Well, it took a bit longer than expected, but Joe Biden’s first presidential press conference finally happened last week. Supporters were quick to say the President hit all the major points he wanted to get across while detractors said the expectation bar was set so low that all he had to do was stand upright and not get physically ill on his cheat sheets to claim victory.
Whatever your thoughts, it’s probably fair to say that Mr. Biden is not quite the keen communicator that John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were. But few have been. They both looked as if they actually enjoyed sparring with the press and seemingly always had a witty retort handy when they wanted to lighten the mood. Joe ran his show more along the lines of checking his notes to make sure he’d said what he wanted to say.
That binder of facts was an interesting sidelight to the answers the President gave. Many could never recall seeing any U.S. Chief Executive actually read talking points from a prepared text before. But others said he just wanted to make sure he was stating things accurately. I wonder how many of those pages he had. Surely he and his staff couldn’t have prepared for every possible question. But he did have another list, and it was made up of reporters to choose. So, he wasn’t just picking his questioners at random. Read into that what you may.
While Mr. Biden was able to talk at length about his most recent and upcoming spending projects, I thought one of the most interesting queries was about his chances of running for re-election in 2024. Just a wee bit early to think about that, wouldn’t you agree?
Assuming he remains both mentally and physically healthy, President Joe will be 82 when the presidential primary season rolls around to enthrall us all once more. Usually the person occupying the White House is assumed by his party to want an eight-year lease at the public housing facility on Pennsylvania Avenue. But these are hardly usual times.
Of course, there are Republicans already lining up to seek the nomination three years out. It’s pretty obvious people such as former South Carolina Governor/U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem are running already. They seem to raise their hands often when an opinion is needed. And you can bet Mike Pence is mapping out a plan right now.
Many more Republicans will no doubt also think the country would benefit from their expert leadership. Politicians holding any and all elective office no doubt have at one-time or another envisioned taking the oath of office at the Capitol. For some, it’s ego-boosting enough just to see “NAME for President” on a yard sign.
Of course, for the GOP, there’s the continuous outsized presence of one Donald J. Trump. A large number of the 75 million Americans who voted for #45 would probably jump on the bandwagon to make him #47 too. (Non-consecutive presidential terms have happened before, you know. Just in case you misplaced your history book, check out Grover Cleveland toward the end of the 19th century.) Another Trump presidency no doubt would be interesting on a multitude of levels, not the least of which is he’s still limited to just two terms, so were he to be elected in 2024, he’d immediately become a lame duck in office and not eligible to run again.
Even with Trump’s hat in the ring, other Republicans would still have an easier time of trying to secure the nomination than other Democrats. It’s pretty darn hard to run against a sitting president in one’s own party. Anyone taking the incumbent on has to basically admit that there’s something rotten in Denmark. That can backfire with the party faithful. Now, Bobby Kennedy mounted a successful campaign against the Vietnam War and Lyndon Johnson in 1968 (which helped LBJ decided not to run that year). But not even Ronald Reagan could best Jerry Ford in 1976.
Kamala Harris would undoubtedly like to run, but she’d probably have to resign as VP first. You can’t really say unkind things about your boss without some repercussions. 2020 contenders such as Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Pete Buttigieg are probably still interested. And what about Hillary? Or Michelle Obama? Or Oprah? And even The Bern may not have it out of his system yet.
All that, however, is pure speculation right now. Joe said he plans to run again. There are a few pressing issues to deal with first, though. Let’s see what he says after his 10th press conference.
©MMXXI. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer