Biden’s Future — Let the People Decide

Where’s the logic of the president dropping out of the race, or even quitting the White House, when we’re less than nine months from election day?

AP/Mark Schiefelbein, file
President Biden at the White House, January 9, 2024. AP/Mark Schiefelbein, file

In respect of whether President Biden should quit the presidency or drop his bid for a second term, the view of the Sun is “no.” To have this issue forced by an — in our view — unconstitutional special prosecutor is a shocking development. In Mr. Biden, after all, is vested 100 percent of the executive power of the government. Only Mr. Biden is enjoined to take care that our laws are faithfully executed.

So where does Attorney General Garland come off appointing a special prosecutor to go after Mr. Biden in the first place? If Mr. Biden’s hoarding classified documents on the floor of his garage is such a big deal, the Constitution provides other ways — impeachment, say — of dealing with it. The idea of a senior aide to the president, the attorney general, setting all this in motion against his constitutional superior borders on a coup.

This is not, we’ve oft noted, a partisan thing with the Sun. The flag of the Sun wasn’t flying between 1950 and 2002, but the future editor of the Sun was against, among others, the appointment of, in Archibald Cox, a special counsel against President Nixon, of Judge Lawrence Walsh against Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Judge Kenneth Starr against President Clinton, and Robert Mueller against President Trump.

We understand that the Supreme Court has okayed the use of an independent counsel, most famously in the case of Morrison v. Olson. Here’s how the Supreme Court framed the primary holding in that case: “Congress may grant authority to the judicial branch to appoint independent counsel without violating the separation of powers, even though the independent counsel are members of the executive branch.”

That self-contradiction strikes us as a Class A absurdity. Yet only one justice, The Great Scalia, dissented in Morrison. He warned of the incentive for an independent counsel to keep going in a case that might otherwise not rank for prosecution. He warned that this could endanger the “boldness” not only of the president but of his aides. We’ve seen that warning play out again and again, in the use of both independent and special counsels. 

This was such a problem — it damn near destroyed the presidencies of Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton — that Congress, in 1999 allowed the independent counsel law to expire.  Yet a new rule was established that presented similar constitutional pitfalls. So here we are, with a Democratic administration in danger of being toppled under special counsel provisions that Democrats intended to use against Republicans.

Beware of schadenfreude, we say, no matter how satisfying it is — and it is — to read in the Times of, say, Attorney General Eric Holder fuming that Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report “contains way too many gratuitous remarks.” Or General Garland’s ex-spokesman carping about “excessive, unnecessary commentary about an uncharged individual,” which, the Times quotes him as saying, “felt like political potshots.”

Which brings us back to the question of whether Mr. Biden ought to quit the presidency or drop out of the race. We’re skeptical of the view that Mr. Biden’s old age accounts for, say, bringing us to the brink of a world war. Mr. Biden was an advocate of appeasement and retreat going all the way back to his early years in the Senate, when he participated in the betrayal of Vietnam, or, later, the abandonment of Iraq.

Was that also creeping dementia or the result of Mr. Biden being a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”? At this point we’d just as soon leave all this to the people. Take it to the voters. We’re less than nine months away from a presidential election that could pit Mr. Biden and the man he drove from office four years ago. Who left us in a better position — Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump?

The New York Sun

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