..from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel…..
Joe Biden may not be running for reelection — yet. He’s certainly running for history.
An educated guess: Joe Biden is not doing what every first-year president starts doing around Day 200 of his presidency: Running for re-election. After the two weeks he has just endured, he is doing the thing presidents don’t do until their last months: Running for history.
And right now, he is losing that campaign.
Biden, a few weeks short of age 79, can’t have decided whether he will seek a second term in 2024; he cannot even remotely imagine the state of his health or the health of the country from this vantage point. But the president has been around politics, and presidents — he served with eight of them (Richard M. Nixon to Barack Obama) and watched one of them with horror (Donald Trump) before assuming the position himself — enough to know that it is his place in history that is in jeopardy now….
Stated simply: Will he be remembered as a visionary and unifier? Or a bungler and divider? To make it simpler: Is he a 21st century version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Or Woodrow Wilson?
The answer comes in two parts. He’s neither FDR or Wilson but purely distilled Joe Biden, for better or worse. And as for the visionary/unifier dichotomy, the easy answer is that time will tell, for sometimes the easy answer is also the smart answer…
The Democrats are worried. With slender majorities and a president showing his age, they have ample reason for their disquiet.
Long before the Afghanistan crisis, the Democrats’ options for the next several years have been cloudy, in part because their continued control of Capitol Hill is in serious danger and in part because of uncertainty whether Mr. Biden, already the oldest president, will run again.
The talk among many leading Democrats is that Vice President Kamala Harris, burdened with the toughest portfolio in Washington — safeguarding voting rights, handling the immigration crisis — will be difficult to nominate and almost impossible to elect if Biden chooses to retire in 2025, and that the party is “grooming” Pete Buttigieg as the substitute nominee.
This talk — which I have heard several times from people with no connection with each other but with conviction about the “plan” — ignores the notion that it is risible to think “the Democrats” are conspiring to do anything. Besides, the parties — especially the Democrats — have employed the political equivalent of spray-aerosol air fresheners to the smoke-filled rooms of yore.
In any case, it is secretaries of state, not secretaries of transportation — a position that admittedly has existed only since 1967, with only 19 people holding the office — who have had the principal Cabinet claim to the presidency. Six of the nation’s secretaries of state, beginning with Thomas Jefferson (in office 1790-1793) have become president, though none more recent than James Buchanan (1845-1849)…