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James Clyburn

James E. Clyburn Image
South Carolina's 6th District
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07/22/2024 --troyrecord
President Joe Biden’s announcement Sunday he won’t seek the nomination that he won this year in primaries and caucuses in every state puts the Democratic Party in uncharted territory.
07/21/2024 --necn
So ends the half-century career of a flawed but resilient politician who won the White House in a razor-thin election and lost it four years later in a debate: Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.Biden, 81, now eases into a lame-duck presidency for the next six months, as the party he once commanded abandoned him in the span of a few weeks for an as-yet-unnamed candidate to carry the fight against Donald Trump.Biden’s collapse began with a June 27 debate against Trump, when he turned in a disastrous performance from which he couldn’t recover. An elderly president with his mouth agape, he struggled to complete a sentence or finish a thought. One by one, Democratic leaders who watched in alarm broke their polite silence and openly called on him to step aside.Stunning as his fall may be, Biden may be better prepared than most to deal with repudiation. Few presidents in history have endured as much tragedy and disappointment as the 46th.Biden’s life has careened between unexpected triumph and unimaginable loss. He won elections and lost them. He built a family, lost part of it, rebuilt it, and lost part of it once more.Hardened by experience, Biden seems to grasp that political partnerships are transactional: they come with an expiration date.If you want a friend in Washington, “get a dog,” Biden said at an NAACP convention on July 16, invoking former Democratic President Harry Truman’s famous dictum.Delaware to WashingtonLong before he was considered too old to win, Biden was considered too young to serve.He won a U.S. Senate seat in 1972, ousting longtime Republican incumbent Caleb Boggs. Just 29 years old, Biden did not meet the Senate’s minimum age requirement of 30 at the time. He turned 30 a couple of weeks after his victory.He was young, handsome and his political future seemed limitless. Then his world cratered.Before he was sworn-in, his wife Neilia and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, died in a traffic accident. A tractor-trailer struck the family’s Chevy station wagon while they were out shopping for a Christmas tree. Biden’s two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were injured in the crash.Biden was so shaken by the accident that he nearly renounced his Catholic faith. He considered giving up the Senate seat he had just won.“The underpinnings of my life had been kicked out from under me,” Biden wrote in his memoir, “Promises to Keep.” “No words, no prayer, no sermon gave me ease. I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry. I found no comfort in the Church.”One of the Senate’s giants, Democrat Mike Mansfield of Montana, called constantly, imploring him to fill the seat as Biden sat in the hospital room with his sons. He relented and agreed to serve, riding the Amtrak train home from Washington every day when the Senate was in session so that the boys would not be without a parent.He rebuilt his life with the help of a devoted family. After Neilia’s death, his sister Valerie and brother Jimmy stepped in to help raise his sons.In 1977, Biden remarried. Jill Biden would become a loving partner, stepmother, and community college teacher wrapped into one. She also showed political chops. When Biden mulled a presidential bid in 2004, a bikini-clad Jill walked into a room at their home as he met with advisers. On her stomach she had written the word, “No.”No it was.Biden spent 36 years in the Senate, gaining a national profile when he chaired the Judiciary Committee and presided over two of the most polarizing Supreme Court picks in U.S. history.In 1987, then-President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, an appeals court judge, to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Bork’s conservative approach to the law made him anathema to liberal Democrats.Biden led public hearings in which he zeroed in on Bork’s criticism of previous Supreme Court rulings establishing a constitutional right to privacy, a notion that underpinned the Roe v. Wade decision enshrining abortion rights.The Syracuse Law grad prepped mightily so that he could go head-to-head with Bork, a formidable legal mind who once taught at Yale Law School. He held mock hearings in which the respected constitutional law professor, Laurence Tribe, played Bork.When the hearings began, Biden made a point of giving Bork ample time to explain his abstruse judicial views. The strategy proved to be Bork’s undoing: The more Bork spoke, the less the public liked him. The Senate voted against confirmation that fall.Four years later, then-President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the high court. Again, Biden led the confirmation hearing from his committee perch.This time, Biden ran afoul of the left and women voters in particular. A law professor named Anita Hill contended that Thomas had sexually harassed her when she worked for him at two federal agencies. The disclosure riveted the nation, making the Thomas hearings must-see TV.Biden and his committee did not allow other women to give in-person testimony that might have buttressed Hill’s contention of mistreatment. Though Biden voted against the nomination, he described Thomas as a person of “high character.”Thomas won confirmation and went on to anchor the high court’s conservative wing for the next three decades. He was part of the 6-3 majority that ruled on July 1 that Donald Trump enjoys some level of immunity for his acts as president, hindering special counsel Jack Smith’s effort to prosecute Trump on charges of interfering with the 2020 election.During his time in the Senate, Biden mounted two failed bids for president. The first, in 1988, ended in embarrassment. Biden dropped out of the race amid disclosures that in his campaign speeches, he had lifted passages first spoken by a British labor leader without attribution.Biden tried again in 2008 and quit the race shortly after finishing a distant fifth in the Iowa caucuses. The career pol from Delaware couldn’t compete against the eloquent young senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.Biden