Eek! A Mouse!

Or is it a rat?

At Commentary, John Podhoretz looks at recent polling and wonders: How Can Biden Stay In Now?.

There’s a scene in the peerless animated comedy Monsters Inc.—a cable-news special report featuring Dr. Frasenberger, who looks like a giant pencil. “It is my professional opinion,” he begins calmly, “that now is the time…TO PANIC!!!!!” If I were a Democrat today, or a Never Trumper, I would be Dr. Frasenberger. Because now is the time TO PANIC!!!! if you don’t want Donald Trump to be president.

The release early Sunday morning of a New York Times-Siena poll of the presidential race showing Trump up by 5 points nationally not only confirms the undeniable evidence over the past six months that Trump has pulled into a measurable lead in the presidential race outside the margin of error, but also that things are getting worse and worse for the president as the year 2024 progresses.

Well, JPod, I'm a Never Trumper, and I ain't panicking.

Wallowing in despair, maybe.

That said, let's take a look at the betting odds:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 52.2% +1.1%
Joe Biden 31.4% unch
Michelle Obama 4.8% -0.1%
Gavin Newsom 2.6% -0.1%
Other 9.0% -0.9%

Summary: Trump had a good week.

Also of note:

  • Pick your favorite. Keith E. Whittington has the cover story in the latest dead-trees Reason, and it is provocative: Commander in Chains: 7 Scenarios If Trump Is Jailed and Wins the Election.

    Classic cover on your right. Note his tat.

    In 1920, the perennial Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs ran for president of the United States while serving time in a federal prison for delivering a seditious speech. He received nearly a million votes. His sentence was commuted by his erstwhile rival, the newly elected Republican Warren G. Harding, two days before Christmas in 1921.

    No one expected Debs to actually win the White House. His best showing was in 1912, when he captured nearly 6 percent of the popular vote (but no presidential electors). So the nation has never had to seriously grapple with the possibility of someone winning the presidency while behind bars.

    It might be time to think more seriously about that contingency. The Donald Trump years have brought many strange constitutional hypotheticals to life, and Trump promises more to come if he has a second term, recently demanding, for example, the courts must recognize "COMPLETE & TOTAL PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY" from all criminal acts that he might commit during a term of office. The 2024 elections promise more possibilities even before we get to serious third party candidacies or faithless electors.

    The seven scenarios Whittington lays out (in his estimate of decreasing likelihood):

    1. A Pre-Inauguration Pardon
    2. An Impeachment
    3. A Post-Inauguration Disability
    4. A Post-Inauguration Self-Pardon
    5. A Trump Resignation
    6. A Prison Presidency
    7. A Presidential Prison Break

    Scenario 3 involves the 25th Amendment and its hitherto unexplored language about a president who's "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." As a bonus, Whittington looks at the options when the "disability" occurs pre-inauguration, or even pre-election.

  • "Least bad" is still pretty bad. Nick Catoggio examines The Least Bad Option. And that option is personified by the lady in third place in our odds table above.

    Ask the average Republican voter (or average Republican presidential frontrunner) which Democrat will top the ballot this fall and you’ll be surprised at how few, even now, answer “Joe Biden.” Some assume the president can’t conceivably last another eight months, believing that he’s been living on borrowed time for years. But for many, it’s not the Grim Reaper blocking his path to a second term. It’s Michelle Obama.

    A “rumor” (i.e. a conspiracy theory) has circulated for months among the right-wing faithful that Barack Obama’s better half will, by hook or by crook, replace Biden on the Democratic ticket. Numerous political commentators of the left and right have caught wind of it and scoffed at it publicly. But it persists. Why it persists is an interesting question, the answer to which depends on how charitable you wish to be about the motives that drive Republican politics.

    It's a paywalled article, sorry. Subscribe.

  • Don't you have to count her in before you count her out? I don't know what the rules are on that any more. But Andrew Stein and Joel Gilbert nevertheless advise us in the NYPost: Don’t count Michelle Obama out for 2024 — her whole life has been political.

    As President Biden’s poll numbers get weaker and weaker, the Democratic Party at some point will likely turn to Michelle Obama.

    Here’s how it works: If a candidate quits or dies after having secured a majority of delegates, the 200-member Democratic National Committee chooses the nominee.

