Isabel Fattal: Let’s talk about Joe Biden and 2024. Some of us know the polls show that most Democrats don’t want Biden to run for reelection, but we don’t know what the Democratic officials who are close to Biden are saying. What did you hear in your reporting?
Mark Leibovich: What’s going on behind the scenes around Biden is silence. Everyone has decided that this is Biden’s decision to make. The only sort of conflict here is, when does he just decide to press “Go”? Everyone else is powerless. We’re all just waiting for him. You have this disconnect in the party where people will obviously support him if he goes through with this and gets the nomination, but they kind of wish he wouldn’t. The percentage of Democrats saying they don’t want him to run is historically high. Publicly, every elected official will say, “We’re with him,” but privately they’ll say just the opposite.
So what I decided to do in my latest article is call for someone to make the decision for him, or at least to give voters a choice. I think voters want the choice, but because of customs, we don’t give ourselves a choice. We leave it to the president to step aside when he or she wants to.I think it could be a powerful statement. But it’s audacious. Obama sort of did the same thing—the conventional wisdom in 2008 was that it’s Hillary’s turn, so let’s all step aside for Hillary. And Obama caught a little bit of heat for skipping the line, but lo and behold, it took. Obviously, it’s a different election, with different circumstances and personalities. But I’m all for seizing the moment, even if there are a lot of calcifying forces in the other direction.
The arc of politics bends toward inertia. I would call for someone to be audacious here. I would argue that it could go really well for them, and even go really well for the party and for Biden.