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Joe Biden Has Never Looked Weaker…or Not?

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Jacob Heilbrunn

The Biden administration, if anything, seems to have a new spring in its step as Trump claims the Republican candidacy for the presidency. Maybe it knows something that handwringing Democrats are forgetting, which is that Trump may be the one person who can singlehandedly ensure Biden’s reelection.

President Joe Biden has never looked weaker. His popularity ratings continue to sink. Polls suggest that he’s lagging in states like Georgia. What’s more, the anti-Trump coalition is crumbling or has already crumbled.

At least this is the contention of Jonathan Chait, who offers a lengthy accounting of Biden’s current woes. The tone is dolorous. After an excursion into Nazi political history, a look at Cornel West, a discussion of Joe Lieberman and Mark Penn, a glance at the neocons and No Labels, Chait concludes: “The political passion is all on the side of extremism. Normalcy feels spent, and enervating, and this has encouraged former members of the anti-Trump coalition to gravitate toward other concerns that animate them. An important number of Americans who once found Trump intolerable have either forgotten how awful he is or have some strange craving for his return.”

Really?

The Biden administration, if anything, seems to have a new spring in its step as Trump claims the Republican candidacy for the presidency. Maybe it knows something that handwringing Democrats are forgetting, which is that Trump may be the one person who can singlehandedly ensure Biden’s reelection.

Even as Trump campaigns for the Republican nomination, which resembles a coronation more than a battle, he is not really preparing for a tough election battle against Biden. He hasn’t even condescended to debate Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis. Instead, he has relied on his MAGA base to propel him to victory. Maybe Trump is already battle-tested enough that he doesn’t need to endure the rigors of a real campaign. But he would be wrong to underestimate Biden.

Biden’s Valley Forge speech, for one thing, suggested that he relishes the prospect of another round against Trump. So far, Trump has failed to offer any winning message for the general election other than that he will restore the glories of the past. He needs more than that.

It’s also the case that the Biden administration has deliberately allowed Trump to hog the spotlight. During his last run for the presidency, Biden did the same thing. The result is that Trump is peaking early—very early.

It’s also the case that Trump may get pummeled in the courts. He’s suffering a brutal buffeting from E. Jean Carroll whom he keeps trying to disparage. His business empire will likely be dismantled by Judge Arthur Engoron. And his farcical claims to presidential immunity will more than likely be dismissed by the Supreme Court. Maybe his court cases won’t deliver a knockout blow but they will be more than flesh wounds. Republicans currently championing Trump should be careful of getting what they wish for.

Sure, Biden faces numerous possible hiccups. Iran is flexing its muscles in the Middle East. China’s economy could implode. And Congress could refuse to aid Ukraine in the biggest foreign policy disaster since the end of the Vietnam War.

But in a sign of the power of the presidency, Biden has summoned congressional leaders to the White House today to discuss a sweeping national security package. Biden has proven effective at getting Congress to pass legislation. If he can get a border and Ukraine deal passed, he will once more have solidified his legislative record.