Opinion: Biden is never going to step down, unless forced

photo by: Creators Syndicate

Jamie Stiehm

Cutting dead flowers while barefoot in the summer garden is a sublime sensation that seldom leads to thoughts of politics. Yet this time my thoughts traveled straight to President Joe Biden, 81 years of aged mind, body and memory.

Roses and cosmos ready to bloom need the sun and space blocked by the old ones. That’s just a fact, ma’am.

In the Democratic Party are several governors in their 40s and 50s with a fierce abundance of talent — the right age and stage to bloom in the Rose Garden.

Vice President Kamala Harris, 59, improved as a “work in progress,” as Biden once put it.

After Biden’s alarming June 27 debate performance versus former President Donald Trump, Americans who desperately want to defeat Trump must look over the next Democratic crop with a cold calculus.

Let me name them and explain why Biden will never “go gentle” unless forced by the party. Surprisingly, his rise to (and possible fall from) the presidency can be traced to one power broker: Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), an ally of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Strong governors on the bench are Gavin Newsom of California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Wes Moore of Maryland. Two are from battleground states, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Reader, Biden’s ego is extraordinary, even for a president. His personal mythology admits no flaws or mistakes — other than a bad night. He thinks the rest of the world is wrong when he’s failed or fallen short.

It’s his superpower, overconfidence about overcoming adversity.

The president defiantly says he’ll do his “goodest” to best convicted felon Trump.

Sanguine-faced Biden vows to stay in the presidential race amid fears about his health and clarity. He’s got his Irish up, as they used to say, against “elites.”

More power to Biden if he quells this grave crisis of confidence. I mean that. He has a fighting chance.

Worthy of note, getting elected senator from tiny Delaware is not a heavy lift in politics. Biden ascended in Senate seniority over his 35-year career. While he cherished the place, nobody mistook him for a giant of the Senate.

The debacle that Biden chaired, the Judiciary hearings that put angry young Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, was a scar on national memory. Anita Hill, who came forward with testimony of sexual harassment, was treated like dirt by three Republicans, which Biden allowed.

Biden refused to call witnesses who supported Hill. He kept shouting that Thomas had “the benefit of the doubt.”

Since Biden rode to our rescue from Trump and the pandemic, that scar faded. His robust legislative record — better than Obama’s — on infrastructure, climate change, the economy and prescription drugs made many grateful to him as a “crisis” president.

(Only Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt share this distinction.)

On foreign policy, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Israel are a mixed batch. A humiliating loss, a clear win and a chorus of moral outrage at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu run amok in causing Gaza civilian deaths.

Biden aged well and become a better man for all seasons. The tragedy of his son Beau’s death in 2015 made gravitas and empathy walk with him.

His path to the presidency took a twist of shamrock luck. In March 2020, the pandemic hit. Biden had lost badly in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two presidential contests. It looked like his fourth and final campaign hit the snow and ice.

Enter Clyburn, now 83, who brought the Black vote for Biden in the next race, the South Carolina primary. Biden won and rose to frontrunner.

With breathtaking speed, the other candidates, mostly senators, withdrew: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar. (Harris dropped out early.)

Everyone liked Joe, an elder in a time of panic. Clyburn played a crucial part in succession, making Biden the only member of their “Silent” generation to reach the Oval. He is still standing behind Biden, as are Democratic congressional leaders in public.

Yet Clyburn floated holding a “mini-primary” leading up to the August party convention. He is the right messenger to deliver that blow to Biden, if his time in the sun is done. If.

— Jamie Stiehm is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.

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