Biden Fails to Assuage Performance Fears

The big interview did little to ease doubts that he's up to another four years.

I watched President Biden’s interview with George Stephanopoulos via video delay just moments ago.

While certainly better than his debate performance, it did little to allay my sense that he has become a doddering old man.

We’ll see in the coming days how many Americans watched the interview or sound bytes from it and whether it moves the needle in the polling. But the initial reaction from media observers mirrors mine.

Fox News (“ABC News panel says Biden interview won’t ‘calm the nerves’ of ‘jittery Democrats’“):

“Look, Biden looked better and certainly more coherent than he looked during the debate, but there’s nothing in this interview that is calming nerves of jittery Democrats who fear that Joe Biden is on a trajectory to lose this race, to lose to Donald Trump,” ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl told Stephanopoulos after the interview. 

“In fact, for some of those people, the interview is raising new concerns, particularly the fact that he is unwilling or unaware of the fact that he is in a dire situation here regarding the campaign, that he is losing, in the view of many Democrats and frankly in the polls you cited, that he is losing to Donald Trump,” he said.

Karl added it was “alarming” when Biden said he would be content with a hypothetical defeat against former President Trump as long as he as he “gave it [his] all,” telling Stephanopoulos that a Biden ally reacted to him with a “wow.”

“The bottom line here: there was nothing in this interview that will force Joe Biden out of the race… but there’s also nothing in this interview that will calm the nerves of Democrats who are saying it’s time for him to get out,” Karl added. 

ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz said those Democrats she had texted insisted the interview “wasn’t as bad as they expected,” but added, “That’s a pretty low bar.”

The network’s congressional correspondent Rachel Scott told Stephanopoulos after hearing from Democratic lawmakers, they’re concerned that while the “dam hasn’t broken tonight,” “the bleeding has not stopped, either.”

“Another Democrat telling me, ‘Better, but not sure that is enough,’ that they need more than one interview, more than 22 minutes to prove that the president has the stamina to continue in this race and defeat Donald Trump,” Scott said before adding that the “movement” trying to remove Biden as the Democratic nomine “is growing.”

Yes, I know, Fox News. But this is an accurate description of the conversation, which I sampled myself. You can watch it yourself, if you haven’t already, in the video embedded above.

NYT (“Four Takeaways From Biden’s Post-Debate Interview“):

The president on Friday did not struggle to complete his thoughts the way he did at the debate. But at the same time he was not the smooth-talking senator of his youth, or even the same elder statesman whom the party entrusted four years ago to defeat former President Donald J. Trump.

[…]

He was in a defensive posture throughout, arguing that his past performance should be proof enough about his capacity in the future.

“It was a bad episode,” the president said. “No indication of any serious condition.”

He blamed exhaustion but also being so sick ahead of the debate that his doctors tested him for Covid-19. But what he would not agree to was any kind of neurological examination.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day, I have that test,” Mr. Biden said, suggesting that the job of the presidency was its own type of test. He declined repeatedly to sit for an independent exam.

[…]

Some of Mr. Biden’s answers were neither compelling nor cohesive.

He paused for multiple seconds early in the interview after Mr. Stephanopoulos asked what had gone wrong a week earlier.

[…]

The answer was meandering and circular, even if it was not as bad as his worst moments at the debate in Atlanta. But it was hardly a crisp and concise reassurance for members of his party squinting to imagine what a second debate with Mr. Trump might look like in September.

[…]

The reality that some of the president’s allies have come to accept is that nearly every Biden interview, public appearance or utterance for the foreseeable future is going to come under a harsh new spotlight.

[…]

Mr. Biden set an awfully high bar for what it would take for him to step aside.

“If the Lord Almighty comes down and tells me that, I might do that,” he said.

Mr. Biden repeatedly waved off polling that Mr. Stephanopoulos cited to show Mr. Biden’s weakness, including a 36 percent approval rating. “That’s not what our polls show,” Mr. Biden snapped. He said “all the pollsters” whom he speaks with tell him the race is a “tossup.”

It was not the words of a man ready to exit the stage.

As Mr. Biden said earlier in the day at a rally in Madison, Wis., “They’re trying to push me out of the race. Let me say this as clearly as I can: I’m staying in the race.”

When Mr. Stephanopoulos pressed him about the burbling discontent among Democratic elected officials, Mr. Biden shrugged it off. “I’ve seen it from the press,” he said.

Perhaps the most revealing answer came when Mr. Biden was asked about how he would feel if Mr. Trump were being sworn in as president in January.

“I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all, and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about,” Mr. Biden said.

