Thursday, March 14, 2024

It’s Thursday, March 14, 2024. 

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Was This Inevitable? Former President Donald Trump and Incumbent President Joe Biden Win Enough Delegates to Claim Presidential Nominations

Well, we pretty much know the shape of the 2024 presidential election, but honestly we’ve pretty much known that shape for a long time. But just over the course of the last say 48 hours, Donald Trump has basically won the requisite number of delegates to the Republican National Convention to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. At the same time, President Joe Biden has done simultaneously the same thing in the Democratic Party. So as of the end of election night in the primaries that were involved this past Tuesday, we have two apparent nominees of the two American major political parties. And it’s been that way again, as we’ve known, for a number of weeks now. Not a matter of months. A seeming inevitability had been coming.

Now, let’s just think about that for a moment. Was this inevitable? Was it inevitable that Joe Biden would be the Democratic nominee? Was it inevitable that Donald Trump would become the Republican nominee? We’re talking about a bizarre situation in American history. We’re talking about a former president challenging an incumbent president, and we’re talking not only about the fact that you have that strange situation, both of the men running for the nation’s highest office will have held it. But we’re also talking about a face off of the very same two men who faced off in the year 2020 and in that presidential election. So there are likely to be some surprises, but the surprises are not going to be related to the question who is Joe Biden or who is Donald Trump. That is something most Americans know pretty well at this point.

But we mentioned the fact that this appeared to be inevitable, but we do need to ask the question, was it, and if so, why? If not, why wasn’t it inevitable? Well, in terms of the argument, yes, it was inevitable. You’re looking at the political strength inside their parties of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Why are both of them so dominant in their own party? Well, it’s really easier to answer the Biden question before we turn to the Trump question.

The reason why, in 2024, Joe Biden wasn’t dislodged as the Democratic nominee for 2024, at least at this point, hasn’t been with the rules of the Democratic Party making it virtually impossible that anyone could topple him. At this point, all he could do is withdraw or decline the nomination. No indication that he intends to do any such thing, but his inevitability has to do simply with the fact that he holds the White House. He is a Democratic President of the United States. He is the head of the Democratic Party, and the incumbency of the White House is so powerful that even though Joe Biden clearly is too old for the office, even as a majority of people in the Democratic Party believe he is too old for the office, even as there are huge questions about his age and his mental acuity, the fact is that it would’ve been suicide for any major Democrat to have run against a Democratic sitting incumbent President of the United States. That just isn’t going to happen.

You could ask the late Senator Ted Kennedy about that. In the year 1980, he ran against the incumbent Democratic President of the United States Jimmy Carter for the White House. Carter eventually beat back the challenge from Senator Kennedy who was running with the advantage of having the name Kennedy, but was running with the disadvantage of having the name Ted Kennedy given Chappaquiddick and all the other scandals. But the reality is that Ted Kennedy was basically finished as a force in national politics after he lost that challenge against Jimmy Carter. He continued as a force in the Senate, but no one was seriously talking about Ted Kennedy running for the White House again.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois’s Governor J. B. Pritzkerr, all of them and many others in the Democratic Party want to keep themselves viable for 2028. It would’ve been in their calculation, politically suicidal to have run against an incumbent President of the United States. And frankly, that’s not only something that requires a bit of political calculation, it’s also something that is pretty hard to imagine. It is also simply the fact that Joe Biden has incredible name recognition.

But now let’s turn to the other side. Donald Trump has the same. He was indeed the President of the United States. He doesn’t control the White House now, but he did, and he’s still introduced given American political decorum, he’s addressed as President Trump. He still very much projects the same kind of energy he had when he was in the White House after winning the election in 2016. And so we really are looking at the fact that on the Republican side, it was really incredibly difficult to imagine that there could be any real alternative to Donald Trump. But there was still a primary system that was genuinely a primary system and things could have been different, we might argue, if certain candidates, most importantly Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had caught fire, if he had gained wind. But as we now know, that just didn’t happen.

