Yesterday, Ed Morrissey looked at the rumors swirling around the swamp suggesting that Joe Biden may be considering a promise to serve only one term in the White House and then turn the reins over to his VP, presumably a younger, more mentally nimble and far more progressive Democrat. While Ed pointed out a few of the problems with such a scheme, after reading some of the descriptions being offered by Chris Cillizza at CNN, I had a few additional thoughts I wanted to toss out for consideration. First, some of the source material.
But Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a prominent Biden supporter, rejected the idea in an interview with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux. “The opposite” is true, said Coons, adding of Biden that “he’s willing to serve two terms if necessary.”
Which is the right thing to say. Because, candidly, it makes zero sense for Biden to have a story kicking around that he might walk away after a single term.
On its face, the idea makes a semblance of sense — especially given Biden’s age and the message he is running on.
First of all, I don’t doubt for a moment that this idea has been seriously discussed (if not decided upon) in Biden’s camp. He hasn’t exactly been instilling confidence in his prospective voters with all of the slip-ups he’s made on the stump. He gets confused about what state he’s in, what year it is, and “memorable” events from his own past. If this is how he’s acting at age 77, how will he be performing at 82? Or even 86 if he were to win a second term?
His prominent supporters, such as Chris Coons in the linked CNN story, aren’t doing him any favors either. Coons actually said that Biden would be “willing to serve two terms if necessary.” What do you mean “if necessary?!?” If the guy is tanned, rested and ready to rock, why wouldn’t he be looking at two terms? That was some terrible messaging.
But that still doesn’t make it a smart move for the former veep. Consider the following. The only reason for Biden to make such a pledge would be to ease the fears of nervous Democrats who may be starting to think that he’s too darned old. But in terms of winning the primary, how is such a pledge going to make those voters in the early states feel any more comfortable about him being up to the task? He would basically be reaffirming their fears.
When we get to the general election, offering such a promise to go home after four years wins him nothing. All that does is reinforce the idea that Biden agrees that he’s too old for the rigors of the office.
But here’s the catch. If he feels he has to make the offer to drag himself across the finish line in the primary, the promise is still hanging out there for the general election. Skittish general election voters looking for an excuse to sign on for four more years of Trump tweetstorms will have one if the nominee looks like he might not even make it through 2024 and wind up turning the country over to one of the radical socialists.
That brings us back to the question of Biden’s eventual VP selection, assuming he can win the primary. At this point, I think we can safely assume that Uncle Joe will have to pick one of the furthest left also-rans for VP if he wants to reunite the base after this civil war of a primary. But one of Biden’s biggest selling points is that he can bring the middle along with him in November rather than resting the party’s fate on someone like Elizabeth Warren, whose budget-busting socialist dreams are going to scare off marginal, moderate voters.
If those same voters are suddenly informed that their favorite candidate (Biden) will be gone after one term, leaving the VP as the defacto 2024 nominee or, even worse, not even finish the first term, the assurances of a steady, moderate hand on the tiller are gone. That puts us back to the position where a non-zero number of them may start thinking that tolerating four more years of Trump-fueled chaos might not be such an unthinkable option.
I’m guessing that people in Biden’s inner circle are already advising him against this pledge if they have any talent in sampling the political winds. But if not, and Joe decides to announce a pledge to only serve one term, they’re going to be popping open the champagne bottles at Trump 2020 HQ.