Why Are These Democrats So Worried About Joe Biden Holding the Nuclear Launch Codes?

By Tom Gilson Published on February 25, 2021

Dozens of congressional Democrats have signed on to a letter to the president, telling him they think he should release his sole authority to launch nuclear strikes. “Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” the letter reportedly reads. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.”

“While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

One suggestion from the House Democrats is to require the Vice President and Speaker of the House to concur with the President on the use of nuclear weapons.

That “sole authority” bothers them. Why? Why now? Why not last fall, when it could have been about Trump instead?  Let’s consider some possible reasons.

Why This? Why Now?

  1. They’re worried about Joe Biden’s judgment — so extremely worried, they’re willing to signal their worry to the entire world.
    This is believable, in view of all the questions raised about his mental capacity during his presidential campaign and in appearances since. We’ve been watching this for months.
  2. They’re not worried about Biden’s judgment. They just want the country to think they are. They think it will stoke our readiness for a 25th Amendment remove-and-replace maneuver.
    This is reaching; it’s far-fetched at best. I only include it because I’m trying to cover all possibilities. It’s not at all unlikely that congressional Democrats would maneuver to replace Biden with Harris, but I don’t think they’d include something like this as part of that strategy. It’s too indirect, and too potentially destabilizing internationally. We’re talking nuclear weapons here.
  3. They’re not worried about Joe Biden in particular. They just think it’s a generally good idea not to allow one person to hold all that authority.
    Nice try, but not a chance. If they weren’t intending to signal that they’re worried about Biden, they should have done this either last October or next. They could have practiced some patience for a few months, and you can bet they would have. Democrats may not do good politics, but they’re good at politics.
  4. They’re not worried about Joe Biden at all. They just think it’s better not to have all that authority in any one person’s hands — and it never even occurred to them that sending this letter now would start people asking questions like these.
    Ri-i-ight. And none of these elected members of Congress were smart enough to think of that?

How Should America and the World Interpret This?

So either they’re worried about Biden’s judgment, or they’re incompetent political hacks (not likely), or they’ve sent this message as part of some shrewdly veiled maneuvering toward a 25th Amendment move against the president, which is far-fetched in this case. Do I think they want Harris replacing Biden? Of course. Do I think this letter is part of that plan? Not likely.

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I’m trying hard to interpret this as anything other than, “Joe Biden worries us,” but the options are few, and I’m not finding a way to do that. I think they’re telling us we should worry about Biden. (Don’t call me a conspiracy theorist for it; if that were me, I’d be holding out for option number 2 along with number 1.)

I have to conclude, therefore, that this letter is telling us we should all be worried: Not just Americans, but apparently Russia, China, and Iran, too, along with every other conceivable nuclear target. No one sends that message lightly, not even Democrats. So I wonder what they’re thinking in Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran.

More Questions for the Democrats

And I’m also still wondering what they’re thinking in Washington. This letter is weird in all kinds of ways:

  • Why is the letter signed only by Democrats? Wouldn’t we expect an initiative like this to be at least somewhat bi-partisan?
  • Do Republicans know what condition the president is in?
  • What does Biden himself think about the letter?
  • Will he tell us? If not, why not?

Even More Weird

Further, if Biden is so incompetent he needs his hands held (or tied) like no other president before, then:

  • Are Democrats whispering among themselves, “What have we done? The man could launch a nuclear strike!”
  • Did they not see this coming six months ago? If not, why not?
  • If they knew, why did they participate in lying to the American people about it?
  • Are they preparing to launch a 25th Amendment move against the president?
  • If yes to that, then can we go back and ask those last two questions again, and make them answer?

They had to know embarrassing questions like these would be coming. And from where I sit, there’s only one thing that could make it worth the political cost. I think they’re whispering among themselves: “What have we done?”

 

Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.

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