Wednesday, Jul 24, 2024

President Biden’s Stubborn Stand


For years, President Biden has had a ready retort for the naysayers who have questioned his ability and fitness to run for president again at the age of 81 and to serve as commander-in-chief and the leader of the free world until he is 86. “Watch me,” he has said.

But in the two weeks since more than fifty million Americans watched him mumble and speak semi-incoherently during a live 90-minute debate with Donald Trump, Biden and his campaign team have been asking the American people to disbelieve the evidence of his incompetence which they saw with their own eyes. Instead, they are asking the voters to take their word, on faith alone, that Biden is still capable of meeting his responsibilities as president for another four-year term,

Those who were most disturbed by Biden’s debate meltdown were his fellow Democrats. They had been relying upon Biden to defeat Trump on Election Day in November. While winning a second term as president, they also were expecting him to lead hundreds of Democrat candidates across the country to victory, thereby securing total Democrat control of the House and Senate as well as the White House for at least the next two years.

All of that has now been put at risk, as Biden falls further behind Trump in the public opinion polls, forcing panicked Democrat candidates and their supporters to reconsider their limited alternatives. Meanwhile, Biden’s staunchest party allies and family members have united behind their politically wounded president, in the hope that he and his surrogates can somehow convince the voters that he is still fully capable of functioning as their president despite having suffered a one-time bad debate night.

But other elected Democrats are now beginning to join a growing number of prominent liberal political strategists, media commentators, and newspaper editorial boards who are publicly calling upon Biden to quit the race, for the good of the country as well as the party. They agree with the unnamed lawmaker who texted major Democrat donor Whitney Tilson last week that, “Biden’s debate performance was a catastrophe from which there may be no recovery.”

They are asking Biden to step aside voluntarily to make way for a substitute candidate, hopefully, one with a better chance to beat Trump in November and to avoid a catastrophe for the other down-ballot Democrat candidates. That substitute would either be Biden’s equally unpopular vice-presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, or one of more than half a dozen other ambitious younger Democrats, including several state governors, now waiting on the sidelines for their golden opportunity.


As the current week started with congressmen and senators returning to Washington following the July 4 recess, Biden’s candidacy was still bleeding support from his fellow Democrats and their supporters. At the same time, the main topic of political conversation began to shift from whether Biden was going to drop out of the race, to when he would drop out.

To counter that trend, Biden sent Democrat members of Congress a defiant open letter Monday morning, declaring once again that he was “firmly committed to staying in the race,” and condemning the “elites” whom he blames for the snowballing effort to try to force him to drop out as the Democrats’ presidential candidate.

Less than an hour later, Biden called in to “Morning Joe,” a liberal political talk show on MSNBC, to declare that he didn’t care about any of the “big names” in the Democrat party urging him to drop out of the race. Biden then went a step further, by saying, “If any of these guys don’t think I should run, [let them] run against me. Go ahead, announce for president. Challenge me at the convention.”

Biden also explained to one of the show’s co-hosts, Mika Brzezinski, that he is much more than just the “presumptive” Democrat presidential nominee, since he has already won every Democrat state primary, and virtually all of the delegates who will be attending the Democrat national convention in Chicago next month are pledged to vote for him on the first ballot. As a result, Biden confidently declared, “I am going to be the Democrat nominee!”

Adopting a tactic that has often been used with success by his arch-rival, Donald Trump, Biden, despite his standing as the official head of his party and, after more than fifty years as a mover and shaker in Washington, the most powerful elected official in the nation, is now trying to portray himself as a political outsider doing battle with the rest of the established leadership of his own party.

Biden then followed up by giving a pep talk on a private video call to some of his campaign’s top donors, and by calling into a virtual meeting that evening with his loyal supporters in the Congressional Black Caucus.


“I am not going anywhere,” Biden repeated again and again. Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign staff pushed their new narrative claiming that the pressure campaign to get him to step aside was being pushed by an elite Democrat party establishment that had lost its confidence in him, rather than the genuine concern of elected Democrats and grassroots voters across the country over his failing cognitive abilities, that were sparked by his poor debate performance.

Biden and his supporters have now made it clear that they are determined to impose party discipline in order to re-unify the Democrats behind his re-election effort at all costs, even at the risk of dividing the party just a month before its national convention.

In response to Biden’s letter to House Democrats demanding their loyalty to his candidacy, the New York Times editorial board issued a blistering second statement Tuesday, beginning with a despairing statement, “For voters who held out hope that President Biden’s failure to communicate during last month’s debate was an aberration, the intervening days have offered little comfort.”

The editorial noted that when Biden “cast aside his teleprompter, most notably during a 22-minute interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. . . he has continued to appear as a man in decline.”


“The president, elected in 2020 as an antidote to Mr. Trump’s malfeasance and mendacity, is now trying to defy reality. . .

“Since his feeble debate performance, multiple polls have shown that both Mr. Biden’s approval rating and his chance of beating Mr. Trump have markedly dropped from their already shaky levels. In response, he has adopted a favorite theme of the floundering politician, insisting that the polls are wrong in showing that his presidency is historically unpopular. . .