Now could it happen in 2028? Hard to say, but if Ron DeSantis is going to be a viable candidate in 2028 when Donald Trump, by the way, cannot run again according to the Constitution, he would have to show up as a much more energetic and personable candidate than was the case with reference to the 2024 race. But okay, why else did it appear that Donald Trump was inevitable? Well, for one thing, he has an enormous activated political base that no other Republican candidate has or is likely to have in the imaginable future. When you look at building a political movement, you could simply say that Donald Trump has been more effective at that than any other American politician of recent times. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to come up, unless you were to go to someone like Ronald Reagan among Republicans, to anyone who created this kind of political energy. Now it’s out of the Republican norm, it’s out of the American political norm, but it is enormously powerful and no one should doubt that it is real. Just ask all of the Republican challengers to Donald Trump, most recently, Nikki Haley. That power is real and it’s overwhelming.

So even as arguably these two men have now appeared as the apparent nominees of the two opposing political parties, the reality is that the parties didn’t choose them in any sit-down meeting. They were chosen over a period of building political momentum. That’s what the primary system is. And they survived a game of political elimination, and they are now phasing off in what is likely to be a rerun of 2020. The question is though, what will be the final chapter? What will be the end? And the big issue here, we have to watch, this is the deciding issue of the election is number one, who turns out voters with a greater intensity? Because I’m going to make a statement that I am absolutely certain is right. There are very few Americans alive right now in 2024, alive this very day, who aren’t pretty much certain how they will vote in November.

The number of people who are genuinely undecided, that’s a very, very small number. In the United States, it’s a small percentage, but hold that thought for just a minute. It is not insignificant. We just need to go back to the fact that the vast majority of Americans know exactly how they’re going to vote. The question is how many of them actually get out to vote? Joe Biden has to count on a massive Democratic Party mobilization, particularly in America’s urban areas. Donald Trump has to work at a massive mobilization of his voters, not so much in the deeply red states where he’s going to win overwhelmingly, but in crucial areas where he can win in swing states, such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, or you might even say Wisconsin and Michigan, Arizona perhaps, Nevada. The big question is can he turn out voters to win in those states? Both sides have to have massive voter turnout efforts because it doesn’t really matter how many Americans say they would vote for you, what’s going to matter is whether or not they actually vote.

But there are two other factors just as we’re thinking about the race shaping up before us. As of today, we can speak about these things with confidence. There are two other looming questions. It’s not just the intensity of the blue vote and the red vote, the blue vote for Biden, red vote for Trump. It is also the question as to whether third-party candidates can really change the race, and oddly enough, it might actually be the case that they can this year.

Now, almost every election cycle people say, oh, we got to worry about the third-party candidates, and rarely do they matter at all, but they can matter. Just ask Al Gore. Al Gore might have won Florida and then won the White House, if not for Ralph Nader running a third-party campaign in Florida. If you take Ralph Nader’s votes, add them to Al Gore’s votes, he wins Florida, and thus he was in the White House, not George W. Bush. So third-party candidates can make a big difference. In most election cycles, they don’t make as much difference as people predict, but this is a very odd cycle, and we are looking at the fact that there is going to be a third-party candidate on the ballot in most states with the last name of Kennedy. And in this case, his father was brother of the late President John F. Kennedy. Robert Kennedy is quite effective in the media. He’s running an eccentric campaign, a third-party campaign, but Joe Biden has to be really worried about this.

Now, when you talk to the pollsters, they’ll say he might represent an equal threat to both Trump and Biden. Yeah, well, in some sense, but in the larger sense, it’s Biden that has to worry in crucial areas about just a slight shaving off of the Democratic vote by someone like Robert Kennedy Jr. But there are other third-party candidates. The political party No Labels says that it’s going to run someone. And without going into detail, there are in several states, other third-party candidates who are likely to appear and they could make a difference. But you look way down the list of priorities, the big issue is voter intensity. That’s number one. The second issue has to do with swing states or swing districts. There aren’t many, but they really will matter. They’ll determine the eventual outcome. But that is tied to the first thing, voter intensity. That’s really going to be the deciding factor even in the so-called swing states. It is not that at the last minute people are going to decide if they’re going to vote for Biden or Trump. It’s that at the last minute, they’re going to decide if they vote.

