When the ancient Greeks wanted to learn what their future held, they would consult with oracles. Alexander the Great, for one, visited the Oracle at Siwa, an oasis in the Egyptian desert. According to his biographer, Plutarch, the oracle told Alexander that he was destined to conquer the world.
In these tumultuous days when we, the electorate, are offered a choice between an old, old president and his daffy vice president and a vengeful reprobate with a persecution complex, I did the smart thing: I consulted the oracle.
No, I didn’t cross the desert on a camel, nor as Alexander did on his much-loved horse, Bucephalus, nor in a snazzy BMW SUV.
I did go to the oracle of the day, which is the only place I know to seek and get what seems to be extraterrestrial advice: the Bing AI. I asked the oracle several questions and got some interesting answers.
When it came to the big question, I beseeched the Bing AI, “Great Oracle, I am an American voter, and I am in an awful tizzy. I don’t know whom to support in the next presidential election.
“It seems to me that one candidate, President Joe Biden, a decent man, may be too old to navigate the difficult waters ahead in domestic and international affairs.
“As for another candidate, former President Donald Trump, many people find aspects of his conduct reprehensible.
“What to do? For me, this is even harder because I am a columnist and television commentator, and I need to have something to say. I am sure you understand, Great Oracle.”
Well, the Bing AI clammed up: It delivered only the formal histories of both men.
I had thought my question would spark a revelation, a wise analysis, or a contradiction of my view of the candidates. Clearly, I shall have to wait for the day when I get into real AI chat: ChatGPT.
Mostly, I had thought the oracle would tell me that all the presidential hopefuls so far will be toast by November 2024, that new candidates will bring us hope, fire up party enthusiasm, and let rip.
Are new faces and new choices too much to hope for?
Republicans are wrestling with their prospective candidate after his latest character stain, having been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a civil trial. What does this mean for the whole issue of what we look for in the character of candidates? Rectitude was once considered essential. Not for Trump. Post-Trump is post-rectitude.
Just under 70 percent of the electorate have told pollsters that they think Biden is too old to be re-elected. That isn’t, I submit, a conclusion arrived at by pondering what it means to be 80. That is a conclusion, again I submit, they have come to by looking at the president on TV — on the few occasions they see him there.
Clearly, he doesn’t have the strength or the confidence to hold a press conference. These are vital.
In America, the press conference is the nearest thing we have to question time in the British House of Commons. It is the time of accounting. Biden is behind in his accounting as audited by the press corps.
Harold Meyerson, editor at large of the American Prospect, is avowedly liberal. He is one of the most skillful political writers working today; he is deft, informed, and convincing, and you know where he stands. He stands with the Democrats.
So, it is significant when he raises a question about Biden and when he draws attention, as he did on May 9, to Biden’s absence from public engagement.
Meyerson wrote, “Right now, the Democrats are drifting uneasily toward a waterfall and hoping Biden can somehow navigate the looming turbulence. By autumn, if he hasn’t had some measurable success in … allaying much of the public’s fears of a president drifting into senescence, then some prominent Democrat (a category that doesn’t include Robert Kennedy Jr. or Marianne Williamson) had damn well better enter the race.”
On Twitter: @llewellynking2
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of "White House Chronicle" on PBS.