President Biden's recent fall has renewed doubts about his fitness for office, while leaving some Democrats to privately question his strength as a presidential candidate.
Now, as always, Biden is buoyed by a weak stable of alternatives. His vice president is also deeply unpopular and arguably more incompetent, and the only candidates who have stepped forward to challenge Biden's nomination are from the party's fringe.
Some say that could change, however, if Biden's age issue continues to grow.
David A. Dulio, professor of political science at Oakland University, said potential challengers are likely waiting in the wings in case disaster strikes.
“If they are not doing that, they are not being smart,” Dulio said. “Of all the names we could come up with — they are high-profile, successful candidates and politicians — none of them got to that point without thinking strategically and being prepared when an opportunity comes their way.”
Biden also showed concerning signs in 2020, but the issue was swept under the rug. Most voters now agree that Biden is mentally unfit to serve, and he continues to feed those worries with his stiff gait, confused rambling and frequent falls.
But as he pursues a second term, Democrats are largely rehashing their argument from 2020, which portrayed Biden as a steadier hand than Trump.
It's a dubious claim, with voters rating Biden poorly on the top issues like the economy. Poll after poll shows the same trends: voters don't like Biden, they're not enthusiastic about his re-election campaign, and they're skeptical of his fitness to serve.
While offering token acknowledgments of concerns with Biden's age, Biden and his fellow Democrats have sought to reframe the issue with time-tested spin, saying he demonstrates "wisdom."
"Joe Biden rightly says that he has grown very wise in his many decades in public office and I respect that," Democrat Jamie Raskin (Md.) said Sunday.
It's easy to forget, but Biden was largely dismissed by his party and its media apparatus during the Democratic primary in 2020.
But that was before the Democrat machine decided to make Biden its Trump slayer. It's a role Biden has yet to relinquish and which, it appears, apparatchiks believe he is still capable of performing.
While they appear to be backing him still, it's likely that Democrats will continue to vigilantly assess Biden's condition in the coming months. If they should decide to move on, he should not expect to be discarded gracefully.