Will Biden and Trump Recompete in the Election?
Al-Itihad, UAE, July 30
Two events over the past week have raised questions about the viability of Joe Biden and Donald Trump to compete in the next presidential election scheduled to take place in November 2024. By that date, Biden will approach his 82nd birthday, and Trump will be 78. Biden was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and, although it appears mild, he has been performing his work remotely. His supporters are concerned about whether his faltering health will allow him to withstand the arduous demands of the midterm elections, not to mention the presidential campaign. While Trump’s physical health is not an issue at the moment, his erratic behavior and constant preoccupation with the 2020 presidential election, which he continues to insist was “stolen,” worries many Republicans. On July 21, Trump faced the most serious crisis he has faced since leaving office. On that day, the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack held its eighth public hearing, which was broadcast for the first time on prime-time television. This hearing was devoted to discussing how Trump acted on January 6th, when his supporters swarmed the Capitol, causing panic, death and mayhem, including chants of searching for Vice President Mike Pence to “hang him.” Pence’s “crime” was that he refused to comply with Trump’s demand to use his power as President of the Senate and deny the certification of Biden’s victory. For three hours and seven minutes, from the time the huge crowd gathered in The Ellipse, where speakers urged them to march toward the Capitol, until the moment they finally demanded that the crowd disperse, Trump took no steps to stop the chaos. He spent most of that time in his dining room next to the Oval Office, watching Fox’s coverage of the uprising. His senior staff, including his legal advisor Pat Cipollone, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, urged him to make strong calls on television for the crowds to stop and go home. But he made no such effort. Nor did he contact the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to help secure the Capitol. Instead, at 2:24 p.m., he tweeted: “Pence didn’t have the guts to do what had to be done.” As his former employees shared in the hearing, this tweet only fueled the flames. One outcome of the hearings was the decision of two of the country’s most conservative newspapers, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, to publish editorials stating that Trump should not run for president in 2024. This may not affect ordinary Trump supporters, but will have an impact on the Republican establishment and major campaign finance donors who may be willing to support some of Trump’s rivals, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. In addition, as more evidence of Trump’s complicity in the insurgency comes to light, the US Department of Justice may decide to indict him. Trump may announce early on that he will run again, in the hope that it will dissuade the Justice Department from pursuing him. The biggest dilemma for Democrats is that, as Biden recovers from COVID-19, other weaknesses, including his frequent verbal “slips,” will increase questions about his health and eligibility for the job. So far, no Democratic rival has emerged, but these issues present serious challenges for Biden. If Trump decides to run, Biden’s ego will likely push him to pursue another term in office. But if, for whatever reason, Trump steps aside, the pressure on Biden to step down from the race will increase, with hopes that a younger candidate will be better suited to win and take over the White House. – Jeffrey Kemp (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)