When will the Democrats pull the plug on 'Plugs' Biden?
If we presume that Joe Biden's pace of mental decline does not reverse direction, the Democrats will be stuck with an embarrassment leading them into disaster in November. Unless there is vote fraud on a massive scale, Americans will not hand the fate of the Republic to Grandpa Simpson, also known as "Plugs" Biden after undergoing expensive hair transplant surgery in 2008 to avoid going bald.
There are contributing factors, his flacking for China as his son reaped ten-figure backing from the communists and his sexual harassment issues most prominently (for now). But the wiser and wilier among the DNC's power elite know they will not be able to hide Biden's mental infirmity all the way to November third. So they are considering how and when best to be rid of Joe. The emergence of Tara Reade's charge of sexual assault against Biden from behind the media embargo of coverage demonstrates that doubts about Biden cannot be simply be ignored. Reade maybe the proximate cause of controversy for now, but the underlying issue is vegetative tendencies of Biden's brain becoming increasingly obvious, even with him confined in his basement.
As with the Soviet-era Kremlinologists who sussed out the realities of the power struggle among a secretive power elite, we must observe small signs of the deadly earnest combat underway in the Democrat party over how to be rid of this loser. The best signs are found on the pages of their two principal media house organs, the New York Times and the Washington Post, whose editorial decisions act as pilot fish for the rest of the mainstream media, steering them in the direction that the party elites want.
The New York Times went first, on Saturday, with an op-ed by Elizabeth Buenig titled "Democrats, It's Time to Consider a Plan B." That was followed on Sunday by the WaPo granting op-ed space to Lyz Lenz, a columnist from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, who bashed Justice Kavanaugh and revealed her own status as sexual assault victim while writing:
Democrats should still insist that Biden step aside. Democrats must apply the standards we elaborated during the Kavanaugh case to our own side. In his defense, Biden's campaign is emphasizing his support of women's rights. But as Jessica Valenti argues in GEN, "Feminists must not fall into the trap of ignoring individual women's stories in exchange for broader political power. It not only runs counter to our most fundamental values around trusting women, but it's also a strategy that has never — and will never — result in the progress we're actually after."
As a partisan Trump-supporter, I hope the Democrats will hold fast in nominating Biden. But as a pragmatist and student of the ways of the power-obsessed, I don't think they will. So the question becomes when and how to pull the plug. As Stephen Green points out.
After New York canceled its primary vote last week, we learned that while it would be both risky and difficult, it is still possible for Democrats to nominate someone other than Biden:
As of April 27, the former vice president has 1,305 of the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch a first-round coronation at the party's convention. New York offered 320 delegates up for grabs, 274 pledged to the primary winner; a prize that would have brought Biden closer to the nomination.
If New York's decision triggers other states to cancel their own primaries, it is entirely possible that Biden could arrive at the Democratic convention without a guarantee of the nomination.
Larger states with upcoming primary votes include Georgia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, plus a few medium-size states like Maryland, Indiana, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Pennsylvania and Indiana have already delayed their votes, but if they and a few others like them decide instead to cancel as New York did, then that would be a clear indication that the DNC has decided to shove Biden out onto an ice floe for an ignominious retirement from presidential politics.
Bonnie Kristian of The Week points out that even those delegates supposedly won by Biden are not obligated by law to cast their first ballot votes in his favor:
So far, Biden has 1,406 of 1,991 delegates needed to win that initial vote, and those are delegates pledged (by strong custom, though not law) to Biden by primary and caucus results.
My guess is that DNC heavies are lobbying the remaining primary states to name their delegates by other means, probably a decision of the state-level parties. All they have to do is prevent Biden winning on the first ballot, perhaps via a slew of favorite sons and daughters (Stacey Abrams in Georgia, for instance), and then freeing the delegates in Milwaukee on the second and subsequent ballots.
Should this path be followed, Sanders-supporters are on the record that they will burn down Milwaukee if the Bolshevik is not fairly treated. But the entire reason Biden garnered the support he did was that he was supposedly "safe" compared to an open socialist. They fear a Sanders-led ticket would bring total disaster.
Avoiding a debacle in Milwaukee is one reason why Biden might be allowed on the ticket, only to be discarded closer to the election. Another is that a post-convention substitution of, say Andrew Cuomo or Michelle Obama, short circuits the time available for opposition research and negative campaigning against the Democrat nominee. Kristian notes:
...if they wanted to replace Biden (whether with Cuomo, the veep nominee, or some arrangement of both) Democratic leadership could wait until after the nomination to do so. Then, as they did with Democratic vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton in 1972, they could ask Biden to step aside, citing his health. (snip)
With Biden out, the Democratic National Committee, a group of around 350 which is "composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party Committee and over 200 members elected by Democrats in all 57 states and the territories," would vote to select a new nominee.
Such a switch could be made any time between the convention nomination and Election Day. Because we technically vote for Electoral College members rather than presidential candidates, it may be, as Vox proposes, that Electors could simply transfer their vote from the old Democratic nominee to the new one regardless of what was printed on the ballot. But the legal situation is uncertain and varies from state to state. "For instance," notes FiveThirtyEight, "Michigan's law requires an Elector to vote for the ticket named on the ballot whereas Florida's rules say that an Elector is to 'vote for the candidates of the party that he or she was nominated to represent.'" That means a sooner swap, allowing more states to print the new name on the ballot, would be better. Yet court battles would be inevitable with the ever-litigious Trump involved.
At this point, outsiders have no way of knowing the real extent of Biden's infirmity, nor do we know the true views of the party insiders and their funders about his prospects for avoiding embarrassment and defeat. But if I were a betting man, I'd wager that someone else will be on top of the ticket November third.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.