“He has denied that age is diminishing his abilities. . . in effect asking the American people to trust him instead of their own lying eyes. . .”

Since Biden is clearly not listening to what the American people have been telling him, the editorial encourages Democrats, “from the grassroots to the highest levels of the party. . . to tell him that his defiance threatens to hand victory to Mr. Trump. They need to tell him that he is embarrassing himself and endangering his legacy. He needs to hear, plain and clear, that he is no longer an effective spokesman for his own priorities.”

The editorial also calls “for those at the helm of the Democratic Party — including the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer; the House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries; and even the former House speaker Nancy Pelosi. . . to speak forcefully to the president and the public about the need for a new candidate, before time runs out.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, not to be outdone, noted the irony in the fact that President Biden is now attacking the same media establishment for talking openly about his cognitive problems that had conspired to shield those problems from the voters for the previous four years. And in perhaps the greatest insult of all, the Journal’s editorial observes that by condemning the “elites” for turning against him, Biden “now almost sounds like Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, several polls showed that a growing number of rank-and-file Democrats who had always thought that Biden was too old to run again, now want him to be replaced at the top of their ticket. Wall Street Journal commentator Kimberly Strassel observed that even before his disastrous debate with Trump, “Mr. Biden’s poll numbers were already bad, but Democratic candidates had worked hard to separate their fate from his.” However, she added, Biden’s poor debate performance gave the Republicans “a new opportunity to tie the Biden anchor to Democratic legs,” making it inevitable that the post-debate Democrat “freakout would escalate.”


Another problem facing Biden is that it took his White House more than a week after his debate meltdown to come up with an effective damage control strategy, other than a blanket condemnation of his Democrat critics for their disloyalty. The Biden White House also took far too long to finally come up with a believable story to explain the president’s debate meltdown. It involved an unlikely combination of delayed jet lag from his recent European trips, a bad head cold, and a misguided crash effort by his staff to fill his head with talking points during the final 24 hours before the debate.

On the other hand, with less than four months until the election, and the Democrat nominating convention in Chicago only six weeks away, the so-called “elite” party leaders that Biden is talking about, who have lost faith in the president, are well aware that they must convince Biden to step aside and choose his substitute as quickly as possible if they are to have any hope of preventing a Trump-led Republican landslide victory in November of historic proportions.


Their immediate problem is that Biden and his inner circle of advisors and family members are fully committed to supporting his decision to stay in the race, to the bitter end, if necessary. Since Biden has already won a majority of Democrat convention delegates pledged to vote for him on the first ballot, party leaders must convince him to drop out before the convention. Otherwise, once he is nominated, the rest of the party will have no other choice but to re-unite behind Biden in the hope that he will somehow be able to win back the lost trust of the American people in his ability to serve a second term as president.

Biden had generally strong post-debate appearances, including a fiery but scripted speech to a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, the day after the debate; another 18-minute campaign speech that afternoon at a Madison, Wisconsin, Middle School; a highly anticipated 22-minute, unedited broadcast television interview with ABC reporter George Stephanopoulos, and brief campaign appearances over the weekend appealing to black voters in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, the pressure from respected party leaders, donors, media commentators, newspaper editorial pages, and elected officials, calling upon Biden to drop out of the presidential race, has continued to build.

In the ABC interview with Stephanopoulos, who was previously a communications director for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and White House, President Biden exhibited fewer signs of the mental and verbal confusion that triggered so much concern during his debate the week before with Trump. But after the interview, Democrat supporters seemed to be more concerned about the answers Biden gave about the current state of his campaign as well as how he intends to quiet voters’ and party leaders’ concerns about his mental competence and the future of his candidacy.


When asked whether he would “be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognitive tests and release the results to the American people,” Biden insisted that such a test was unnecessary because, in the course of doing his duties as president, “I have a cognitive test every single day. . . Everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world.”

When Stephanopoulos followed up by asking Biden if he would be willing to reassure the American people by submitting to an “independent medical evaluation,” he refused and said that if they had any remaining concerns, they could “watch me” during the remaining 125 days of the campaign before the November elections, essentially the same answer that Biden he has been giving about his health since the 2020 presidential campaign.

When Biden was then asked about the lead that Trump has opened up in the polls since their debate, he denied that it was true, and insisted that “all the pollsters I talk to tell me it’s a tossup” except for the latest New York Times poll “which had me behind by ten points,” and which Biden claimed had not changed due to his debate performance. However, The New York Times/Siena poll actually had Biden trailing Trump by only 6 points five days after the debate, but that was down from Trump’s 4-point lead according to the same Times/Siena poll published two days before the debate.

Biden also took strong exception to Stephanopoulos when the ABC reporter cited his presidential job approval rating, according to the same New York Times/Siena poll, at only 36%.

He also resisted answering a question from Stephanopoulos about whether he would agree to drop out of the race if he were “told reliably from your allies, from your friends and supporters in the Democratic Party in the House and the Senate that they’re concerned you’re gonna lose the House and the Senate if you stay in.” But Biden insisted “It’s not gonna happen.” He said, “If the L-rd Alm-ghty came down and said, ‘Joe, get outta the race,’ I’d get outta the race,” and then refused to “answer that question” any further.


