I remember that I first came into contact with the television media many years ago and had the opportunity to participate in an international current affairs program similar to public debate several times ago. Having to come on stage under the watch of dozens of spectators, the younger people at that time couldn’t help but choose trot. However, during the recording process, I accidentally found that the steps I just stepped were not short, so I had some lingering fears. Now, the memories of this little experience actually give me some understanding of President Joe Biden, who has recently fallen repeatedly on Air Force One gangway 1. In the face of the high attention of the media in the United States and even the world, coupled with the ubiquitous of social networks, the elderly Biden certainly has the pressure to show some “youngness” in details as much as possible, but the trotting up is naturally easy to slip, not to mention a 78-year-old man.
On March 19, the video of Biden’s so-called “three consecutive falls” was quickly spread across the Internet, exacerbating the existing doubts about Biden’s ability to govern. Therefore, Karine Jean-Pierre, the deputy spokesman of the White House born in 1977, had to publicly explain that the wind at Andrew Airport that day was really too strong, and she almost fell down when she got on the plane herself. This well-meaning but far-fetched explanation can’t help but make the outside world more curious about the physical condition of the entire Biden team members.
Just six days later, Biden held his first presidential press conference at the White House. The press conference in less than an hour was originally interpreted as the president needed more time to prepare for it because it was arranged too late (64 days after taking office), and Biden’s performance at the press conference was unspeakable. The dull and verbose expression seemed to remind people what Washington’s habit is than the noise of the past four years. State. Although it seems more like a careful arrangement in advance and the question according to the name of the Tussuo location, Biden showed emotional irritability in the face of some challenging questions, and finally answered ten questions and ended up hastily.
In 2017, 70-year-old Trump entered the White House, setting a new president’s age record for the first time, but his “strong” style in the next four years easily makes people ignore the “old man politics” that the United States is entering. By contrast, Biden today is a reminder of the fait accompli or the quiet arrival of the new normal.
Whose government is it?
In this wave of discussion about Biden’s age, physical condition and ability to govern, the conservative camp in the United States is doomed to be lonely. Conservative media such as Fox News, as well as some accounts on social media, began to grasp an interesting detail and “dig deep”. That is, the official website of the White House currently explicitly uses the term “Biden-Harris administration”, and there is news that the Biden administration has notified its administration to adopt the name of the president and vice president.
According to the conservative “creative” interpretation, behind this usage is the government crisis that Biden is unable to perform his duties normally due to physical and other reasons. Even Vice President Kamala Harris is speculated to have actually taken power and will take over at any time.
The whispers of such conspiracy theories certainly hint: for example, Biden’s election was originally “stealed” and naturally unfavorable, which is a favorite statement of Trump supporters; for example, white President Biden has become a “puppet”, and the real control of the country is Harris, who is of African descent, which implies one It must be intolerable by some white groups, which will stimulate certain forces. It can be seen that the agenda operation for this detail is actually an attempt to shape a political narrative similar to the so-called “Manchurian candidate” (Note: Manchurian Candidate was originally a political thriller published by American writer Richard Condon in 1959, and the term “Manchurian candidate” later became an American political term. It means “puppet”, “manipulated” and “brainwashed” candidates).
Objectively speaking, the juxtaposition of the “Biden-Harris administration” is used so high-profilely on official platforms such as the White House website, which is indeed a little different from the past, but it does not necessarily mean that the above-mentioned dramatic antics are too strong. On the one hand, if you carefully search for relevant information about previous U.S. governments, it is not abnormal to use the president and vice president to name the current government. Especially since at least the 1990s, with the continuous expansion of the power of the vice president in actual politics, the use of the president and vice presidents to union seems more formal. On the other hand, this usage obviously implies some political considerations that meet normal expectations. For example, on January 19 this year, the day before the Trump administration left office, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy posted a summary article on his official website entitled “Five Achievements of the Trump-Pence Administration”, which was intended to use this statement to emphasize the Republican establishment Mike Pence’s important role highlights that the Trump administration’s achievements are Republican achievements. Today, the “Biden-Harris Administration” used by Biden on the White House website can also be understood as a result of the power-sharing nature of this administration.
In fact, after the dust settled last year’s election, the official website of the so-called “transition of power” opened by the Biden camp was clearly named “Biden-Harris Transition Team”. Take the cover of Time as an example. Whether it is an issue that determines the results after Election Day or the 2020 Person of the Year cover, Biden and Harris share in the same frame. This also shows to some extent that the Biden team itself and relevant public opinion believe that this is a cooperative election, opening up the power of sharing. In other words, the effectiveness of Biden and Harris in 2020 is not limited to the next four years, but also predetermined the Democratic primary nominations for 2024 and even 2028, unless unexpected. In order to strengthen or even solidify this possible continuity, Biden’s insistence on using the “Biden-Harris administration” from the beginning can also highlight the sustainability of Democratic policies, countering the whispers and anxiety of party rotation and leading to policy reversal in 2024.
