X Close

Joe Biden doesn’t need to listen to George Clooney

Clooney's intervention smacks of elite paternalism. Credit: Getty

July 11, 2024 - 8:37pm

George Clooney’s recent call for Joe Biden to step aside has reignited a simmering debate within Democratic circles about the President’s age and fitness for office. The actor’s New York Times op-ed has further underscored the party’s ongoing preoccupation with celebrity endorsements and billionaire donors, while inadvertently exposing its growing disconnect from working-class and minority voters.

Clooney, a self-described “lifelong Democrat”, published an overwrought plea for Biden to voluntarily withdraw from the 2024 race. His argument, couched in over-the-top and largely undue praise for the President’s character and accomplishments, ultimately boiled down to a simple claim: Biden is too old to win.

Clooney’s intervention smacks of elite paternalism. The actor, whose political experience consists largely of hosting lavish fundraisers, presumed to speak for the entire party when he declared that “every senator and Congress member and governor” privately agrees with his assessment. This sweeping claim not only overstates the consensus within Democratic ranks but also ignores the very real support Biden still enjoys among key constituencies.

Recent polling paints a more nuanced picture than Clooney’s dire pronouncements suggest. A New York Times/Siena College survey conducted after the debate against Donald Trump last month found that while 77% of Democrats under 45 believe Biden is too old to be effective, only 49% of those over 45 share that view.

More tellingly, another poll revealed that support for Biden stepping aside is lowest among black voters, at just 49%. Among black Americans over 50, a crucial demographic for the President, only 32% think he should withdraw. And their leaders have taken note: 83-year-old black South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, who helped Biden secure the nomination with an impressive primary showing in his state in 2020, stands firmly behind the President.

These numbers highlight a growing generational and racial divide within the Democratic coalition. Younger, more progressive voters may be eager for new blood, but older and minority voters — long the backbone of the party — remain more hesitant to push a familiar face like Biden aside.

Biden, for his part, seems acutely aware of this dynamic. In a recent MSNBC interview with “Morning Joe” Scarborough, he lashed out at his critics as “elites”, daring potential challengers to run against him at the party convention. This populist posturing from a lifelong Washington insider may seem incongruous, but it’s a savvy attempt to reframe the debate on more favourable terms.

The President’s strategy appears to be resonating, at least to some degree, with the very voters Clooney and his ilk claim to represent. Anecdotal evidence from here in my Rust Belt hometown suggests that working-class Democrats, while harbouring concerns about Biden’s age, may be more put off by wealthy donors attempting to dictate the party’s future. This sentiment, coupled with Biden’s firm grip on the nomination process and support from key progressive figures such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, provides a bulwark against efforts to force him from the race.

Ultimately, Clooney’s misguided attempt to play kingmaker is just the latest example of Democrats’ unhealthy obsession with high-profile endorsements. While A-listers might draw crowds and headlines, they rarely sway actual voters. The party’s fixation on billionaires and star power can easily become a crutch, distracting from the unglamorous work of addressing working-class concerns and shoring up support among minority communities.

The path to victory in the swing states doesn’t run through boardrooms, red carpets, and cocktail parties. Forget that, and Biden won’t be the only Democrat looking for a new job.


Oliver Bateman is a historian and journalist based in Pittsburgh. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at his Substack, Oliver Bateman Does the Work

MoustacheClubUS

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

19 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
William Woods
William Woods
10 days ago

Biden has never been a particularly sharp tool. Just look back at his earlier days for the evidence on that front. Now though he is clearly being used by his wife and close advisers as a means to an end. Democrats have serious demographic problems which I suspect this election will underscore. Hopefully the US pulls its socks up and starts electing some younger blood with some brains moving forward.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
9 days ago
Reply to  William Woods

Yes. For all his apparent sophistication, he has an extremely limited mind on foreign policy. Simplistic, almost stupid.

El Uro
El Uro
10 days ago

shoring up support among minority communities
.
Did you ever care about majority?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
10 days ago

This article nicely dances around the most important point:
Which is that the person who MOST wants Biden to stay in the race is Donald J. Trump. At this stage, Biden remaining in the election, even without a further visible deterioration in his mental capacity, would all but guarantee that 45 = 47.
That maths holds, whether it is said by me, by my dog, or by George Clooney.

J B
J B
10 days ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I’m struggling to understand what 45=47 means in Plain English…you are pro-Biden, pro-Trunp or what?
IMHO our transatlantic cousins are being screwed by their own Uniparty blob.

T Bone
T Bone
10 days ago
Reply to  J B

Trump was the 45th President and would also be the 47th.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
10 days ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

In a strongly synergistic relationship, 2 + 2 = 22. In a mildly synergistic relationship, 2 + 2 = 5. In an antagonistic relationship, 2 + 2 = 0, or -0.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
10 days ago

I don’t know who the author is trying to impress with this sorry display of obsequious sycophancy, but this is just sad. Biden is doomed.

Marc Marsdale
Marc Marsdale
10 days ago

News flash: Clooney is Obama’s mouthpiece. Wouldn’t have been published without his blessing.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
9 days ago
Reply to  Marc Marsdale

Yes, Clooney’s profession is just to read the script aloud as convincingly as possible, nothing more.

John Tyler
John Tyler
10 days ago

Disingenuous writing at its finest!

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
10 days ago
Reply to  John Tyler

BS?

Dr E C
Dr E C
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Yes

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
10 days ago

The author appears to be writing as if he were suffering from an illusion that the circus that is being served up is anything but a faint simulacrum of a long-faded reality.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
10 days ago

Whether the X or Y demographic wishes for Biden to run is neither here nor there.
Should someone who is clearly becoming more and more senile, and is not going to get any better, run for office? That is the question. The fact that they seem to be wanting that he run says a lot about the acumen of the X and Y demographics.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 days ago

“The president’s strategy
”. Oh how I laughed and laughed. Oliver is living under a rock.

IATDE
IATDE
9 days ago

Many seem to miss the point. This is NOT about Biden’s age. It is about his competency.
There were concerns before, expressed as concerns about his age, because there was no public evidence of his dementia, Parkinson’s or other mental incompetency.

But after the debate and the press conference, now there is plenty of evidence. Consistent evidence. The curtain has been pulled back and the incompetence revealed and the manipulations of the White House staff, campaign staff, and senior members of the Democratic party have been revealed.
How can you ever trust these people again?
Then again, how can you trust any Republican politicians either?
All of them are liars, large and small in large and small ways.
Looks at what they do, not what they say.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
9 days ago

No one seems to have noticed the real problem with Biden, that he is hopelessly stuck in the Cold War warrior mode that defined him nearly half a century ago. It was the substance of his NATO speech that was mad. Not his unforced errors. The whole thing.

Mike Adam
Mike Adam
6 days ago

“Biden, for his part, seems acutely aware of this dynamic.” I don’t think Joe is acutely aware of anything these days.