News

Joe Biden and the ghost of LBJ

Join Fox News for access to this content

You have reached your maximum number of articles. Log in or create an account FREE of charge to continue reading.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Please enter a valid email address.

Having trouble? Click here.

As I write this, one week after his shockingly poor performance in his debate against former President Trump, it seems increasingly clear that President Biden will be forced to abandon his re-election efforts and allow the convention to pick a new nominee.

Biden would become the first president in 56 years to choose not to run for re-election.

The last president who did so – Democrat Lyndon Johnson – bowed out at the end of March 1968. It was three and a half years after he won a decisive landslide against Republican Barry Goldwater. 

Early in his term, the high points of Johnson’s “Great Society” – the introduction of Medicare, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the launch of the “War on Poverty” – made people think he was going to be as important a president as Franklin D. Roosevelt – but opposition to his conduct of the Vietnam War and the 1967 riots across many large American cities had significantly weakened him politically.

POLLSTER NATE SILVER URGES BIDEN TO RESIGN AFTER ‘INCOHERENT COMMENTS’ IN ABC INTERVIEW

At the time of his announcement, two weeks after a disappointing showing in the New Hampshire primary, (anti-war Sen. Eugene McCarthy had won over 40% of the vote – and held Johnson to just under 50%) – and shortly after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (brother of the late president) had entered the race, polls still suggested that Johnson had a fighting chance win the nomination and that the November race was likely to be close.

LBJ made his announcement at the end of a speech seeking a settlement in the Vietnam War. He unilaterally halted the bombing of the communist-led North Vietnam – and called on the North to move to peace talks.

The words he spoke were not in the “check against delivery” advance release provided to media organizations so the audience was shocked by his closing words:

TRUMP-HATING WHITE HOUSE MEDIA BETRAYED VOTERS BY HIDING BIDEN’S ALARMING CONDITION, AND NOW IT COULD BACKFIRE

“With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office – the presidency of your country

“Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

While he couched his decision to avoid a divisive fight for the nomination – and a hard general election race against a Republican (as well as George Wallace, who was to run – and win Electoral College votes as an independent) – in a desire to achieve an end to the war in Vietnam, most folks believed he did it out of political weakness.

TOP DEMS PLANNING MEETING ABOUT BIDEN’S FUTURE DESPITE PRESIDENT’S VOWS TO CONTINUE CAMPAIGN

Of course, he wasn’t able to achieve a deal with the North Vietnamese – and the Democratic Party went on to a divisive convention – complete with riots in Chicago.

As Joe Biden struggles to figure out how to respond to his disastrous performance in his June debate with former President Trump, the current incumbent finds himself in almost the exact position as LBJ in 1968. Many in his party – including donors and leaders – are (either publicly or privately) pushing him to abandon his race. And, should he remain in it, many believe – and polling underscores – that he faces an uphill battle against Trump. 

Lyndon Johnson at podium

Meanwhile, Biden is pushing for a cease-fire deal in Israel’s war in Gaza, and trying to help the Ukrainians turn the tide of battle against the Russians. Like Johnson, he has passed a long list of domestic legislation, and like Johnson, it doesn’t seem to be helping him in terms of public support. The economy may be growing in terms of jobs – but all people talk about is high prices.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FOX NEWS OPINION

Reporting suggests that most Democratic “elites” – the same elite pols, donors and media who shut down the 2020 race and essentially handed the nomination to Biden after he won the South Carolina and subsequent Super Tuesday primaries – have decided that the best way to defeat Donald Trump is for Biden to drop out of the race. 

If Biden continues to insist on running, he may think he’ll win on the convention floor, given the number of pledged” delegates he has, but he should worry about the likelihood of significant protests outside the Chicago convention hall – from young people motivated by his decision to run as well as by their opposition to his handling of the Israel-Gaza war. They may not be the kind of riots that significantly damaged Hubert Humphrey’s campaign – but unhelpful in November, nonetheless.

If he decides to drop his campaign – and the pressure to do so grows by the hour – he will likely take a page from LBJ and focus on the challenges overseas as well as the need to focus on continuing to manage the economy.

Then the question for America will be: Will a lame duck president have an even harder time achieving his goals – and allow the Republicans to make their case that Biden and the Democrats have left the world in a chaotic mess and mismanaged the economy? The candidate the Democrats wind up nominating may be more linguistically fluid than Biden and would likely do better in a debate, but they will still be forced to defend the Biden/Democratic record.

Indeed, the unanswerable question about LBJ’s decision is – given that he came close to getting a deal with Vietnam, could he have done better if he hadn’t been a lame duck? And, similarly, could he have done better than Humphrey in 1968?

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM ARNON MISHKIN

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Read the full article here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button