This is certainly the apt historical comparison for Dems inclined towards optimism.
The apt comparison for those inclined towards pessimism is … well, you know.
A conspicuously old first-term president struggles through his first two years in office, plagued by high inflation and recession. Voters begin to doubt whether he’s up to the job. His party is shellacked in the midterms. But then the economy rebounds. The public’s mood brightens, reflecting the president’s sunny disposition. His message that America is back on track after a rocky period under his predecessor catches on. Before you know it he’s on track for a landslide win over the other party’s retread nominee, whom he defeated in winning his first term.
Reagan ’84 or Biden ’24?
“We are Reagan,” a top confidant of President Biden tells Axios. “We had a big plan. We are getting it in place.”…
Biden allies point to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from August 1982, with the headline: “Reagan Should Not Seek Second Term, Majority Believes.” Fifty-eight percent of those polled said he shouldn’t run again.
Reagan’s midterm-summer doldrums echo a poll out last Friday from USA Today and Suffolk University: Two-thirds of voters said they don’t want either Biden or former President Trump to run again.
Yeah, I don’t buy it. For three reasons.
1. Age. Reagan was the oldest president ever elected to a first term at the time and there were moments when he showed it. By his second term, his decline was a punchline. But the sense that he was cognitively unequal to the task wasn’t as widespread as it is now with Biden, to my memory. In some polls an outright majority already confess to having doubts about Joe’s ability to do the job. And in terms of raw numbers, there’s no comparison: Reagan was a few weeks away from turning 74 when he was sworn in for his second term. Biden was already 78 when he was sworn in for his *first* term and will soon become America’s first octogenarian president. In other words, Reagan was younger on the day he left office than Biden was on the day he assumed office.
2. Inherited problems. The inflation and economic contraction that plagued Reagan’s first two years were leftovers from the Carter administration. GDP contracted sharply in 1980, the year of the campaign, before rebounding and then contracting again in 1981-82. Reagan could plausibly tell voters that the economy had gotten untracked by his predecessor’s policies and would need a little time under Republican rule to correct themselves. Inflation, meanwhile, ran wild during the final two years of Carter’s term and was already dropping by the time Reagan was inaugurated. By September 1982 it was 5.0 percent, less than half what it was the year before. That will, uh, not be the case for Biden in September 2022. Sleepy Joe will have to own his economic problems as byproducts of the COVID relief bill he signed last year and the ensuing efforts by the Fed to counteract inflation caused by that bill.
3. Political energy. Reagan had an honest-to-goodness ideological movement behind him. No one else could have led the conservative “Reagan revolution,” by definition. He was a man sent to Washington by the electorate to do big things by shrinking and overhauling the federal government. It was easy for voters who elected him in 1980 to tilt towards giving him a second term to complete his mission. Biden has no mission. He truly is a caretaker president, a politician who’s described himself at times as a bridge to the next generation of Democratic leaders. And he got elected not because of a bold vision for the federal government but because a critical mass of swing voters concluded that the incumbent was unfit for office and having an old hand from the Senate in charge probably wouldn’t do much harm. Now that he has done some harm, voters on either side have little use for him. His only chance at reelection realistically is a rematch with his former opponent in 2024, forcing voters to decide which of them is less fit for office at that point.
As grim as things looked for Reagan in late 1982, did he ever see a poll where three-quarters of *his own party* called for him to retire at the end of his term?
With the revelations about Hunter Biden’s contacts with his vice-president father giving the lie to Joe’s claims he never discussed Hunter’s business, it’s virtually certain there’ll be congressional investigations should Republicans win one or more chambers in November — making it even more difficult for the president to govern effectively.
For his party and his country, President Biden should step down before the midterms and give Vice President Kamala Harris a chance to lead.
While Harris unquestionably has political vulnerabilities of her own, Biden passing the torch would provide a much-needed shot in the arm for the Democratic Party — which claims to represent Americans of all classes and creeds yet still has three old, white leaders at the helm: Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Uh, has Stein seen Kamala Harris’s polling? She’s at 36 percent favorability, four points behind Biden! But if Team Joe thinks that the economy is destined for a Reaganesque rebound in the next two years then yeah, getting the too-old current guy out of the way so that his much younger VP can take credit for it would be the prudent move by Democrats. It’s just that there’s no scenario in which that happens, which means it’s probably Biden or bust for Dems in 2024. Prediction: He will not follow Reagan’s lead by winning 525 electoral votes.