When Joe Biden was first running for president against Donald Trump, I was so relieved that there was a decent, skilled person who was attempting to save us from the four nightmarish years that our country suffered in the hands of a grifter.

And Biden did the job. He restored the dignity to the office of the presidency that had been swept aside by his predecessor. The United Nations no longer laughs at our chief executive. We have a president who doesn’t despise and excoriate other people because of their race, their gender or their sexual orientation. Joe Biden forged coalitions that resulted in legislation that many other presidents promised but could not deliver. To be sure, I never believed that Biden was the perfect person for the job, but to me his most important virtue was that he had the will and the ability to bring us out of the darkness that existed until he was sworn into office in January 2021.

My profound gratitude to, and appreciation for, Biden has been diminishing since I first learned that, after consultation with his family, he decided to run for a second term. My concerns have grown since he made that decision, and they have escalated in recent weeks. At first, I grudgingly accepted his decision to run for a second term; incumbency is generally a significant foundation on which to build a campaign. Further, announcing that one has become a lame duck can be a death blow to the goals a president might seek to accomplish prior to the next election.

I have since been forced toward a different conclusion.

Biden appears to be running again not to achieve legislative goals but because he cannot resist the siren call of his high office. He appears to be putting his personal interest above the needs of American people whom he represents. If I am correct, then he is not the decent, sincere and patriotic man that I thought he was.

I understand that there are few who can hold the office of the presidency and then voluntarily walk away from it. Some have chosen not to seek a second term, such as Lyndon Johnson. Teddy Roosevelt walked away after his first elected term, but he could not resist the call of the White House, and when he formed a new political party in order to run again, he split the Republican vote and put Woodrow Wilson in office. I get it. To have the adulation of millions, to live in the house first occupied by John Adams, to have Air Force One at one’s beck and call are overwhelmingly powerful forces. But the presidents who truly believe – and live by – our most fundamental governing principles recognize that they do not hold office as a despot or as royalty.


This democracy needs and deserves presidents who recognize that, rather than being omnipotent, they hold office solely to serve the American public. They have great privileges because they have great responsibilities. As the chief executive, the president is duty-bound to keep us safe. The chief executive must have a powerful intellect, a personal code of honor, a detailed and incisive understanding of foreign policy. In addition, the chief executive must also be physically able to meet the crushing responsibilities of the presidency.

During the debate, Biden revealed himself not to be incompetent or infirm, but a normal 81-year-old person who no longer possesses the mental or physical abilities that were once his. No amount of excuses, whether it is blaming his advisers, his travel schedule or having to sometimes work into the night, will change the terribly sad demonstration that made up those fateful 90 minutes.

Anyone encouraging him to continue to run seems to be operating on the belief that the American public can be convinced that Biden’s debate performance was somehow a temporary aberration, like a sprained ligament, that will go away. No one thinks that. The American people saw someone who has physical and mental infirmities right now and that Biden’s obvious decline will only continue to progress in the same direction in the years ahead. To suggest otherwise is to tell the American people that they didn’t really see or hear what, in fact, they did see and hear.

Biden is correct that this country cannot stand another Trump presidency. But if he continues his campaign, that is what we will get. Biden has appeared at many Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, properly recognizing and thanking the hundreds of thousands of Americans who gave their lives for this country. If he believes his own speeches from those occasions, he will recognize that he has to walk away from his campaign. It will be a sacrifice, to be sure, but it will be a sacrifice that pales in comparison to those made by people who he has extolled so often.

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