But then we get to that unknown factor of the third-party candidates, but as I said, there’s something else. And this is a huge something else, and this is a very different something else than has ever appeared in American political history and certainly among those of us who are living. We have never experienced a campaign in which the stakes for both candidates are so high every time they open their mouths. So the very last factor we have to consider, let’s be honest, is playing out far more as an issue of volatility for the incumbent President Joe Biden than for his challenger former President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump thrives on disequilibrium in terms of what he says when he shows up somewhere, and people are used to that. But when it comes to Joe Biden, even as he has had all kinds of rhetorical problems in the past, given his age and huge living questions about his ability to do the job, you have to really worry if you’re in the Biden campaign that everything can look one way, say at 10 o’clock in the morning and with one major appearance, be completely different by noon. And you know that is the anxiety with which the Biden campaign is operating.

So the bottom line is there are a lot of things we’re going to have to watch, even as right now we’re just months and months ahead of where we would normally be and knowing who will be the candidates when we get to the November election. But Christians also understand the stakes are just incredibly high. And so we’ll be turning to the crucial issues Christian voters are going to face as we look at future editions of The Briefing to come.

Part II

A Rigged or Stolen Election in California? The Game Democrat Adam Schiff Played to Defeat Katie Porter

But as we’re talking about American elections, I was recently interviewed on an Australian media platform and they were asking me to explain something about America’s electoral system and especially how Christians function in this system. And by the way, when that is broadcast, we’ll let you know in case you’re interested. But that’s an unusual position as an American Christian being asked by a Christian in Australia, someone, by the way, a veteran political figure there in Australia, “What exactly is going on in American politics?” And there are a lot of things that come up. For instance, you have January 6th, 2021, you have all the controversy about Donald Trump saying that the election was rigged. One of the things I tried to explain is that there were huge questions about the integrity of the election in 2020. I know the mainstream media wants to suggest that that’s an insane proposition, but when you look at what happened in Pennsylvania with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court basically rewriting the election rules, even violating the power of the legislature there, I’m not saying that made the crucial difference in the election. I’m just saying it smells very bad.

And I do believe that Joe Biden won the election, and I said that at the time. I believe that Donald Trump should have conceded the election. But this is partly how the political game is played, and anyone who denies that is just not being particularly honest. There were members of Congress who refused to vote for the certification of the election of George W. Bush as president. And so you’re really looking at the fact that there’s a rather complicated background to this. Some of the same Democrats who are crying foul or Democrats who, well, acted with political fouls on the very same question.

And again, let me be clear, I think Donald Trump should not make the claim that the election was rigged. I don’t think that’s the right way to characterize it, even as I will acknowledge there were problems. I think it’s really important and intellectual honesty to say this does happen on both sides. The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about this, but I’m going to talk about it because Katie Porter, member of Congress who ran in the primary for the open position in the United States Senate there in California, she lost overwhelmingly to Adam Schiff. She also didn’t come in second. Steve Garvey, the former Major League baseball player, came in second. And by the way, that’s a huge part of the story we’re going to talk about.

Katie Porter, who is even by democratic terms pretty much on the left. Katie Porter, who by the way, also gave up her seat in Congress in order to run for the Senate seat and lost it. Katie Porter actually came out and said that the election was rigged. So now you’re not talking about Donald Trump, you’re talking about a liberal Democrat who’s very much beloved by other leftist Democrats. And she went on to say that the election was rigged because Adam Schiff, who won the election, this is Democratic representative Adam Schiff, who had the most votes in the primary and is going to face off against Garvey in November. She’s basically saying that it was unfair. I mean, let’s face it, the word rigged is pretty laden with meaning. We know exactly what she was saying.

Now, why did Katie Porter say that the election was rigged and it was unfair and she lost unfairly? Well, she makes an interesting argument. We made reference to this. It turns out that the Democrat and the Republican who beat her, so that means Adam Schiff, who had the most votes, and then Steve Garvey who had the next most votes, they both spent millions of dollars more than she had in advertising. But then things get really interesting because Steve Garvey really didn’t raise nor spend that much money on advertising, but millions of dollars were spent on his behalf in order that he would beat Katie Porter and would be the number two person. So how did that money get spent? Where did that money come from? Well, it came from the campaign of Adam Schiff. So yes, this is a democratic trick that is a Democratic Party trick, that’s being used repeatedly now.

