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Yet Another Democratic Vibe Shift
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Yet Another Democratic Vibe Shift

Previously flagging efforts to pressure Biden into stepping aside picked up steam on Wednesday.

Happy Thursday! The demise of physical video rentals seems almost complete: Redbox—the DVD vending machine company—is no more, lawyers for its parent organization said Wednesday.

The visual landscape of the suburban strip mall has forever lost some of its charm. 

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Joe Biden continued to face concerns from Democratic lawmakers about continuing his reelection campaign on Wednesday. In a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday evening, Sen. Peter Welch of Vermont became the first Democratic senator to call on the president to step aside. Though he’s been supportive of the president publicly, Axios also reported Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is privately open to replacing Biden on the ticket. In another op-ed, this one for the New York Times, actor George Clooney—a major donor and fundraiser for the president—likewise said Biden should not continue his reelection bid despite Clooney having recently held an event for him last month. Clooney asserted Biden’s mental acuity was obviously diminished at that event. Meanwhile, NBC News announced Wednesday that Biden would sit for an interview on Monday with anchor Lester Holt, the president’s second prime-time interview since his dismal debate performance two weeks ago. The interview won’t air live, but NBC News said it plans to publish the full conversation and an unedited transcript on its website.
  • At the 75th NATO Summit in Washington, D.C., this week, the defensive alliance’s 32 members affirmed that Ukraine is on an “irreversible” track toward membership but did not outline a concrete timeline for the country’s accession. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also announced that the alliance will take over coordinating and provisioning the lion’s share of military aid to Ukraine from the alliance’s members, including setting up a new NATO command in Germany to train and equip Ukrainian soldiers. Members of the consensus-based alliance were unable to reach an agreement for a multi-year funding scheme that Stoltenberg sought but promised to provide a combined 40 billion euros to Ukraine in the coming year. In the official communiqué from the summit, the alliance’s members also declared that China is a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war in Ukraine—its strongest language yet to describe Beijing’s support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.  
  • CIA Director William Burns met with the Qatari prime minister and Israeli and Egyptian intelligence officials in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday to resolve the remaining disagreements over a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. U.S. and Israeli officials are optimistic about reaching a deal soon, Axios reported yesterday, which would pave the way for a ceasefire in exchange for the remaining Hamas-held hostages and see Israel release some Palestinian prisoners. Meanwhile, Brett McGurk, the Biden administration’s top adviser on Middle East policy, traveled to Israel for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in a statement that he had told McGurk he was open to a deal as long as Israel’s “red lines” were preserved. Netanyahu has maintained that Israel wants to fully defeat Hamas militarily.
  • The Biden administration announced additional tariffs on steel from Mexico on Wednesday with the aim of closing a loophole that had allowed Chinese companies to work around existing U.S. tariffs by sending steel through Mexico. The new tariffs would impose a 25 percent duty on steel that was melted or poured outside of North America. Likewise, Mexican aluminum that was melted or poured in China, Russia, Iran, or Belarus will be subject to a tariff of 10 percent.
  • President Biden announced a federal emergency disaster declaration for Texas on Wednesday following tropical storm Beryl’s landfall in the state earlier this week, which left approximately 1.7 million people without power—increasing the likelihood of heat-related illnesses as the heat index for the Houston area tops 100 degrees. Biden said the federal government planned to move additional generators into the area to power air conditioners.


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More Dominoes Fall 

President Joe Biden attends a welcome ceremony during the 75th NATO Summit on July 10, 2024, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden attends a welcome ceremony during the 75th NATO Summit on July 10, 2024, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As Jonah and Nick have written repeatedly in recent months, this is a “vibes” election. And never have the vibes been more all over the place than in the days since President Joe Biden’s disastrous June 27 debate performance

In the days after we last wrote to you about the Democratic Party’s angst over Biden’s age and mental acuity, Biden’s odds of renomination—which had been trending downward—seemed to improve slightly. The president went on the offensive and Democrats’ push—publicly and privately—to convince Biden to step aside began to lose some of its “oomph.” 

But the vibes have once again shifted, with plenty of Democratic dominoes falling in the last 24 hours—and even more teetering. Two weeks after the debate, just more than a month out from the Democratic National Convention, and 116 days away from the election, there is still deep uncertainty about the president’s future—despite Biden’s own assertions that he’s not going anywhere.

