Joe Biden’s reckless gamble with the nation’s future.

David Paul
5 min readFeb 17, 2024

It is like watching a Greek tragedy play out in real time. Special Prosecutor Robert Bur issued a massive report exonerating Joe Biden for having a cache of classified documents stored in his garage in Wilmington, Delaware. It was great news for the President; after all, the Special Prosecutor had exonerated him of the same crime for which Donald Trump has been indicted and is now being prosecuted.

Then, Bur stepped over the line. He called Joe Biden an “elderly” man.

Biden, it turns out, was the only person for whom this was news, and his anger was palpable. As if determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Biden insisted on holding a press conference to put the lie to Bur’s blasphemy.

We all knew Joe Biden is old, even if the implications of that truth continue to elude him. And we knew as well that invoking the name of Biden’s son, Beau, as Bur did in his report, would surely set him off.

And set him off it did, with consequences that any good staff person could have foreseen. With the White House press corps gathered around him on live television, Joe Biden proved the essential truth that he intended to rebut, and many of those who might have been unconcerned up until now about Biden’s age, and his ability to serve effectively for another five years in the Oval Office, may have had their confidence shaken by his performance.

As recently as the middle of last year, I was fairly sanguine about the 2024 Presidential race. I shared the view of many that Joe Biden had done an admirable job as President: he defeated Donald Trump in 2020, he solidified the Atlantic alliance abroad, and had many important legislative achievements that would surely define his legacy. Four years ago, Biden campaigned on the notion that he would be a “transition” President — a bridge to a future generation of Democratic leaders — and as the oldest man ever to serve in the Oval Office, it seemed inevitable that he would ultimately see the wisdom of passing the baton.

By now, if Biden had followed through on what many took to be a commitment to serve only a single term, we would be seeing a vibrant primary battle among a large number of Democratic candidates — indeed, the Democratic “bench” is as deep as at any time in memory — with Biden sitting by, the benevolent grandfather in the Oval Office. It would have solidified his legacy, as Gretchen Whitmer, Gavin Newsom, Josh Shapiro, or Gina Raimundo vanquished Donald Trump, and a grateful nation saw new leadership and a new future take shape.

That was not to be, it turns out. For months now, Democrats have been under a gag order of sorts, forbidden to talk about Joe Biden’s infirmities. To talk about the elephant in the room is, apparently, to give aid and comfort to Donald Trump and his MAGA hordes. Perhaps asking any politician to step down voluntarily once they had reached the pinnacle of power is too much to ask. Or perhaps it is Joe Biden’s own blend of narcissism and hubris; his stated belief that only he can save the nation from Donald Trump once again. But whatever his reason, barring divine intervention, or some health event or Mitch McConnell moment that may yet befall either of the candidates, the coming rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has given each man the opponent they want. Indeed, polls suggest each of them may well be running against the only opponent that they have a reasonable chance of beating.

The irony of the looming rematch of the 2020 Presidential race is that even as Joe Biden and Donald Trump are each convinced that he can vanquish the other, polls have consistently suggested that the public would be far happier with neither of them on the ballot or in the White House. According to an ABC/Ipsos poll released this week, 86% of Americans believe Joe Biden is too old to serve another term, while 62% believe the same about Donald Trump. Nikki Haley may well have it right when she suggested that the party that is going to win in November is going to be the one that ditches their presumptive nominee first.

Four years ago, Barack Obama suggested privately that no one should “underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.” And fuck things up he has. To watch leading Democrats take up Biden’s cause in the wake of the Bur report was dispiriting. One after another, Biden surrogates insisted that the President has not lost a step; indeed that he is at the top of his game. “Who you gonna believe,” one after another insisted, “me, or your lyin’ eyes.” And one friend who knows such things shares that assessment: “Not to ruin the picture with facts, but even though Biden isn’t doing good on the visuals, we have heard ZERO from anyone who has worked with him that he isn’t all there. He runs meetings, covers his schedule, bangs heads. People say he is in charge and sharp.”

But for many, the lyin’ eyes are winning. While the Bur report may have only stated the obvious, it has opened up a debate that should have taken place months, if not a year, ago. It has created a sense of urgency among many Democrats that Biden must step aside, now that it is too late for him to do so in a manner that would allow an orderly primary process to take place.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a stellar career as a lawyer and Supreme Court Justice, but her accomplishments will forever be diminished by her decision to stay on too long, with tragic consequences. So it may be with Joe Biden. Like a tragic Greek hero, narcissism and hubris may have led him to hang on to his moment of glory too long. Donald Trump may yet be Biden’s salvation, as the American people — as I believe they will — decide that the greatest imperative this coming November will be to not go down the Trump path a second time. But that may not be the outcome, and in that event, whatever Joe Biden’s accomplishments might have been will be swept away by his decision not to step aside when he had the chance.

You can find all of David Paul’s recent posts at, and his writing dating back to 2004 at

Artwork by Joe Dworetzky. Follow his cartooning on Instagram at @joefaces and his journalism at



David Paul

Financial advisor to city and state governments. Lifelong Red Sox fan (don't hold it against me).