Well, at least he didn’t fall. Or call a black adult man “boy,” shake hands with an invisible person or lapse into gibberish.
Joe Biden’s visit to a striking United Auto Workers picket line was a success simply because it wasn’t overshadowed by one of his headline-grabbing pratfalls that call attention to his age and mental decline.
Then again, it was hardly the political slam dunk he needs.
The symbolism of being the first president to join a picket line — for all of 12 minutes — only goes so far, even if pictures of him holding a bull horn and wearing a UAW hat and sweatshirt temporarily cheer the union movement.
More revealing is the panic that led the White House to arrange the event in the first place.
Especially given the calendar — the election is still 13 months away!
But the president’s fight is here and now and so late September of 2023 is starting to feel like the stretch run of a presidential campaign.
With his popularity in the toilet, with polls showing that a majority of Democrats don’t want him to seek a second term and with House Republicans launching their impeachment inquiry Thursday, Biden has to combat the growing impression that he’s a failure and the clamor from within his own party that he drop his bid for a second term.
Down in the polls
He’s running out of time.
There is an unofficial deadline of December, which would still give other candidates enough time to get on state ballots if he withdraws. So between now and then, Biden has to prove he deserves a second shot.
A weekend poll magnified his problem and the sense of urgency. The Washington Post/ABC News survey that showed Donald Trump beating him 52-42 in a head-to-head matchup next year damages one of Biden’s main justifications for running.
He argues repeatedly that he alone can beat Trump, and points to 2020 as proof. If that rationale no longer holds water, as the poll clearly suggests, Biden is in more trouble with his party now than he was a week ago.
Although many leftist media outlets downplayed the 10-point gap as an outlier and therefore unreliable, it’s not as far afield as they want you to believe.
Of 12 national polls taken in September, all by different companies, RealClearPolitics records that Trump led in five, Biden in four and three were tied.
Biden never came out on top by more than one point, while Trump was favored by 1, 2, 4, 5 and then 10 points, respectively. When they are averaged together, Trump leads by 45.7 to 44.2.
So yes, The Washington Post/ABC News poll has the biggest margin, but it also reflects a trend, with Trump winning or tying seven of the eight most recent matchups. And this was the first one where either man topped 50%.
ABC, in its summation, didn’t sugarcoat the results, putting it this way: “Forty-four percent of Americans say they’ve gotten worse off financially under Biden’s presidency, the most for any president in ABC/Post polls since 1986. Just 37% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove. Still fewer approve of Biden’s performance on the economy, 30%.”
Wait, it gets worse.
The survey found that just 23% approve of the president’s handling of the border and 74% say he is too old to run again.
Remarkably, the anti-Biden sentiment is so strong that if there is a government shutdown, 40% of respondents say they’d mostly blame the president and congressional Democrats, with 33% saying they would blame Republicans.
This despite the fact that the GOP controls the House and hasn’t produced a majority vote to keep the lights on.
Michigan, of course, is a swing state, with Trump winning it against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden winning it in 2020. Trump is planning his own visit Wednesday and, although there are no plans for him to join a picket line, he will certainly claim that his energy and trade policies are better than Biden’s for auto workers and others in manufacturing jobs.
The trip is a twofer for Trump, who is also counter-programming against the Republicans challenging him for the nomination. Seven of them will be squaring off in the second GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Wednesday night, but he’s got such a large lead that he believes he has more to lose than gain by being on the same stage with them.
He’s probably right and skipped the first debate, too, where the also-rans beat up each other in their bitter fight for second place.
The left flank
As for Biden, his problems go beyond Trump. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is challenging the president for the Dems’ nomination and is pulling just 15% to 20% in most polls.
Although Kennedy has said he would not run as a third-party candidate, he recently met with the head of the Libertarian Party and said he was “keeping his options open” about running under their banner, according to The New York Times.
In addition, far-lefty professor Cornel West will be the Green Party nominee and the No Labels party is trying to recruit a centrist for a 2024 run on its line. Democrats are understandably concerned that any third- or fourth- party candidate getting just a few percentage points in a swing state could deprive Biden or his replacement of victory in the Electoral College.
Meanwhile, the impeachment inquiry could prove to be Biden’s ultimate undoing. Majorities of Americans already believe he was involved in his family’s influence-peddling schemes, and more evidence of his role would drive those numbers even higher.
If the GOP can show clear examples of the president getting a big cut of the millions paid to the president’s son and brother, Hunter and Jim Biden, there won’t be any more debate about whether he should run.
Voters will make the decision for him.
MSNBC viewers rarely hear the unvarnished truth about the enormous border disaster, but Jeh Johnson gave it to them. The former head of Homeland Security under Barack Obama, Johnson told the outlet Monday: “In purely political terms, you want to maximize Donald Trump’s chance of reelection? Fail to deal with this problem. This will turn our politics upside down.”
Fears of a migrant riot
Reader Eric Rosen has a dark view of the migrant crisis, writing: “If something is not done soon, I fear there will be rioting in the streets. The uncontrolled tidal wave will bankrupt our towns and cities and when food and housing run low and winter comes, there could be food riots, break-ins and vigilantism. Yet no one seems to see the writing on the wall.”