He had a hectic day dealing with both national and foreign affairs but as he was usually able to do, when it was time to go to sleep, he could do so without difficulty. It was the rare occasion when he could not. Then it came to him. The dream. He had entered a room where there were a few empty tables. It looked like a restaurant where customers had already left. But at one table near the end of the room, there was this lone man seated with his back to him. Something about the shape of the man’s head and the contours of his upper body were strangely familiar. Biden was sure he knew the person. He advanced toward him, determined to find out who the man was. As he neared the table the man turned around and looked up at him. It was Bobby Kennedy. Biden gasped. Kennedy rose and the two men embraced. ‘Have a seat,’ said Kennedy. Biden sat down next to him. ‘I’m delighted to see you.’ ‘I am, too. You’ve done a good job,’ said Kennedy. ‘Thank you, Bobby.’ ‘The pullout from Afghanistan was necessary, painful though it was.’ ‘It was difficult, yes, but I had the strong sense the matter had to be resolved so I could focus ahead.’ Kennedy nodded supportively. ‘It’s been a good term.’ ‘Glad you think so, too.’ ‘Looking back,’ continues Kennedy, ‘maybe too much money was spent on assistance during the pandemic… which contributed to this inflation you’re having to deal with… but hindsight is easy.’ ‘I think it was the right thing to do, Bobby. We’ll get through it.’ Biden puts a hand on Kennedy’s shoulder. ‘It’s good to see you, man. You’ve aged but you look good’. ‘You do, too,’ replies Kennedy. The two men pause as they look at each other. ‘You didn’t come just to say hello, did you?’ says Biden. ‘You’re right,’ returns Kennedy. ‘Do you think I should run again?’ ‘No.’ Biden lowers his head. ‘Joe, you have done a terrific job… creating a united front to defend against Putin… injecting vigor into combating climate change… stepping up for the working class… bolstering our investment in tech industries… squaring with China… and in the next two years you’ll do so much more that you will leave a clear mark in the history of our nation. A mark of excellence, Joe. Without a doubt.’ ‘Thank you, Bobby.’ ‘But age is age, Joe… and it is ruthless. It does not spare anyone.’ Biden nods slowly, as he looks away for a moment. ‘I wish… if I hadn’t been assassinated and gone on to win the election, to have served as well as you have.’ Filled with emotion, Biden reaches out to Kennedy’s hand and gives it a squeeze. ‘You have always been an inspiration to me.’ ‘Thank you. You have united the Democratic party, Joe, that’s a strength to build on. Republicans, on the other hand, are badly divided. And Trump’s running will make it worse. It’s unbelievable that a sitting president incited an attack on the Capitol and has not denounced Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.’ ‘Nor will he, it’s not in him,’ puts in Biden. ‘His flaws are glaring. The 2024 presidential election should go to a democrat… but by then you’ll be 82. You are healthy but the perception of old age will affect the voters.’ Biden stares off. ‘I would’ve liked to serve two terms…’ ‘But you were vice president for 8 years…’ Biden nods again. ‘There are a lot of good people in the party waiting to hear from you,’ continues Kennedy. ‘You think I’d be challenged in the primaries if I decide to run again?’ says Biden. ‘I believe you would be challenged… adding another stress on you, on top of everything you now have to handle. Instead, if you announce that you won’t be running, that will give other people plenty of time to step up and start to organize. It takes time.’ They look at each other. Biden smiles. ‘I wouldn’t know what to do with myself…’ Kennedy smiles, too. ‘There will be plenty of things for you to do. And much appreciation for your wisdom’ Now Biden wakes up. He looks around. The dream was so vivid that it brings tears to his eyes. He always admired Bobby Kennedy. Through the window he sees that it’s still dark outside. Jill is next to him, sleeping comfortably. Biden swings his legs to sit at the edge of the bed. He rubs his face and looks straight ahead. ‘One term… but a damn good term.’
