George Clooney just did the most destruction that an actor has done to a sitting U.S.president since John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head. Lincoln was rushed from the theater and he did not recover from his wounds. That was a terrible tragedy in American history. Who knows what greater things Lincoln would have done, what his larger legacy would have been? How much more wisdom and knowledge about our country and our government might he have contributed? In any event, the issue here is political assassination, not bodily, and George Clooney pulled the trigger in his guest essay to the New York Times Wednesday morning.

So where do we go from here? Here’s the simple lay of the land. Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer cannot take a stand. They are like pieces on a chessboard. They are frozen in place. But, the queen piece is still on the chess board, too. Congresswoman Pelosi can and will, I predict, take the helm and guide the party through these rough waters. Clooney said, “the dam has broken.” Yes, it has, and you’re the one that broke it, George. I hope that you can live with the consequences of your actions because if this election goes south, your name is going to be Major Mudd. Politico:

As House Democrats concerned about JOE BIDEN’s vitality as a candidate bit their tongues this week, one senior House Democratic aide offered this thought to Playbook: “NANCY PELOSI has more balls than most of the men in this caucus.”

The former speaker has long been a close ally of the president’s. She privately pulled for Biden during the 2020 primary as progressive White House hopefuls dismissed him as old news in a party tilting increasingly left. She worked closely with Biden to pass much of his agenda, shepherding through climate and infrastructure spending, gun control measures and other big-ticket items that have now become the cornerstone of his legacy.

And now that Biden’s campaign is flailing, many Democrats have been looking to Pelosi as the best-positioned leader to potentially convince the president to step aside.

This morning, Pelosi buoyed those hopes when she went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and subtly suggested Biden needs to reconsider his decision to stay in the race.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” Pelosi said, implicitly rejecting Biden’s stated decision that he is continuing to run. “The time is running short. … He’s beloved, he is respected, and people want him to make that decision.”

Pelosi had previously noted her “full confidence” in Biden last week as rumblings emerged from members on whether he was fit for office, support she has parrotted this week when prodded. But in recent days she’s been avoiding the press and refusing to engage on the crisis engulfing her party.

Now Pelosi did do a bit of clean-up on what she said this morning. Speaking to CBS after the interview, she accused some reporters of taking her words out of context: “I never said he should reconsider his decision,” she said. “The decision is the president’s.”

And yet (1) that doesn’t contradict what she said earlier, and (2) those who have covered Pelosi for years, as we have, know that the speaker rarely utters a word without a plan and an intention. There’s little doubt that she knew — and fleshed out with confidants — exactly what she was doing before she was mic’d up at MSNBC this morning.

In many ways, Pelosi is the most sensible choice to lead a rebellion against Biden. The currently elected congressional leader, HAKEEM JEFFRIES and CHUCK SCHUMER, are caught in the middle of a divided caucus. Taking sides on the matter could undercut their standing as leaders, create future enemies and otherwise undercut their own influence.

Pelosi has already cemented her legacy. Unshackled from the burdens of caucus leadership, she doesn’t need to worry about pleasing members — something, we should be honest, she rarely fretted about as speaker. As such, she could be the one Democrat with the gravitas and wherewithal to tell Biden what everyone is saying privately — if, of course, she is willing.

Meanwhile … Reactions to Pelosi’s comments have varied on Capitol Hill. While some senior Democrats, including Jeffries and Caucus Chair PETE AGUILAR side-stepped questions, saying they hadn’t yet seen her appearance on MSNBC. Yet there were signs that her comments were providing cover for other Democrats to speak more frankly.

What they are saying:

  • Rep. PAT RYAN (D-N.Y.) became the eighth member to call on Biden to step down, suggesting Democrats host an open convention for a new nominee as he rejected Biden’s claims that “elites” are trying to orchestrate his ouster: “These are the opposite of elites,” Ryan told NYT’s Nicholas Fandos. “These are people eating hot dogs and drinking beer and talking about my Yankees and where the country’s at and expressing some pretty deep and weighty things.”

  • Minority Whip KATHERINE CLARK doubled down on the unity of the caucus but, like Pelosi, suggested Biden’s decision is not final: “There is just no light between our caucus and the work we have done with this administration and the work that we will do in the future. As always, this decision is up to the President,” Clark said.

  • Rep. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-Texas), the first sitting Democrat to call on Biden to withdraw from the race, echoed Pelosi’s doubts, telling reporters: “The fact that she’s raising these issues, leaving it out there, indicates I think her realization that we can’t go forward without some greater certainty on a number of aspects of the president’s future.”