The Democratic candidate will run money into Republican candidates in order to set up an election that in the Fall, they believe will be advantageous to the Democratic cause, or they run money up on what they see as a weak Republican candidate to win the nomination and run eventually to lose to a strong Democratic candidate. And so this really is a manipulation of the American political system. I think the average American would say that’s just not right, but you know what? It is at this point legal.

So it’s interesting, the Washington Post, Philip Bump, the columnist, made a distinction between an election that was rigged and an election that was stolen. In this case, Bump says the word rigged is less easily disproved than the word stolen. All right, so let’s just say that distinction matters. Katie Porter wasn’t wrong that this election was rigged in the sense that games were played in order to knock her from second position to third, but it wasn’t illegal. And in all likelihood, Adam Schiff is going to win this election because no Republican has won a statewide election in California for decades. So Adam Schiff was betting that having Republican Steve Garvey as the opposing candidate in November meant that it was more likely he would be elected. And that’s almost assuredly true.

But the next time you hear that accusations about a rigged election, that that had never happened until 2020, oh, remember, it just happened in California and in this case it was a Democrat. I’m not saying they’re absolutely politically or morally equivalent. I’m just saying this is a game that’s played by more than one candidate in more than one race.

Part III

President Biden Draws a ‘Red Line?’ Why Netanyahu Will Likely Not Heed President Biden’s Warning Over War in Gaza

In coming days, we’re going to have to talk more about what is going on right now as Israel’s fighting against Hamas in Gaza. The most important thing we can remark upon right now, the most urgent issue is that the President of the United States, Joe Biden has said that there is a red line drawn that Israel must not cross, and that has to do with Israel’s intention to move into Rafah in order to destroy Hamas there as a military force or threat to Israel.

Now, here’s the point. Israel’s going to have to do that, or Hamas is going to win. Hamas wins simply by surviving and surviving in the urban communities of Gaza. And if Israel stops this military action with Hamas still active in Rafah, it’s just going to be a matter of time before Hamas is back in control of all of Gaza. And Israel knows that. Frankly, I think President Biden knows it. I think at this point he is playing a game in terms of international relations, and he’s also trying to fight off opposition from the left wing of his own party. But the fact is Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, responded by saying he has a red line too, and that red line is October the 7th, 2023. But as soon as I heard that red line comment, I was thinking, American presidents aren’t very good at drawing those lines.

And as if, to make my point, the New York Times ran a front-page story above the fold yesterday with the headline: “A Red Line Can Be More of a Smudge,” which is to say American presidents sometimes maybe by accident, sometimes on purpose, they draw a red line, but just ask Barack Obama about how that works, because quite frankly, many of them won’t hold the line that they draw. With Barack Obama, the big issue was a line he drew, he said the Syrians must not cross. They did. He didn’t respond in any powerful way. The Syrians didn’t take him seriously. And the question is, what’s going to happen in Israel? Well, I’ll make a prediction. Israel is going to go into Rafah. Israel understands that this is not a matter of just say, international relations and Israel’s public relations, this is a matter of Israel’s survival, and Israel knows that. That is why there is such unity. Israel has been a disunited government in recent years with so many controversies, but there is a political unity in Israel right now.

I know the American media are saying that there are all kinds of threats to Netanyahu’s continued service as prime minister. Well, that’s always true. As a matter of fact, given Israeli politics, it is almost always true. But it is also clear that most Israelis, and that includes most in the Israeli government, understand that Israel can’t stop without going after Hamas in Rafah. And remember, it is Hamas that launched this terrorist war in a slaughter of Israelis. And remember, it is Hamas that has embedded, surrounded itself intentionally with civilians in order to make civilian casualties both inevitable and high. It is Hamas that is playing this most evil game, and Israel is not going to play by this playbook.