The Hill did them one better, giving us “5 takeaways from President Biden’s big interview with George Stephanopoulos.

Biden’s meandering answers and overall demeanor in that clash magnified voters’ concerns about the mental acuity of the 81-year-old president. Some in his party have called on him to quit the race, and there are credible media reports that a more concerted push may come soon.

[…]

There were two dramatic possibilities for the interview. One was a seismic gaffe from Biden that would end his political career; the other, a performance so strong it would hush his detractors and stabilize his position.

Neither happened. There was nothing disastrous in Biden’s responses — and nothing so stellar as to quell the spreading discontent.

Biden did have some strong moments, prosecuting the case that Trump is a “congenital liar” more effectively than he did when standing mere feet from the former president last week.

He got off the defensive at other times too, as when he outlined some priorities for a second term, such as expanded health care and child care.

[…]

Biden is in such danger partly because the crisis keeps deepening.

On Friday, right before the interview was to air, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) became the fourth Democratic lawmaker to call for Biden to step aside.

[…]

Also Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) released a statement urging the president to “carefully evaluate whether he remains our best hope to defeat Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has begun trying to pull together a group of Democratic senators to ask Biden to withdraw.

[…]

ABC initially screened a short excerpt from the interview on “World News Tonight,” approximately 90 minutes before the full version aired in prime time.

The advance clip showed Biden pausing after Stephanopoulos asked him whether he had watched the debate afterward.

“I don’t think I did, no,” the president replied.

Axios (“‘He’s toast’: Biden’s ABC interview flops with Hill Democrats“):

What we’re hearing: “No one’s mind has been changed,” a House Democrat said, adding that a growing number of lawmakers agree “it’s time” for Biden to step aside and are “hoping to give him space to do this on his own.”

  • Another House Democrat said their colleagues feel Biden’s interview was “not impressive” and that “he’s toast” in November.
  • Said a third: “The interview hardly inspires confidence. It changes nothing.”
  • A fourth House Democrat said they were “shocked” by Biden’s “refusal to recognize reality” in terms of polling and his “failure to make an argument about why he wants a second term.”

The other side: The Biden campaign painted the interview as energetic and eloquent, arguing the president laid out a clear case for a second term.

  • Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said Biden did a “very good job” but that he wants to see an “extended live interview that focuses on where Biden plans to lead us over the next four years.”
  • More broadly, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) criticized colleagues who have pressed Biden to drop out as “undermining this incredible actual leader who has delivered real results for our country.”

Reality check: No matter how Biden performed, the interview was unlikely to significantly strengthen his standing on Capitol Hill, members told Axios ahead of time.

  • “Nobody thinks that having a decent interview is the end of the problem,” one House Democrat told Axios before the segment aired.

The bottom line: “It makes me wonder what the Biden campaign is thinking, to build up so much expectation around this interview … and then serve up a 22-minute mixed bag,” one House Democrat said.

  • “We needed more than that.”

Indeed.

To be clear: if my choice in November is between him and Donald Trump, I’ll vote for Biden without hesitation. A doddering old man with a team of competent handlers is preferable to a sociopath surrounded by sycophants. But a global superpower with 330 million citizens should be able to do better.

The President seems to be dug in, denying the reality that he’s losing the race along with his ability to perform. While the interview aired past his bed time, it was conducted early in the day while he was still fresh. This is likely as good as he gets.

It’s instructive that two of our great power allies, the UK and France, managed to call snap elections and conduct them in very short order. The former is already transitioning power to a new government and the second will decide their future this weekend. Alas, we are, to coin a phrase, a different democracy and have rules and structures in place that make rapid movements next to impossible. Despite there being enough time between now and November to run the UK election multiple times over, ballot deadlines are already past.

For reasons Steven Taylor has already laid out, the alternative to Biden as the Democratic nominee is likely Kamala Harris. I would much prefer the Joe Biden of 2008 or 2012—or even 2020—to her. But he is not walking through that door.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Watching Biden -Stephaopolis interview,
    Thought a good question would be:
    “If you were running against Haley, would you more open to dropping out?”

    IMO, Biden is running BECAUSE his opponent is so clearly awful.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: I would think the opposite. The stakes of losing to Haley are much lower, after all.

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  3. CSK says:

    If that was the “goodest” Biden could do…

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  4. Tony W says:

    I was disappointed to see such an ego in a man I previously considered to be quite humble. He came off as caring about himself and his own fortunes more than those of the country. It was not a good look, in my view. That kind of thing plays well with Republicans, but not so much with our folks.

