Democrats/progressives February 2024 –

Written by  //  July 4, 2024  //  Politics, U.S.  //  No comments

The Democratic National Convention
August 19-22, 2024

4 July
Who Should Lead the Democratic Ticket? Six Columnists Weigh In.
Gretchen Whitmer, Kamala Harris, President Biden — who is best positioned to beat Donald Trump in November?
By Charles M. Blow, Ross Douthat, David French, Nicholas Kristof, Pamela Paul and Lydia Polgreen
(NYT) With President Biden’s candidacy in question, we asked six New York Times Opinion columnists: Who would you like to see as the Democratic nominee?
Lydia Polgreen on Vice President Kamala Harris
Nicholas Kristof on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan
Ross Douthat on Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia
Pamela Paul on Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland
David French on Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania
Charles Blow on President Biden

Here’s how Harris could take over Biden’s campaign cash if he drops out and she runs for president
(AP) One big question is what would happen to the current campaign’s $91 million cash on hand, according to its most recent filings. (Combined with allied Democratic organizations, the reelection effort has access to $240 million cash on hand, the campaign said this week.)
Could Harris take over the Biden-Harris campaign cash?
Yes, although there are some caveats.
Since their campaign account was registered with the Federal Election Commission in the name of both candidates, Harris could use those funds for her own presidential effort if Biden were to drop out, according to Kenneth Gross, senior political law counsel at Akin Gump and former associate general counsel for the Federal Election Commission.

Governors Undermine Efforts by Congressional Democrats to Nudge Biden Aside
While members of Congress worry about the drag on their own races, many governors are looking ahead to ’28.
(Politico) By descending on Washington to meet with President Joe Biden and then emerging from the West Wing to oh-so-earnestly pledge their public support to the beleaguered president, the governors complicated the efforts of congressional Democrats to ease him off the ticket.
Panicked about having to run on the same ballot with an irretrievably wounded nominee, Democratic lawmakers sharply, if still privately, turned against Biden this week.
Most congressional Democrats simply see no path to take back the House and hold their Senate majority if they are led by a president who large majorities of the country, as new polls indicate, believe is too old for the job.

3 July 4:53 pm
Poll Shows Slipping Support; Biden Told an Ally He Was Weighing Options
(NYT) The president is “absolutely not” considering withdrawing from the 2024 race, his press secretary told reporters. The panic within the Democratic Party has kept the focus on President Biden and whether he is capable of winning in November.
Should Biden quit? Democrats weigh potential rewards and steep risks.
Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg
If President Biden drops his bid for re-election, it could be the kind of reset many voters say they want or a chaotic mess. Democrats have been making their lists of pros and cons.

A Strategic Plan to Prevent Trump’s Return—And Global Disaster
Anne Applebaum
Time to Roll the Dice
Biden’s party doesn’t need to sleepwalk into a catastrophe.
(The Atlantic) Until now, the Democrats have supported Joe Biden, a successful, transformative, and even heroic president, while a coterie of people around him concealed his true condition. Doubts about the 81-year-old president’s ability to continue governing were already widespread and are partly responsible for his low approval rating. Since last week’s debate, they have been front and center, and there is no reason to believe they will dissipate. On the contrary, the doubts are very likely to grow worse. Every stumble, every forgotten word will reinforce the impression created by the debate. Biden is polling behind Trump now. If he remains the candidate, he is likely to lose.
But this is July. The election is in November. Can anything be done?

Biden Struggles to Contain Mounting Pressure to Drop Out of Race
White House denies president told ally he could reconsider run
(Bloomberg) The drumbeat of pressure on President Joe Biden to drop out of the presidential race intensified Wednesday with a bombshell report in the New York Times that he had conceded the possibility to a key ally, as well as movement within his own party to demand his withdrawal.