    The earned delegates become irrelevant.

    Many Republicans reflexively recite the mantra that Michelle Obama is enjoying her life, isn’t political — and won’t likely to step in.

    Let’s not kid anyone: Michelle Obama is very political.

    And always has been.

    Sigh. Well, as political analysis goes, it's not bad.

    What irritates me is the one-sentence paragraphs.

    Used sparingly, they're fine.

    But with one exception, the whole column is one-sentence paragraphs.

    I suppose that's a good way to eat up column-inches in the paper's print version.

    But at least it's not as irritating as this: Making. Each. Word. A. Single. Sentence.

    I. Hate. That.

  • In case you were wondering. Andrew C. McCarthy puts forth his theory of Why Biden Cooperated with the FBI in His Classified-Info Case. (A gifted link, you're welcome.)

    But first he notes the disparate treatment of Trump:

    I did a post Tuesday evening on the ill-conceived argument, posited by Biden Justice Department special prosecutors to rationalize the blatantly different treatment they’ve given to the very similar classified-information offenses of President Biden and former president Trump: Biden, they stress, cooperated with FBI investigators in returning classified documents to the government, while Trump obstructed the investigators.

    It cannot be gainsaid that Biden cooperated and Trump obstructed. As I’ve countered, however, that would be a sensible rationale for charging Trump with obstruction, but not charging Biden with obstruction — which is what has happened. In no competent, conscientious prosecutor’s office would it be a rationale for not recommending the indictment of Biden on multiple counts of Espionage Act felonies after the same prosecutor’s office has charged Trump with dozens of Espionage Act felonies. And remember, the latter happened only after the Biden Justice Department’s mirror image, the Obama-Biden Justice Department, gave a complete pass to Hillary Clinton who, like Trump, obstructed an investigation.

    And let’s be real: If Trump had done exactly what Biden did, including cooperating with rather than impeding the investigators, does anyone who has lived through the past three years believe that Jack Smith (or Alvin Bragg, or Letitia James, or Fani Willis) would not have charged him anyway?

    Goodness knows I'm no Trump fan. But he's clearly the victim of selective prosecution. (Response from Democrats: "Ha! Who cares?")

    But why did Biden cooperate? McCarthy's explanation: "Because his offenses were so serious, long-term, and sprawling."

  • You don't want to be on either side in this fight. George Will looks at Crybaby conservatives vs. self-appointed democracy savers. And bemoans the passing of the classic smoke-filled room, which did a pretty good job of picking viable candidates with broad appeal. But in these days of modern times (… "when you can't tell the AC's from the DC's" … ):

    Donald Trump is playing the Republican nominating electorate as skillfully, if not as melodiously, as Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello. With a chip on his shoulder the size of a cello, Trump has transformed the GOP from a party for optimistic strivers into a gloomy conglomeration of crybaby conservatives. It is wresting from Democrats the role as the woe-is-me party of victims who feel put upon by society’s big battalions (Big Tech, globalizing manufacturing corporations, manipulative media, the education establishment, etc.).

    Today’s Democratic Party says it must save democracy from Trump in November (if Democrats cannot save it by getting the Supreme Court to permit states to ban him from their ballots). The party might, however, try to save democracy from him next January if, in November, democracy produces a result offensive to democracy’s Democratic saviors. Northwestern University law professor Steven Calabresi, blogging for the Volokh Conspiracy, wonders:

    Suppose Trump again wins an electoral-vote majority while losing the popular vote. Would a Democratic-controlled House count Trump’s electoral votes? Many of its members will consider today’s Supreme Court illegitimate and will regard the electoral college as an affront to democracy.

    Although it is unknown which party will control the House on Jan. 6, it is probable that Kamala D. Harris will be Senate president. Would she do as the Senate president (Vice President Mike Pence) did on Jan. 6, 2021? Would she, against the passions of her party, count the electoral votes as they are certified by the states?

    The Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 clarifies that the Senate president performs a merely ministerial function. But is obeying the ECRA more important than “saving democracy”? Harris should be asked, now.

    And should be asked until she produces a word salad-free answer. That might take a while.

Last Modified 2024-03-03 11:06 AM EDT