Let’s face facts: No matter what President Joe Biden says, the odds he runs in 2024 are slim. It’s not because he doesn’t want to, mind you. It’s that America really doesn’t want him to run again.
Now that a new poll shows nearly three in four Americans don’t want the president to seek another term, the knives are coming out — and one of the Democrats’ perennial presidential challengers is attacking one of the party’s fresh faces.
In a series of exchanges that have implications for the 2024 primaries, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders very publicly called out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over the state of air travel, telling his supporters in an email they needed to press Buttigieg to “take action to reduce flight cancellations and delays.”
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According to Fox News, Sanders’ team sent out the email blast on Friday, just before the snarled Independence Day travel rush.
Fox reported that “the senator targeted Buttigieg over the crisis Americans are facing amid Independence Day as it relates to flight delays and cancellations, as well as the high prices associated with tickets, checked bags and fees.”
Not only that, he sent an email earlier in the week blasting Buttigieg for the air travel issues and demanding he take “immediate action to substantially reduce” the problems travelers are facing.
“All over this country, airline passengers are growing increasingly frustrated by the massive increase in flight delays, cancellations, and outrageously high prices they are forced to pay for tickets, checked bags and other fees,” Sanders wrote.
“Thousands of flight disruptions have left passengers and crew members stranded at crowded airports from one end of the country to the other forcing them to miss weddings, funerals and business meetings and ruining family vacations that have been planned for months in advance.”
Two poison-pen letters in one week from Sanders is news in and of itself, but there’s a reason why the Vermont senator’s very public dressing-down of Buttigieg and the Biden administration carries a great deal more resonance than it ordinarily would.
A bad poll for Joe Biden usually wouldn’t be news. However, the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released last week should scare just about anyone who isn’t a Republican.
According to The Hill, 71 percent of respondents said Biden shouldn’t run again, compared with only 29 percent who said he should.
“President Biden may want to run again, but the voters say ‘no’ to the idea of a second term, panning the job he is doing as president. Only 30 percent of Democrats would even vote for him in a Democratic presidential primary,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS–Harris Poll survey.
“The national survey shows Trump leading Biden 44 percent to 39 percent in a head-to-head match-up, while another 12 percent of voters say they plan to vote for someone else,” The Hill reported.
“Trump’s support has held firm since May, when the same poll found him notching 44 percent support in a 2024 race against Biden. But Biden’s support has waned somewhat since then, dropping from 42 percent in May to 39 percent in late June.”
Allrighty then. Time to get Kamala warming up in the bullpen — right?
Well, not so much. Her polling numbers are equally horrible, and Democratic insiders told the New York Post they’re aghast at the possibility she ends up leading the ticket.
“She seems completely useless. No one involved in this administration should be in the running,” a Democratic donor told the Post.
Beltway insiders also said Harris’ tenure as vice president has been plagued with the same problem that did her campaign in: poor organization, poor morale and a boss who treats staffers “like s***.”
“She doesn’t know how to build a staff that has a common purpose. You see a lot of her staffers are doing their own thing. There is little guidance from her, and it just looks messy all the time, and all she can do when asked about it publicly and privately is giggle,” a Capitol Hill Democrat staffer said.
Thus, Sanders’ attacks on Buttigieg could easily be seen as the first shots fired in the 2024 Democratic primary.
Yes, Sanders is 80, a year older than Joe Biden. While Biden is a high-mileage 79, however, Sanders doesn’t seem like he’s lost a step. Apparently, not doing anything productive for the first 40 years of one’s life conserves one’s energy for later on — since Bernie’s socialist Statler and Waldorf act keeps going strong even in his golden years.
Sanders also has a strong campaign infrastructure and organizational base — but, as The Washington Post notes, he’s not prepared to hand it over to the heir apparent on the far left, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Instead, Bernie’s people are pushing progressive California Rep. Ro Khanna to take over the Sanders’ mantle if Joe Biden doesn’t run. Khanna is a virtual unknown, however, meaning Bernie might just have to saddle up one more time.
As for Buttigieg — the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana — few politicians in recent memory have risen so far so fast. The mayor of the 160th most-populous city in America running for president in 2020 seemed like a practical joke … until he somehow wormed his way into the top tier of candidates. Granted, he ran out of money and steam quickly, but it was clear the 40-year-old veteran and Rhodes scholar was the Next Big Thing™ — and thus, he got the Transportation Secretary gig.
Unfortunately, that’s been more of a speed bump than a trampoline for Buttigieg, career-wise. Not that anything in the Biden administration has run smoothly, but the failure of our supply chain infrastructure, our air travel issues and the ill-advised decision to aggressively move to electric vehicles have all turned his Transportation Department into a punching bag for both the left and the right.
Thus, when Bernie wags his finger at Buttigieg, publicly scolding him because air travel conditions are “simply unacceptable” and that passengers need to be “treated with respect, not contempt” — and does so very publicly — you can assume it’s not just because he’s very concerned with all of the people stuck at LAX.
The writing is on the wall, thanks to the polls: In 2024, it ain’t gonna be Biden, and Harris isn’t a great alternative.
As for everyone else, let the games begin. Sanders’ words may indicate this is about air travel, but the tone and the circumstances certainly make it look that something much deeper is at play.
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