A sense of optimism among the Democrats about Mr Biden seeking a second term has been dampened by the latest revelations.
The discovery at two locations of classified documents from US President Joe Biden’s time as Vice-President has turned the political narrative in America’s politics on its head. The Democrats who have a performing President whose popularity ratings are, however, sliding again, may have lost the moral high ground they had claimed when it was discovered that the former President Donald Trump had been cavalier with the handling of classified documents, several hundreds of which he had sent to his private residence in Florida and refused to return when his term was over.
The discovery of the documents at places associated with Mr Biden, with the first cache surfacing on Nov. 2, 2022, and the belated admission to the public on January 9 after keeping them in the dark for 68 days have placed Mr Biden in the crosshairs of rising Republican attacks. A sense of optimism among the Democrats about Mr Biden seeking a second term, enhanced by his performance as President as well as the results in the midterms where the party fended off a rout in the House and kept control of the Senate, has been dampened by the latest revelations.
The age factor was already working against Mr Biden being in the fray again — he will be 82 if he is on the ballot on November 8, 2024. The snafu over classified documents being in unauthorised places may have eroded his standing from a poll perspective even if the row over the documents subsides and the special counsel and the Justice Department are convinced good faith was not in question and there was no ill intent in the actions.
The Democrats may find it difficult to convince voters of the difference between Mr Biden and his integrity record and Mr Trump having been parsimonious with the truth when he was the White House occupant. It does appear as if the saga of classified documents at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home and the Wilmington house of Mr Biden represents a potential turning point in American politics.
The Democrats themselves are feeling peeved that the White House had not been more up front with the public about the classified documents after they were discovered. The administration’s hope that the event could be taken care of without any big implications for the Biden presidency has clearly failed. The Republicans, who used Hillary Clinton’s fecklessness with emails that she sent from her personal IDs to the hilt in the 2016 campaign, are unlikely to ease off on the issue of classified documents going astray. They have every reason to exploit it as criminal action was being contemplated against Mr Trump for mishandling of classified documents.