When Stephanopoulos then said, “I’ve never seen a president with 36% approval get reelected.” Biden again said, “Well, I don’t believe that’s my approval rating. That’s not what our polls show.”

The ABC reporter then asked Biden, “And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything you’re warned about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?”

Biden then responded, “I’ll feel [satisfied] as long as I gave it my all and I did [as good a] job

as I know I can do, that’s what this is about.”

But those were not the answers that other Democrat candidates, party leaders, and campaign donors who are deeply worried following the Trump-Biden debate about the possibility of a Republican electoral sweep in November wanted to hear from their president.

As CNN political commentator Scott Jennings pointed out, “the entire thesis of the [Biden] campaign was democracy is on the ballot. . . Now if I was a Democrat who hasn’t blinked since January of 2017, or one of these never-Trumpers who’s worried about all this, and I heard Joe Biden admit that it’s all just a facade, that it’s all just a talking point, I would [also] be freaked out right now to find out there’s no animating issue for this campaign. It’s just a grift [a dishonest swindle or deception].”

While the ABC interview attracted only 8.5 million viewers, compared to the 51.3 million viewers of the June 27 debate between Trump and Biden, it still had a significant impact on the fate of Biden’s presidential campaign. Politico reported that Biden’s “repeated dismissals and refusal to seriously address concerns about his age and mental acuity struck many Democrats watching the interview closely.”

One unnamed Democrat official, who worked on Biden’s 2020 campaign, told Politico that Biden’s answers during the interview led him to fear that the president’s campaign team “isn’t being straight with him, and that’s dangerous.”

California Congresswoman Judy Chu admitted to Politico that she was particularly unnerved by Biden’s refusal to take a cognitive test. “I found the answer about taking a cognitive test every day to be unsettling and not particularly convincing, so I will be watching closely every day to see how he is doing, especially in spontaneous situations,” she said.


Other Democrat strategists from competitive battleground states told Politico that they believe the turning point for the future of Biden’s presidential campaign will come when Democrats come to believe that Biden will be a serious drain on their efforts to wrest back control of the House from Republicans.

“I think the self-interest of the guys on the ballot will be what sinks him. Once people realize he’s going to take everyone down with him,” one of those strategists predicted.

But those dire predictions did not faze the Biden campaign. In the wake of Biden’s rally in front of 1,000 supporters in Wisconsin, followed by his interview with Stephanopoulos of ABC News, the campaign’s talking points described Biden’s performance as “forceful.” It also concluded that “Overall, the takeaway was clear: President Biden is clear-eyed and he’s fully in this race to win.” The campaign also distributed the positive comments by Biden’s most loyal supporters, including Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, South Carolina’s senior Congressman Jim Clyburn, and Delaware Senator Chris Coons, who told Politico that, “he can’t wait to help Biden … continue to take the fight to Trump and win in November.”

In the wake of the ABC interview, the Wall Street Journal cited a variety of opinions and reactions expressed by several major Biden campaign supporters.


Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso, who co-hosted a multimillion-dollar fundraiser for Biden in December, said he had been disappointed by Biden’s poor performance in his debate with Trump, and that his interview with ABC News didn’t change his position. “The question,” Caruso said “is not only can you be a viable candidate, but also do you have the ability to be the president of the United States,” Therefore, Caruso said, in a tweet on X, stepping aside was the “honorable thing for President Biden to do.”

On the other hand, following the ABC interview, some of Biden’s long-time major campaign donors declared that they were still firm in their support for him. Philanthropist Amy Goldman Fowler wrote in an email, “I have been a long-time admirer of the president and continue to support his reelection efforts.” Venture capitalist Alan Patricof also said that he intends to donate further to Biden’s campaign as the strongest way forward against Trump.

Dmitri Mehlhorn, a Democratic strategist for megadonors, said the ABC interview “confirms why we think he’s a great president.”

While he admitted that, “the debate did some damage, that interview will stop the bleeding.”

Public relations executive Michael Kempner said that “President Biden’s [ABC] interview showed that his debate performance was, indeed, just a very bad night,” but then added, “My concern is that it may be too little too late, and the American public may have already rendered their opinion.”

Another donor couple who has already donated $3 million to the Biden campaign said that the ABC interview failed to reassure them, and that they would not be giving as much as they had been, given what they see as a decline in his fitness to serve. They were also disturbed by Biden’s refusal to take a cognitive test, causing them to ask, “What is he hiding?”

Another contributor, who said he had already given $1 million to Biden, said he was pausing his donations until he was convinced the president had “the gas in the tank” to run a competitive campaign. While he said Biden had “performed credibly” during his ABC interview, it had done little to allay his concerns over his debate performance. He also admitted, “I’m puzzled at this point as to what the right thing to do is.”

Biden’s campaign claimed that it was not worried about the doubts being expressed by its major contributors, because it had raised about $30 million from small contributors since his debate with Trump. But that optimistic attitude is likely to change as the campaign ground operations and paid advertising heat up, especially given the strong boost that was given to the Trump campaign’s fundraising efforts over the past two months.