1 July
Playbook: Fear and loathing on Capitol Hill
BEHIND ‘THE LAST FIREWALL’ — As the Biden campaign scrambles to calm nerves about the president’s disastrous debate performance, Democrats on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly furious at those around him and increasingly despondent about his prospects for re-election — and their own chances of winning House and Senate majorities.
Conversations about a strategy shift are already underway, with some Democratic lawmakers and many deep-pocketed donors plotting how, should Biden continue in the race, to ensure a congressional check on a second Trump term.
“The way I’m talking to my donors is: The House is the last firewall, folks. We have to flip the House,” one front-line House Democrat told Playbook last night. “Ninety-nine percent of the people I talked to can’t get their credit card out fast enough.”
Those private discussions could eventually morph into an explicit campaign to place a Democratic check on an expected Trump presidency — much as congressional Republicans did back in 1996, when BOB DOLE was on his way to a thumping.
Democrats aren’t there yet: Top party leaders, we’re told, are prepared to continue stumping for Biden as the party’s best choice for November, as they did on yesterday’s Sunday show circuit. Part of it is a collective action problem — no one wants to be first, and potentially the last — and part of it is that many believe that speaking out might only make Biden dig in further.
But make no mistake: The despair and frustration are real, and it is pushing upward inside the party. It has been felt acutely by frontline members — the swing-district Democrats who would be the cornerstone of any majority: Donors blew up their phones over the weekend, with some prodding them to go public with a group letter calling for a new candidate, an idea that some discussed over the weekend.
…That sense of anger is palpable among rank-and-file congressional Democrats, many of whom blame Biden and his family for hiding the reality of his condition. The House Democrat lamented defending the president on the campaign trail despite getting political advice to run away from him, only to find out how bad things were on Thursday.

27-28 June
Biden addresses his disastrous performance: ‘I don’t debate as well as I used to’
“I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. And I know how to do this job,” the president told supporters at a rally in North Carolina.
(Politico) Biden was far more energized and fired up than on the debate stage, speaking before a crowd of 2,000 supporters, per his campaign.
Biden tries to calm nervous Democrats. It won’t happen instantly.
Distressed by President Biden’s struggles in Thursday’s debate, Democrats are divided over what to do next, and Biden has significant work to do to assuage their fears.
Analysis by Dan Balz
… no easy solution and many potential unintended consequences.
… The president’s team has moved swiftly to tamp down talk of swapping him out for a different nominee. It put out the word early Friday that he would not step out of the race voluntarily. Flash polls showed Trump to be the overwhelming winner of the debate, but Biden allies claimed that some focus groups offered a more nuanced conclusion. Yes, participants thought Biden had some terrible moments, but Trump, too, left some of those watching frustrated. Members of the team are quietly monitoring key party leaders for signs of unrest.

Could Democrats Replace Biden at the Top of the Presidential Ticket?
While it is possible, it would most likely lead to political upheaval in the party unless the president decides to step aside on his own terms.
By Adam Nagourney and Jennifer Medina
(NYT) A once politically far-fetched question — can President Biden be replaced at the top of the Democratic Party presidential ticket — has taken on new urgency after Mr. Biden’s halting debate performance against former President Donald J. Trump.
The short answer is yes — assuming Mr. Biden decides on his own to step aside. But if Mr. Biden decides not to step aside, the short answer is probably no.
Either way, the process would be complicated and would open the door to political upheaval between now and when Democratic delegates gather to vote for a nominee at their convention in August.
Here’s how Democrats could replace Biden
The party would need to open a rulebook not used in decades — and for Biden to drop out in the first place.
(Politico) … While the party technically does have a system for nominating a fresh candidate at the convention in the event of a candidate declining a nomination, the entire process is a creaky one that hasn’t been considered in decades.
… if Biden agreed to decline his party’s nomination, it would kick off an open and unpredictable process of picking his replacement.
Other names — from Vice President Kamala Harris, to Govs. Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer and JB Pritzker, to numerous others — could be placed in nomination. The candidates, who could span the Democratic Party’s geographic, ideological and generational wings, would be working to sway the thousands of Democratic delegates to support them on the first ballot.
The pledged delegates aren’t the only ones who have a say. The Democratic Party has stripped “superdelegates” — elected officials and party leaders who can vote for anyone they please — of most of their power since the contentious 2016 primary. These superdelegates would be free to vote if no candidate won a majority of delegates on the first ballot. An open, contested convention would give more than 700 party insiders a major role in picking the new nominee. …

SCOTUS strikes amid Dems’ debate distress
The most momentous news of the morning might have been made back in Washington, where the Supreme Court snuck in some major decisions in cases as the justices race to finish up their term.
(Politico) In his first opportunity to quiet the murmurs, at a rally moments ago in Raleigh, North Carolina, Biden confronted the concerns swirling around him.