Something else to note, and this is something the mainstream media just hasn’t given much attention. Major Arab nations also have an interest in Israel prosecuting its war against Hamas. Major Arab nations are issuing some noise but no major action against Israel because quite frankly, they have a real stake in Israel being effective in Gaza. And as I try to point out to people, just watch. Egypt closed its border with Gaza because it doesn’t want the people in Gaza going into Egypt either. It certainly doesn’t want Hamas in Egypt.

Part IV

The War of Public Opinion and Argument: The Ideological Divide over War in Israel Published in the Same Paper and on the Same Page of The New York Times

One thing we need to recognize is that the most important war is the war that Israel must win for its national survival and its national security against Hamas. It’s also a war that we all have an interest in because Hamas is the enemy, quite frankly, of the United States as much as it is even more directly the enemy of Israel. But there’s something else going on. There’s another war, and this is the war of public opinion and the war of worldviews because that’s also a very real war. And just to demonstrate how that war is fought, I want to point to page A19 of yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times. Thomas Friedman has the article at the top of the page with the headline: Netanyahu is Making Israel Radioactive. Bret Stephens has the article underneath that with the headline: Israel Has No Choice but to Fight On.

So you might say that the editors of the New York Times are presenting two different opinions here. They are of two very different opinions. Thomas Friedman is basically calling upon Israel to stop. Bret Stephens is basically calling upon Israel to finish the destruction of Hamas.

Thomas Friedman is someone who’s been involved in covering and writing about foreign policy and foreign affairs for a very, very long time. He has experience in much of the world and about many of the places that he covers, but his worldview is primarily one that is seeking international harmony. He has more of a globalist worldview. His view of the world is more technocratic.

Bret Stephens is a pretty much an unreconstructed neoconservative. And that is to say he really holds to a foreign policy worldview forged during the Cold War that saw the necessity of fighting for freedom, and quite frankly, is quite prone to seeing military action as the answer when you are looking at this kind of struggle. So that’s why Bret Stephens runs the piece saying Israel has no choice but to fight on. The subhead in the article: “As long as Hamas maintains military power, there’s no hope for peace.” Now, in this case, let me be very clear. I think Bret Stephens is right. I think Thomas Friedman is wrong. But I want to point to the fact that this is presented in the newspaper as if these are just two opinion pieces. I want to argue there is some usefulness in that two opinion pieces, and at least this is one page in which there were two different positions. And I’m thankful that a pro-Israel position was indeed present here.

But the point I want to make is that this is where so many in America are now stuck. There are two sides to every question. There are two arguments to be made. There is an article on the top of the page. There’s an article on the bottom of the page, and you pretty much just choose which argument you like better. But I just want to remind Christians that we have a deeper responsibility than that. I want to remind Christians we have a responsibility to know which one is standing for right and which one is standing for wrong, or how would you distribute that. And which of these arguments is going to lead to a more secure future, which is going to lead to a weaker, more questionable future? Which one of these takes an enemy like Hamas, seriously, and which one frankly would leave Hamas very much in place, still a threat, and as we know, soon back in power?

We of course do live in a battle of ideas, but I think it’s really important that Christians understand that the battle is often thought out at a far more foundational level than shows up in our national discussion. We’re talking here about Israel and the question of life and death.

As I conclude, I want to remind you about Boyce College Preview Day coming up. It’s March 21st to 22nd. I’m incredibly thankful to God for what’s happening here at Boyce College. It’s just one of the happiest things I get to be involved with. Boyce College is one of the most faithful, outstanding educational options for Christian young people looking for a Christian worldview, undergraduate college experience. Every one of those words, really important. That Boyce preview event is March 21 through 22. You can register for the event. You, you can register a student, a prospective student in your home. Students and parents will join hundreds of other students and their families for the Boyce preview event. You’ll have the chance to tour the campus, learn more about our academic programs, meet our world-class faculty, and I’m looking forward to meeting those who come and I’ll have the opportunity to speak with you and to you. They’re going to have a special ask anything session, by the way, a private one just for those gathered here for this event, and that’s always interesting.

You can register online at And if you use the code thebriefing, you can register for free. That’s all one word, by the way, thebriefing. Again, Boyce College Preview Day, March 21 through 22nd is coming up fast. I hope to see you there.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. 

For more information, go to my website at You could follow me on Twitter by going to For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to 

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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