In advance of the ABC interview with Biden, it was framed by his campaign and some of his supporters as a pivotal opportunity for him to convince the doubters in his party that he is up to the task of defeating Trump in November, and governing the country for the next four years. But in retrospect, Biden’s performance, while much better than during his debate with Trump, clearly fell short of its goals of proving to skeptical voters that he is not too old to run for president again, and who would much prefer that some other younger and more vigorous Democrat take on the task of beating Trump at the polls this November.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page verdict on Biden’s ABC interview was that it was “a portrait in defiance that won’t stem the establishment campaign unfolding against him.”

The editorial observed that “the [mainstream] media [outlets] that covered for him have turned [on him] with a vengeance. . . [Now] they tell us that there have been many such episodes of [Biden’s] demonstrable cognitive decline.

“Who knew?” the editorial asks. “Well, the American people knew,” it answers, “since they are not oblivious to evidence they can see. They have said so in every poll for a year. . .

“But the debate has forced the establishment to admit the truth they could no longer deny. The [New York] Times, the Atlantic, the New Yorker, CNN, Morning Joe, Politico, Axios, the Hollywood and Wall Street donors [are] all moving in sync to cover their coverup tracks. . .

“Elected Democrats have been more cautious, but those defections have also begun. . .

“The decisive moment will come,” the editorial predicts, “when the Obama wing of the establishment turns. . .

“Mr. Biden may continue to resist. . . But the longer he does, the more brutal the establishment campaign [to force him out of the race] will become. . ..

“[Meanwhile,] Democrats know that as long as Mr. Biden remains in the race, the news cycle will be dominated by his infirmities.”


According to a front-page New York Times political analysis by Reid J. Epstein, “From the outset of President Biden’s re-election campaign, the plan for winning was to make former President Donald J. Trump so unpalatable that voters uneasy with the incumbent would vote for him anyway. . .

“Indeed, the Biden campaign has long sought to make Mr. Trump its focus.”

However, Epstein writes, “to get voters to focus on the threats posed by a second Trump administration. . . [Biden] first must escape his current doom loop and convince voters — and especially fellow Democrats — that he is up to the job himself. . .

“[That] is why Mr. Biden’s top aides thought it was a good idea to move the first debate from September to June — to give voters the one-on-one look at Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump that the president’s team thought would recalibrate the race, lift Mr. Biden’s sagging poll numbers and remind voters what would change if Mr. Trump takes office again in January. . .

“[Instead] Biden now must first assuage doubts about himself,” a process made even more difficult by the fact that “his team waited more than a week after the debate to mount a full-throated attempt,” to repair the damage. . .

“There is no doubt in Democratic circles that Mr. Biden must make the election about Mr. Trump, as he did in 2020. . . Even Mr. Biden’s most stalwart supporters say Democrats will lose the election if it remains a referendum on Mr. Biden’s ability to serve.”

Four years ago, Biden “ran as a transitional candidate. He said he saw himself ‘as a bridge, not as anything else’. . . giving the distinct impression he [his goal] was [solely] to help the country move on from its Trump period. . . [But] four years later, polls show 74 percent of voters think Mr. Biden is too old to be president again.”


But now Biden is stuck in a political tailspin, after an abysmal debate performance highlighting his inability to make a convincing case against Trump. Meanwhile, over the past several weeks, Donald Trump’s support has been steadily strengthening. He has largely overcome his 34-felony conviction in May in a Manhattan court, while benefitting greatly from a better-than-expected debate performance, and a series of fortuitous Supreme Court decisions which have eliminated the fear that Trump would be stuck in a courtroom for the next four months instead of being out on the campaign trail.

At the same time, Joe Biden’s support has frayed within his party due to disappointing polling numbers. Even before the fallout from his debate with Trump, an increasing number of panicky Democrats and party leaders worried about his ability to continue to do his job and began to publicly call upon him to leave the race.

Democrats and Biden’s campaign now realize that as long as the major story of the day, every day, involves more questions about Biden’s fitness for office, he will continue to lose more voters to Trump.


For the same reason, Trump has been content to follow the famous advice from Napoleon Bonaparte, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Accordingly, Trump has been lying low ever since the June 27 debate, keeping the mainstream media’s attention tightly focused on the Democrat debate over Biden’s cognitive problems, while studiously avoiding giving the media any excuse to pivot back to Trump’s own shortcomings.

The tactic has worked to Trump’s great advantage. Since the Biden meltdown in his debate with Trump, the New York Times has run 142 news stories and 50 editorials on the subsequent fallout. The Washington Post has also opted for saturation coverage of the issue, including the publication of a draft resignation speech they wrote for Biden, and the New Yorker’s editor-in-chief has declared that Biden’s continued refusal to abandon his presidential candidacy “would be an act not only of self-delusion but of national endangerment.”


A front-page article published by the Wall Street Journal this week described in detail exactly how Biden’s inner circle of senior White House advisors and family members, led by his protective wife, Dr. Jill Biden, worked hard to hide his cognitive problems and lack of stamina as they grew much worse, especially over the past year. In an effort to preserve Biden’s remaining stamina and mental capacity, they sharply curtailed his daily work schedule and travel itineraries, tightly stage-managed a sharply reduced number of news conferences and other media and public appearances, and actively shielded him from impromptu exchanges with reporters which likely would have revealed the extent of his deterioration to the public.