Based on the results from the midterm elections, the answer is no. As of this writing Republicans will end with only a slim advantage in the House and they’ve lost the Senate. Their relative poor showing was a referendum on Trump Raphael Warnock (D) will beat Herschel Walker (R) in the remaining undecided Senate seat in Georgia, giving Democrats the full advantage of 51 to 49. Trump has managed to divide his party. Yesterday he declared himself a candidate for the presidency but he will lose in the primaries. His supporters were mesmerized by his charm but missed the substance. And the substance is that Trump is not a believer in the democratic process. The assault on the capitol on Jan 6th 2021 wouldn’t have happened without his incitement. The fact that, in spite of it, he managed to keep so many followers, tell us that there’s a sizeable section in this country for which democracy is just a word. The good news is that there are many Republicans who are not fooled and were never fooled. They showed up at the polls in the midterms and rejected Trump’s followers. They showed up at the polls and rejected the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The best hope for the Republican party in 2024 is that Trump doesn’t win the primary. So far, DeSantis from Florida is attracting attention as a rival. But there is ample time for other contenders to rise. When the lineup of Republican party candidates shows up for the primary debates, there will be plenty ammunition for them to take Trump down. And his followers will see how much better another candidate will represent them. The division in the Republican party works in Democrats’ favor. But Democrats will do well to select a candidate whose appeal extends to disaffected Republicans. The time is now for Democratic candidates to start grooming their teams. And so the matter of whether Biden will run again becomes critical. I am a strong supporter of him but now believe that he should not run for reelection. In just 4 days, on November 20th, Biden will be 80 years old. In 2024 he will be 82. Age matters on a job as hectic as the president’s. Two more years in the White House will help Biden consolidate some of his policies and we may also see Ukraine win the war against Russia. Biden should be very proud of what he’s done. He has said he will decide early next year if he’ll stand for reelection. I think he will choose not to. And so open the door for Democratic candidates to flesh out their campaigns. Kamala Harris will definitely be among the contenders but so will be Gavin Newsom from California. They need ample time to prepare. My projection is that Newsom will become the Democratic candidate for president in 2024. And so help write Donald Trump’s political epitaph. We earn our freedom every day.
Trump is a symbol of retreat from the world. Which appeals to the nativist. But it is the wrong position to take. If Trump had been elected in 2020, there would’ve been no war in Ukraine. He would have given Putin the green light to take it over. ‘Look Donald,’ Putin would have said, ‘I need space. I know you’re not a great supporter of NATO so I appreciate that, but still, I need some room. Poland is too close, and so is Romania and the Baltic states. And let’s face it, you have term limits in the US. After this term, who knows who will become president and they may be hostile to Russia. So this is the time for me to take over Ukraine and have some breathing room. Just in case.’ And Trump would have answered, ‘I know what you mean, I feel cramped myself with all those democrats questioning every decision I make, so, yes, go ahead. But make it quick. An overnight operation should do. Fly Zelensky and his cabinet over to Berlin… though Berlin may be too close. I leave that up to you. I’d consider Mogadishu in Somalia. I hear they have nice beaches.’ Repression would have been ruthless in Ukraine but Putin would have got his legislative body to formally annex it. Europe would have been speechless, and they would have said to themselves, ‘we can’t look to America anymore… so either we develop our own defensive forces or we’ll be annexed next, one nation at a time.’ But in 2020, enough Americans saw the light and more than 81 million came out in favor of Biden, versus the 74 million Trump got. If a majority of Americans rejected Trump in 2020, more will reject him in 2024 if he decides to run as he’s suggesting he will. What do I say that? Because the majority of Americans have only become more clearly convinced in the last 2 years that Trump is an atrocious choice for president. We don’t know yet if he cheated on his taxes but he may have. Why so adamant about sharing the documents? A verdict has not been issued on whether he incited the crowd to storm the capitol on January 6th 2021, but if we don’t call it inciting, what do we call it? Did he tamper with the voting in Fulton county, Georgia, in his mad attempt to prove the election was stolen from him? We’ll have to wait but he surely was desperate. Then