We absolutely cannot go forward as a house divided. This is the point of no return. We need to get on the same page, as Democrats, and decide what is to be done. If Kamala is going to take the reins and that is the only sane way to go, not some ad hoc relitigating of the primacy process next month at the Democratic convention, then that decision needs to be made soon. As New York Rep. Richie Torres said, “In determining how to proceed as a party, there must be a serious reckoning with the down-ballot effect of whomever we nominate. What matters is not how we feel but what the numbers tell us.” Torres said today in a statement. He added in comments to CNN: “If we are going on a political suicide mission, then we should at least be honest about it.”

That’s about the size of it. I don’t think George Clooney understands the magnitude of what he is asking for. We are less than four months out from the 2024 election. We can’t be sabotaging our incumbent president. If the decision is made jointly between President Biden and trusted colleagues of many years, like Nancy Pelosi, then it needs to be done now.

And then we don’t know what’s going to happen. This has never been tried before. Franklin Delano Rooseveldt was not in good physical health when he ran for a fourth term. But he was in great political health. Everybody was behind him. There was little question but that he would win again, and he did. Biden may be in the top 10 percentile of octagenarians physically, and probably he is, and probably mentally as well, but the perception that he’s lost it and the betrayal of those close to him at this late hour is killing his candidacy. And it is paving the way for the return of Trump.

It’s all in Nancy Pelosi’s hands now, I feel. And I must say that’s the only comforting aspect of this entire debacle. I trust her political instincts more than anybody else out there in politics. If anybody can guide us through this unspeakable mess, she is the one.

Maybe it’s time to sail out on uncharted waters and see how an underdog vice president, with dismal approval ratings, can do against the worst human being ever to run for office, let alone three times, Donald Trump. I fear for our nation. I fear for democracy in the world.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. Every fucking time these ass hats do something like this, they FAIL. No last minute replacement candidate for president has EVER won. NONE. I don’t care if he’s propped up in the corner ala Weekend at Bernie’s, I’M VOTING BIDEN. We MUST hit the trifecta and take all three levers of government or we’re toast. I’m so sick and goddamned tired of these fuckers shooting us all in the foot at the finish line. Damn them all.

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    • I agree with you completely, but I have to say that I’ve been glued to each news release as it come out and it looks like Joe is toast. That’s just what I keep seeing. So personally, I’m mentally prepared for a switch to Kamala. But we need to do it NOW. We can’t keep laboring in this holding pattern. We need to land the plane, one way or another.

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      • That is how they are working us. I have set my thumbs down on Apple News every time there is a negative article about President Biden to suggest less, and I get more, lots more. It is supposed to work, it use to work, but now it isn’t. We knew there would be lots of games, and involving AI as well, and here they are. This is by design, not accident. Take heart, ignore it and they will have to give up and they will have to give up eventually. And call out these dissenters, I just sent one of my Reps a long email.

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  2. Maybe I missed it but I’ve not heard any names mentioned by those who would dump Biden; have they suggested candidates? Or are they all agreed that a Black woman should be their chosen candidate against the White racist?

    • NOPE and NO Dem has come forward ASKING for the job, either. Talk about a circular firing squad. It’s as if they LOVE doing the pubes’ job for them.

    • I think if a name were put forward it would be Newsom’s. I also don’t think he would take the nomination because this would turn into, like you say KR, the circular firing squad.

      This election was the dem’s, up and down ballot, for the taking. Guess they don’t want it because they are sure as shit losing it up and down the ballot. And all the stoopie fucks had to do was ride dobbs, thomas, birth control, into the winner’s circle. Couldn’t even do that simple thing.

      Maybe all pols are morons.

    • George Clooney suggested we “figure it out” at the Democratic convention, which is insane. The only rational course of action is Kamala v. Trump. And as to her VP, I haven’t the slightest idea.

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      • In this case, I don’t agree as I almost always do with you Ursula. The only choice is Joe Biden/Kamala Harris, as it stands and as we voted in the primary. Big period.
        The people spoke and we are now being disenfranchised if we let it happen. Joe on Morning Joe pointed that out when he and Mika had the call with Biden. Thats not democracy to let the political elites decide, what we already voted on. What is happening to our votes is in doubt and as you have said the Convention will be a shit show and our doom. It’s only 2 months or so out to mail in voting. People are just going to give up and not vote with all this chaos and uncertainty and of course donations will dry up if we listen to this stuff. Donations are still coming in and rallies are successful and the President Biden just had a powerfull event with NATO. He is still the President, let’s treat him that way.