At the same time, Biden’s protectors made maximum use of his remaining ability to deliver an effective speech by reading from a prepared text, such as his generally well-received State of the Union address to Congress in March, while aggressively assuring everyone that the president, despite his increasingly frequent physical, mental and verbal stumbles, was fine.

According to the article, Biden’s decline became obvious to the leaders of our foreign allies as long ago as June 2022, during a G-7 summit meeting in Germany which had been deliberately planned to accommodate Biden’s reduced stamina, yet at which the president was still incapable of fully participating. Instead, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to appear in his place, and to explain to the other participants “that Biden had to go to bed.”

The article also reported that several people who had recently “spent time with the president after not seeing him for a while said they were surprised by how much he had slowed. . . [and] had noticeably aged since they had last seen each other.”

In recent years, Biden’s public appearances have become briefer, and his responses to spontaneous questions shouted at him by the White House reporters who have been kept at a distance from him are often reduced to just a “yes,” “no” or a thumbs-up. According to presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, Biden has held fewer news conferences and interviews than any president at this point in their terms going back to Ronald Reagan.

Whenever Biden agrees to sit for a media interview, it has become standard practice for the White House communications staff to provide the interviewer with an approved list of prepared questions to ask him. During his infrequent news conferences, Biden will read off the names of the reporters whom he calls upon from the notes that his staff has given to him.

But it took Biden’s on-camera meltdown during the debate with Trump, in front of a large nationwide television audience, that finally “caused many people to piece together gnawing concerns about Biden’s mental acuity they had long harbored.”


Biden’s loyal congressional allies, such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, veteran Washington Senator Patty Murray, and New York Congressman Gregory Meeks, also actively assisted in the White House effort to prevent the media from reporting on his growing incapacity. As recently as this past April, Senator Murray assured a reporter from the Wall Street Journal that she hadn’t seen any change in Biden’s mental acuity during her many years of working with him. “He engages in a very personal way, asking questions,” she said. “He is listening and absorbing.”

But in the wake of Biden’s disastrous debate meltdown, Senator Murray felt it necessary to admit this week, “We need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate on the campaign trail in the very near future in order for him to convince voters he is up to the job.”

During an interview in April, the Journal article reported, Pelosi recalled how she had recently re-assured a celebrity supporter who had called her to ask, “What’s up with Joe Biden?” She responded by describing how well Biden had performed during a recent fundraiser in San Francisco. “He gave a great speech, no notes,” she told the celebrity. Biden, she said, recognized everyone, and did not need to rely on their nametags.

As recently as this week, the former Speaker’s spokesman said that she still had full confidence in Biden. She urged her fellow Democrats not to make “a judgment about a presidency on [the basis of] one debate Yet, just a few days after his debate meltdown Pelosi felt obliged to admit that, “I think it’s a legitimate question to [ask], is this an episode, or is this a condition?”

With only four months to go before November’s general election, Democrats who are now uncomfortable with Joe Biden at the top of their ticket, have no good political option for removing his name from the ballot. However, they do have a constitutional one, replacing Biden with Harris in the White House by invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which, ironically, is also likely to be their best choice politically as well.

Polls indicate that Trump would still be likely to defeat Harris in the November election, even if she ran as the acting president at that time, given her well-deserved notoriety and poor record of performance as both Biden’s vice president and, before that, during her failed candidacy for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination. However, if the Democrats do agree to do the right thing, by engineering a lawful and orderly transition of power from Biden to Harris, they would salvage their future credibility as a political party, as well as preserve American democracy and the two-party system.

Meanwhile, reporters in the White House press corps and their bosses, the executives of the mainstream news media, are now second-guessing their own willing participation in a well-organized cover-up of Biden’s shocking age-related decline dating all the way back to his 2020 presidential campaign, and which was finally revealed for all to see at his debate with Trump on June 27.

They all must now face two difficult questions. First, when did they first realize that Biden no longer had the mental capacity to act as president, and second, why did they then conceal that fact from the American people?


The “conspiracy of silence to protect Joe Biden,” was the subject of a highly introspective article published by New York Magazine last week, written by political reporter Olivia Nuzzi, who began covering Biden’s presidential primary campaigns in 2020.

Even back then, Nuzzi recalls, Biden rarely took questions from reporters, and there had been days on the campaign trail “when Biden appeared sharper than on others.”

On his good days during the 2020 campaign, she wrote, “he stayed to take a photo with every supporter. He might even entertain a question or two from the press. He had color on his face. There was no question he was alive and present.

“On bad days, which were unpredictable. . . he was less animated. He stared off. He did not make eye contact. He would trip over his words, even if they were programmed in a teleprompter. On such occasions, he was hurried out of the venue quickly [by his staff] and ushered into a waiting SUV,” establishing a pattern of behavior for Biden that has now become much more familiar.

In 2020, Nuzzi recalled, she had been criticized by Biden’s staff and supporters for writing about “concerns, implicit or explicit, about [Biden’s] ability to stay agile and alive for the next four years.” The Bidenworld insiders, as she called them, also resented her for writing back then that “watching Biden can feel like being at the rodeo. You’re there because on some level you know you might see someone get killed.”