Ian Bremmer: A big loss for Biden
I think that Biden would have landed more punches if you were only looking at the transcript. But no one is looking at the transcript. They’re looking at the performance. And the performance Biden was abysmal.

A Fumbling Performance, and a Panicking Party
President Biden’s shaky, halting debate performance has Democrats talking about replacing him on the ticket.
(NYT) Democrats who have defended the president for months against his doubters — including members of his own administration — traded frenzied phone calls and text messages within minutes of the start of the debate as it became clear that Mr. Biden was not at his sharpest. Practically in despair, some took to social media to express shock, while others privately discussed among themselves whether it was too late to persuade the president to step aside in favor of a younger candidate.
“Biden is about to face a crescendo of calls to step aside,” said a veteran Democratic strategist who has staunchly backed Mr. Biden publicly. “Joe had a deep well of affection among Democrats. It has run dry.”
Democrats panic over Biden’s debate performance, doubt his future
(WaPo) One thing was clear by the end of the first 2024 presidential face-off: Democrats were in a panic following Biden’s halting debate night performance. Their consternation encompassed the halls of Congress, the moneyed coastal cities of donors, the party strongholds across the country and the bars and living rooms where Democratic stalwarts gathered to cheer on their guy.

23 June
I Know What America’s Leading C.E.O.s Really Think of Donald Trump
By Dr. Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, president of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute.
(NYT opinion) … Big business’s relationship and likelihood of future support for Mr. Biden is complicated. The president has also adopted populist stances toward business, though he has chafed at pressure from progressives to be even more combative. Nevertheless, chief executives commonly rail at what they view as excessively restrictive antitrust enforcement and misguided attacks on corporate greed.
But there are pluses in the Biden column as well: investments in infrastructure to rebuild highways and bridges, which will help reduce supply chain disruptions; government support for domestic chip making and electric vehicle production; record corporate profits and exuberant financial markets burying fears of a widely anticipated recession; the successful transformation of the United States into the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer.
And their legitimate misgivings about Mr. Biden are overwhelmed by worries about Mr. Trump, version 2024. Mr. Trump’s primary conduits to the business community in his first term — more-reasonable voices like those of Jared Kushner, Dina Powell and Steven Mnuchin — are gone, replaced by MAGA extremists and junior varsity opportunists.

21 June
Biden settles on a message against Trump: He’s even worse than before
The president and his allies argue that Trump “snapped” and has become more self-obsessed, more dangerous and more extreme since his 2020 loss
President Biden quietly revealed his campaign’s master strategy to defeat Donald Trump last month at a private fundraiser outside Seattle.
“Let’s get to the message of the campaign,” Biden told a crowd of about 100 who had gathered in a sprawling lakeside mansion. Reading from a teleprompter, the president declared that Trump is now a greater threat to the country than during his time in office.
“When he lost in 2020, something snapped in him,” Biden said, a bumper sticker slogan he has been repeating ever since.
The notion that the former president changed — becoming more self-obsessed, more dangerous and more extreme — has since been seeded throughout Biden’s campaign, the result of months of polling, focus groups and ad testing, his advisers say

31 May
Why Senate Democrats Are Running Strong, Even as Biden Is Struggling
Amy Walter
A silver lining for Democrats in the recent Cook Political Report/GS Strategies/BSG Swing State Project polling is the strength of Senate Democrats in key swing states. Senate candidates in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are not only outperforming President Joe Biden, but are also leading their GOP opponents by anywhere from two to 12 points.
Notably, incumbent Democrats in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada are running the farthest ahead of Biden, while Democratic candidates in open senate seats in Arizona and Michigan have marginally better numbers than Biden.
One reason for the dramatic difference between the Senate and presidential margins is that Democratic incumbents are better known than their GOP opponents. For example, in Wisconsin, Biden is tied with former President Donald Trump at 45%, while two-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin leads her relatively unknown Republican opponent, Eric Hovde, by 12 points. Even so, Baldwin is taking a larger percentage of the vote than Biden — 49% to Biden’s 45%. In other words, it’s more than just a name ID advantage that is helping Senate Democratic candidates.

