COMMENTARY

Democrats’ divine intervention: Biden says only God can make him back down

Some donors want to know if the president is missing God’s cue

By Brian Karem

Columnist

Published July 7, 2024 6:01AM (EDT)

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict in his hush-money trial before speaking on the Middle East at the White House on May 31, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict in his hush-money trial before speaking on the Middle East at the White House on May 31, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

God got dragged back into the presidential race this week, but not the way you might think. 

After sitting down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Friday night, President Joe Biden made two things abundantly clear: He still believes he’s the best man to run the country, or as he described it – being the most powerful man in the world. He also is fearful of what Donald Trump would do with a second term in office. “I convinced myself of two things. I'm the most qualified person to beat him, and I know how to get things done,” Biden said in the interview.

Those two things, combined with an obviously healthy ego, motivate him to continue to run for a second term even though it seems there is a growing number of Democrats who want to remove him from the ticket for fear that he is mentally deteriorating  - thus giving Trump that second term all Democrats fear.

At least they have solidarity on that issue. The Democrats all want to beat a convicted felon in the general election this Fall, but some just aren’t sure if the incumbent president can do it. That is a sentence I never, in my life, thought I would write.

Unless you’re living off the grid or have been in a coma, you know that Biden’s perceived decline manifested itself in Atlanta during CNN’s recent presidential debates. Biden stunk. So did Trump. But Trump sounded like his usual delusional, malevolent and demented self. At the same time, Biden shocked people with blank stares, an open mouth and befuddled answers to questions that he should have easily answered. The GOP circled the wagons and defended a convicted felon. The Democrats circled the wagons to burn Biden at the stake.

Afterward, Biden hit the campaign trail hard to shore up support, met with his staff, told them to soldier on, and has been on the road making sure the donor class still supports him. This unprecedented quandary in American politics just keeps getting worse.

Meeting with Stephanopoulos was supposed to settle the issue about Biden’s viability, but it raised more questions than it answered – according to some large Democratic donors, while others said he “knocked the ball out of the park.”

Appearance is reality these days. 

“I like the president a lot,” one West Coast donor told me. “I think he deserves thanks, our gratitude and our respect, but it’s time to step down.”

That question came up during the ABC interview. Stephanopoulos put it as politely as possible, but Biden would have none of it. So then he was asked, “And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?”

“Long as I gave it my all,” the president said, ”that’s what this is about.”

No. It’s not. And Biden seemed to understand that later, saying “the world is at an inflection point,” and the next several years “are going to determine what the next six, seven decades are going to be like.”

Yes. And while Biden’s approval rating is dismally low, and the poll numbers show him slipping, he refuses to believe those numbers. And those who think he should step aside for Vice President Kamala Harris should also know that Biden steadfastly believes the poll numbers about her chances against Trump. “I’m the only one,” who can win, Biden reiterated. Trump also tells us he alone can atone for our sins. 

“This was a very sad and weak interview,” one top donor explained. “I really hope he (Biden) steps down soon for the good of the country. He should step down right now and let Vice President Harris become President and she can run as an incumbent and she will win another four year term for the team.”

We need your help to stay independent

Harris supporters are much like Biden supporters; they don’t believe the poll numbers either - when it comes to her, but they do believe the poll numbers about the President. “She can easily win. Any candidate under 70 can beat Trump. And she is really great,” another donor explained.

But some Biden supporters ask an even more difficult question; “What if the poll numbers are right? What if Biden is the only one who can beat Trump. Harris is still on the ticket, and if, God forbid, something happened to Biden, she’s still there. So why should we change candidates?”

Biden on Friday was adamant about staying in the race unless there was divine intervention. “If the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get outta the race,’ I'd get outta the race. The Lord Almighty's not comin' down,” Biden said.

Maybe God did. 

I’m reminded of an old joke: A man is standing in front of his house during a deluge. Record flood predicted. Dam will burst. A neighbor drives by and offers him a ride. The old man turns it down. “The lord will save me.” A little while later, with the waters up to his waist, a guy in a boat passes by. Offers the old man a ride. “The lord will save me.” Finally, with the water up to his roof, a helicopter flies over and drops a rope. “Don’t worry, the lord will save me.” 

A short time later the old man drowns. He gets to heaven, meets God, and says, “Why didn’t you save me?” And God says, “I sent a car, a boat and a helicopter. What more do you want?”

Maybe the debate performance was God’s message.

Biden’s growing intricate explanation for “having a bad night” during the debate now seems more like an excuse – and his performance a definitive message about his viability. At least a number of Democratic politicians believe so – especially after looking at poll numbers showing several of them doing better than the president in their respective states. 

Biden admitted he can’t “run the 100 in 10 flat” but insisted he was still in good shape. So Stephanopoulos reminded him, “I know you,” but Biden stuck by his claim. “Look I’m running again because I think I understand best what has to be done to take this nation to a completely new level,” the president said. 

No Democrat, whether they want Biden to stay in the race or leave it, doubts that statement. Their concern is that Biden isn’t mentally or physically capable of handling the rigors of the challenge during the next four years. 

And to that point, several Biden supporters said those calling for him to step aside miss the bigger picture.

“Trump is only three years younger. At the end of his next term, he’d be older than Biden is now. If you think Biden is a problem, imagine what Trump would look like. Who will be pulling his strings? What will be left of the country when they’re done cutting it apart? The leader of the Heritage Foundation is calling it a revolution that could “remain bloodless” if we just step aside. That’s insanity.”

While some Democrats, like Senator Mark Warner, are publicly trying to assemble a group of senators to talk Biden out of running, many wouldn’t speak on the record about the debate or the ABC interview. Publicly most Democrats say they still love Biden. Behind the scenes, they’re eating their own — in a scene so strangely reminiscent of the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention as to be frightening. Even more frightening was Biden’s response to one of the questions Stephanopoulos, who by the way did much better than the CNN moderators in asking questions, aimed at the president; “If you’re going to lose the House and the Senate if you stay in, what will you do?”

Biden would not answer. “I’m not going to answer that question. It’s not going to happen.”

Pride comes before the fall. Biden doesn’t know the future any more than anyone else does. His pride is what got him into this mess. All he had to do was show up in public in the Brady Briefing room and show himself to the world on a regular basis and he could have quieted much of the criticism – and he could have prepared much better for his debate with Trump.

But he did not do that. He has no one to blame for the perception that he’s befuddled other than himself. Now he has to face the consequences of his own decisions. That sounds an awful lot like Trump. 

Finally, Biden says it takes character to run – especially because of the recent Supreme Court decision giving Presidents unlimited immunity for “official acts.” It’s going to take extraordinary intestinal fortitude to keep from manipulating the government with these newfound powers. He’s absolutely right. But I would like to hear that the President has more to offer on this subject – including expanding the court to better balance justice.

At the end of the day, as strongly as Biden remains entrenched, and as stubbornly as he has defended his entrenchment, the decision can still be reversed.

The next few weeks may yet find him stepping down.

Pandemonium is the new normal.

American politics remains chaos in a blender.

And Trump is laughing all the way to the White House - he hopes.


By Brian Karem

Brian Karem is the former senior White House correspondent for Playboy. He has covered every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, sued Donald Trump three times successfully to keep his press pass, spent time in jail to protect a confidential source, covered wars in the Middle East and is the author of seven books. His latest is "Free the Press."

MORE FROM Brian Karem


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Cnn Debate Commentary Donald Trump Elections 2024 George Stephanopoulos Joe Biden