There is no reason for Biden to kowtow to students

In my last column, I wrote about the paradox President Joe Biden has created for himself — promising “ironclad” support for Israel while simultaneously pausing shipment of offensive arms.


I said he was going wobbly on Israel. Certainly one of the reasons is domestic politics.

He told a reporter at the end of a press conference that student protests were not having an effect on him, but his actions say they are.

And that is his dreadful misreading of the situation.

Because — due to overcoverage on TV — it seems like a lot of students have engaged in the protests, when in fact it is a tiny sliver of students on campus, joined by “activists” who are not students.

The students’ demand to  “Free Palestine” — which never has been free — reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s description of fox hunting: “The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.”

A recent poll of college students showed the Mideast ranks dead last, 9th of 9, of subjects they care about. 

One way Biden sees the Israel problem is as a youth problem, and an electoral problem. Even though most youth are not in college.

Traditionally, election day turnout among the young is the lowest of any generation. It is far more productive for politicians to campaign in old age homes than on college campuses. That is just a fact.

It is also a fact that young Americans do not agree with his support for Israel largely because of the civilian deaths, and their profound ignorance of the decades-old roots of the problem.

It is as if they view the atomic bombing of Japan without knowledge of Japan’s invasion of and mass murders in China and Korea, plus its Dec. 7 sneak attack on  Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 military U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians.

The Japanese attack on the U.S. was followed by Germany’s declaration of war, which led to as many as 600,000 German civilian casualties, and about 1 million Japanese civilians were killed by U.S. air raids, including those killed by the A-bombs. Those deaths were far more disproportionate than the regrettable deaths of Gazan civilians, noted New York University professor Scott Galloway. No one is saying it was right, but it was war and it is offered for context and perspective.

Biden’s policy contains a contradiction: He wants Hamas dethroned, but is telling Israel not to push into Rafah, Hamas’ last stronghold. The man who botched the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan wants to micromanage Israeli actions.

As The New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman told Michael Smerconish on his Saturday CNN show, “You are not morally serious” if you condemn only Israel without mentioning Oct. 7, and not demanding the return of the hostages and demanding a “one state” solution from the river to the sea. And Friedman is no fan of Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, whom he calls a “sinister” figure.

Despite ignorance of these facts, young voters — rightfully horrified by the deaths of civilians, and wrongfully worried that U.S. forces will be drawn into war — suggest that Biden won with the youth vote in 2020 and will lose without it in 2024. 

Not so fast.

Biden won with the help of many self-interest groups in 2020, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and suburban women.

The Gen Z vote generally turns out to vote in numbers that are disproportionately small, while Baby Boomers and older turn out in numbers that are disproportionately high. And those older voters are the ones with the strongest support of Israel, and who might balk at the contradiction of a president who issues our ally “ironclad” support while withholding arms.

In 2020, voters under 30 were just 15% of all voters, and Gen Z were just 8% of all voters, according to Pew Research.

What does this mean?

Most youth are not deeply concerned with the Mideast, and they are a tiny slice of the electorate.

Biden caters to them at the cost of reducing support from their numerous and active-voting elders.

Better to be seen as shouting keep off my lawn than to be changing diapers of the young, uninformed, and civically listless.

26 thoughts on “There is no reason for Biden to kowtow to students”

  1. If this were a normal election with normal candidates I would agree with most of what you said. But with a less than stellar candidate in Joe Biden and an absolutely horrid choice in Mar-A-Lardo from Florida, this election to me still comes down to a sliver of maybe 200,000 votes across six states. Forget about a third party guy of any label; until one of them shows up polling in the mid 30’s range, to me they’re just a wasted vote. And so I will vote accordingly.

      1. The country and the world were in a better place when Trump was president. Think about that when you vote.

        1. Useless to talk anything even resembling common sense to them Daniel. Their imbecilic egos and their vile hatred for President Trump comes first. They don’t think of the rest of the country, collectively, but care only about themselves and their dainty feelings when they vote. I, Me, and Mine are their favorite pronouns.

