When the current president is told his services are no longer necessary, it’ll most likely be Barack Obama who taps Biden on the shoulder. The die has been cast, only the timing remains in question. Photo credit: Getty Images via New York Post
In a recent column in The Niagara Independent, fellow writer Chris George predicted the oncoming resignation of Justin Trudeau early next year. I think the same can be said of Joe Biden, even though the president has announced his intentions to run for re-election. Mr. Biden, well past his prime and becoming increasingly diminished in senses, has earned a rest, having been an accidental president.
When Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign failed, it seemed like he would serve the remainder of his days in public service as a member of the Senate, an institution he proclaimed to love. A series of unanticipated events, however, forced his name to the front of Barack Obama’s vice-presidential list. While Obama favoured a youthful partner, his advisors worried about his vulnerability on foreign policy because his opponent, Senator John McCain, had earned his chops speaking on behalf of America’s role in the world.
Obama’s decision to name Biden went against his heart. He had hoped to promote Tim Kaine, (who would later be Hillary Clinton’s choice), but he feared that Americans might not be warm to the idea of two youthful civil rights attorneys serving in the highest posts in the land. Dulling the criticism of his inexperience, he decided to go with Biden, an experienced hand who projected authority, having chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Had the rivalry with Hillary Clinton cooled enough in the summer of ’08, Biden would never have been vice-president and would now be kicking sand in Rehoboth Beach.
Biden proved to be a loyal team player in the Obama Administration, but there was talk in 2011 of bringing in Mrs. Clinton to “juice up” Obama’s re-election campaign. Once polls showed it mattered little who held the second spot on the ticket, the campaign decided to keep Biden in place. He performed well in his 2012 debate with Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, and provided cover for Obama when the administration hoped to advance ideas. In a Meet The Press interview in 2012, Biden spoke in favour of gay marriage, a position Obama preferred but had not announced publicly. The president’s team, at first annoyed, used Biden’s remarks as a trial balloon. Within a few days, sensing the time had come, Obama signaled his approval of gay marriage, rewriting family law traditions that dated back centuries.
Nonetheless, the Obama-Biden relationship possessed a thorny streak. Prior to the 2016 presidential election race, Obama discouraged Biden’s interest in running. He identified Hillary Clinton as his successor, believing she was a younger and more viable choice. Biden disagreed and tried to make his case, but Obama had moved on. That should have been the end, but a funny thing happened on the way to retirement. By the 2018 midterms, an aging Joe Biden, now 75, campaigned vigorously for candidates countrywide. His hunger for the presidency renewed, he began to make plans to run in 2020, claiming the nation couldn’t survive four more years of Donald Trump. Obama remained skeptical and fancied younger candidates, but never endorsed anyone specifically, allowing Biden to proceed.
While Donald Trump had overseen a tumultuous four-year term, as 2020 began he looked strong enough to win re-election. Biden did poorly in the early contests, creating general fear within the Democratic Party that Bernie Sanders would be the nominee, handing Trump a second term. Once again, due more to accident than achievement, Joe Biden became the object of desire. South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn threw his support behind Biden, halting Sanders. In quick succession, Biden rattled off primary victories while Obama went into action, ensuring Pete Buttigieg and Senator Klobuchar ended their candidacies and endorsed Biden. Once again, Barack Obama had written another chapter in the Biden logs. Just as Biden was picking up steam, COVID-19 shut down the nation in March. Donald Trump’s decision to become the face of the pandemic for months drove down his ratings and turned Joe Biden into a likely successor. In November, Biden, almost 78 years old, became the oldest elected Chief Executive.
In April 2023, President Biden announced his plans to seek re-election for a second term, a term that would end in January 2029 when he would be 86 years old. If not for the seriousness of the job, one could merely laugh off the circumstances as happenstance. For all his faults, Barack Obama knows that Joe Biden cannot serve another term. So do most people near the president. They know about his short days, limited energy, and increasing problems with speech and memory. Keeping this contained has been a preoccupation for the White House team for three years. Continuing this for years to come defies reason.
The investigations going forward into Hunter Biden will provide the grease for discarding Joe Biden. With poll numbers heading down, a majority in his party opposing his renomination, and the threat of impeachment, the Democratic Party, under the direction of its popular former president Barack Obama, will help Joe Biden come to terms with stepping down. In a bloodless defrocking, either at Thanksgiving, or in late spring, Joe Biden will announce, for health reasons, and having returned the nation to prosperity, he will not seek re-election.
The die has been cast, only the timing remains in question. If Biden pulls out at Thanksgiving there will be time for other candidates to jump in. There are many just waiting to pull the chute. Besides the vice president, expect Governor Gavin Newsome of California to lead the charge with Senator Bernie Sanders, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Pritzker of Illinois, Governor Shapiro of Pennsylvania, and Governor Polis of Colorado to all form exploratory committees. Waiting until May or June of 2024 creates, in effect, a transition for Ms. Harris. Obama and other leading party officials will weigh in on that decision, but it may be hard to push Biden if he wants to wait.
I suspect that if any further information implicates Biden in his son’s influence peddling, the elderly gentleman from Delaware will seek relief. I expect a full slate of Democratic candidates to seek their party’s nomination next year and Joe Biden to fade into retirement. Mr. Biden’s career path took him to the White House through a series of accidents. It will be no accident when Obama, the popular elder statesman of the party, 20 years younger than the current president, informs him his services are no longer required.
Dave Redekop is a retired elementary resource teacher who now works part-time at the St. Catharines Courthouse as a Registrar. He has worked on political campaigns since high school and attended university in South Carolina for five years, where he earned a Master’s in American History with a specialization in Civil Rights. Dave loves reading biographies.