The Time is Now

Photo by Dana Tentis on

Last night, President Biden gave a good performance in his State of the Union address.
He was forthright and spunky. And with good reason. He has a record to be proud of.
Here was a true leader of the Free World listing the nation’s achievements and the challenges ahead.
Many Republican attendees had trouble with the speech. Trouble with Biden. Trouble with everything because it’s now been decades since they’ve had a leader with the same heft and they have to contend with their envy.
And it doesn’t look good for them in 2024 either.
Which brings me to the question of succession.
For all his solid performance I think Biden should not run for reelection.
But walking away when you’re on top is not easy. I’m reminded of boxers who keep fighting even though age tells them that they’re past their prime.
Fighters like Joe Louis, Roberto Duran, even Muhammad Ali. But not all fall into the trap.
Rocky Marciano, an undefeated heavyweight champ during the 1950s, retired at the top of his game at age 31. Never went back to the ring.
Biden is now 80. By the time of the next election he will be 82. So during a next term he would celebrate his 83rd, 84th, 85th and 86th birthdays.
Biology is against him being able to keep up with the pace of the presidency.
If there is a crisis in Africa during the middle of the night, his aides would have to wake him up. Another crisis in Asia a couple of hours later, he would have to be awakened again. And then he’d have to be in shape to be at the meeting with the prime minister of Germany at 9 am.
Followed by cabinet meetings in the afternoon. Etc.
As President he would be continuously on the spotlight and every advanced age dysfunction, small as it may be, would become a distraction and a source of criticism.
If there were no other people around to step up and replace him, then his remaining on the job would make sense. But that is not the case.
There are now several good candidates eager to jump in and make a run for the presidency.
They are waiting for Biden to decide if he will run again.
Out of respect they are giving the President time to reflect and make his choice.
But if he decides to run again he should be challenged. And forcefully.
I have admiration for Mr Biden. Yet my sense is that he will choose to run again.
And that will not be good for the party.
So this is the time for the daring to step up and go for it.
Years ago, I think 2006 or so, when Obama had just begun to serve his term as Senator from Illinois, George Will, having heard of Obama’s wish to challenge Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination, wrote a piece where he said to Obama, ‘this is the time.’
And so I say so, too
This is the time for daring democratic contenders to step up and make their claims.
Do not wait for Biden to decide. Step up now.
If you do so, there is the strong possibility that such move will give Biden pause and help him make the right choice and not run again.
I do not think he will put himself through a primary process to become a candidate again.
Instead, he will reckon that it is time for a younger candidate, one he could advise and mentor for the benefit of the nation and the world.
The time is now for democratic presidential aspirants to all step up and say, ‘It is our time.’
Do not give the Republican party, a party still partly beholden to Trump, the opportunity to take advantage of fissures within the Democratic party.
The time is now.

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