or early August. How about July 4th? The irony of that moment, given the history of that moment, August 7, 1974, is only too obvious. Nixon was corrupt and had broken the law. The Supreme Court had unanimously ordered release of the Watergate tapes. Biden has governed both honestly and well, even cannily given several of the bipartisan bills he ushered into law. Despite their best efforts to paint an image of a Biden Crime Family, NPP extremists have found no evidence of wrongdoing or corruption despite their best efforts to find something, anything, and to hell with the rest of the nation’s business.

Nixon announced his resignation the next day, August 8th. If he cannot bring himself to pass the torch on his own, Schumer, Pelosi and other Democrats must insist on their own meeting, in our own historical moment, in that same Oval Office. Biden would have to pass the torch. My guess is that would happen the very next day.

And here’s the silver lining: Better late than never. It is not too late. Very soon it will be.

Bill Lasarow, Publisher and Editor, is a longtime practicing artist, independent publisher, and community activist. He founded or co-founded ArtScene Digest to Visual Art in Southern California (1982); the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (1987); and Visual Art Source (2009). Most recently he is also the founder and President of The Democracy Chain.
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