        2. Yes I’ll be thinking about how Trump botched the only crisis he had to deal with: Covid. This country had a 40% greater mortality rate than any other developed country.

          It was never about helping the country for Trump. It was all public relations. Deny, deny, deny there’s a problem, ’cause my friend Xi said it was being dealt with. (Meanwhile, Peter Navarro, of all people had written an ealy memo that this was going to be really bad).

          Didn’t mobilize resources (we have a strategic reserve against epidemics of PPE, ventilators and the like–Trump neglected to replenish it). Instead, he told the states “you’re on your own.” Then, finally, when things looked bad, he put Jared Kushner in charge getting out needed supplies. Jared collected a bunch 20-something venture capital rich kid friends of his to try to fix it, and failed to use a single government procurement or logistics professional, though the Washington is crawling with them. Great management decisions.

          This was massive ef-up that put America last. I shudder to think of how the guy would handle a crisis. Meanwhile, under Biden, among developed countries, we ended up having the best-performing economy after the Covid fallout.

          Neither Covid nor the post-covid economic problems were good times. But with Trump, we came in last. With Biden we came in first. The numbers don’t lie.

          1. Twisting the truth again. Can’t you ever be fair and honest. Your the reason people hate lawyer’s.

          2. In other words, you’ve got nothing. Can’t refute the message, attack the messenger. It’s the MAGA way.

  2. Great piece and it details some of the obvious weaknesses and vacillation of the Biden presidency. My favorite line is: “…He wants Hamas dethroned, but is telling Israel not to push into Rafah, Hamas’ last stronghold. The man who botched the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan wants to micromanage Israeli actions.”

    1. And they usually fail to mention that the criminally compromised Xiden left over $86 billion in American weaponry for the Taliban while making a joke out of the United States with his “withdrawl.” That’s billion with a “B!”

  3. I suspect this is more about Michigan–the state with the largest Muslim population in the U.S. and a crucial swing state. In 2022 Biden got 64% of the Muslim vote. There are about 300,000 people in Michigan from or with ancestry from the Middle East. Biden won Michigan by 150,000 votes. Included in this community are people with relatives in Gaza whose views are not abstract political/weird lefty ideas, but much more personal.

    There is an organized “Abandon Biden” movement specific to Michigan. This from its chairman who had a Biden-Harris sign in his front yard in 2020: “if Arab American and Muslim voters can help decide the election against Biden, it would send a clear message to future candidates. In America, we can just say, ‘We went against this guy because he went against our people, and we made him lose. And I think that is just the way we market our campaign by saying, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”

    Is the threat real? In a state with razor thin margins it could make a difference. As for the rest of the electorate, I expect that their issue priority list is not that much different from the students’. It is a rule of thumb in American elections that foreign policy does not decide elections.

    1. I think Bidens mishandling of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza will have a big affect on the election ,also his blunder in Afghanistan. Not to mention his open border policies, high inflation, high interest rates . Why would anyone vote for this idiot we have as a president.

      1. I don’t have a problem with Ukraine. Giving the Russians a victory in Ukraine, as Trump proposes to do is foolishness. Biden’s blunder in Afghanistan was not abrogating the agreement Trump made with the Taliban to leave.

        In Gaza, 55% of Americans disagree with Israel’s conduct of the war there. Biden reversed himself on the border but Trump wouldn’t let the GOP pass it (though they had negotiated it) because it would give Biden “a win.” (How could it be “a win” unless it fixed the border?)

        Our economy is performing better than the rest of the world’s, despite Trump’s utter mismanagement of the Covid crisis which caused the economic disruption–not to mention his record-breaking deficits.

