Is the Establishment Trying to Push Biden Out?

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

This topic comes up frequently enough that it bears consideration, and even perhaps multiple considerations between now and the Democrat convention in Chicago, which is scheduled for the third week in August. 


Assuming Biden is still in the race until then, that is. 

I lean heavily toward the view that Biden will remain the candidate, barring a health crisis. At the same time, Steve Hayward over at Powerline indicates that he believes the word has gone out to the MSM that taking Biden out is a priority. Which, to be fair, is not the same as predicting Biden will be replaced, as he (and Jill Biden) have a say in that matter.

There's much evidence to support the argument that Obama's people are working hard to push Biden out of the race. That's because Obama's people are doing their best to push Biden out of the race. David Axelrod has been sounding the alarm about Biden's electoral prospects for months, and he hasn't been alone in the effort. 

Hayward points to an increased effort as exhibited by The New York Times' doomer reporting on their latest poll, which shows Biden getting creamed by Trump. If the election were held today, Trump would almost certainly win, and beyond the margin of cheating

It's not that Trump has suddenly gotten popular with voters; the fact is that voters doubt that Biden is up to being President. 

In other words, this election is about Joe Biden, when the Biden camp wants all the focus to be on Donald Trump. That is one of many reasons that all these legal attacks are coming in 2024, not 2021. They want people focused on all things Trump. 


That strategy is failing miserably, as is typical in Biden's strategies. Never underestimate Joe's ability to f**k things up."

President Biden’s unpopularity has flipped the expected dynamic of this election. It has turned what looked like a seemingly predictable rematch into a race with no resemblance to the 2020 election, when Mr. Biden was a broadly appealing candidate who was acceptable to the ideologically diverse group of voters who disapproved of Mr. Trump.

Instead, many voters will apparently agonize between two candidates they dislike. It’s exactly what Democrats sought to avoid when they nominated Mr. Biden in 2020. It’s what Democrats largely avoided in the 2018 and 2022 midterm elections, when they mostly nominated acceptable candidates or ran incumbents against right-wing opponents. And it’s exactly what led to the election of Mr. Trump in 2016.

Steve rightly points out that the Times has not one but two analyses of their poll, which make clear that Biden's problem is not easily solvable. Biden is too old and infirm and has lost the faith not just of independents but his own base. They think he is not capable of being president

Nate Cohn, the Times' poll analyst, puts it bluntly: Biden is unpopular. People don't like him, don't think he is capable, and are sour on what he has done to the country. However unpopular Trump is, Biden is in much worse shape. 


As you can see, none of the opinion movement has been about Trump. Not even a little, tiny bit. People's opinion of him has been rock solid (take note, MAGA folks). 

What has changed is that people dislike Biden a whole lot more than ever. Trump's +6 over Biden in favorability. People have seen Biden and believe he sucks. 

Biden does suck, of course, so no surprise there. Even years of propaganda can't increase favorability because it is easier to drive down negatives than drive up positives. That is nearly a law of politics, and it's one working against Biden. Poll numbers have recovered in the past for individuals, but rarely and never quickly. 

With Biden in such deep doo-doo and so much negative chatter about Biden among Democrats, it's natural to see signs of a movement to get rid of Biden, partly out of confirmation bias, partly because it is a rational thing to consider, and partly because there IS a movement to get rid of Biden. 

It is unlikely to work, though, for a variety of reasons. 

First, it would require the cooperation of too many people, including Joe and Jill Biden, who seem disinclined to participate in a coup against his presidency. 

Then Kamala Harris would have to bow out gracefully because nobody in the Establishment believes she is a winner of a candidate or would be an effective advocate for their causes. She would generate landslides for Republicans in 2026 if she won, which in itself would be unlikely. 


Perhaps they could buy off Kamala, but few politicians accept rational analyses of their likely chances of winning elections. Kamala likely believes she could and should be president, so it would have to be QUITE a buy off. Possible, of course. 

Then there is the danger of an all-out scrum among presidential aspirants, and among all the interest groups who are deeply invested in one faction or another winning. Will you move left or right? Black or white? Governor or Senator? 

The complications are enormous. 

And, of course, there is the campaign infrastructure. A billion or more dollars will be spent on the campaign, so the stakes are high in just grabbing a piece of that pie. Then there are all the negotiations about who will get what out of a victory, should it happen. Whose team is in charge? Who will the vendors be?

Obama may be a powerful force in his party, but he is not the only one. His favors have diminishing returns over time, and much of his contemporary power is, ironically, tied to the stranglehold he has on the Biden administration's top jobs. Booting Biden puts Obama's power at risk, at least somewhat. Kamala would likely be his best proxy after Biden, but nobody wants her. 

The risk factors in trying to change horses midstream are legion, and the benefits, while potentially considerable, are speculative. Every candidate aside from Biden brings his own baggage and will remain weighed down by Biden's. Will the promise of a more vital Biden presidency lure people in? 


To me, this all adds up to a likely damaging power struggle, where you have competing factions in the Democrat Party trying to move Biden out, and another faction determined to prop him up. Journalists and commentators and lining up with their patrons, and you have a catfight ongoing within the Democrats. 

In short, I agree with Steve that "the word has gone out" to dump Biden, but I also think the word has gone out to get behind Biden 100%, just from a different and also powerful crowd of Democrats. 

They are fighting amongst themselves, which is good, even great. 

But what unites the Democrats is their willingness to break every law, norm, and ethical boundary to destroy Donald Trump, and that effort will go on, whoever winds up being the Democrat Candidate in August. 

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