28 April
5,000 miles away, a Michigan mayor at the center of the Gaza storm
Navigating between residents’ rage over Gaza and Democrats’ fears of Trump, Abdullah Hammoud must decide whether to back Biden in the fall
Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, was coming to town, a fellow Arab American official told Hammoud. How would the Dearborn mayor feel about meeting with her?
Something didn’t sit right with Hammoud.
Israel’s military campaign in Gaza had killed more than 25,000 Palestinians. Hammoud had heard from residents of this majority Arab American city who had lost 20, 40, even 80, relatives. The war was spreading to southern Lebanon and Yemen, where many of Dearborn’s residents had ancestral roots. This was the first outreach he had received from anyone in the Biden camp and it was not a White House official with the ability to influence policy, but someone whose sole job was getting the president reelected. … “Immediately when I got the invitation, I felt like it was a disingenuous engagement. It was an engagement only for the worry of what’s going to happen in the upcoming election, and not for the worry of what’s actually happening to the people on the ground and to their friends and family and my residents.”
… He has become a prominent voice for Arab American and Muslim voters, not just in Dearborn but across the country, who say that Biden has betrayed and dehumanized them.
And still, the 34-year-old Hammoud has to keep his attention on the job he was elected to do: overseeing the city of Dearborn. He now spends hours discussing foreign policy and the political fallout of Biden’s support of Israel. But his days are filled with meetings about budgets, flooding, community parks and city events.
“I ran for office on the idea that I’d ensure your garbage was picked up on time,” Hammoud said. He has received numerous invitations for dinners and speaking engagements related to the war, but he has turned most of them down. “It’s humbling,” he said. “But I try to tell folks I’m still the mayor of Dearborn, and this is my primary focus.”

18 April
In rebuke to RFK Jr, Biden wins Kennedy family endorsement
(Reuters) – Fifteen members of the storied Kennedy political family endorsed U.S. President Joe Biden at a Philadelphia campaign event on Thursday, with some joining him onstage, in a rebuke of Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s independent bid for office.
…members of both parties have bristled over the possibility that the candidacy of Kennedy, a prominent anti-vaccine activist, or another third-party bid could spoil either of their chances.
Kennedy…made his name as an environmental lawyer, before becoming known as an anti-vaccine advocate with an eclectic mix of political views. He is backed by 15% of registered voters, versus 39% for Biden and 38% for Trump, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Many in Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s elite family – prominent Democrats since the 19th century – have broken with him over his views.

28 March
Biden raises $25 million in ‘historic’ fundraiser with Obama, Clinton
The record event came as Biden has sought to present his financial edge over Trump as a broader sign of strength and momentum
(WaPo) In a show of force his campaign is calling the “most successful political fundraiser in American history,” President Biden raised more than $25 million during a New York event Thursday featuring former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
More than 5,000 people attended the sold-out event at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Biden’s campaign said, with guests paying anywhere from $225 to $500,000. The massive haul comes as Biden and his allies have sought to present their growing financial advantage in the race against former president Donald Trump as a broader sign of strength and momentum.
The highest-paying donors at the event had access to perks such as a photo with the three presidents. Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz was on tap to take portraits of donors with Biden, Clinton and Obama.
The event caps a stepped-up stretch of campaign activity for Biden in the wake of his fiery March 7 State of the Union address, and it is the latest push by the president’s allies to counter concerns about his advanced age and sagging approval ratings. Biden is 81 and Trump is 77.
If Democratic voters at large are wary of Biden’s political standing, the star-studded event in New York offered a joyous counterpoint to the sense of angst. It featured musical guests including Queen Latifah, Lizzo and Ben Platt. Mindy Kaling served as host, at one point joking that it was nice to be in a room “with so many rich people.” An after-party for 500 VIP guests was co-hosted by first lady Jill Biden and DJ D-Nice.