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  3. Meanwhile the Republican contender is outed as a pedophile rapist of 14 year old girls in connection with his good friend Jeffrey Epstein to add to the litany of other moral and legal offenses he has committed.

    And we are wasting our time attacking each other?

    Don’t feed the ‘Democrats in Disarray’ meme being pushed by others, whose standard bearer is a moral blackhole, racist, pedophile, rapist, convicted felon who is also old, but unlike Biden, has proven mental decline.

  4. Do these fuck-was dem pols WANT von shitzinpants back in the w.h.? We opine, constantly, on just how moronic republicans are because of their slavish devotion to someone who cannot even keep his pants free of fecal matter, and other things, but this episode with the dem pols make me realize there may not be just one hell of a lot of difference in dem I.Q.’s vs. ‘pube’s I.Q.’s. Pelosi has always seemed smarter than this but maybe it was just her in comparison to von shitzi and hell even Kavin’ Kevin was smarter than trump.

    • Supposedly Joe has lost it. Supposedly the Joe at the debate is the “real Joe” nowadays. Maybe that’s the case. The argument that all these people have is that a new, fresh face is needed to beat Trump because Joe isn’t up to the task. And maybe he isn’t. I don’t know if a Black woman can get elected. I’m terrified that this is going to be 2016 redux. Maybe not.

      Maybe J.B. Pritzker could be her VP. I’m just wildly fantasizing here because I can’t even believe I am here, but we ARE here, so somebody better cobble together some ticket.

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      • “Maybe that’s the case.” No that’s not the case. Because he was good, even at times inspiring, at all the other appearances since. Including most recently the NATO speech. Even that intervirw with Stephanopulos that got Murphy’s knickers in a twist was fine. And the media know that, they just ignore it because it’s not in their narrative. Biden is not who’s causing me any anguish. It’s the fucking media, politicians and donors.
        You talk about Pelosi having the last word. If so that’s not good. And it’s ironic, since she’s even older than Biden, by three years. WTF? What is she thinking? “If I had to retire, then you have to retire?”
        But there’s this little thing called the Congressional Black Caucus. Oh, sorry, that was yesterday. Ancient history I suppose.

      • A new fresh face will trend for a very short minute and then Trump will devastatingly mock them and the squabble will begin again, and the new face will be besmirched. It’s comical, absurd, if it wasn’t so dire, but the very thing people are afraid of happening, they are now bringing about. The polls had Biden losing the last election, 2020 and he won, by a landslide, contrary to what pollsters were saying. Close with the electoral vote, but he did it. Do you realize he is the only one to beat Trump, except for some legal cases of late that he has lost. He has had the world by the tail for all these years, and one person brought him down. We should not get in the way of that momentum.

  5. I’m repeating here a comment I left on an earlierc PZ article I read earler today:

    In recent days I’ve posted comments on the contact pages for Sen. Mark Warner, leading Senate “Dump Biden” advocate, and the NY Democratic Party over their pitiful and spineless reaction to President Biden’s bad night on June 27, and just finished a similar message on the DNC page (democrats.org/contact-us) before tapping the PZ icon on my tablet. I hope anyone reading this who agrees with me gets on as many Democrat politicians’ web contact pages as you can and let them know what you think of that movement.

  6. i think i will stol reading Ursala. it looks like she has drank the cool aid or maybe hoping she is not on the chopping block of journalists when project 2025is underway. Harris is on the ticket and ready to serve. We need to stop hoping for the perfect and re- elect the president that came ouf of retirement to save our democracy and save us from covid. This is a government. do you seriously think Trump or Bush jr. had anything to do with how government ran. They were figureheads, mascots. If we have to reelect a man that has a proven excellent track record in his waning days of life then let’s do it. especially if this means that we will get a Black woman president. God only knows that racist America will choose a pedo proven convicted criminal should be king before electing a woman, especially a black woman. It seems that Ms Faw and other journalists pushing this narrative that any other white man should step up and run the democratic party before Biden’s chosen successor takes the throne.

    • I’m confused. Ursula has been clear that we need to pull together and get President Biden re-elected. That he’s our nominee and that trying to replace him at this point would be a disaster. Maybe you need to re-read what she’s been saying in multiple articles.

