Despite his record, President should drop out of race

Berl Falbaum

Sometimes in politics, as in life, there are no easy choices, and this is one of those times.

The quandary I am talking about is whether President Biden should drop out of the presidential race.  After long and serious reflection, I think he should.

Biden supporters hold your emails. Let me explain.

I think Biden has done an outstanding job both domestically and in foreign affairs. I have written about his record in previous columns.

To repeat: His legislative record in modern times is second only to LBJ. On the world front he unified NATO, is handling two wars (Ukraine and Israel) with skill and has respect throughout the world.

While it has not inexplicably penetrated the public consciousness, the economy is strong. Unemployment has been under 4 percent for two years; 15 million jobs have been created; inflation fell from 9 percent to less than 4 without a recession as predicted by some economists; the stock market is at record highs; consumer confidence jumped to a two-year high in January; and the GDP has grown 3 to 4 percent in the last two quarters.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell has hinted that, given the health of the economy, he may recommend cutting interest rates later this year.  

This is not to suggest that I have no bones to pick with Biden. For instance, to cite a few issues: the Afghanistan withdrawal was disastrous and he lied about the advice he received from the military, he has added trillions to the deficit, and approved drilling on pristine public lands in Alaska.

A president, however, needs to be judged, as others must, on the totality of their work. No one in public office ever pleases everyone; it’s not possible.

And, let me emphasize, I do not believe that he is suffering from a deterioration of mental acuity. But admittedly, I have serious concerns that, at his age, Biden is more susceptible to illnesses both physical and mental.  He will be 82 November 20, 15 days after the election.

So, you ask, and rightly so, if I believe Biden has been an excellent commander-in-chief, isn’t it unfair to ask him to bow out?

Absolutely, I agree totally. But we cannot afford the risk of having Donald Trump elected to another term and it appears that he is the odds-on favorite to defeat the sitting president.

According to polls, the electorate is prepared to re-elect a twice impeached president, a narcissist, a pathological liar, a sexual pervert who not only bragged about assaulting women but has been found guilty of doing so, has 91 felony charges facing him, has threatened to tear the Constitution to bits, has alienated Allies worldwide, has lied about the 2020 election, incited a deadly insurrection which threatened the peaceful transfer of power, and embraced white supremacists fomenting racism and antisemitism.

And that is just a brief summary. Who would not want to vote for a man with this record?    

We need to understand that a Trump victory will not result from just Republican votes. He cannot win with that support alone. He also has the backing, according to polls, from a large percentage of independents and even some Democrats. I don’t comprehend that either; I have never understood how Trumpism took root since it rode down that golden escalator in 2015.

Biden supporters maintain we need to have faith and hope, something “major” may yet happen. But Biden needs more potent political weapons than faith and the hope that an unexpected “bombshell” will boost Biden to overcome some of the following dismal facts: In polls, Biden trails Trump nationally and in crucial swing states; he is losing support among the black, Latino, young, the pro-Palestinian and college electorate; many Democrats, overall, are unhappy with his candidacy; dislike his running mate, Kamala Harris; and his approval rating, nationally, stands at a depressing 38 percent.

With a new candidate three negatives would be erased immediately: the age/mental acuity factor, the lack of enthusiasm among Democrats for Biden, and opposition to Harris.

I know that stepping aside would not be an easy decision for Biden. Putting pride and ego aside, the presidency, after all, is the most powerful office in the world and to surrender the opportunity to occupy it for another four years would require a huge sacrifice.

But given the devastating fate facing the nation should Trump win another term, Biden needs to reevaluate his decision and act accordingly.  

Of course, there are practical questions. Is there time for a new candidate to organize and raise the cash needed to launch a substantive campaign?

Would a fight among possible Democratic presidential candidates weaken the ultimate winner and make it easier for Trump?

I would propose that Biden convene the best minds in the party and develop a plan that would give us more than mere faith/hope that Trump can be defeated.

Some have suggested that the party choose a replacement at the Democratic National Convention to be held August 19-22 in Chicago.

That’s a possibility but it might be too late, only a mere two months before the November 5 election. Organization and money are not the only issues vital for a vigorous presidential campaign. A candidate also needs to establish an identity among voters and there may not be enough time to accomplish that within two months.

I don’t know if, at this point, we can, to use a cliché, change horses in mid-stream, but the issue should be seriously explored.

Risks are hard to gauge, but I think the risk of a Trump victory is greater with Biden than with a new Democratic candidate -- even at this stage.

Biden is a decent man who has dedicated his life to public service. I firmly believe that he understands completely what is at stake, i.e. the future of this country as the world’s greatest democracy. Given a comprehensive and plausible alternative, I think he would sign on, withdraw and work for and with his replacement.

We need to mobilize our entire political arsenal to make sure that we avoid a self-inflicted fatal wound. But a decision needs to be made now.


Berl Falbaum is a long time political reporter and author.