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Bloomberg published an op-ed Sunday that called on President Joe Biden to announce whether he plans to run for reelection in 2024 “soon.” The article, written by opinion columnist and co-founder of Vox Matthew Yglesias, contended that Biden running is not “a foregone conclusion” and his actions appear to some as the political maneuvers of a “lame-duck president.”
“If Joe Biden wants to run for re-election, he should say so clearly and soon — and then start acting like it,” Yglesias wrote. “Alternatively, if the president is not sure he wants to run again, he should take that as a strong sign that he shouldn’t — and then make that announcement soon, too,” he continued, emphasizing the word “soon.”
While Yglesias acknowledged it is still early for a typical incumbent president to announce his candidacy for re-election, he argued that, given Biden’s unique attributes, such an announcement is needed.
“Yes, it’s abnormally early for an incumbent president to be making an official announcement. But for all modern incumbents, a re-election campaign has been a foregone conclusion. For Biden, it isn’t,” he wrote.
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“And for many Democrats in Washington, the presumption now — partly because of his age and party [sic] because of his policies — is that he’s not running,” he continued.
Yglesias noted, “Many Democrats see his tenure thus far as reflecting tendencies they usually see in a lame-duck president,” such as “prioritiz[ing] ambitious foreign policy goals … over domestic issues such as inflation,” along with “compromis[ing] his diversity goals to hand out senior jobs to old friends … while simultaneously outsourcing most of the staff work to the left wing of the party.”
Some Democrats who do not believe Biden will run for re-election “are currently casting around for alternatives to Vice President Kamala Harris,” Yglesias reported.
He recalled how “in March 2021 [Biden] convened a roundtable meeting with historians to discuss his potential legacy and his ‘think-big, go-big mentality’.”
“This is the kind of thing presidents normally do in the March after they get re-elected. That’s when they turn the page on practical politics in favor of efforts to define themselves in the eyes of history,” he noted.
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He added that such efforts “rarely works out,” citing President George W. Bush’s “doomed push to privatize Social Security, prompting a huge public backlash” and his promise to spread democracy around the globe, an effort that ultimately left the Taliban in control of Afghanistan.
“First-term Bush, like most first-term presidents, was more pragmatic and focused on giving the people what they wanted,” Yglesias wrote. “The hard-right pivot after re-election was supposed to leave a more lasting legacy, but it flopped politically. And that political failure helped discredit Bush-style politics in Republican circles.”
Similarly, he argued that President Barack H. Obama “was laser-focused on public opinion during his first term,” and noted that Obama only took progressive stances on gay marriage and other social issues after public opinion changed on said topics.
“Not until his second term did he start throwing caution to the wind, taking big political risks for the sake of diplomatic breakthroughs with Cuba and Iran,” he said, arguing that these second term agenda items were “politically costly”.
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“Now the Biden administration is being similarly reckless with its politics — hostile to fossil fuel extraction amid high energy costs, picking aggressive fights over transgender issues that could be easily ducked, and more focused on the benefits of student loan relief than on its impact on inflation,” he argued.
Yglesias called the historians’ advice to Biden in the Oval Office “borderline absurd.”
“There’s a reason congressional Democrats ran consistently weaker than his presidential campaign — a margin of the public was voting for Biden despite the progressive agenda, not because of it,” he noted.
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Biden’s approval rating has sunk to 39 percent, with only 16 percent of Americans strongly approving of his job performance thus far. Meanwhile, 47 percent of Americans strongly disapprove of Biden as president.
Former President Donald Trump is leading Joe Biden in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, and some are predicting a rematch between the two presidents.