Ginsberg cost Democrats Roe; Biden may cost them the presidency

19 July 2023

If Ruth Bader Ginsburg had resigned from the Supreme Court during Barack Obama’s first term, when the Democrats controlled the Senate, then Roe v. Wade would still be the law of the land. Obama would have replaced Ginsberg, already in her 80s, with another liberal justice – like his other two nominees Sonia Sotymayor and Elena Kagan – and there would still be, today, five votes at the court preserving Roe.

Instead, Donald Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett several years later; the court overturned Roe by a 5-4 vote; and the constitutional right to an abortion is gone.

These are facts. People should neither shy away from them nor be afraid to say them out loud.

It’s also true that Ginsberg was an American hero. As an advocate, then an appellate judge, then a Supreme Court justice, Ginsberg reshaped the law in ways that still help and protect all Americans.

These two disparate truths about Ginsberg can be, and are, true at the same time.

Joe Biden, now 80, is committing the same mistake Ginsberg did: he’s staying on the job too long. And he may cost Democrats the presidency and all the vital powers that come with it.

Biden is, to be sure, an honorable man. He has done immense good for the country over many decades, including in recent years as president. And he will go down in history as the man who ousted Donald Trump from the presidency, eliminating the dangers a Trump victory would have entailed.

But while Biden is still intelligent, capable and committed to the country, he is well past his prime. As the New York Times recently put it: “Two Joe Bidens coexist in the same octogenarian president: Sharp and wise at critical moments, the product of decades of seasoning, able to rise to the occasion even in the dead of night to confront a dangerous world. Yet a little slower, a little softer, a little harder of hearing, a little more tentative in his walk, a little more prone to occasional lapses of memory in ways that feel familiar to anyone who has reached their ninth decade or has a parent who has.”

Biden running for a second term is a problem for three reasons. The first is that presidential candidates should be at the peak of their intellectual powers and at full strength for the entire term they seek. Biden will be neither through January 2029, when the next presidential term concludes.

Second, campaigns are grueling. Biden likely won’t have boots on the ground in all the various places he should have them. If the Republican nominee is much younger – for example, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis – the Republicans will have a concrete and material advantage.

William Cooper

And independent voters matter. Independents, unlike many Democrats and Republicans, will be clear-eyed about candidates’ vigor and ability to perform in one of the world’s most demanding jobs. If Donald Trump (who is now 76) is the Republican candidate, this particular concern will be muted. If DeSantis (44) or Nikki Haley (51) or Glen Youngkin (56) is the candidate, the contrast will be striking to those not deluded by party loyalty.

There’s nothing wrong with being in your 80s. But there is something very wrong with clinging to positions of immense importance for too long. Ginsberg didn’t resign and as a result Roe was overturned. Joe Biden should be applauded for all he has done in service of his country. And he should not seek a second term as president.

William Cooper is the author of the award-winning book “Stress Test: How Donald Trump Threatens American Democracy.”

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