With a sizable majority of Americans harboring “major” or “moderate” concerns about President Joe Biden's fitness to fulfill his present term, let alone undertake a second one, recent overtures made by former President Barack Obama to gain insight into his party's current direction have sparked questions about a possible broader agenda, as Politico's Jonathan Martin reports.
According to the outlet, Obama has presided in recent months over a series of private gatherings with individuals perceived as up-and-coming players in the Democratic Party, and the meetings have included lawmakers from the far-left progressive end of the spectrum as well as more moderate voices.
Sources told Martin that the sessions were conducted on Obama's own initiative and were meant to serve as a way for him to stay informed about the internal concerns and priorities of emerging leaders in the party.
In Martin's estimation, these get-togethers represent a curious phenomenon in a number of ways, one of which is the fact that Obama did not take an active role in mentoring younger legislators during his own term in the Oval Office.
Further, Martin notes, though it is true that Obama has lent his support to Democrats running in certain marquee races in recent years, he has not reinvented himself as some sort of kingmaker since leaving the White House.
Obama's history of skepticsm about Biden's competence is another complicating factor, according to Martin, though the former president reportedly did keep the current administration in the loop about the meet-and-greets and provided some degree of feedback after they occurred.
Sources informed Martin that Obama took pains not to engage in significant criticism of the current president when chatting with lawmakers, but instead urged them not to be shy when it comes to touting the party's achievements.
Martin noted that some of those in attendance at Obama's cheese-and-crackers convos stated that they were not entirely sure what the purpose of the gatherings was, given that they seemed to be a blend of ice-breaker chit-chat, lectures on best practices, and inquiries about what constituents were saying about the current state of the nation.
Despite Obama's apparent caution about doing anything to set Biden administration on edge, some in attendance vented to Martin that in holding back any degree of criticism, the former president was likely missing a real opportunity to help his party.
Perhaps making Obama's meetups all the more intriguing is the fact that speculation continues to be rife as to the wisdom of Biden's decision to keep Vice President Kamala Harris in the second spot on the 2024 ticket, given that the same poll that delivered such ominous results to the president revealed that she is the least popular person to hold her current position in the history of the survey.
As Tom Rogers of Newsweek recently opined, the entire situation is a “big problem” for the Democrats, and he suggests that Harris ought to be promptly jettisoned, given her high unfavorability rating and the likelihood that Republicans will capitalize on the idea that a vote for Biden is really a vote for her, given his age and apparent infirmity. In Rogers' estimation, “Vice President Harris could render Joe Biden unelectable,” and therefore it is past time for some difficult decisions to be made.
Though he acknowledges the extreme delicacy of the matter, given Harris' status as the first Black female VP, Rogers says that Biden could placate his progressive base by offering her the job of attorney general and selecting another African American to replace her.
Taking a slightly different angle in recent days was Tucker Carlson, who suggested that Biden himself is almost certainly not long for the 2024 contest, as Real Clear Politics noted, and said that his replacement will “have to be as shallow, ruthless, and transactional as Joe Biden is, and he'll need to have flattery skills that are so polished and advanced they'd be considered superior even in the Saudi Royal Court. The obvious choice, according to the former Fox News host, would be California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Given these and other extremely weighty decisions surely causing sleepless nights among Democrat elites these days, it stands to reason that someone with Obama's clout would dip his toe back into the political waters in hopes of exerting some influence over the party's trajectory in advance of the next election.