there’s the sad spectacle of Republican senators who cannot stand up to him. Grown, mature men who have swallowed their tongue, waiting for the next instruction from Mar-a- Lago. The majority of Americans are watching silently this unbelievable display of poor judgment and have made up their minds. By contrast, this same majority, is seeing Joe Biden be a leader to our nation. They are seeing a man and his team making every effort to address our national problems and taking on the courageous job of uniting the West in opposing Putin’s cruel invasion of Ukraine. Biden, not Trump, had the nerve to call Putin ‘a killer’, to call Russia a pariah state. We either believe in the good judgment of the American people or we don’t. I believe in it. Which is why I am sure, that Trump will not get reelected if he chooses to run. He will be beat handily. By Biden, or any worthy democratic candidate. The elections in 2024 will go to the democrats. The reason is simple. The Republican party is being choked by Trump and they can’t find a way of pushing him off and say to him, ‘Let us breathe!’ The nativist sentiment that propelled him to the presidency remains a factor which needs addressing. The resentment from having been left behind by globalization is real and needs to be worked with. But there is no easy way out as Trump thought. Americans left behind should be entitled to educational grants to facilitate their education and so help them raise their standard of living. They should have fought for this as globalization was starting. But their leaders, too, were asleep at the wheel. Immigration needs to be fixed but we need immigrants. A wall won’t do because it sends a horrible message to the rest of the world. As an open society, we can deal with the Trumps of this world. We may be fooled once but not twice. As we speak, Russia is slowly imploding under the disastrous rule of Putin. China has plans to become the world’s dominant power and is watching us carefully. But as long as we are a well governed nation, with opportunities for all, our productivity will give us the edge to remain a leading country and a defender of freedom and the rights of human beings. This we can trust.
The Republican party has a steep uphill battle for the 2024 presidential elections. The footprint that Trump has left will be hard to erase. That’s how toxic it has been. The fact that Trump is still in the running for the nomination is baffling, but that’s clear evidence of how confused the party is. Immigration is the central issue. Trump seized on it to rally support but couldn’t come up with an answer to the problem. Immigration needs limits. Enforceable limits. We need borders and the means to sustain them. But we can’t do without immigration. The faction of the Republican party who wants to severely restrict immigration would cripple the nation if they had their say. It is true that we need to bolster the opportunities for advancement for Americans now in the lower earning rungs of our society, but we still need to keep open the doors for qualified immigrants to come to this country. This is our advantage over China and Russia. They are closed off to immigration. That is hurting them. The force that immigration is has a transformative effect on any nation. And it is overwhelmingly a positive one. Europe has been struggling with immigration for years and, to their credit, they’re still at it. China and Russia just choose not to deal with the problem. And it is their loss. Looking at the Republican field for the nomination for president, I see little to suggest that a Republican candidate can go up successfully against Biden, if he chooses to run, or another democratic candidate, say Harris or Newsom. Republican candidates are failing on the issues. Overturning Roe vs Wade will do little to invigorate the party. The majority of American women want to keep their right to choose. Had Trump been elected instead of Biden, Putin would by now have annexed Ukraine and invited Trump to the ceremonies. In the press conference that would have followed, Trump would have been asked by a reporter if he thought Putin had the right to take over Ukraine, and Trump would have said, ‘I don’t see why not, he was feeling encircled by NATO. We need to give him his space.’ And then Putin would have walked over and handed him a Cossack hat, as a tribute to his far reaching understanding of how the world works. And Trump would have put it on. Then said, ‘Look, Russia is a great country, and they need their space. By not arming the resistance in Ukraine we have saved many lives, and America’s closer ties with Russia will help us deal with the menace of China.’ Putin would have smiled and thought to himself, ‘We need to get this guy reelected a third term.’ Trump and freedom don’t mix. His legacy of obscurantism will last for some years. Still, there are enlightened sectors in the Republican party who might push forward a sane candidate to run against the democrats. I think that candidate would be John Kasich.