22-27 February
Biden Faces ‘Uncommitted’ Vote in Michigan’s Primary. Here’s What to Watch.
A protest vote against President Biden’s policies on Israel will show the extent of Democratic divisions, while Donald Trump is favored to win again as Nikki Haley presses on.
The War in Gaza Turned This Longtime Michigan Democrat Against Biden
She knows the stakes. She loathes Donald Trump. But Terry Ahwal says she won’t back President Biden in November.
Michelle Goldberg: Biden Is in Danger of Losing Michigan and, With It, the Whole Election
(NYT) Biden will most likely never satisfy those most horrified by his Middle East policies, but if he doesn’t do more to try, he’s in danger of losing Michigan in November, which would almost certainly cost him the election. The state has the country’s largest percentage of Arab American voters, and within that community — as well as among many non-Arab Muslims, young people and progressives — there’s a deep sense of betrayal and fury at Biden for standing behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel pulverizes Gaza.
These voters have heard Biden criticize Israel’s “indiscriminate” and “over the top” bombardment of Palestinian civilians and infrastructure, but they don’t see his administration taking meaningful steps to restrain it. Given the intensity of pro-Israel sentiment in some corners of the Democratic Party, breaking with Israel has long been seen as politically risky. The “uncommitted” margin in Michigan next week will be an imperfect but useful gauge of the degree to which cleaving to Israel has become risky as well.
Michigan may soon show just how badly Biden’s cease-fire stance is hurting him
(Politico) Next week’s primary in Michigan is likely to provide the most telling X-ray to date of just how fractured the Democratic Party is over Israel and Biden’s presidency writ-large. Michigan, which was elevated to the early nominating window by Biden last year, represents a cross-section of base Democratic voters, from union households to a large Black voting bloc.
But poll after poll show clear warning signs for Biden with his base. And those most animated by the Israel-Hamas conflict are organizing a campaign to register discontent over the policy by asking voters to vote “uncommitted” in the primary next week.

20 February
Young, Black, and Done With Biden: The Issues That Could Decide the Election
Taking a ride through Detroit with the young Black Democratic voters who helped get Biden into office in 2020 — and aren’t so sure about doing it again (pay wall)

18 February
Playbook: Piercing the Biden ‘bubble’
Just in time for Presidents Day Weekend, the Presidential Greatness Project, a survey of historians and scholars, is out with the results of its latest ranking of the presidents.
President JOE BIDEN “makes his debut in our rankings at No. 14, putting him in the top third of American presidents,” Justin Vaughn and Brandon Rottinghaus, two academics who lead the project, write in the L.A. Times.
— Unfortunately for the president, in the polls that actually matter — those of the American voting public — he continues to lag behind Trump in the 2024 race, with support that verges on anemic.
JON FAVREAU, the host of the influential “Pod Save America” podcast and former BARACK OBAMA speechwriter, hit this note in a thread on X yesterday:
“The challenge is, we just don’t know — and will likely never know — if nominating Biden is riskier than letting Democratic activists and insiders pick a lesser-known and potentially weaker general election candidate at the convention with three months to go,” Favreau wrote. “Would it be as risky as the campaign we’re most likely about to face? Again, it’s just too hard to know for sure.
“What Biden can do is take concerns about his age seriously, acknowledge that fears about his performance aren’t media creations or Democratic bedwetting, and focus single-mindedly on crisp, strong, energetic appearances, which we’ve seen he’s absolutely capable of (2023 SOTU, Jan 6th speeches, etc.),” Favreau concluded, linking to a sympathetic essay by NYT’s Ezra Klein, which has been making the rounds among Democratic insiders since being published Friday.
From Klein’s piece: “I cannot point you to a moment where Biden faltered in his presidency because his age had slowed him. But here’s the thing. I can now point you to moments when he is faltering in his campaign for the presidency because his age is slowing him. This distinction between the job of the presidency and the job of running for the presidency keeps getting muddied, including by Biden himself.