    • Dennis Fabro, I think you are saying something important, just maybe in a few places (if I am following your real meaning) you might have put it a little differently. Where you compare Biden to Trump or Bush Jr.: “This is a government. do you seriously think Trump or Bush jr. had anything to do with how government ran.” I get your point, they were largely figureheads, but of different kinds. Trump ran his government like a crime boss, everybody had to do what he wanted or they were finished — but yeah, THEY did it, HE just called the shots. Dubya didn’t even do that — Cheney ran the White House. Biden is different, he really does run it, but he has a LOT of help.And I think that’s your point.
      But frankly, anyone would need lots of help in times like these, And Biden picked a really good team, with maybe a few exceptions lsuch as Merrick Garland.
      As for Denis Eliot’s point, Ursula HAS been clear that we need to pull together and get Biden re-elected. And in this post she isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid, but I get the impression she feel like she’s drowning in it. It’s hard to blame her. But yeah, whatever happens we all need to get a grip.
      And your point about Harris is also spot on, but I’m not sure if everybody got it. “She is ‘on the ticket and ready to serve … If we have to reelect a man that has a proven excellent track record in his waning days of life then let’s do it. especially if this means that we will get a Black woman president.” I would say this a little differently: Why nominate Harris to replace Biden because he supposedly can’t do the job, when, if it should happen that once in office he really can’t, Harris would take over anyway. Because her record as a vote-getter on the national scene is not good, it’s a foolhardy risk.
      Aside from Harris, you’d have a free for all just before the election, which Clooney seems to think would be fun, but I guarantee you it won’t be.
      Let’s all send President Biden a donation tonight.

  7. Unless he relinquishes his electors he is the nominee. Why the hell can’t we just get him over the finish line so he can bestow presidetial power to VP Harris? This country is so F-ing tweaked now nominating HER (because,women) oh noes! And NOT white… Even though women dominate the population,FREEDOMS people! Not just ours,everyones! Even the morons who will vote to be stripped of them. Democrats or deathcamps!?

    • It’s hard to say what’s motivating this. I think the reason may be that there are many different motives. Biden is getting it from all sides. But ironically, I don’t think age is the real reason. It’s just become a convenient excuse for people of influence to indulge their fantasies. And I don’t even think fear is the reason. In fact, for some, I think it’s overconfidence and political ignorance, very much of the Dunning-Kruger type. You can see that with Clooney and many of the other revolting donors. (Double meaning intended.)
      We just sent a contribution to Biden. If you can afford it (no donation too small) I suggest we all do it. It will make a statement.

  8. Everyone needs to stop listening to right-wing MAGApublican propaganda! There are no problems with President Biden’s physical or mental health. The same cannot be said of a certain ORANGE CONVICTED FELON! We also need to stop listening to media outlets that no longer care about honest journalism or the truth, only fear-mongering to try to get the most attention, and make the most money!

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  9. Chuck Schumer CAN take a stand. He’s holding the line.

    “The majority leader responded to the report saying “As I have made clear repeatedly publicly and privately, I support President Biden and remain committed to ensuring Donald Trump is defeated in November.”

    Even in reporting this, the spin from the media is all the other way. Including Axios. Somebody’s lying, and I don’t think it’s Schumer.

    • It’s interesting that Nancy Pelosi has accused the Press for distorting what she said and so did Schumer. Fun times are here and with AI we should be cautious about everything we read. Up thread from here I talked about how my news feed is being sabotaged somehow and this just started with these recent events. I doubt its by accident.

      • We should indeed be cautious about anything we read, but in this case I don’t think AI was involved. Rather, if Nancy Pelosi and Schumer say that the press has distorted what they said, I have no problem believing that, since the press has been assiduously distorting just about everything to do with this election.

  10. Biden could release his delegates, open up the convention, and stay in the race. Delegates could then reaffirm their pledge to him, or chose another candidate from among those who come forward to challenge him — if any emerge. It’s a gutsy move that would demonstrate leadership and confidence, and give him added momentum to win the election. Put up or shut up time.

    • Experts in cross-examination know not to ask witnesses anything to which they don’t already know the answer. Similarly, your idea might be good theater, but if I were Biden I wouldn’t try it unless I already had a head count.

  11. 1) An article published today on the Newsweek website notes that “in three swing states there are signs that Biden has marginally increased his support since participating in the first presidential debate”, namely Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina.

    2) Another article published today by Newsweek reports that results of a new poll show “Vice President Kamala Harris would have a 2-percentage-point edge over Trump among registered voters if she secured the Democratic presidential nomination.”

    The voters aspeaking up!

  12. Here is a thought right out of left field:

    GEORGE CLOONEY FOR PRESIDENT.

    He certainly has the name recognition and the charisma.
    Sure he has no experience but he is well equipped to learn “on the job”.
    After all, Trump was a non-politician who only worked a couple of hours a day…
    Just because the Trump name became linked with the Antichrist, doesn’t mean that Clooney would also embark on the same road to insanity.

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