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There are those who criticize him just because of his age. Those who do are envious of the man. For there he is, at 79, leading our nation and doing it well. The skeptics think he won’t last, that he is on the verge of falling apart any moment. But he keeps proving them wrong. Talk has begun about whether he should run again when his term is up. Born on Nov 20 1942, he would be 82 if he were to start a second term. Is that too old to be president? Why not wait for Biden, himself, to tell us? We all age differently, and given his stellar performance, he’s earned the right to tell us whether he feels up to running again. Biden should be judged on his record, not on his age. A man in his position is being scrutinized constantly. We should trust that his team, all those around him, including Jill Biden, would be the first to notice instances of dysfunction that would affect his judgment. Would that team, in the interest of preserving their jobs, be inclined to cover up signs of dysfunction? It’s possible but I don’t think likely. There are two reasons for that: One, that the team is aware of the responsibility to the nation and two, with the public exposure presidents have, any deficit would be hard to hide. Biden is a little over a year and a half into his term. Who’s to say that he won’t become more and more effective as time goes on, with all of us benefitting? He has earned the respect of world leaders for his admirable leadership of the western alliance in confronting Putin. That ordeal is far from over and I don’t doubt that, if he remains in good health, he will continue to deal effectively with whatever comes his way. If we trust his integrity, as I do, why wouldn’t he, or his wife, be the first to tell us, ‘I don’t think I’m up for the job anymore. Thank you for the privilege of leading our nation, but I now must let another person take over.’ Joe Biden would do that. You either believe it or not. I do. As a nation we stand to gain a great deal by trusting that some men have the maturity and wisdom to know their limitations. We are watching, of course, as we should. The more we see of Biden governing, the more glaring the difference with his predecessor. Which is why I think that, as sanity returns to the Republican party, the more remote becomes the possibility that Trump will be nominated again. And Biden would more than stand his ground against any other Republican candidate, man or woman, young or old. Age should not keep us from having Biden run again. Our gauge should be his performance. On that count, he is paving the way for his reelection. In any event, should he choose not to run, for whatever reason, the party has plenty talent ready to step up.
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He riled up Republicans in 2016 with a promise of remaking their world. But he couldn’t deliver. He had overpromised. Rather than speak to his supporters and tone down their expectations, he kept up with the unrealistic notions. Tweeting was a way of avoiding the reflection necessary to engage in a dialogue with the opposition. But he couldn’t muster the political courage. So he tweeted some more. Maybe he reasoned that keeping his followers entertained would suffice. It didn’t. The famous Wall was a distraction. It never got built, but there are patches of it, here and there, like relics in a battlefield. Make America Great Again was a bust In this age of growing interdependence you need allies. But he couldn’t muster the discipline and forethought. Still he kept stirring up partisanship, fostering divisions amongst Americans and eluding the dialogue that sits at the center of any attempt to build bridges amongst ourselves. In foreign policy he could not stand up to Putin. He could not say to the Russian dictator ‘do not meddle in our elections.’ And so Trump’s character flaws mounted and mounted. There was that one time when a female staffer in his administration had quit and then criticized him. He answered by calling her ‘a dog’. And then, to crown his history of misjudgments, he incites a crowd to march on Capitol Hill on January 6th. Testimony emerged during the congressional hearings on the matter that he wanted to personally lead the assault on the capitol, to disrupt the electoral ballot counting. His own staff had urged him to not proceed with his intentions. He even tried to coerce his vehicle’s driver to take him there. But the man objected. In the end, he had to accept that his administration had been a failure. But it’s been rough getting there. He may have started to accept reality but a side of his still fights it. Most painful of all was that he had a chance to make a difference but he botched it. He has trouble living with that. In the face of events, sane Republicans recognize what a disaster Trump has been for the party. But it will take time to process. They are now looking in the mirror and acknowledging that they did elect him and cheered him on. Eventually, those sane Republicans will find their truth and Trump will not get the nomination for president he still hopes for. His time has passed and he has to live with his lament, the opportunity to lead that was botched and botched badly, because he dared not think of all Americans. Sadly, he will go down as the worst Republican president ever. He knows it and it hurts. Sane Republicans’ reckoning with themselves will require time, time to relearn to trust their judgment, which is why I believe they will not win the next presidential election. If Biden chooses not to run, that election will belong to a woman, and the woman will be from the democratic party. Maybe it will be Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar or Cortez Masto, or another person yet to emerge. And history will move us on.
Oscar Valdes, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.