16 February
Ezra Klein: Democrats have a better option than Biden (audio essay)
So yes, I think Biden, as painful as this is, should find his way to stepping down as a hero. That the party should help him find his way to that, to being the thing he said he would be in 2020, the bridge to the next generation of Democrats. And then I think Democrats should meet in August at the convention to do what political parties have done there before: organize victory.
… This is the question Democrats keep wanting to answer, the question the Biden administration keeps pretending only to hear: Can Biden do the job of president? But that is not the question of the 2024 campaign. The insistence that Biden is capable of being president is being used to shut down discussion of whether he’s capable of running for president.

14 February
What Democrats’ win in New York could mean for 2024
(The Hill) Democrats comfortably scored a major win in New York, narrowing the GOP’s House majority and leaving people to wonder, what does it mean for the fall?
Democrats cautious, but buoyed by decisive New York win
But even as Democrats were exuberant over Rep. Tom Suozzi’s victory on Long Island, many were also sounding a note of caution, warning that the circumstances surrounding the contest — a special election pitting a well-recognized Democrat against a little known Republican — make it an unusual case, and one that shouldn’t lead Democrats to think that immigration is not an issue or that they can glide to easy victory in November’s general elections.

13 February
Merrick Garland Under Fire From His Former Harvard Law Professor
Garland appointed Hur to lead the Biden investigation in January 2023. Hur also served as U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland until 2021, having been appointed to the position by former President Donald Trump in 2018.
Although Garland hired the special counsel in an effort to ensure a non-partisan investigation, some are now criticizing Hur for what they see as a political report on his findings and are blaming Garland for allowing parts of it to be released.

12 February
(Politico) Yesterday, we laid out the case many prominent Democrats and JOE BIDEN-supporting editorialists are making for the president to exit his “cocoon” and start doing more public events that reassure voters about his age and abilities.
The flip side of this argument, which we heard from some Biden supporters and aides this weekend, is that focusing on the president at all is contrary to the campaign’s core strategy.
Biden 2024 will be a billion-plus dollar operation to warn voters about the perils of a DONALD TRUMP return to the White House. As one of Biden’s congressional allies told Playbook yesterday, riffing on a familiar Biden line, “Biden will never be the almighty, so everything has to be focussed on the alternative — because Trump’s faults are far worse.”
11 February
What Biden Needs to Do to Reassure the Public
We asked political strategists from both parties how the president should confront the most dangerous threat to his reelection.
On Thursday, a special counsel report found that Biden appeared to have “significant limitations” regarding his memory. Then, at a press conference called to dispel those concerns, Biden only exacerbated them by confusing the presidents of Egypt and Mexico.
…we reached out to some of the smartest strategists and insiders from both parties to collect their best ideas for how Biden might convince American voters and politicos that he still has what it takes to be president.
Here’s what they suggested.
‘Do a 60 Minutes interview to discuss it’ By Matt Bennett …

10 February
Inside Biden’s five-hour face-off with the special counsel
The president’s attorneys felt the early October interviews went well, only to be stunned this week by Hur’s disparagement of Biden’s memory
By Matt Viser
The group walked down one flight of stairs to the Map Room, where Biden was to be interviewed by special counsel Robert K. Hur, who for nine months had been investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents.
Those five hours and 10 minutes of interviews, unfolding over two days, would turn out to be momentous. But at the time, few foresaw how they would blow up four months later — not because of their content, but because Hur would repeatedly deride Biden’s memory during their time together. In a long-awaited report issued this week, Hur declined to prosecute Biden over his handling of classified documents but cast doubt on his memory, threatening to upend Biden’s pursuit of reelection by dwelling on perhaps his biggest political liability.
Special Counsel Stuck ‘Shiv’ Into Joe Biden: Ex-Obama Official
David Axelrod, an ex-senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, wrote in an opinion piece on Saturday that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) special counsel Robert Hur stuck a “shiv” into President Joe Biden with his recent report.
Robert Hur took a page from the James Comey playbook — and made it worse
A Republican special counsel puts his finger on the scale once again.
(MSNBC) Fast-forward to Feb. 8, 2024, when Republican special counsel Robert Hur released his 345-page report. The report is being seen by some as an exoneration, saying that no criminal charges are warranted in the classified documents case against President Joe Biden. But Hur, who used to work for the Trump administration, couldn’t let Biden off the hook entirely, especially 269 days before an election. Hur, a member of a Republican Party that now largely works as a campaign arm for the former president, delivered the goods for his party. Sure, he found no legal basis to charge Biden, but but but… Hur proceeded to editorialize ad nauseam about Biden’s mental acuity, delivering right-wing talking points up on a platter. He wrote, “[At] trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
The Real “Robert Hur Report” (Versus What You Read in the News)
How the Special Counsel report has been misinterpreted

