Only Joe Biden can win or lose the 2024 election

By Harlan Ullman
President Joe Biden needs to be decisive to show the American people that he is indeed capable of serving as president. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
President Joe Biden needs to be decisive to show the American people that he is indeed capable of serving as president. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

With more than eight months remaining before the Nov. 5 election, and even though some polls seem to favor Donald Trump, no one really knows who will win.

Barring a major incident, such as Trump being found guilty in one of his trials and sentenced to jail, or a health event before Election Day, only one person will determine who wins or loses. That is President Joe Biden.


A large majority of Americans believe Biden is too old and not sufficiently cogent to serve a second term and that Trump is unacceptable, too. Vice President Kamala Harris is very unpopular and many doubt her competence if she replaced Biden. Obviously, Biden cannot reverse his years. Nor can he change his image as an old man.

What can he do to win? The answer is so obvious that it is hidden in plain sight: Be decisive! Being decisive will show to the American people that Biden is indeed capable of serving as president.


While Biden's other negatives are apparent, Americans want a leader who can lead, no matter how old he or she is. And it is not registered Republicans and Democrats who are his audience. A majority of Americans are independent. They will help elect the next president. The only vital question is to ensure that decisiveness is applied to the right issues.

The major crisis confronting the nation is the inability of Congress to carry out its duties. More specifically, it is the Republican House of Representatives that is deadlocked over the border, Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan spending bills, with the clock ticking on when the Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling extensions expire in early March that will shut down the government. And guess what?

The House is on an outrageous two-week recess. A president cannot recall Congress. But under the Constitution's Article 2, the president can call for a "special session" for either or both houses. Biden must do that today. And he should deliver a major address to the nation as to explain his actions and why this Congress must live up to its responsibilities, no matter the influence Trump exercises in preventing action on the border to prop up his election chances.


President Harry Truman, who was not favored to win re-election, called for a "special session" of the 80th "do-nothing" Republican Congress on July 15, 1948. While Biden will be attacked for pulling off a "political stunt," that is nonsense. It is the height of irresponsibility with the border in crisis, Ukraine facing a series of defeats on the battlefield and a government shutdown looming, for Congress to be out of session. Most Americans will agree with this.

Second, Biden must use Trump's disdain for NATO to advantage and turn the alliance into a political weapon to be used against the ex-president. NATO's 75th anniversary will be celebrated in its heads of state and government's summit to be convened in Washington in July. The way to do that also draws from history.

This is what President John Kennedy said about NATO in his Jan. 20, 1961, State of the Union: "In Europe, our alliances are unfulfilled and in some disarray. The unity of NATO has been weakened by economic rivalry and partially eroded by national interest. It has not yet fully mobilized its resources nor fully achieved a common outlook."

That sounded Trumpian. Except as the Kennedy administration altered its defense strategy to one of "flexible response," NATO would follow suit with its review that became the 1967 Harmel Report, named for the former Belgium foreign secretary who chaired the committee. NATO needs a new Harmel Report to emasculate Trump's threats and provide a firewall in the event he is elected. But Biden would take credit for initiating this review as a counterweight to Trump.


Third, the Democrats must prepare a complete history of Trump, documenting his checkered past. Trump's record of business defaults, moral lapses, fines and, of course, the many indictments against him are well known. But they have never been assembled in one collective place to show the magnitude of his misjudgments, character flaws and unfitness for public office.

This will have a reverse impact on his MAGA supporters, who will retaliate using Hunter Biden as a target. However, the indictment of an FBI whistleblower for lying in accusations about the Biden family being bribed is a powerful antidote.

America is not at a crossroads. It is tottering over an abyss. Only Joe Biden can fix that. Will he?

Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist, a senior adviser at Washington's Atlantic Council, the prime author of "shock and awe" and author of "The Fifth Horseman and the New MAD: How Massive Attacks of Disruption Became the Looming Existential Danger to a Divided Nation and the World at Large." Follow him @harlankullman. The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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