After all, after eight years as a vice president, Biden himself will think differently, hoping to make the most of Harris’ energy as vice president as possible. Although the personal interaction between the two is actually limited, and Harris can repeatedly recall her cooperation with Biden’s eldest son Bo Biden on many occasions, the current president who presided over Harris’s sworn in as a congressional senator as vice president is indeed giving Harris a bigger role. In the past 60 days, Harris’s participation in internal and external policies has begun to appear: the first call of the current government is Harris’s call with the Director-General of WHO, and Harris also directly communicated with the heads of France, Canada and other allied countries by phone; recently, Harris was Mandates responsibility for immigration matters of great importance to the future, especially to solve the current crisis on the US-Mexico border. From this perspective, the use of the “Biden-Harris administration” is not only in line with the continuous improvement of the role of vice president in recent years, but also fully in line with the future intergenerational renewal of the Democratic Party.
To put it a step back, assuming that there is really a “palace drama” in the White House, Harris, who is still living in Blair Palace temporarily, is only one step away from the Oval Office, instead, he should avoid using the “Biden-Harris Administration” to minimize speculation, right?
What can Eisenhower tell Biden?
Speculation about the unexpected future of the “Biden-Harris Administration” is not only because of Biden’s age, but also because of the age difference between Biden and Harris: Harris, born in 1964, is only five years older than Biden’s late eldest son, Bo, and 22 years worse than the president and vice president, which is obviously a long-term impact. “Father and daughter” combination.
It is worth noting that 22 years old is not the biggest age difference between the president and vice president in the history of the United States. In the 1856 election, James Buchanan, then 65-year-old Democrat, faced his party deputy, John Breckinridge, who was less than 35. At that time, the combination was obviously not up to the presidential candidate himself, but the younger generation of Breckinridge undoubtedly represented the echelon needed by the party. In 1860, the Southern Democrats, who is still the youngest vice president in American history, represented the split Southern Democrats, competing for the White House, and eventually losing to Lincoln.
After the “Buchanan-Brekenridge” group, there are two groups of “father-son stalls”, Eisenhower (1890) and Nixon (born 1913), Bush Sr. (born 1924) and Quill (born 1947), in which the presidents are about 23 years older than the vice president. Right, closer to today’s “Biden-Harris” combination. In terms of the mandate given to presidential candidates by the primary election system, Biden, of course, like Bush Sr., has the right to decide on the deputy. But in terms of faction ecology within the party, Biden chose Harris to balance the party’s demands, which is actually more like Eisenhower’s acceptance of Nixon.
What the Republican Party most expected in 1952 was to end the 20-year Democratic Party’s rule. They hired World War II famous player Eisenhower as a rescuer. However, the liberals in the party are the most supportive of Aishi. Robert Taft, who is supported by conservatives in the party, and Earl Warren, who is moderate, still insist on participating in the nomination competition. Therefore, although Eisenhower, 62, successfully defeated the party’s conservatives, he finally accepted the deputy, Nixon, 39, who could be supported by both conservatives in the party and moderates.
After the 1952 presidential election, the winner of the election, Eisenhower and Nixon, appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
The practice of some Republican elites investing in the future at that time was very similar to the urgent call last year by some Democrats for Biden to choose a female African-American deputy (almost implying the choice of Harris). In contrast, George W. Bush’s selection of Quayle was purely to create some intergenerational feelings, leading rather than compromise, and the latter had no political intention after losing the election in 1992.
Interestingly, in the case of Time magazine, the last elected president and vice president appeared on the latest cover after the election before Biden and Harris was exactly in 1952 and 1956, the two wins of Eisenhower and Nixon, in which the head portrait was set side by side in 1956. The plan is the same as the side-by-side faces of Biden and Harris as the “People of the Year” in 2020.
Eisenhower and Nixon on the cover of Time magazine in 1956.
Biden and Harris on the cover of Time magazine in 2020.
Since the situation is similar, and both presidents face the vice president who is born of the party’s factional balance and is believed to represent the future of the party, what can Eisenhower’s practice tell Biden? For Biden, who is worried by many people about his old age or even health, the Eisenhower heart attack should be a point worth thinking about and learning from.