The president started the week in defiance, pushing back on growing Democratic unease with his candidacy. On Monday morning, Biden called into one of his favorite cable shows, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in a move that may feel rather familiar. “I’m not going anywhere,” he declared. He railed against “the elites” in his party and the media who have come out against him—echoing advice host Joe Scarborough tweeted just a day earlier—and dared his critics to try and stop him from running. “Any of these guys that don’t think I should run, run against me,” he said. “Announce for president, challenge me at the convention.” 

The Morning Joe appearance came in conjunction with a letter the president shared with Democratic members of Congress on Monday morning, arguing that dropping out would be undemocratic. “The voters of the Democratic party have voted,” he wrote. “Do we now just say …

As a non-paying reader, you are receiving a truncated version of The Morning Dispatch. Our full 1,940-word story on the state of Joe Biden’s campaign is available in the members-only version of TMD.

Worth Your Time

  • Writing for his Governing Right Substack, Andy Smarick explored the costs of alarmism. “We’re all familiar with the modern style of consuming political news: We seek out coverage and commentary we agree with, and that information makes us proud of our side and furious at others,” he wrote. “Since the other side is consuming information in the same way, we are driven apart and into comfortable, self-righteous bubbles. … From these bubbles emerges an intemperate, cruel profile that then invades the public square. … It is remarkable not just for its corrosiveness but for its immorality. It is the opposite of how we are taught to behave as we’re growing up. … The problem is today’s environment makes us believe that our bad behavior is justified.”
  • In a monumental piece for The Atlantic, Tim Alberta takes a look inside the Trump campaign and its masterminds, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles. “In my conversations with LaCivita and Wiles over the past six months, they assured me multiple times that the campaign was planning for all contingencies, that they took quite seriously the possibility of a substitution and would be ready if Biden forfeited the nomination,” Alberta reported. “Biden quitting the race would necessitate a dramatic reset—not just for the Democratic Party, but for Trump’s campaign. Wiles and LaCivita told me that any Democratic replacement would inherit the president’s deficiencies; that whether it’s Vice President Kamala Harris or California Governor Gavin Newsom or anyone else, Trump’s blueprint for victory would remain essentially unchanged. But they know that’s not true. They know their campaign has been engineered in every way—from the voters they target to the viral memes they create—to defeat Biden. And privately, they are all but praying that he remains their opponent.” 

Presented Without Comment

The Wrap: Biden Campaign Responds to George Clooney Op-Ed by Flexing Fundraiser Stamina, [Says] POTUS ‘Stayed for Over 3 Hours,’ Clooney Quickly Left

Also Presented Without Comment

GOP Rep. Tim Burchett, speaking to a reporter on Capitol Hill this week: 

“I got to get in there, guys. Those post offices are not going to name themselves!” 

Also Also Presented Without Comment

National Review: Harvard Reverses Suspensions for Five Anti-Israel Encampment Participants 

In the Zeitgeist

The trailer for the Gladiator sequel stirred up quite the debate in Dispatch Slack, so we’ll put it to you: Are you Team “Grifting, Unnecessary Sequel” or Team “I’ll Watch Anything With Pedro Pascal In It”?

Toeing the Company Line

  • On an extra special episode of Dispatch Live, Kevin will be joined by David French, and an all-star lineup of public intellectuals and Christian thinkers to explore the role of religion in modern conservatism. Members can tune into what is sure to be a fascinating conversation tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET and watch for an email with more details later today.
  • In the newsletters: The Dispatch Politics team dug into the 2024 Republican party platform, Scott explored (🔒) the dynamics of the 2024 labor market, Jonah shot down (🔒) the idea of a massive coordinated media coverup of Biden’s infirmity, and Nick condemned (🔒) Democrats’ political cowardice as it relates to Biden.
  • On the podcasts: Jonah’s long-awaited debate with Free Press columnist Niall Ferguson—over his claim that the U.S. is the new Soviet Union—is officially out on The Remnant feed.
  • On the site: Joseph Roche reports from Ukraine on the Russian missile strike that hit a children’s hospital in Kyiv this week and Kevin files another dispatch from the National Conservatism conference, which he argues might not be as influential as some of its organizers say.

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.

Peter Gattuso is a reporter for The Morning Dispatch, based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2024, he interned at The Dispatch, National Review, the Cato Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. When Peter is not helping write TMD, he is probably watching baseball, listening to music on vinyl records, or discussing the Jones Act.

Aayush Goodapaty is an intern at The Dispatch, based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company for the 2024 summer, he worked as an intern with Illinois Policy Institute and Public Opinion Strategies. He’s an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, where he is majoring in economics and history. When Aayush is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably watching football, brushing up on trivia, or attempting to find his way to the nearest historical landmark.