The next time that Nuzzi had the opportunity to observe Biden closely was this past April, when she found herself at a reception before the White House Correspondents’ dinner, among a sea of people waiting in line for a photo with the president and First Lady in the basement of the Washington Hilton.


“I had not seen the president up close in some time,” she wrote, and noticed that the First Lady “looked at me with a confused, panicked expression, as if she had just received horrible news and was about to run out of the room and into some kind of a family emergency.”

Upon following the First Lady’s gaze, Nuzzi found the president and then understood the cause of Dr. Jill Biden’s panicked expression. The reporter took in the president’s “cosmetically altered proportions. . . His thin skin, [that] was pulled tightly over cheeks that seemed to vary month to month in volume. Under artificial light and in the sunshine, he took on an unnatural gleam. . .. His eyes were half-shut or open very wide. . . He did not blink at regular intervals. . .” [And then there was] “the president’s stare which sometimes raised alarm on social media when documented in official videos produced by the White House.”

Nuzzi’s impression was that “the president was suffering from a shocking decline most Americans were not seeing.” But she also knew that the Biden White House would not answer any of her questions about the president’s strange appearance. Instead, the White House press office simply dismissed the video clips that depicted Biden as looking so unnatural as “cheap fakes,” created and distributed by Biden’s political enemies on the right to make him look unfit to serve.

As a result, many other people in that room were content to look away, or to pretend that they didn’t see that, but not the reporter.

Instead, Nuzzi recalls that as she reached the head of the photo line, “I greeted the president. I tried to make eye contact, but it was like his eyes, though open, were not on. His face had a waxy quality. . .

“I said hello. His sweet smile stayed frozen. He spoke very slowly and in a very soft voice. ‘And what’s your name?’ he asked.”

Later during that evening, as Nuzzi sat at a table with other reporters, they debated about how dead Biden appeared to be, and agreed on the figure of “Forty percent.”

Two months later, as Nuzzi watched the televised debate between Trump and Biden, she recalled thinking that Biden didn’t look so bad, compared to “everything I had heard [for months from her reporter colleagues], plus some of what I had seen [two months earlier in the basement of the Washington Hilton, which had] led me to brace for something much more dire.”


There is also another aspect to Biden’s cognitive problems which could pose a serious dilemma for responsible Republicans. That is the national security concerns over a president who may no longer be able to carry out his duties as commander-in-chief in the event of a serious terrorist attack on American soil, further acts of aggression by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against one of our NATO allies in Eastern Europe, another mass missile attack against Israel, chas v’shalom, launched by Iran, or an invasion of Taiwan by the communist regime in Beijing.

According to conservative columnist Margot Cleveland, writing in the Federalist, under such circumstances, if Biden appears to be cognitively unable to rise to the challenge, it may become necessary to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, installing Kamala Harris as the new acting president, despite any worries about her limitations. Cleveland also writes that the only reasonable question at that point, “for Biden and his party is whether [his] removal [from office] will be voluntary, under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, or forced, under Section 4.”

There also is the question of the appropriate time frame for the process. According to Cleveland, “A day or two to decide is reasonable. A week stretches the bounds.” But we are now at the point where the inaction by Vice President Kamala Harris and Biden’s Cabinet, failing to invoke the 25th Amendment in light of Biden’s obvious mental incapacity, violates their oath of office to protect, at all costs, our national security.


Cleveland argues that this country simply cannot tolerate a president like Biden, whose staff admits that he is only fully functional between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and who, according to the New York Times, told a meeting of Democrat governors last week that he can’t stay awake much past 8 p.m. each night. Instead, we must have a commander-in-chief who is fully in command of the executive branch and our military on a 24-7 basis.

Her concerns are also shared by South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who said during a televised CBS News interview that while “most Democrats are worried about Biden winning the election, I’m worried about Biden being the commander-in-chief for the next four months.”

But so far, Harris has shown no indication of abandoning her strong public support for Bien and his presidency, or any willingness to cooperate to replace him through application of the 25th Amendment.

As Cleveland also points out, “As Biden’s vice president, Harris knew he lacked the capacity to serve as commander-in-chief long ago.” Yet she, like the other members of the Biden Cabinet and administration, has refused until now to act on that knowledge, as required by the 25th Amendment, putting this country at risk.

If Biden is ultimately forced to abandon his re-election campaign and/or step down as president due to his mental incompetence, Harris and other senior members of Biden’s Cabinet should be held accountable for their roles in preventing the American people from being able to see the alarming signs of his deterioration. In recent months, those signs had become increasingly obvious, not only to the people with whom Biden interacted daily as president, but also to the diplomats who were shocked by Biden’s inability to fully participate in last month’s G7 meeting in Italy, and the 80th anniversary celebration of the D-Day invasion of Europe by the U.S. and its allies on the beaches of Normandy, France.


Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel also reminds us of the blatant hypocrisy in “the sudden and overdue Democrat acknowledgment that Joe Biden isn’t up to the job.”

