HL 177 – Joe Biden, It’s Time For Your Goldwater To Nixon Moment

November 8, 2023

Home | Blog | HL 177 – Joe Biden, It’s Time For Your Goldwater To Nixon Moment

Forced today to place a wager on a Biden v. Trump contest in 2024, I would bet on Joe and by a decent margin, notwithstanding recent polls saying he trails in five of the six key swing states.  But now those who’ve seen Oppenheimer or read American Prometheus must conjure that exchange between the physicist and Manhattan Project Director General Leslie Groves about the chances of the then imminent July 16, 1945 Trinity Test igniting the atmosphere and ending human life being near zero.  Groves responded that just plain zero would be far more comforting.

Leslie Groves and J. Robert Oppenheimer

The significantly greater than zero chance that Trump beats Biden next year is the reason Biden must be visited by the 2023 elder Democratic statesperson version of Republican Barry Goldwater in 1974.  And that more than remote potential outcome brings a significant chance of ending or grievously injuring American democracy and/or unleashing massive domestic violence.  Violence that the Trumpers are already planning for.  Planning led by Jeffrey Clark.  You can’t make this shit up.

Biden knows this and succinctly described these dire possibilities last September at an event honoring the late John McCain, saying “there is something dangerous happening in America . . . an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy.”

Biden/Harris v. Trump/? makes those outcomes possible at an unacceptable level and that predicament exists mostly, though not completely, because of Biden’s age.  The melting ice cube factor that I first discussed in HL 98 on March 24, 2020[1] and revisited in HL 145 on September 25, 2021.[2]

Kamala Harris

And seemingly there is nothing Biden can do about the public’s brooding gaze at the calendar.  Biden’s whirlwind and dangerous trips to Ukraine and Israel, that would challenge the energy level of a person half his age, did not change the story or its trajectory.  And it gets slightly worse as each month passes.

And that unfixable problem leads to another, the Harris conundrum.  Too many voters lack confidence that if and when an 82 to 86 year old Biden dies or becomes incapacitated, she will be an effective president.  I think she’d do fine.  But that point of view is not prevalent.  As Bill Maher recently stated:

“I know this is a little indelicate but for whatever reason the Kamala Harris situation has not worked out.  I mean people just don’t think she did the job well and they are very afraid that part of the Biden age issue is that she is next in line and he could easily go.”

Joe Biden & Nancy Pelosi

When Goldwater visited Nixon,[3] he told him would be impeached and removed from office after trial in the Senate and that Senator Goldwater would vote for that outcome.  The message that must be delivered to Biden is that his probably successful candidacy presents a quantitatively significant and unacceptable risk.

Who delivers that message?  Not, or more accurately not just, a senior statesperson like Goldwater.  For Democrats in 2023 that Pelosi or Schumer or Dick Durbin must be accompanied by someone ready to step up – Gavin Newsom who clearly wants to, Amy Klobuchar who likely wants to as well, or Sherrod Brown.  I’ve spoken with Brown and he does not want to run.  But as I told him, in times that try our souls such druthers must give way.

Indeed, a visit from all six might most effectively deliver the message, one badly needed and soon.

[1] We said, “Biden’s failings are in the nature of things.  We commented in HL 97 that his March 12 [2020] Covid-19 leadership speech, was far superior to the President’s [Trump’s] late, bumbling, wheezing and grudging admission that there is a problem.  But Biden is a melting ice cube.  Those of us who have closely watched as time ravaged the once sharp or even brilliant minds of loved ones and colleagues, recognize what is happening to the good soldier Joe.”

[2] We said: “He’s melting, but from a base not nearly as insubstantial as we said in HL 98 of March 24, 2020, an ‘ice cube’ . . . He proved our metaphor wrong, though not necessarily the diagnosis, rallying, winning both the primary and general, transitioning to power despite the November 3 [2020] to January 20 [20201] insurrection and taking charge in a manner that had many calling his presidency ‘transformative’ during the first few months.  Nevertheless, recent major errors clearly evidence decline.  The questions are how fast and how thick is the ice”

[3] For any Gen Z readers, Goldwater was in 1974 the Senior U.S. Senator from Arizona and had been the Republican presidential nominee in 1964.  Nixon, is not ‘Miranda’ in ‘Sex and the City,’ nor its execrable recent reboot.  He was our 37th President, the only one that resigned.


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