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Michelle Obama: September Savior or ‘Suicide Mission’?

Just how desperate are the Democrats to get Biden off the ballot?

Credit: Matteo Chinellato

I don’t want to vote for Michelle Obama.

Joe Biden is, as a candidate, a dead man walking. Forget about doctors; anyone who has cared for an aging parent with cognitive decline can see all the signs and knows what is coming next. Joe can’t remember words, names, or dates, and walks stiffly with his arms locked. He falls often. He gets angry and cusses. It is all there.


We all know what is being hidden, just like when Mom refuses her food or rages someone is after her money. It is not a pleasant thing to watch, this infantilization of a person you may have once looked up to, but the decline is obvious, and decline is a one-way street. It hurts, it really does, whether it is Mom or Joe Biden, to watch it all knowing there is nothing that can be done.

Of course, the problem is that Joe Biden is the president of the United States. He is charged with running the nation on all of our behalf, a job like no other. Special counsel Robert Hur’s nearly 400-page report is full of damning evidence of Biden’s carelessness with vital national-security secrets.

His defense of Biden is that the man is just too old and forgetful to be held responsible for his actions. It is one thing to explain away Mom’s behavior at the dinner-table, another when addressing national security. There is room at family gatherings for “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” but not in the White House. If Joe is unfit to stand trial for his casual misuse of classified documents, then he is unfit to be president.

The public seems to be catching on. Nearly every poll shows Biden behind, often by several points. His approval rating is stuck in the high 30s. He is losing to Trump; even Nikki Haley beats Biden one-on-one in some polls. “President Biden’s poll numbers seem set in quicksand,” wrote one commentator. A recent ABC News poll found 86 percent of Americans think Biden is too old to serve another term. We might feel bad for Joe, but we’d all feel better if he was retired to a beach chair in Delaware eating ice cream instead of standing poised above the nuclear button (and you worried about Trump.)

Problem is, bound by tradition, Joe Biden is “entitled” to run for a second term—which he is in theory doing. No primaries, no public discussion, just an assumption that Joe is allowed two cracks at the ball. Is tradition powerful enough to hand the White House over to a senile old man for four more years? Or is Joe Biden’s legacy among Democrats to be the guy who put Trump back into power? Consider Barack Obama’s infamous assessment: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*ck things up.”


The obvious alternative is Biden steps aside on some pretext and Vice President Kamala Harris steps up to be the Democratic candidate. Harris, who found her way into office as the DEI sweepstakes winner after humiliating Biden to his face in the 2020 debates, has none of Joe’s public appeal and, on her bad days, little of his cognitive abilities. Poll after poll shows her losing, her lack of experience (among other things) a hindrance to her ascent to the Oval Office. Harris has a 37 percent approval rating, even lower than Biden’s 39 percent.

But what if Harris got that experience via the 25th Amendment? It is doubtful that ploy is even possible. The 25th lays out presidential succession when the Chief Executive is “incapacitated.” It requires a mini-coup of sorts, as the process involves the VP herself initiating things alongside the Cabinet. They would need to declare the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and notify Congress the vice president intends to take over. If Vice President Kamala Harris could get eight Cabinet officers to go along with a letter to Congress, her status as the “Acting President” would likely be short-lived anyway. Biden would only have to declare “no inability exists” and then resume his office.

Harris would then have to send another declaration within four days to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, rejecting Biden’s claims. Congress would have 21 days to vote on the removal, which would require two-thirds majorities in both houses. If Congress did not vote within 21 days, the president would resume power. As with the many demands that the 25th be invoked during the first Trump administration, the amendment designed to deal with presidential death or true temporary disability such as surgery just cannot be squeezed and tickled into a vice-presidential mutiny to save her party defeat in November.

As constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley wrote, invoking the 25th Amendment “would require more than just memory lapses and ‘get off my lawn’ press conferences…. The sole question is whether he can carry out the duties of his office. The standard is not whether he can carry out those duties well.” The concern over Biden (and Harris) is real, but the 25th Amendment is not the solution.

That leaves the nuclear option: Michelle Obama, the September Surprise.

Imagine a mediocre spring dragging into a lackluster summer. Ukraine drags on Biden. Israel drags on Biden. The economy drags on Biden. The Democratic National convention is without spirit and the calendar yields to autumn. Trump leads in most every poll and, while the Never Trumpers still take their share of skin, it looks more like Democrats will stay home from the polls and hand over the White House. If only there was someone not named Harris who could step up as the Great Hope.

Imagine, says Heather Higgins at RealClearPolitics, 

should Biden be incentivized to suddenly declare a new health issue that leads him to announce a week or two after the convention that he will continue his term but will not be running, suddenly we have one of those crises that should not be wasted. Rising above it all and quelling the haggling, Michelle—with her 91 percent popularity among Democrats and 68 percent nationally when she left the White House, and with the Obama fundraising and political network and experience—can accede when pressed, for the good of the country, to graciously accept her grateful party’s nomination.

Who else could it be? Gavin Newsom? Hillary?

Michelle Obama has the popularity and name- and face-recognition to step in at the last minute for a tired placeholder Joe. September is “the last minute,” given the 50 sets of laws governing how much time is needed to add a candidate to the ballot and still make mailing deadlines for absentee votes. Her own lack of experience is tempered by Barack’s eight years, and, indeed, a quiet selling point among Dems would be that this is indeed a third term for some sort of Obama administration.

With Obama’s popularity and bullet-proofing against accusations of racism, no one will worry at all about sweeping Kamala Harris aside, perhaps with the promise of a nice university job to show no hard feelings. Celebrity endorsements would pour in headlined by Oprah and Taylor Swift and someone near immune to Trump's personal insult style of campaigning would take the rostrum against him. It would be a close election.

The former GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy said,

If race and gender are your basis for selecting someone for a job, and the identity of your party is tied to that temple of identity politics, then they will risk looking hypocritical if they sideline her [Harris] after they sideline Biden. And I do think Michelle Obama offers them a convenient path out of that problem, somebody who checks the boxes that they need to have checked per their own ideology, while also selecting an alternative to Biden that they may view as more palatable in a general election…. It’s looking increasingly like it’s not going to be Biden as the nominee. And I think that it should not be shocking to see someone like Michelle Obama take the role of the nomination.

Obama, for her part, said she’s “terrified” about the potential outcome of the 2024 election, listing November’s presidential contest as among the fears that keep her awake at night. How’s that for motivation?

The Democratic National Committee rules that apply are actually simple, saying “The Democratic National Committee shall have general responsibility for the affairs of the Democratic Party between National Conventions…. This responsibility shall include filling vacancies in the nominations for the office of President and Vice President.” The chairman confers with Democratic Congressional Leadership and the Democratic Governors Association and takes a decision to all 483 DNC members to vote on.

RCP reminds the reader that it has been done before. In 1972, Democrats realized weeks after their convention the man they had nominated for vice president, Senator Thomas Eagleton, had undergone shock therapy a decade earlier. Eagleton withdrew from the ticket and left it to the DNC to choose a replacement. They got Kennedy in-law Sargent Shriver to agree to what became a “suicide mission.”

So the real question is: Would you vote for Michelle Obama? A lot depends on the answer.