TV viewers Thursday night watching him confuse Mexico and Egypt saw the same things as the special counsel who interviewed the 81-year-old president and found him an “elderly man with a poor memory.”
Polls paint a dire picture of a man with only about 40% of Americans approving of the job he’s doing, and barely a quarter thinking he’s physically and mentally up to the job for another four years.
Biden has now trailed Donald Trump in national and swing-state polls for the past five months and much of the past year — despite Trump’s own age, unpopularity and baggage.
He’s drawing only 44% of voters — a dreadful position for an incumbent — and drops into the 30s when voters are offered third-party choices.
He has all the hallmarks of a man cruising to defeat in November.
And he’s not going to get any younger between now and then.
But how can he be replaced?
Only obscure Rep. Dean Phillips is running against Biden in the primary, and he’s getting nowhere.
Normally, if an aging and unpopular leader was visibly failing, he could be pushed aside for his heir-apparent.
Biden could be pressured to resign.
He could be removed from office under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he’s “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Democratic Party rules allow its leadership to pick a new nominee after the convention, but only if the original nominee is unavailable.
One way or another, Biden needs to go.
How better to do this than to elevate the vice president to the presidency and have her run as an incumbent?
After all, in 1968, when Lyndon Johnson abandoned his re-election campaign and Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, Democrats fell back on their sitting vice president, Hubert Humphrey.
But this time, it’s Kamala Harris.
She’s even more unpopular than Biden or Trump, with a 35.5% approval rating at this writing.
Her favorability has been under water in every single poll taken since August 2021.
And as we’ve seen repeatedly, Harris doesn’t improve upon close inspection.
She was kept out of high-profile appearances during the 2020 campaign, and that has largely continued.
Every time the White House has said she was in charge of an issue, it got worse.
Her staffers keep quitting.
Her speeches are full of meandering, empty platitudes.
Clips of her appearances could come straight out of “Veep.”
In other words, Harris isn’t an asset to any effort to push Biden aside — she’s his best insurance policy.
And because she was selected largely for her race and gender, it would be extremely awkward either to ditch her or to promote someone else to the top of the ticket over her.
Only drafting Michelle Obama could avoid that problem, but bringing out of retirement a former first lady who has never run for or held office would be its own challenge, even if she could be persuaded to try.
What could Democrats possibly offer Harris to get her to step aside gracefully?
Harris is a lawyer, but not the type who’d likely be interested or qualified to be a Supreme Court justice.
Maybe she’d like to be governor — Gavin Newsom is practically wearing a sandwich board advertising his availability if Democrats want a substitute presidential candidate — but clearing the primary field for her in 2026 could be dicey in a state full of ambitious pols.
She could be greased with promises of lucrative board seats, but why not hold out for the presidency — even if it’s only for a few months?
So, Democrats are stuck.
Biden won’t go, and his age and mental decline only make him more stubborn.
Harris won’t go, because there’s nowhere for her to go but down.