Back on July 28th I wrote about Eliot Cohen’s piece in The Atlantic arguing Biden should step aside and let another Democrat be the nominee for 2024. That Cohen piece seems to have become almost a genre in itself, a set piece even down to the same outline making the same point. David Ignatius wrote almost the identical piece last night in the Post.
It’s become a latter-day wise man formula: Biden has done a great job. He had a historic achievement in stopping Trump in 2020. But now because he’s so old he could squander that achievement by losing to Trump. So he should bow out and let someone else run.
Since it’s basically the identical piece, albeit brisker and to the point, you can see my take from July. But I wanted to note one addition Ignatius makes to the argument. While first suggesting the absurd idea that Biden should soft-heave-ho Kamala Harris and “encourage a more open vice-presidential selection process” he has a realization: “breaking up the ticket would be a free-for-all that could alienate Black women, a key constituency. Biden might end up more vulnerable.”
Well, if you think that’s a free-for-all let me tell you about what happens when the sitting President in effect resigns out of nowhere a year before the next presidential election. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
Further down in the piece Ignatius gets close to putting two and two together when he notes that right now “there’s no clear alternative to Biden – no screamingly obvious replacement waiting in the wings.” Ignatius speculates that this might be why Biden is sticking with it. But Ignatius hopes that the old man will “trust in democracy to discover new leadership.”
If you’re concerned about a free-for-all, and you should be, just wait till you see a hyper-compressed totally open presidential primary with a number of quite good contenders and no clear frontrunner anywhere in sight. Again, for my argument about why this isn’t even close, just read what I wrote mid-summer. I’ve been a bit harsh with Ignatius. I’ve always found his columns must reads. The issue here is foreign policy commentators making argument in a separate domain the dynamics of which they seem wholly unable to grasp. These pieces are examples of style of column in which the equivalent of brainstorms and bull session reveries are put forward without any need to grapple with the first, second and third things that will inevitably happen if the advice were taken.
Biden’s age is a real challenge. But the whole question is locked up. It’s locked in. So everyone who wants to beat Trump needs to absorb that, stop whining and buck up.