Monday, August 21, 2023

Cut Bait

The exhibition season (or as the league likes to put it, "preseason") is winding down in the National Football League. The first stringers on the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles appear set, which has drawn attention to their lack of a strong backup quarerback. The national Democratic Party should take notice.

In May, The Washington Post reported on an ABC News/Washington Post poll days earlier which showed that

while 54 percent said Trump had the mental sharpness it takes to effectively serve as president, just 32 percent said the same of Biden. The split was even bigger on physical health, with 63 percent saying Trump passed their test and just 33 percent saying Biden did.

Independents were significantly more likely to see Trump as being both mentally and physically fit, with only around 3 in 10 independents saying Biden was either of those things.

And while fewer than half said Trump, 76, was too old to be president, about 7 in 10 said the same of Biden, 80.

This is not good news. And compounding the danger

The same poll previously showed a significant decline on the mental sharpness question for Biden. While 51 percent said Biden had the mental sharpness to be president in May 2020, that dropped to 40 percent in February 2022 before dropping to 32 percent today.

A Pew Research Center poll last month also showed 68 percent said the phase “mentally sharp” didn’t describe Biden very well — up from 46 percent in March 2021. For comparison’s sake, fewer than half also said the same of Trump on the eve of the 2020 election.

A Fox News poll in October showed 40 percent said Biden had the mental soundness to serve effectively as president — lower than at any point in Trump’s presidency.

And an NBC News survey in January showed about twice as many Americans gave Biden poor marks as positive ones on having the necessary mental and physical health to be president. Just 28 percent gave him either a 4 or a 5 rating out of 5; but 54 percent gave him a 1 or a 2. That 26-point negative split was up from 17 points a year before. Only 13 percent gave Biden the highest rating.

Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election on the strength of victories in Michigan, which he won by 2.8%; Michigan, by 2.8%; and Pennsylvania, 1.2%. Georgia and Arizona were even closer, famously.  According to the Post, 51% in the same poll in May of 2020 believed "Biden had the mental sharpness to be President" and in May of 2022, 31%.


That constitutes a drop of 19%, a situation which might be of only limited significance but for....

A Vice President is similar to a backup quarterback. Assuming the starting quarterback is not inept and the team repeatedly loses, the backup quarterback serves little purpose.  He has no impact upon the team-as long as the starting quarterback stays upright. But if the latter goes down, the second-stringer becomes the most important player on the team.

And so it is with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The numbers are startling, and telling. As of a few months ago, fewer than one-third of voters believed he "has the mental sharpness it takes to serve effectively as President." 

That leaves us with Kamala Harris, who is broadly unpopular, as Nikki Haley and Jonah Goldberg obviously understand. In the video attached to the tweet, David Axelrod states that there is "a real focus on trying to lift her up."  This is a very heavy lift. She is not a political novice whose image can be easily manipulated.  

It wouldn't be easy, replacing the first black (or Asian-American or female) Vice-President; But it can be done, with buy-in sought from the interest groups most likely to be offended if Harris were dumped in favor of someone the public would find more impressive and would be a better President, were it to come to that. 

That buy-in would begin with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, some of whom reportedly are partial to an individual who

has helped Biden win Michigan, claimed her own reelection by double-digits, flipped the state Legislature and pocketed a raft of progressive accomplishments in a state Democrats lost in 2016. The years since have, well, not gone as well for Kamala Harris.

With fewer than 15 months until the election, there is no time to waste.  The Democratic Party needs to begin consideration of a replacement- if not for the quarterback, then for the backup. Start in Michigan.


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