She notes that “the 81-year-old Mr. Biden’s fitness wasn’t a worry to Democrats when. . . special counsel Robert Hur described him as an ‘elderly man with a poor memory.’ Or when his doddering condition shocked [U.S.] allies at last month’s Group of Seven summit. Or even when his poll numbers kept falling. The White House scorned or accused critics of taking cheap shots, while Democrats attested to Mr. Biden’s ‘sharp’ mind, boundless ‘energy’ and obvious ‘competence’. . .

“[It took] a 90-minute debate [to showcase] the alarming depths of his deterioration, exposing this Democratic fiction. And the polls began to roll in, showing signs that Mr. Biden’s bad numbers are becoming a liability to vulnerable Senate and House Democrats, not to mention governors, attorneys general, and state legislative candidates.

“So now [at last], Democrats are worried,” Strassel noted with some satisfaction.

Barack Obama’s longtime political operative, David Axelrod, has noted that during his ABC interview, “[Biden] was more animated [than during his debate with Trump], and made a strong case for what he has done.” Axelrod then added, “The question the debate raised is about [Biden is] his fitness for the next four years, not his performance in the past four years, and he [Biden] simply doesn’t acknowledge that concern. He also is in denial about where he is in this race.”

As a result, Axelrod concludes that even though, “Trump is a profoundly flawed candidate, it is going to be very difficult now [after his poor performance in the debate] for the Biden campaign to put the focus on him.”

Another veteran Democrat operative, who is now publicly calling upon Biden to give up his bid for re-election, is long-time Clinton family political strategist Lanny Davis, who masterminded Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. In a public letter to Biden that Davis published over the weekend, he admitted that Biden’s ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos had “changed my mind” and had convinced him to ask Biden “to think again and please decide to pass the torch to your vice president, Kamala Harris.”

Paul Begala, who served as the chief political strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, told the CNN audience Monday that he has also been getting panicked phone calls from Democrats across the country who are now convinced that the party is on course for a devastating defeat in November as long as Biden remains at the top of their ticket.


Yet another respected political operative has said that the president’s ABC interview last week with Stephanopoulos had convinced him that Biden couldn’t win in November. The only hope now for Democrats was to “formulate a plan to transition the presidency to [Vice President] Harris within 30-60 days was former New York Times polling expert Nate Silver, who was also the founder of ABC’s FiveThirtyEight polling operation and who now writes for his own popular independent and widely-followed polling and political blog.

After watching Biden stumble through his debate with Trump, followed by the “pretty incoherent answer” that Biden gave about his standing in the polls during his interview with Stephanopoulos, Silver wrote, “The most generous way to put it is that he [Biden] doesn’t seem in command, and that’s an extremely hard sell when you’re Commander-in-Chief.”

Silver believes that Biden’s refusal during the interview to agree to take a cognitive test to put voter fears about his mental abilities to rest was also “disqualifying on its own,” and added that Biden’s poor showing in the polls was the least of his worries at this point.

An unnamed House Democrat told Politico candidly that Biden’s “Denial of the problem [of his fitness to continue serving as president] is not a solution or a path forward to convincing our constituents that he has the capacity or the vision for four more years.”

Another House Democrat called Biden’s performance during the ABC interview no better than “a stay of execution,” and then predicted that Biden’s “acceptance of losing to Trump as long as he tried his best will make his hand significantly worse with every Democratic office holder who does not want to lose their seat.”


At least initially following the Trump-Biden debate, national Democrat congressional leaders, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries have unequivocally backed Biden. However, at the start of last week, a handful of House Democrats from safe districts across the country found the political courage to begin openly stating their concerns about the alarming implications of Biden’s performance during his debate with Trump.

The first House Democrat to “respectfully” call upon Biden to end his campaign was Congressman Lloyd Doggett from Texas, who took note of Biden’s implied weakness from the fact that he has been consistently running far behind Democratic senators up for re-election in their statewide polling. Doggett also said, “I had hoped that the debate [with Trump] would provide some momentum to change that, [but] it did not.”

The next House Democrat last week to publicly ask Biden to step aside was Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, a former chairman of the House Progressive Caucus. He told the New York Times, “If he [Biden] is the candidate, I’m going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere.”

The next House Democrat critic of Biden’s candidacy was Seth Moulton from Massachusetts, who declared, “I think President Biden has done an amazing job for America. He’s been a great president. And he’ll go down in history as a great president. But it’s absolutely essential that we beat Donald Trump in November. And I’m afraid that the data that we have right now, what we’re seeing is that President Biden is not best positioned to do that. And so,” Moulton said in a local TV interview,” it’s time for a change at the top of the ticket.”

Next came Mike Quigley of Illinois, who said of Biden in an MSNBC interview, “Your legacy is set. We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude. [But] the only thing you can do now to cement that for all time and prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this [run against Trump].”

He was followed by Congresswoman Angie Craig of Minnesota. She declared that, given Biden’s weak debate performance, and “the lack of a forceful response” from him afterward, “I do not believe that the president can effectively campaign and win against Donald Trump.” Adding that asking Biden to drop out was “not a decision I’ve come to lightly,” she said, “there is simply too much at stake to risk a second Donald Trump presidency.”

