The Washington Post ran some desperate cover for President Biden last week.
“Biden shouldn’t feel bad. Voters don’t like anyone these days,” read a Washington Post piece by writer Jennifer Rubin, who not long ago dropped the word “conservative” from her Twitter profile.
“President Biden’s rotten polling numbers — only about 40% of Americans approve of his performance, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average — have inspired a bazillion headlines. But what has received far less attention is that Americans these days don’t like, well, anyone,” Ms. Rubin wrote.
The column in the friendly liberal paper was well-timed, coming just as there were murmurs among top Democrats that they weren’t sure they could support Mr. Biden should he decide to run in 2024 — he’d be 82 on the next Inauguration Day.
During a debate last week in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, two incumbents facing off against each other in the August 23 primary following redistricting, were asked whether Mr. Biden should run again.
Nadler said it’s “too early to say” and that it “doesn’t serve the purpose of the Democratic Party” to worry about the question until after the midterm elections.
Maloney went further, saying, “I don’t believe he’s running for reelection.”
Of course, Mr. Biden has said repeatedly that he’s running in ’24. But things have gotten so bad since Mr. Biden took office that Democrats are now openly saying he’s not running.
There’s good reason for the open dissent. A recent Quinnipiac poll found Mr. Biden’s approval rating hit 31%. And while a whopping 94% of Republicans disapprove of Mr. Biden’s job as president, 67% of independents also disapprove. That’s bad.
A majority of those surveyed disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and crime raging across America, the poll found.
In a Gallup poll released last week, Biden’s sixth-quarter approval rating was the lowest for any president on record at 38%. And his average approval over the first year-and-a-half of his term is the lowest of any other president in the polling firm’s 74-year history, The Daily Wire reported.
But it’s not yet acceptable for Democrats to bail on Mr. Biden. A day after their debate, Ms. Maloney effusively apologized — but repeated her view that he won’t run.
“Mr. President, I apologize. I want you to run. I happen to think you won’t be running, but when you run or if you run, I will be there 100%. You have deserved it. You are a great president and thank you for everything you’ve done for my state and all the states and all the cities in America,” Ms. Maloney said on CNN.
The liberal website Politico put this spin on the whole mess: “It’s not that they’re abandoning Biden early, just that many see little upside in taking a firm stand either way when that risks alienating either independents or the party base.”
The whole thing reached critical mass, prompting the White House to address the matter. “President Biden has emphasized that he intends to run for reelection,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates. “Right now his focus is not on himself, but on the stakes for families because of the contrast between our agenda” (and Republicans).
Other top Democrats have also been forced to comment on the murmurs. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “if he runs, I’ll support him.” And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Mr. Biden is “doing a good job” as president, but added: “Getting into this game this early is not very productive.”
Democrats know but they won’t say it: Mr. Biden is a problem for Democrats in the November midterms — some are even shying away from appearing with him.
If things stay as they are, they’ll bail even more. And who can blame them? If he’s a liability in ’22, he’s death in ’24.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl .
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