Sunday, June 30, 2024

Where do Democrats go from here?

 For better or worse (mostly worse), the debate is in the books. Since Thursday night, Democrats and Never Trumpers have been involved in a megafreakout and the conventional wisdom is that Biden’s campaign is dead. Is Trump merely awaiting a coronation at this point? Is Biden done for? Will Democrats replace their standard bearer?

Tune in soon for the answers to these and other questions! Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!

Photo by Simone Secci on Unsplash


Seriously, we really don’t have good answers to these questions yet, but we do have some hints. First, we know that President Biden is not voluntarily stepping down from the ticket.

“You’ll have to carry me out feet-first, you dog-faced pony soldier!'“ the president was reported to have said.

No, I made that up. But it is true that Biden has refused to step down in a speech that was much more clear than his debate performance.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, “What happened during the debate?”

Was Thursday night an accurate depiction of Biden’s mental and physical state or was it a one-off, a bad night? Following on the heels of that question, we can wonder, if Thursday night was normal for Biden, why would his staff put him on the debate stage? Remember that Biden challenged Trump to the debate. He didn’t have to do that.

I think there is at least a chance that Thursday night was an aberration. I say that for a couple of reasons. First, we’ve seen Biden in other settings recently and the debate was atypically bad. As I noted last week, even at the post-debate party, he seemed like a different person. Biden gave a rousing speech in North Carolina the day after the debate, and he showed none of the voice problems or slowness evident on Thursday night.

Second, Biden’s performance in the debate was made worse by the optics. If you listened and could understand what he was saying, he made sense except for losing his train of thought a time or two. Similar to the infamous Kennedy-Nixon debate, the visuals made a big difference. In this case, the transcript reveals a much different debate than the one we watched because we were all concentrating on Biden’s voice and why his mouth was agape. Biden did okay if you listened to the words.

If this was the case, then Team Biden needs to get their candidate front and center and put him on display. He needs to be seen interacting with people and speaking. At this point, they can’t play it safe and have him hide in the basement.

The downside to this strategy is obvious. If Biden has a similar episode, it won’t be recoverable.

But at least we’ll know. And if there is a similar episode there will be a much better case for removing him from the ticket. And removing Biden would almost certainly need Biden’s cooperation unless he becomes incapacitated. The only other alternative might be to create an entirely new party and ban Joe from it the way the Stonecutters became the Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers on the “Simpsons.”

But what if Thursday night was not an aberration? Why would Biden’s staff send him out to the wolves? I can only think of one good reason: Biden’s staff could see what Biden can’t or won’t see. Maybe Biden’s aides threw him into the lion’s den because they know he’s not fit to lead for another four years and they needed to shake Biden up to get him to see the truth.

Which possibility is the real deal? Everyone has an opinion, but I don’t think that anyone knows for sure except the people who are in close contact with the president on a day-to-day basis. And most of those seem to be standing by their man, at least publicly.

There are reports that Mr. Biden is meeting with his family today. If there are real cognitive and/or physical problems, they should be honest with him. And Biden should do the right thing for his party and his country by stepping aside (unlike some other presidential candidates I could mention who seem to care only about what is good for themselves).

It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Biden to spend his remaining days enjoying life at home with his family while going down in history as the man who saved the country from Trumpism twice, once by stepping up and once by stepping down.

If Joe Biden stays on the ticket, will I still vote for him? Absolutely. Given the choice between a guy who is a bit slow but who helped the country recover from COVID and is a strong defender of the free world versus a who hurt the economy by launching unnecessary trade wars, cozies up to Putin, has been legally held liable for sexual assault, and who goaded his supporters into attacking Congress, I’ll take Biden any day.

And if anyone could lose to a man in cognitive decline, it’s Donald Trump.

This race ain’t over.

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