Columns

June 29, 2024

Tinubu, Trump and Biden’s burden, by Emmanuel Aziken

Tinubu, Trump and Biden’s burden, by Emmanuel Aziken

Vice President Kamala Harris rushed to CNN early yesterday morning (Nigerian Time) to reassure American voters after President Joe Biden came out from a horrific debate with Donald Trump that saw many gasping over the mental capacities of the incumbent president.

The once very articulate Biden was sometimes incoherent forcing his challenger, to mock at one time, “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence, and I don’t think he did, either,” Trump said.

The incoherence of President Biden will find echo in Nigeria. During the 2023 campaigns, Nigerians will remember that the All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu more often than not also rambled at many campaign stops.

One of the most famous quotes was Tinubu’s dismissal of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s 16 year-rule when he said that “they couldn’t make a down payment of roasted corn for electricity.”

At that time, many saw Tinubu as either dumb or one gone out of his mind. However, many people close to the then-candidate expressed surprise at such utterances as they said that in private that he was quite eloquent, sound, and purposeful in his articulations.

It was only later that many came to the conclusion that the rambling was a campaign strategy executed to perfection by the Jagban. The impression that he was infirm made a substantial proportion of voters in the North believe that the Tinubu candidacy would be short-lived and that sooner than later that power would return to the North.

However, in the United States, such primordial political considerations are of no effect as Democrats are now experiencing after the CNN Presidential Debate.

President Biden’s mental and physical infirmities immediately sent panic as the debate progressed forcing administration and campaign officials to spread the word that the president had a cold.

But the debate on Thursday night was not the first time in recent times that President Biden would draw concern over his mental and physical fitness to lead the world’s most powerful country.

Just a week ago during a campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles, videos were circulated of President Biden freezing on stage and being guided out of stage by President Barack Obama.

 The normally anti-Trump CNN which hosted the debate could not have covered up the foibles of the president and the advantages it threw the way of the former president and Republican presidential candidate.

CNN anchor, John King revealed just minutes after the debate that many senior Democrats reported to him that party leaders were seething with rage over the performance of the presidential candidate. For many who are running for office in the November election, their pain was that Biden could harm them as the presidential candidate. 

“We have a problem” CNN quoted Democratic operatives as saying after the debate with some also saying that nothing good came out of the debate.

Democrats also raved that Biden failed to press home the party’s advantages especially where Trump and Republicans are very susceptible. Particularly so is the issue of abortion where Biden failed to push forward the fears of many American women that a second term for President Trump would further push the United States Supreme Court to consolidate the decision that overturned the right to abortion.

But the Biden Campaign did not just get to this mess at the debate.

One of the most potent weapons for the Biden Campaign is Kamala Harris, the vice-president. However, for most of the last three years, Biden has not given the vice-president the latitude to operate and she has become about the most listless vice-presidents in a generation.

The vice-president of the United States, perhaps even worse than his equivalent in Nigeria can only operate as much as the president allows him. In Nigeria, the vice-president is chairman of the National Economic Council, but this correspondent cannot tie the US vice-president to any besides being the President of the Senate. 

That the Biden, Campaign immediately rushed Ms Harris to a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper minutes after the debate only reflected the sense of panic among the Democrats with many now calling on him to step down.

It is really shocking that the call on Biden to step down is especially coming from those within the Democratic Party ecosystem. As it is, Biden is not yet the nominee even if he is the presumptive nominee being that nearly all the delegates to the Chicago Convention are committed to him.

The only path of exit that can remove the Biden burden from the Democrats is if the president opts to release his delegates. That would lead to an open convention in which the delegates would be allowed to vote for other possible candidates.

As it is now, only Biden can remove himself from the election. Indeed, he left the Atlanta debate with a sense of confidence to overturn the narrative against him in the September debate to be hosted by CBS. How President Biden trudges would indeed be a defining point in United States political culture.