captured the ultimate consolation prize, though, when Obama chose him to be his running mate.Biden didn’t know Obama well at first, but soon became a friend and confidant. As vice president, he pushed to be the last person in the room when Obama faced the most consequential decisions.His old-school persona didn’t always mesh well with Obama’s tight-knit, disciplined operation. Aides chafed when Biden front-ran Obama by coming out in support of gay marriage in 2012.In his memoir, “Beautiful Things,” Hunter Biden wrote that he “didn’t hang around the [Obama] White House much; I didn’t want to be in the position of walking into a barbecue on a Sunday with the president and the White House staff after reading about someone throwing my dad under the bus.”The final years of Biden’s vice presidency were sad ones. His son Beau died in 2015 at the age of 46, cutting short a promising political career of his own. A former attorney general, Beau Biden was seen as a potential presidential aspirant. With his death, Biden lost his first-born and possible heir apparent whom he described as his “soul.”Grieving over the loss, Biden opted not to run for president in 2016. It’s doubtful he would have won anyway. Party leaders from Obama on down had aligned themselves with Hillary Clinton.She won the nomination, then went on to lose to Trump.Out of power, Biden decided to mount one more campaign in 2020. A catalyst, he said, was a searing clash between right-wing extremists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va. In 2017, white nationalists organized a rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general who led the South in the Civil War. Heather Heyer, 32, died when an avowed neo-Nazi plowed his car into her and others who came to protest the march.In a subsequent news conference, Trump said that between those who marched and the counter-protesters, there were “very fine people on both sides.”Appalled by the claim, Biden jumped into the 2020 race, saying nothing less than the “soul of the nation” was at stake. He floundered at first, losing badly in the Iowa and Hampshire Democratic primary contests.He recovered in South Carolina thanks to African-American voters and the endorsement of one of the state’s most influential figures, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn.“In case you didn’t notice, Jim turned it around for me in 2020,” Biden said on July 16 while speaking at an NAACP convention.Seeing Biden as the best bet to oust Trump, Democratic candidates, party leaders and rank-and-file voters quickly coalesced behind the former vice president.An electorate weary of Covid-19 lockdowns — and Trump as well — handed Biden the victory that had eluded him for much of the past half century.Biden engineered some surprising successes in his single term. With the slimmest of majorities in Congress, he passed substantial pieces of legislation aimed at upgrading the nation’s aging roads, bridges and ports; expanding sources of clean, renewable energy; and stimulating an economy that was in a tailspin due to the Covid-19 pandemic.“Presidents have been promising big infrastructure spending since I remember and no one has come through,” said Robert Reich, a former labor secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration.In deference to his age, Biden had hinted he would serve just one term and then step aside. He called himself a “bridge” to a younger generation of leaders during the 2020 race.A few things happened to derail those plans. Biden’s party exceeded expectations during the 2022 midterm elections, keeping the Senate and only narrowly losing the House.The absence of a predicted “red wave” seemed to validate Biden’s leadership. No major rival came forward to challenge him for the nomination.What’s more, Biden seemed smitten with the job. He believed that he had accomplished more in one term than Obama and Bill Clinton had achieved in two.Indeed, in an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, Biden proclaimed his presidency to be “the most successful” of any “in modern history, maybe since Franklin Roosevelt.”(Scholars disagree. Evaluating the nation’s presidents earlier this year, political scientists and historians ranked Biden 14th, below Clinton (12) and Obama (7).)Perhaps the biggest inducement to run again was his once-and-future opponent. Having beaten Trump once, Biden saw himself as best positioned to defeat him again and quash a MAGA political movement that he sees as a mortal threat to the nation’s democratic order. Biden formally announced his reelection campaign in April 2023, pledging to “finish this job.”Washington back to DelawareHeartbreak accompanied Biden at every stage of his political ascent. Even after reaching the White House, he couldn’t escape it.His son Hunter struggled with drug addiction and legal troubles that resulted in his conviction in June on three felony gun charges. Hunter Biden faces another criminal trial in September on allegations that he failed to pay taxes. He has pleaded not guilty.Biden has called Hunter his “heart.” He kept him close throughout the term, inviting him to official state dinners even as some advisers cast Hunter as a political liability.“He’s one of the most decent people in politics,” William Daley, a former Obama White House chief of staff, said of Biden.One senior White House official recalls entering the Oval Office on a hot summer day to brief the president, only to see Biden missing and his jacket draped over his chair behind the Resolute Desk.A few minutes later, a sweat-soaked Biden stepped back inside and apologized for being late. He had gone out to the South Lawn to thank the gardeners working that day.“His sleeves were rolled up and his tie was undone,” the official recalled.” He came in looking like s— and sweating like a pig, but he wanted to go out there and thank those guys. That’s the Joe Biden I know.”When his term ends on Jan. 20, Biden will retreat home to Delaware, ceding his leadership position to a younger generation.If given a chance, he believed he could beat Trump a second time. Now he’ll never know.This article first appeared on Read more from NBC News here:With Biden’s backing, Kamala Harris leads the pack in bid to replace him on the ticketPresident Joe Biden drops out of 2024 presidential raceHarris’ 2020 campaign was a mess. If she ends up atop the ticket, this time could be a lot different.