9 February
What Biden’s Critics Get Wrong About His Gaffes
The president’s Mexico mistake is a warning sign, but not the one his critics think.
By Yair Rosenberg
(The Atlantic) On Sunday, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson went on television and mixed up Iran and Israel. “We passed the support for Iran many months ago,” he told Meet the Press, erroneously referring to an aid package for the Jewish state. Last night, the Fox News prime-time host Jesse Watters introduced South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem as hailing from South Carolina. I once joined a cable-news panel where one of the participants kept confusing then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Representative Pete Sessions of Texas. I don’t hold these errors against anyone, as they are some of the most common miscues made by people who talk for a living—and I’m sure my time will come.
… For months, Biden’s top aides have assured donors that when Biden gets out on the campaign trail, when voters realize that Trump is the almost certain Republican nominee and when the economic boom filters into the daily lives of voters, the 2024 race will finally reset.
The White House and the campaign in recent weeks have intentionally reduced the size of the events Biden attends, instead focusing him on meetings with small-business owners, Black families and smaller, kitchen-table discussions. They are working to put Biden back on the road, talking to voters in more intimate settings where he has always been strongest
‘Hair on fire’: Democratic worries grow over claims about Biden’s memory lapses
(WaPo) President Biden arrived in the Diplomatic Reception Room on Thursday evening aiming to demonstrate that what the special prosecutor had written about him in a report released earlier that day — that Biden was a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” — was false.
… The broad conclusion, both inside and outside Biden’s inner circle, is that a dangerous and misleading caricature of the president’s performance is at risk of setting in, pushed by the biting prose of a special prosecutor they suspected of seeking political revenge.

8 February
Special counsel passes on charging Biden but paints damning portrait of him
The report criticized Biden’s conduct, saying he improperly took classified material related to the 2009 Afghanistan troop surge and shared classified information with the ghostwriter of his 2017 memoir.
That conclusion was revealed in a 345-page report that the Justice Department released on Thursday.
In the report, Special Counsel Robert Hur, a well-respected former U.S. Attorney, explained the president’s “lapses in attention and vigilance demonstrate why former officials should not keep classified materials unsecured at home and read them aloud to others, but jurors could well conclude that Mr. Biden’s actions were unintentional.”

2 February
Ezra Klein: The Democratic Party Is Having an ‘Identity Crisis’
“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Joe Biden said at a rally four years ago in Detroit, flanked by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw standing behind me. They are the future of this country.”
That was the line then. Biden was the old warrior strapping on his armor one last time. Once Donald Trump was vanquished, the new guard could take over. “If Biden is elected,” a Biden adviser told Politico in 2019, “he’s going to be 82 years old in four years, and he won’t be running for re-election.” The Democratic Party was becoming something else. Perhaps a party built around democratic socialism, as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would have it. Perhaps a party more firmly rooted in identity and diversity. Either way, Biden was the last of his kind.
Today, Biden is 81 years old and he is running for re-election. Trumpism is anything but vanquished. And the Democratic Party no longer looks to be in transition. The Squad feels more like a faction than a future. Few think leadership of the party will smoothly pass to Vice President Harris. Polls have long shown Democrats aren’t enthusiastic about Biden running for re-election, but he’s avoided any serious primary challenge or pressure to drop out.

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