A Not-So-Happy Birthday for Joe Biden

JOE BIDEN TURNS 81 years old today, but the President isn’t in a mood to celebrate. His aides are bickering over campaign strategy and Biden reportedly is angry over the widespread dismissal of his accomplishments.

IN TALKING WITH INSIDERS, one theme is dominant: Biden has no intention of stepping down, despite whispering within the party that he should. His polls show a steady erosion of support, especially among young people, but Biden’s mantra is that there’s a year to go, plenty of time to right the ship.

BIDEN CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT HIS AGE, but his aides are determined to portray him as vigorous and focused on policy. An enduring mystery is why Biden gets little credit for a solid economy — after an enormous 4.9% GDP rise in the third quarter, the Atlanta Fed’s fourth quarter estimate is creeping higher, now at 2%.

THE SUDDEN DROP IN GASOLINE PRICES should keep real disposable income solid, as should the persistently low unemployment rate — but the public doesn’t give Biden credit. Perhaps if food prices actually fell in 2024, Biden may benefit, but there are other sectors for the public to worry about, such as housing.

IT’S FINALLY SUNK IN: Biden is trailing Donald Trump, slightly. The idea of a second Trump term has injected a sense of panic among Democrats — some of whom fear losing the White House, the House and the Senate. The latter looks
like a blowout for the Republicans.

THIS GRIM OUTLOOK has prompted public dissent from some party leaders — headed by strategist David Axelrod, who thinks the Democrats should consider a younger nominee. This has prompted an angry and profane response from Biden, as reported yesterday by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

SO THIS WILL BE A BITTERSWEET THANKSGIVING BREAK for the Democrats, who had excellent results in elections less than a month ago, but now face a very difficult presidential election. Is there a Plan B if the campaign continues to sputter? Apparently not, which has wealthy donors asking why.

OUR UNSOLICITED ADVICE to the Democrats is to make next fall’s election all about Donald J. Trump. His rhetoric has coarsened noticeably, talking about “vermin” who are out to get him. And Trump has made it clear that if he wins re-election there will be vengeance from a Trump Justice Department, which would pardon Trump and target his enemies.

AND THE DEMOCRATS HAVE A POTENT WEAPON: The public is clearly opposed to harsh new abortion restrictions, which have made a difference in key states. Abortion is a game changer, especially as Trump shows signs of being even more polarizing. To the Democrats, who are close to panic, our advice is to calm down and give Trump plenty of rope.

Related: Who’s Waiting in the Wings if Joe Biden or Donald Trump Drop Out?

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