OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden, the debate and Israel

The president’s age will remain a constant focus of the media and the public, making it nearly impossible to promote his successes.

U.S. President Joe Biden announces plans for lowering housing costs and increasing housing supplies for U.S. home buyers at the Stupak Community Center in Las Vegas on March 19, 2024. Credit: Adam Schultz/White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden announces plans for lowering housing costs and increasing housing supplies for U.S. home buyers at the Stupak Community Center in Las Vegas on March 19, 2024. Credit: Adam Schultz/White House.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

Many of the president’s most vigorous cheerleaders on CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times, among others, have called for President Joe Biden to step aside after his disastrous performance in the debate. The overwhelming majority of the public, which seems to want neither man as commander-in-chief, thinks that Biden is unfit. As Thomas Friedman put it (and I’m loathed to cite him on anything), Biden can be a modern-day George Washington by prioritizing the nation’s interests over personal ambition.

You must have a massive ego to become president of the United States, so it should not be surprising that someone who achieves their lifelong dream of reaching the highest office in the land—enjoying its perks and the power that comes with it—would not want to give it up.

Imagine if Donald Trump were in the same position. What do you think he would do? Comedian Jimmy Fallon caught the irony when he said, “Yeah, the media has spent almost two weeks calling on a candidate to drop out of the race, and somehow it’s not the convicted felon.”

If dyed-in-the-wool Jewish Democrats like Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, believe “this election is not just a binary choice between Biden and Trump,” it is “a binary choice between American ideals and our future as a democracy,” then it is even more reason that Biden should release his delegates. If Biden loses the presidency, he could jeopardize the party’s control of the Senate and chance to win the House, leaving his rival in power with no guardrails.

Biden’s sycophants (and every president has them) have strained credibility with flimsy excuses. First, we heard he had a cold. OK, that explains a raspy voice but not his incoherence. Then, we were told he suffered from jet lag—two weeks after returning from abroad. Does that mean he was befogged during those two weeks while making decisions about the nation’s fate? Shouldn’t that scare everyone since he will be expected to travel in a second term? Does the public trust his aides to run the country with Biden as a figurehead?

Even crazier was the argument that we shouldn’t worry because the election is still four months away. Do Biden’s supporters think he will stop aging during that time, and become more physically and mentally fit?

Biden and his supporters also argue that he won all the primaries and has the public’s support to be the nominee. Of course, most of the people talked about now as replacements didn’t run against him, unaware of his physical and mental deficiencies.

No matter how much they wish the issue would disappear, Biden’s age will remain a constant focus of the media and the public, making it nearly impossible to promote his presidency’s successes.

The election has been miscast as Biden versus Trump. It is Kamala Harris versus Trump, as few people believe Biden can govern until he is 86, given his deteriorating condition. Harris flamed out as a presidential candidate and has yet to distinguish herself as vice president, so the case for Biden staying in the race is much weaker, as is the argument that Harris should automatically be the nominee if he pulls out.

Harris, as expected, has toed the administration line on Israel. Some may recall that she raised hackles when she failed to challenge a student who accused Israel of “ethnic genocide.” She has little foreign-policy credibility or experience. Harris supported the two-state solution as a candidate while acknowledging that outside parties could not impose a solution. She was also no fan of then-newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is unlikely to have become more enamored with him after his fights with Biden. She is also an advocate of a nuclear deal with Iran, which raises serious questions of national security as Iran’s resources to build a bomb have grown under Biden-Harris. Some supporters may argue that her Jewish husband, who has taken a visible role in the administration’s effort to combat antisemitism, could be a positive influence vis-à-vis Israel.

With Biden’s decline and Harris’s limited foreign-policy inexperience, the influence of Obama-era diplomats at the State Department will grow and imperil U.S.-Israel relations.

There are too many other possible candidates to assess their credentials unless and until one becomes the nominee. The record of those who ran in 2020 is available. Despite viable alternatives, shunting a woman of color will alienate swaths of the party needed to defeat Trump. It would be even more difficult to bypass her if Biden were to resign and she became president. Either way, Democrats will pay a price for sacrificing principle for identity politics.

Whether the party will come together in the face of Soifer and other Democrats’ stark choice is an open question. Just enough people may stay home or vote for a third-party candidate to sink any nominee.

Can Biden count on the Jewish vote if he stays in the race?

A case can be made to Jews for voting for Biden based on his domestic policies and support for Israel. However, recent polling shows that Jews are abandoning Biden in numbers beyond those who rejected Barack Obama in his second term.

Even before his mental acuity came into question, Biden’s support among Jews was eroding because he failed to stem the antisemitic tide in America; is publicly feuding with the Israeli prime minister; withholding and slowing down the delivery of arms to Israel; impeding the IDF’s ability to fight Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran; and refusing to take measures to stop Iran’s march to a nuclear weapon, and ongoing sponsorship of terror against Israel and the United States.

In a previous column, I advocated that Jews follow the example of Arab Americans and Muslims who were voting uncommitted to send a message of their dissatisfaction with Biden’s policy towards Israel. We don’t know how many Jews took that advice in the primaries, but the Biden team is taking the Jewish vote for granted because Jews are reliable Democratic voters. They believe Jews should appreciate Biden’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel during the war.

The American Jewish Committee poll taken before the debate found that only 61% of Jews plan to vote for Biden. That would be eight points below Obama’s 2012 total and seven less than Biden received in 2020. It would be the lowest percentage since Walter Mondale’s 57% in 1984 (a Jewish Electoral Institute poll has Biden doing better, receiving 67%, which would be worse than any Democrat since Dukakis in 1988).

It’s hard to imagine Biden attracting more Jewish votes after his debate performance. Their defection alone could sink his candidacy. Whether any other candidate would have more support is debatable, but they will likely do better.

Biden’s interview with George Stephanopoulos was supposed to reassure voters, but it was unlikely to do so as he again sputtered. When he said, “If the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race,” I was reminded of actor and Republican political activist Charlton Heston at a National Rifle Association (he served as a five-term president) convention when he said, “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

I hope a journalist follows up with Biden and asks if he thinks God is talking to him, and that he is making decisions for the country based on what he hears or if Biden meant he’ll only drop out if the Almighty strikes him down.

Maybe Jill should whisper in his ear while he’s sleeping, “Joe, this is God. I’d like you to withdraw from the race.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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