        Why anyone would vote for the idiot who caused so many problems and wants destroy American world power and prestige is beyond me. Heck, he’s the only president who was ever literally laughed at by the assembled representatives at the United Nations. The man is an international embarrassment whose own high appointees have variously called him “moron” “idiot” “kindergartner” “9-year old” “sixth grader” and “danger to democracy.” Other than dictators, who see him as easily manipulated (“idiot” is good!), the rest of the world disapproves of him as well, while 74% are confident in Biden.

        1. The country and the world were in a better place under Trump. And anyone with common sense knows this. Stop embarrassing yourself Bidens presidency has been a complete failure

          1. Me, I thought things were much better in the 90s. No wars, weak Russia, budget surpluses, great economy. Guess that means we should all vote for a Clinton. It’s only common sense! On the other hand, are you saying we were “in a better place” during Covid? I don’t think so.

            I also note that unlike Trump, whose own Vice President, Secretary of Defense, National Secretary Advisor, Chief of Staff and former supporters like Chris Christie, are all warning against him, none of Biden’s staff or appointees, disgruntled or not, are sounding the alarm like this. In fact, no other president, EVER, had so many people who worked with and for him who thought he was so terrible. Not even Nixon. Why in the world would anyone ignore these warnings? It goes against common sense.

    2. Also, after a little more digging: Georgia has 57,000 Arab Americans. Biden won it by 12,000 votes. Pennsylvania has an estimated 182,610 Arab Americans. Biden won Pa by 80,000 votes. It’s useful to remember that pre-9/11 Muslims voted 80% GOP.

    3. Abandon Biden makes sense UNTIL they realize they will elect Trump, who they believe to be Islamophobic. Classic case of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

      1. Yet this is what they promise to do. The left stayed home and abandoned Humphrey, longtime liberal, over the Viet Nam war. LBJ’s Civil Rights Acts and Great Society programs counted for nothing.

        There is no guarantee that they will “realize” this, and even if they do, the reasoning seems to be demonstrating power for future elections, hang the current result. Nader voters elevated Bush over Gore for the same reason.

        1. I may be underestimating their stupidity.
          As you know, I do not want another Trump presidency, but as Bill Maher said Friday night (and as I have said) he will survive it. With me adding America and the Constitution is stronger than DJT. We will survive.

          1. I don’t disagree. I just don’t want to experience it.
            –Ukraine given away and NATO kaput or fatally weakened; probably ceding Taiwan to China as well
            –Generally spearheading a decline in America power and influence by pushing away and denigrating our allies, and allowing Russia and China to fill the vacuum, not to mention the shear embarrassment of having an internationally disrespected buffoon representing the US
            –Affordable Care Act repealed
            –Economic disaster from 40% tariffs (Can you say “Smoot-Hawley”), reduced legal immigration, budget-busting tax cuts for the rich and a planned political takeover of the Fed
            –Reappointing anti-union activists and lobbyists to the NLRB by the man who literally said “wages are too high”
            –Reappointing industry lobbyists to regulate the industries they lobby for (Trump hired more than 280 lobbyists in 4 years– 6 times more than Obama or Bush ever hired. Trump did not “drain the swamp”–he filled it to the brim. One of every 14 appointees was a lobbyist. Another record for Trump.
            –Promises to turn the merit-based civil service into a political patronage operation–lots more room for lobbyists!
            –Cutting the IRS budget to eliminate audits of high income earners (with the rest of budget spent on auditing his political enemies, one gathers)
            –Pardoning not just rioters, but literal insurrectionists that wanted to overthrow the US government and generally valorizing and encouraging political violence
            –instituting a political revenge tour, and subverting the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice and the FBI
            –Rejecting any bipartisan compromises, and shutting down the government instead, or just walking out of negotiations when his little fees-fees are hurt just to show he is “Snow-flake in Chief”
            –Demoralizing our armed forces by attacking experienced and decorated generals and war heroes, while pardoning and praising convicted war criminals
            –Also, I won’t forget the intentional gutting of our Postal Service’s on time delivery–I used to get 1st Class mail in one to two days–now it takes up to ten.

