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Friday, July 12, 2024 - 06:47 AM


First Published in 1994


Former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley's 2024 presidential announcement this week, which makes her the first Republican to declare other than former President Donald Trump himself, formally commences what should prove to be a tumultuous GOP presidential primary. But despite the impending made-for-TV tumult in the GOP primary, the fact remains that the party has a number of possible or likely candidates who are either well-qualified or broadly popular with a substantial slice of the national electorate.

The same is simply not true for the Democratic Party. And as the octogenarian President Joe Biden shows all signs of imminently launching his reelection campaign, even the mainstream press is starting to fret.

The New York Times, the closest thing to Democratic Party Pravda, has over the past year run a series of urgent articles sounding the alarm on Biden's unprecedented presidential age and declining cognitive abilities. Last July, the Times ran an article titled, "At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency"; last November, another Times article was titled, "President Biden Turns 80, Making Him the First Octogenarian in the Oval Office"; and earlier this month, left-wing commentator Michelle Goldberg titled her column, "Biden's a Great President. He Should Not Run Again." The Times followed Goldberg's column with a number of responsive letters to the editor, which ran last week under the title, "Is Biden Too Old to Run Again?"

What's more, on Thursday, Politico and CNN published nearly identical articles strongly suggesting White House palace intrigue and a party apparatus torn about what to do with its senile commander in chief: Politico's piece was titled, "Senior Democrats' Private Take on Biden: He's Too Old"; CNN's eerily similar article was titled, "Biden's age is a hot topic as he looks to extend his time in the Oval Office until he is 86." Clearly, many in the Biden White House are leaking like a loose faucet. Even more notably, the liberal press, which would normally protect an incumbent Democratic president at all costs, is the one stirring the pot.

Some card-carrying members of the insular Washington press corps are worried about the reelection prospects of the oldest-ever sitting president, who in his first term has presided over a calamitous Afghanistan withdrawal, 40-year-high inflation, soaring violent crime rates and the worst humanitarian crisis at the southern border in U.S. history. And who can blame them?

At the same time, disposing of an incumbent president -- as the recent revelation of Biden's illicitly retained classified documents and the concomitant appointment of a special counsel to investigate his scandalous negligence indicate some in the Deep State may also desire -- necessitates finding a replacement candidate. And therein lies the rub. Of the three leading alternative candidates for the Democrats' 2024 presidential nomination, there are no appealing options. All three, in fact, are terrible options.

I speak here of Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The fact that Kamala Harris is unlikable, unliked, generally useless and unambiguously terrible at her job is the worst-kept secret in U.S. politics today. Harris famously secured not a single Democratic National Convention delegate during her ill-fated 2020 presidential run. She is ill-informed on policy and often speaks of complex issues in an overly simplistic and juvenile way. (Who can forget her gem last year on the Russo-Ukraine War: "Ukraine is a country in Europe. It exists next to another country called Russia. Russia is a bigger country.") She has endured massive staff turnover, and by all indications treats her staff horribly. And the Times has also seemingly soured on her; the headline of a long-form article a week and a half ago: "Kamala Harris Is Trying to Define Her Vice Presidency. Even Her Allies Are Tired of Waiting."

Put simply, it is extraordinarily difficult these days to find a Democrat who is thrilled about the prospect of a future President Kamala Harris. By contrast, most Democrats soberly recognize how awful she is. And the fact that so few are willing to say the quiet part out loud bespeaks the death grip that identity politics pablum now has on the Democratic Party.

Neither Buttigieg nor Newsom is a more enticing candidate. Buttigieg -- who, it must be stipulated, was chosen for Biden's Cabinet primarily not due to merit but rather on the basis of his personal sexual orientation -- has proved to be, bar none, the single worst transportation secretary in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In barely over two years, Buttigieg has overseen a crippling supply chain crisis (during which time Buttigieg was AWOL on paternity leave); a near-horrific national rail strike avoided at the last minute; the first FAA grounding of all national flights since 9/11; and most recently, a series of high-profile, visually shocking, destructive train derailments. It is evidently not possible to be worse at one's job than the 41-year-old former mayor of Indiana's fourth-largest city is at being transportation secretary of the United States.

Gavin Newsom is hardly any better. Newsom was forced to withstand a gubernatorial recall election in 2021, and conditions are so bad in his leftist fiefdom that California recently lost a House seat in the U.S. Census for the first time in state history. It got even worse after the 2020 Census: California shed 500,000 people between July 2020 and July 2022. Homicides have soared 41% since 2019, and the Golden State's estimated homeless population last year was an astounding 173,000. Meanwhile, Californians are forced to endure exorbitant housing costs and the single highest top state income tax rate in the country. In what universe, then, does Newsom, who bears a striking resemblance to Michael Douglas' "Gordon Gekko" silver screen robber baron, qualify as presidential material?

In all likelihood, then, Democrats will roll the 2024 dice with their stammering, scandal-ridden, palpably weak, cognitively deficient presidential incumbent. And for all their own woes, Republicans surely could not be happier about that.


To find out more about Josh Hammer and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.