David Ignatius has written a respectful but firm opinion piece for The Washington Post that echoes the feelings of millions of Americans, including Democrats, titled ‘President Biden should not run again in 2024.’
“I don’t think Biden and Vice President Harris should run for reelection,” Ignatius states. “It’s painful to say that, given my admiration for much of what they have accomplished. But if he and Harris campaign together in 2024, I think Biden risks undoing his greatest achievement – which was stopping Trump.”
Indeed. Trump is expected to win the GOP primary, which would set up a Biden v. Trump rematch in which Biden is looking increasingly vulnerable.
Praising Joe Biden
Ignatius speaks reverently of Biden, in a way that most calling for Biden to step aside (me included) fail to do.
“Biden has had a remarkable string of wins,” Ignatius wrote. “He defeated President Trump in the 2020 election; he led a Democratic rebuff of Trump’s acolytes in the 2022 midterms; his Justice Department has systematically prosecuted the Jan.6, 2021, insurrection that Trump championed and, now, through special counsel Jack Smith, the department is bringing Trump himself to justice.”
I don’t share Ignatius’s rosy view of Biden or his tenure. And I think what Ignatius highlights as the ‘wins’ of Biden’s administration emphasize just how myopically focused on Trump liberals have become. A presidential administration should probably have wider aims than thwarting just one political opponent. Right? Foreign policy. Promoting legislation. Helping to win congressional majorities. Ignatius celebrates a weirdly one-dimension, and forgivingly low, bar. And frankly, the Justice Department moves that Ignatius is heralding are concerning developments that raise plausible suspicions of a two-tiered justice system.
Ignatius does get around to a wider assessment of the Biden presidency.
“What I admire most about President Biden is that in a polarized nation, he has governed from the center out, as he promised in his victory speech,” Ignatius wrote. “With an unexpectedly steady hand, he passed some of the most important domestic legislation in recent decades. In foreign policy, he managed the delicate balance of helping Ukraine fight Russia without getting America itself into a war. In sum, he has been a successful and effective president.”
Again, Ignatius is overly flattering. And again, Ignatius holds Biden to a forgiving low bar: avoiding war with Russia. The Russo-Ukraine War has been raging for over a year and a half, in large part thanks to American assistance to the Ukrainian resistance. Biden has enabled prolonged suffering in the name of a Ukrainian victory that is likely impossible.
While I don’t agree with Ignatius’s overall view of Biden’s first term, Ignatius and I are more closely aligned with respect to Biden’s second term: there shouldn’t be one.
“Biden would carry two big liabilities into a 2024 campaign,” Ignatius wrote. The first? “He would be 82 when he began a second term.” The second? “Because of [voter’s] concerns about Biden’s age, voters would sensibly focus on his presumptive running mate, Harris. She is less popular than Biden, with a 39.5 percent approval rating.”
Ignatius believes part of Biden’s problem is that he’s no good at saying no.
“Biden has never been good at saying no,” Ignatius wrote. “He should have resisted the choice of Harris…He should have blocked then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan…He should have stopped his son Hunter from joining the board of a Ukrainian gas company.”
And now, “Biden has another chance to say no – to himself, this time – by withdrawing from the 2024 race.”
On that, Ignatius and I agree.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.