Last Sunday, House Minority Leader Jeffries hosted a video call with leading House Democrats who were winding up their July 4 recess in their home districts, to discuss their view of Biden’s candidacy, and the results were not encouraging. According to an NBC report, four congressmen, all of them senior Democrats sitting on the House committees for the Judiciary, Armed Services, and Intelligence, including Jerry Nadler and Joe Morelle of New York, Adam Smith of Washington, Jim Himes of Connecticut and Mark Takano of California, all agreed that Biden should step aside as the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee.

It was also widely reported that Virginia’s Mark Warner had approached his fellow Senate Democrats to organize a discussion on Biden’s path forward in the presidential campaign. On Monday Senator Warner issued a statement confirming those conversations and declaring that, “I believe that it is incumbent upon the president to more aggressively make his case to the American people, and to hear directly from a broader group of voices about how to best prevent Trump’s lawlessness from returning to the White House.”

In addition, House Democrats Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington state, each of them facing difficult re-election races in November, publicly predicted that Trump would beat Biden.


Golden, a co-chair of the centrist Democrat Blue Dog Coalition, wrote an op-ed in a Bangor, Maine newspaper entitled, “Donald Trump Is Going to Win the Election and Democracy Will Be Just Fine.” Golden observed that it has been clear for months that “Donald Trump is going to win.” Nevertheless, Golden expressed his confidence in the ability of this country’s democratic institutions to withstand Trump’s power grabs.

“This election is about the economy, not democracy,” Golden wrote. “And when it comes to our economy, our Congress matters far more than who occupies the White House.”

Congresswoman Perez, who is also a Blue Dog Coalition co-chair, said in a local TV interview that watching the first five minutes of the Biden-Trump debate convinced her that “Biden is going to lose to Trump,” but she did not call on Biden to withdraw from the race. Instead, she said, “If President Biden and his team [will be] staying in this race, then it’s going to be incumbent on them to show us, not tell us, that he’s up for the task of beating Donald Trump.”

Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell said that her constituents and fellow Democrats had differing opinions on Biden. “I’m hearing lots of things. So, I think this is not as clear-cut as anybody wants it to be.” She told CNN that Minority Leader Jeffries had done an “outstanding job” last week in listening to House Democrats to get a better sense of where they stand with regard to the crucial questions surrounding the future of Biden’s candidacy. But Dingell also insisted that for Democrats to win in November, “We’ve got to stop talking about this. We need to get back to talking about Donald Trump.”

In a Sunday morning interview with CNN, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut noted that the “clock is ticking” with regard to Biden’s efforts to save his candidacy and stressed the importance of Biden proving his fitness for office. “They need to see more from the president. . . This can’t be a business-as-usual week” Murphy noted, and urged the president to speak to voters in an unscripted way as quickly as possible to prove to them that he is up to the job.

When asked during a CBS News interview Sunday whether he would consider running for president again if Biden drops out, 82-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders, refused to rule it out. Sanders noted that Biden “has got to do better again,” than he did in the debate with Trump, and that Democrats have “a legitimate concern” about Biden’s ability to perform, but then added that, for the time being, his focus is on winning re-election to his U.S. Senate seat from Vermont as an independent.


In another Sunday interview with NBC, California Congressman Adam Schiff said that Biden now needs to speak with people he trusts outside of his immediate family and longtime staff members, “seeking out people with some distance and objectivity.” in order to reach the correct decision on whether he should “run or pass the torch.”

Schiff also admitted that he was “most concerned” by Biden’s answer during his ABC interview indicating that he could accept a Trump victory in November if he felt that he had done everything he could to win. As Schiff explained it, “This [election] is not just about whether he gave it the best college try.”

On Monday, Adam Smith, a Democrat congressman from Washington state who serves as the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, issued a strongly-worded follow-up statement demanding that Biden step aside to permit the Democrats to select a new presidential candidate who can beat Trump in November.

Smith said, “That candidate must be able to clearly, articulately, and strongly make his or her case to the American people. It is clear that President Biden is no longer able to meet this burden.”

Also on Monday, Biden suffered his first public vote of no-confidence from a Democrat senator when Jon Tester of Montana, who is facing an uphill battle for re-election in a deep red state that Trump is expected to carry with a landslide in November, said that the president “has got to prove to the American people — including me — that he’s up to the job for another four years.”


Meanwhile, an informal consensus seems to be forming among worried Democrat leaders that if Biden could be persuaded to stand down his campaign, the Democrat nomination would then be given once again by default to Kamala Harris, without a credible selection process.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial page has observed, “The backroom conversations are already underway about what to do if, or more likely when, Mr. Biden bows out. . . The establishment consensus is already forming that the only alternative is Vice President Kamala Harris.”

The editorial goes on to endorse the suggestion by South Carolina Congressman Clyburn that, “Democrats would do better to have an open contest [or ‘mini-primary’ for the nomination] and settle it at the convention, which would grip the world’s attention.

But,” the editorial notes sadly, “the establishment in a [Democrat] party that reveres identity politics will fear taking the nomination away from a minority woman. [Therefore], that argument is for another day. For now, the nation waits for Mr. Biden to take [heed of the worried call from his fellow Democrats to drop out of the race.]”




The Root Cause

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