President Joe Biden should resign.
We have known for some time that the president is infirm, but infirmity goes to physical capacity. He moves stiffly. He tires. Public events are rare and always fraught.
The president is now also revealed as impaired. He cannot remember basic facts. He cannot deliver even the simplest line. Reports of his angry temper and his profanity are consistent, if not with dementia, then certainly with an ability to weigh and judge important matters with a calm and coherent mind.
Most Americans have sympathy for the aging, the infirm and the impaired. Many have themselves had to deal with aging parents or friends. Very few churches do not have beloved octogenarians, for whom younger adults are eager to be solicitous and of help. Most Americans have fond memories of grandparents who, when on their game, provide unconditional love and encouragement. None of that has anything to do with a very old man showing that age being president.
There are some jobs in the federal government that can be handled even by the 80-somethings. Many senators have ambled through an unofficial retirement while casting votes in accordance with the suggestions of their party’s leadership. Senators Storm Thurmond and Dianne Feinstein, for example, stayed on in the Senate long past their ability to process information —a very different situation from that of, say, Senator Chuck Grassley who at 90 may not sprint down the marbled halls but knows exactly where he’s going and what he intends to get done.
Presidents are not, however, one of 100 senators or one of 435 representatives. Crises are different from legislation.
When the Cuban Missile Crisis arrived in 1962, or Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, 9/11 befell us, President Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and then the invasion of Iraq, the financial collapse of 2008 shook the world, COVID arrived and Operation Warp Speed on vaccines followed —in each of these moments of crisis and decision, the president and only the president must lead. And the president must have the capacity to decide and lead. President Biden does not have that capacity any more.
One person alone must take in all the facts in each of these crises, remember them, absorb all the counsel he receives, remember it, and then chose wisely and consistently, staying the course on which the president embarks, adjusting policy as new facts emerge. It’s not a job by committee but one man’s or woman’s job.
And it is painfully clear that Biden can no longer do it. The most obvious deficiency? Part of this most critical job is in communicating with the American people. For the first time in my memory, the United States embarked on a significant military campaign—this one against Yemen—and the president did not address the country about why. He didn’t even do the softball Super Bowl interview. He is not trusted by himself or his staff to engage in any serious sit down with a journalist much less the many exchanges with journalists he ought to be having. He’s sequestered. Because he knows, as do the people around him, he is not up to the job. Not for another year or, God forbid, five more years behind the Resolute desk.
We have Special Counsel Hur’s assessment after long investigation, interviews and deliberation. We have our own eyes and ears that watched and heard Thursday night’s meltdown. We have an increasing lava flow of red-hot scoops on Biden’s blistering temper and descents into profanity. We know. We all know. It isn’t the mix-ups of Mitterrand and Macron, Kohl and Merkel. It’s not the serial sets of halting prepared remarks, his inability to read a teleprompter, his wandering about on stages or the hooks he gets from staff when the rambling has gone on too long.
It’s all of it. We all know. And, crucially, so do our enemies.
Do not expect Vice President Harris and the Cabinet to trigger the 25th Amendment. It was not designed with advancing cognitive incapacity in mind, but rather the dramatic and undeniable strokes and heart attacks. There could well come a day when the president blurts out such a strong of inanities and non-sequiturs so troubling that the Veep would make some calls, but don’t count on it. We are in Woodrow Wilson territory already, and she is pretending with the rest of the Beltway this is fine.
Many Republicans and Independents recoil from the prospect of President Harris, and she most definitely wouldn’t be an FDR or Reagan. But she can remember what year she was married, and what the national security daily intelligence briefing reports. She might make decisions that appall but they will be her decisions, not the text of statements from whichever committee is hammering them out right now.
We have been warned about this situation. No less an authority than Alexander Hamilton wrote about it in Federalist #70, one of the most famous of the essays that successfully persuaded a young country to adopt the Constitution which endures still.
‘A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government,’ Hamilton wrote. ‘A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.’
We have such a bad government now, with a crisis on the southern border, a failed splurge of trillions on Bidenomics which unleashed inflation that torments everyone who buys gas and groceries, and of course Americans under attack across the Middle East by Iran’s fanatics, fanatics who do not fear Biden. Israel has now begun to glimpse what an erratic and infirm president means and it’s a warning to us as well. Please, whomever the president listens to, speak candidly to him. It is time for him to go, before another crisis arrives, one which he is simply not capable of handling.
Hugh Hewitt is one of the country’s leading journalists of the center-right. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996 where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990, and it is today syndicated to hundreds of stations and outlets across the country every Monday through Friday morning. Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, has authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and this column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his forty years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio show today.