            This is all before one even adds in the complete disrespect for the rule of law and the Constitution surrounding Trump’s shameful and shameless attempts to remain in office after losing the election.

            And while I guess I could look forward to the fact that with Trump there would be lots of work for lawyers, there is always the remote possibility that you, me and Maher are wrong.

            Couple thousand of (now veteran and confident of pardons) rioters break into the Supreme Court and succeed in hanging Chief Justice Roberts for “treason” against Trump? If you’d have asked me in November of 2020 whether a mob would attack the Capitol to try to stop certification, I’d have said, “Oh, come on.” How about you?

            I believe that the Republic is hardy enough to survive Trump’s aspirations (which Maher was one of the first to predict), but why test it?

          2. I don’t want to test it and oppose him every way I can. Almost all your fears are justified.
            As for a mob hanging Chief Roberts, you’ve been reading Daniel too long and may have caught his fever. 😊

  4. Well stated. I agree. As you state, ” foreign policy does not decide elections”, however President Biden cannot afford to lose any votes, so he’s begun wavering on his strong support for Israel. But wavering will not help him. I believe he needs to stand firm with Israel.

    1. Standing firm with Israel is not the same as standing firm with Netanyahu. The Israeli electorate is not “standing firm” with Netanyahu. The vast majority of Israeli’s want him out. Thousands in Israel, have demonstrated against the Rafah invasion and in favor of a cease fire. (Signs say: “No to Rafah, Yes to Deal Now.”) The majority are not in favor of ending the war yet, but the vast majority believe that Netanyahu is conducting the war to maintain his own political position, as opposed to doing his best for Israeli security.

      Prolonging the war is the only way that Netanyahu remains in office (and stays out of jail). This is not a good situation, particularly for Israel. Best case scenario for him is that the fighting continues well into 2025. Should this be official American policy as well? Under 4% of Israeli’s trust Netanyahu to do the right thing. Why in the world should he get 100% support from us?

      If you read the Israeli press, as I do, the fact is that he has been having shouting matches with the Israeli defense establishment about Gaza. Why? Because he has no plan for victory. He has, for example, rejected turning captured areas over to a multinational force. Israel, between protecting the West Bank settlements and fighting Hezbollah in the North, does not have the troops to occupy and police “captured” areas.

      So, as it stands, the Israeli army goes in, clears out Hamas and moves on. Then Hamas comes back and reoccupies the area. What a win. Netanyahu is just squeezing the balloon over and over again. The same thing is true in Rafah. Netanyahu has not said, “this is it–we will finish it in Rafah”–he just needs to keep the pot boiling.

      In terms of losing votes, Gallup now says that as of March of this year, 55% of Americans disapprove of Israel’s actions in Gaza. True, 57% still support Israel, and it is critical to protect that support. The best way to do that is have a plan for victory and execute it. Netanyahu has refused to provide any plan except a kind of forever war that will turn the world against Israel, and, at the least, significantly weaken its support in the US.

      So, I’m interested to hear, I’m interested know. After Rafah (which looks to be happening despite Biden), what? What is the plan? Drive Hamas out of Rafah, and then go back to the places Israel conquered once and do it again–all while getting a black eye from more civilian casualties? And how many times?

      Friends don’t let friends drive drunk BECAUSE they want them to get home safely. I want Hamas gone. Netanyahu has not proposed anything to do that.

  5. He won’t stand with Israel. Unless it’s by his own terms. I don’t believe he’s figured that out by lives,and not by votes.

  6. Excellent and factual article, Stu.
    The criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu is really over the top. The Prime Minister of Israel has lost a brother to terrorists. He is responsible for the lives of all Israelis, regardless of their religion. He, like all Israeli leaders, has spent his life defending his tiny nation against forces who want it destroyed because it is historically a Jewish state.

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