Sympathetic reporter says Biden’s string of gaffes a sign of his “authenticity”

By Dave Andrusko

An intriguing headline this morning in the pro-abortion New York Times: “Should Biden Really Run Again? He Prolongs an Awkward Conversation.” The subhead for Reid J. Epstein’s story tells us why that is again a topic of conversation: “The president and his team have waved away Democrats’ worries about his bid for another term. But this week, he has drawn new attention to the question of what is best for the party.”

To make a long story short, on Wednesday President Biden was walking away after delivering a speech when a reporter asked, “Could any other Democrat defeat Mr. Trump?” You can sense Epstein’s exasperation at his answer:

The president could have left and closed the door. The chatter about his 2024 decision would have been put to bed, at least for this week. But he could not resist. Once again, he reminded America why Democratic allies, and not Mr. Biden himself, are often viewed as his best messengers.

“Probably 50” Democrats could beat Mr. Trump, he said. Then, seeming to laugh off his remark with a wry smile, he added, “I’m not the only one who could defeat him, but I will defeat him.”

Mind you this came just one day after President Biden told donors that “I’m not sure I’d be running” if former President Donald J. Trump were not running.

Epstein wrote

It was a forehead-slapping moment for a president whose drooping approval ratings have forced him to turn his re-election campaign into a referendum on his predecessor.

As Epstein wrote when he was running for president, Biden told people, “I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else” to the next generation of Democrats.

Apparently that bridge has been washed out. How and why?

The reasons Mr. Biden is running again are fairly obvious. He considered a presidential bid in 1984, mounted his first White House campaign four years later, served for eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, wanted to run in 2016 and finally won the nation’s top office in 2020.

People who think about running for president for 36 years tend not to give up the White House without a fight. No president since Rutherford B. Hayes has served the four full years of his first term and then declined to run again. …

[H]is own ambition and the enormous political advantage of incumbency always suggested he would seek to remain president into his mid-80s.

But even those, like David Axelrod “who has repeatedly suggested that the president’s age will be a top concern for voters in 2024,” still stand by him.

Axelrod, the Democratic strategist who helped choose Mr. Biden to be Mr. Obama’s running mate in 2008, said it was understood at the time that Mr. Biden’s occasional deviation from the prescribed political script was part of the package.

He said Mr. Biden’s gaffes gave him an authenticity in the minds of voters that other veteran Washington politicians lacked, even if they caused a few headaches for Mr. Obama and his aides.

“Joe Biden has been a guy who has spoken his mind for 50 years in politics,” said Mr. Axelrod. “Sometimes that’s gotten him into some hot water, but it’s also part of a whole package of a guy who is authentic and willing to say exactly what he’s thinking.”

So even though the President has clearly slowed down physically and mentally; is still mired in the upper 30s in job approval; and even though a large majority of Democrats don’t want him to run again, Biden is plowing ahead.

More tomorrow.