In mid-August 1955, the Eisenhower family flew to Denver, Colorado, where his wife lived for a long time when she was young, to start a so-called “work vacation” for about two months. On the evening of September 23, Eisenhower had a heart attack and was sent to hospital the next day. For the next seven weeks, Eisenhower was treated and recovered at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. Coincidentally, 12 years ago, a newborn baby named John Forbes Kerry (Note: Secretary of State under Obama’s second term) was born in the hospital. In early October 1955, Eisenhower’s condition was under some control. Then Vice President Nixon and Secretary of State Dulles visited the president on October 8 and 11, respectively.
It was not until November 11 that Eisenhower was discharged from the hospital, but did not return to the White House, but to the manor he bought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during his tenure as president of Columbia University. Many information revealed that Eisenhower was very frustrated at this time. He not only believed that he could never seek re-election, but also had a high doubt that he could continue to perform his duties normally. Even the president’s schedule of State of the Union address to both houses of Congress was stranded on January 5, 1956, and Eisenhower decided to submit it to Congress in writing.
Eisenhower’s withdrawal soon triggered the unease and restlessness of the Republican elite. Judging from the possible replacement of the Republican Party at that time, none of them, including Vice President Nixon, could ensure victory like Eys. In mid-February 1956, the team of doctors confirmed that Eisenhower had been fully recovered. On February 29, Eisenhower publicly expressed his willingness to continue to represent the Republican Party in the election after the urging of the Republicans.
It is worth noting that between the end of September 1955 and February 1956, that is, during the period when the president was unable to perform his duties fully or could only partially perform his duties, the operation of the Eisenhower government was extremely unsmooth. Although Vice President Nixon was authorized to act as a cabinet meeting and the National Security Council, he could not lead decision-making at all. At that time, Secretary of State Dulles, Treasury Secretary George Humphrey, Agriculture Secretary Ezra Benson and others boycotted Nixon to varying degrees in charge of policy, believing that he could not act as Eisenhower’s decision-making, and thus did not The chaos of decision-making by the head of the same department.
According to Robert Gilbert, a professor of politics at Northeastern University and other scholars, Dulles unilaterally controlled American foreign policy in late 1955 and 1956 due to the decision-making vacuum caused by Eisenhower’s illness. It directly led to the decision to cancel the funding of the Aswan Dam and the subsequent Suez crisis.
Eisenhower’s heart disease caused his government to silo, and in addition to the fact that Eisen’s cronies did not buy Nixon, there was a key background in the 1956 election. At least some conflicts between Nixon and Dulles, or Nixon and Humphrey, can reflect the early position of different factions within the Republican Party in the face of the election. It is interesting that although Eisenhower personally warned Nixon not to run for election during his illness, and even after announcing his re-election, Eisenhower once hoped to change his deputy, he finally accepted the arrangement of the Republican faction. Of course, it was also because of the Republican re-election in 1956 that Nixon was able to landsshelm the Republican Party in the 1960 election. Eight years later, when Nixon ran again and finally got what he wanted, his second daughter Julie married Eisenhower’s only grandson David.
Eisenhower’s experience from 1955 to 1956 invisibly increased the need for Biden to insist on using the use of the “Biden-Harris Administration”. It must be admitted that although the previous health report provided by private doctors showed that Biden was generally healthy, there were some hidden dangers such as irregular heart rate, atrial fibrillation and hyperlipidemia listed in the report at that time. If there is a sudden situation such as stroke and heart problems, similar “Eisenhower moment” will be staged.
Although Eisenhower’s heart attack directly stimulated it and eventually finalized the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution in 1967, that is, the constitutional provision that the vice president acts as president, whether Harris, who is relatively junior, can fully enjoy constitutional power, control more senior cabinet members, and to the president Whether the throne is eager to try or the presidential cronies who have followed Biden for decades, these are variables. In particular, if Biden’s possible physical condition also occurred on the eve of the election (such as the second half of 2023), Harris, the most promising candidate, is more likely to face fierce challenges from other competitors within the government in the face of the party primary elections that had begun to brew at that time. In other words, if there is a problem, Biden may not be able to reload as quickly as Eisenhower did in those years, and Harris will have to face a more difficult situation than Nixon in those years. At that time, the Democrats will fall into internal fight again, missing out on the original static advantage over the Republican camp.
Foresaw these potential problems, with special emphasis from the beginning to Harris’ key role in the second pick in government, aiming to ensure as much stability as possible in the dual sense of government decision-making and party integration in the absence of Biden’s ability to perform (fully) may be the only way that Biden really wants to pass “Biden-ha The goal achieved by the Reese government.