Biden’s Democratic discontent issues get a little better, and a little worse

President Joe Biden is seen returning to the White House on Sunday, July 7 (Getty Images)
President Joe Biden is seen returning to the White House on Sunday, July 7 (Getty Images)

Joe Biden’s future looked a little bit less bleak on Tuesday. But there’s no sign that things are turning around for the embattled US president just yet.

As he endures his second week of fallout from his first presidential debate against Donald Trump, the president is set to face another test of the communication and fitness which both failed him during the 90-minute event in Atlanta. Today marked the beginning of the Nato summit in Washington DC — and massive headaches for all the poor saps stuck on the remaining open roads through the heart of the nation’s capital.

Biden’s aides have promised a “big-boy press conference”, a real back-and-forth with the White House press corps in which Biden will appear for an extended amount of time in an unscripted fashion (as opposed to his political rallies or remarks to donors).

On Tuesday, the president received mixed messages from his allies on Capitol Hill. After respective meetings of House and Senate Democrats, Biden saw clear signs for hope in a resigned Jerry Nadler, who over the weekend had called on the president to step aside behind closed doors, telling reporters that his concerns about the president were no longer relevant given the president’s refusal to budge. Others echoed the same sentiment, not out of any newfound confidence in the president but out of understanding that the latter was willing to go down fighting. Generally, most remain positively morose over a sense shared by many that the incumbent president may be such a drag on Democratic support that it costs his party the Senate, puts a House majority out of reach, and results in Donald Trump back in the White House.

Asked by reporters whether his caucus was on the “same page” as he left one of the gatherings Tuesday morning, Rep Steve Cohen replied: “We’re not even in the same book.”

The president’s impending press conference will be just the second time Biden is off the teleprompter and taking questions from journalists since a post-debate interview with George Stephanopoulos meant to calm his supporters’ fears in which he instead declared that he would accept losing to Trump as an outcome as long as he tried his hardest.

Exact timings and other details about the press conference have not yet been released. The president was also to speak on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of Nato’s founding.

President Joe Biden is seen returning to the White House on Sunday, July 7. (Getty Images)
President Joe Biden is seen returning to the White House on Sunday, July 7. (Getty Images)

What this press conference really comes down to is another test for Biden: a moment when he will either be consumed by the same inability to make his points coherently which emerged during the debate, or rise above it and prove what he has been telling donors and fellow Democratic electeds for more than a week: It was just a bad night.

And the potential pitfall for Biden is obvious. If he has another “bad night”, expect the chorus of voices calling for him to step aside to grow louder, not quieter.

Those voices gained another member of the president’s party in the House late Tuesday afternoon, following a White House press conference in which Karine Jean-Pierre assured reporters that the president would serve a full four-year term if elected to office again. It was Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former US Navy helicopter pilot: “[B]ecause I know President Biden cares deeply about the future of our country, I am asking that [President Biden] declare that he won’t run for reelection and will help lead us through a process toward a new nominee.”

Polling shows the incumbent president trailing in every swing state he won against Donald Trump in 2020. That’s a prospect that would mean a clean defeat in the Electoral College.

Thanks to current realities in the House and Senate, a Trump victory in November would likely be accompanied by respective Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress.