President Biden announced in a boring video that he would be running again. He did not follow it up with traditional stops in left-leaning enclaves like California and New York to drum up excitement. Perhaps he figures he has a second term sewn up, like the Democratic nomination, and can return to his basement to campaign.
Expecting a rematch with former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination has obviously given Biden a lot of comfort. The Biden team's strategy of employing official levers of power - from weaponizing Justice to collaborating with friendly prosecutors - has weakened Trump on paper and increased Biden's confidence.
In a few short weeks, Trump was indicted in a dubious case by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. for falsifying New York business records to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election. Bragg has attempted to combine elements of state civil law with federal criminal law governing elections. Even the Department of Justice did not find that trying Trump on campaign violations could be successful, partly because it settled with other political leaders, like Hillary Clinton, for similar conduct.
Last week, Trump was found liable for battery and defamation against E. Jean Carroll's allegation of sexual abuse in a Manhattan department store. The case raised eyebrows because the judge seemed predisposed to engineer a verdict against Trump.
Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus Harvard Law School professor, identified several constitutional issues with the judge's courtroom decisions that Trump's lawyers could argue in appeals court and have the judge's decision overturned. The alleged incident happened in the mid-1990s, but the judge allowed an extension of the statute of limitations after it had expired (a potential violation of the Fifth Amendment). The judge ruled that the jurors' names would remain anonymous even to the lawyers (a breach of the Seventh Amendment). The jury unanimously found that Trump had not raped Carroll but found that he maliciously defamed her by insisting that he did not rape her.
Meanwhile, the DOJ continues to leak to press-friendly outlets that Trump is in legal peril in the classified documents case even as it shields President Biden from his own headaches with classified documents, the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, or allegations of family bribery as reported out by the House Oversight Committee.
With so much going for Biden regarding his opponent's weaknesses, isn't he a shoo-in for a second term? After all, Biden practically never campaigned in 2020, running for President from his Delaware basement and defeating Trump by cleverly using the Covid noose around him. And to cement his lead since winning the Oval Office, the current President has exploited relationships with friendly Democrats to help ruin Trump's political future. Trump was impeached a second time; the partisan J6 committee used taxpayer dollars for over 16 months to launch an intensively negative campaign against the former president; and Biden's prosecutor friends in Georgia are investigating criminal violations to probe whether Trump allegedly tried to overturn the Georgia election.
Not really. Things were different in 2020 and were all in Biden's favor. Democrat operatives used Covid as an excuse to loosen election laws around voter ID, universal mail-in ballots, and drop boxes in several states. But these have since been tightened.
Besides, the country, tired of deep divisions and White House drama under Trump, fell for Biden's promise when he claimed to heal the divide and bring back unity. Most crucially, the electorate had no yardstick against which to measure Biden. President Obama had overshadowed him during Biden's eight years as VP and assumed he could be a safe choice.
But Biden's 2020 playbook will not work in 2024 because he has to defend his record. As we noted yesterday through 13 TIPP charts, Biden's ratings are on life support because of a dismal first term. Reeling from a disastrous Washington Post/ABC News poll that showed him losing to both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Biden has the lowest favorability rating at this juncture of the presidency in recent memory.
Inflation continues to rise, although not quite as rapidly as before. Interest rates are at 40-year highs. The money supply has shrunk, and the economy could tip into a recession. Three banks have failed and been rescued by federal backstops. Airline pilots and staff (Southwest, United, and American) have announced new strikes or other work actions to demand increased pay to compensate for higher living costs, joining Hollywood writers and port workers.
Biden's stubborn position on not negotiating with the GOP regarding the debt ceiling puts America at risk of default as soon as June 1. The Ukraine war is not going as well as it should be, with President Zelenskyy conceding to the BBC his country is not yet ready to launch a counter-offensive against Russia, which appears to be having its own problems. The expiry of Title 42 has opened the floodgates as hundreds of thousands of migrants are inundating the southern border. China has become a significant threat both as a military adversary in the Taiwan Strait and as a counterbalancing weight to American hegemony.
Democrat allies are not enthusiastic about a second Biden term and often use his advancing age as an excuse. TIPP took the lead and polled Americans about his mental faculties as early as October 2022, when major media outlets considered the topic taboo. 64% of Americans were then concerned about his cognitive capabilities, including over one-half (52%) of Democrats. During the CNN town hall last week, Trump looked exceedingly sharp in front of a hostile host and a friendly audience. Biden, who rarely meets the press and needs his cue cards and handlers all the time, is no competition to Trump's wit and guile.
Eighteen months in politics is an eternity, and things can dramatically change again to favor Biden. But as things stand, Biden is headed towards a decisive defeat and will likely take his Democratic party down with him.
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