    I have moved on to fully supporting his immediate resignation and putting Kamala Harris on the ticket as the incumbent.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    STEPHANOPOULOS: And if you stay in, and Trump is elected and everything you’re warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?

    BIDEN: I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about.

    No, that is not what this is about. It’s not about you, Joe, it’s about the survival of freedom in the United States.

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  6. stevecanyon says:

    I didn’t catch the full interview but in what I saw he seemed ok but old. I do see the goal post shifting in some articles from “not mentally fit” to “cannot win.” I’d also be willing to bet that many articles written about the interview were predetermined to be negative. I’ll wait for some polls on it to get a better read on how it really affected opinion.

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  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    The issue of Biden’s age wasn’t assuaged last night. The question of whether he can do the job and for how long, persists.

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  8. JKB says:

    Alas, we are, to coin a phrase, a different democracy and have rules and structures in place that make rapid movements next to impossible.

    Yes, being the only country where the People (eroded since FDR) are sovereign and not the Parliament (and career government functionaries) is frustrating to those who prefer rule by “experts”.

    Yes, yes, America sucks, we know, we know.

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  9. just nutha says:

    @JKB: Hmmm… Just yesterday, I was musing with Luddite that if The Founders™ were here with now they’d be saying “Do you get why we weren’t advocating universal suffrage now? [Pointing at cracker and JKB] You guys really believed that letting yahus like those two vote was a good idea? SMFH.”

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  10. @JKB:

    where the People… are sovereign

    So, you’ve come to doing away with the Electoral College, abolishing co-equality in the Senate, and installing proportional representation to elect an expanded House?

    Welcome to the club!

    (Seriously, no one who supports a system wherein the minority can choose the president, and wherein the minority can both block legislation on the regular in the Senate, as well shape the judiciary for decades to come has any right to talk about how they believe in “We the People”).

    Also, technically the Monarch is the sovereign in the UK, not the parliament–although the people have more power in the UK than in the US (although their electoral system is antiquated as well).

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  11. @JKB:

    Yes, yes, America sucks, we know, we know.

    Not the point at all, by the way.

    But just as I don’t want to travel by horse and buggy, do calculations via an abacus, have surgery without anesthetic/antibiotics, nor use an outhouse, there are good reasons to want innovations in human governance discovered over the last 2+ centuries should be deployed.

    Perhaps you would prefer to receive this comment via courier pigeon?

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  12. @Steven L. Taylor:

    (Seriously, no one who supports a system wherein the minority can choose the president, and wherein the minority can both block legislation on the regular in the Senate, as well shape the judiciary for decades to come has any right to talk about how they believe in “We the People”).

    Indeed, they believe in We, my people, not you people.

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  13. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    So, you’ve come to doing away with the Electoral College, abolishing co-equality in the Senate, and installing proportional representation to elect an expanded House?

    Thank you for writing this. I would also add doing away prison gerrymandering and having proportionally elected representitives (or at the very least, less biased district maps) to that list as well.

    Until such changes States have far more sovereignty than individuals.

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  14. Andy says:

    Yeah not reassuring for all kinds of reasons.

    The one thing he’s strong on is refusing to consider dropping out or even getting tests. I’ve seen this story before with both my sister and my dad, who were both adamant nothing was wrong with them. In my sister’s case we had to get the court involved which is how I became her court-appointed guardian. I then had to force her to move for her own safety which was one of the least pleasant experiences of my life.

    The only question now, IMO, is if the various players and elites in the party will be willing to force the issue with Biden.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    Biden said that he hadn’t watched the debate. I assume he is lying, and just didn’t want to go down that path, which is fine, I guess.

    His “I get a cognitive test every day” by virtue of doing the job was just not good. He needs to do something to assuage fears, and instead he is refusing to get checked out. It makes me think that he has some doubts he would pass it. (I would have liked a “tell you what, get Trump to do one too, and then yes”)

    He also lacked humility and vulnerability. This is the first time I have seen him not show any, and I don’t like it. Usually there’s a self-deprecating joke here, or an anecdote there. It’s what makes him likable and let’s you say “sure, he’s a mediocre speaker at best, but…”

    I was expecting him to say that he watched the debate later, it was awful, add a gentle laugh, say that he can see why people are concerned, and then be charming and competent. Maybe tell an insane story about Cornpop or cannibals or something. That did not happen.

    Instead he came across like an old man, angry that his kids have told him it’s time to hand in the car keys.

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  16. Skookum says:

    To me, the most devastating points in the interview was when he refuses to consider getting a cognitive test and says that he’ll know when to step aside when God tells him to.

    These are typical responses from a person who is not aware of their cognitive decline, in my experience.

    However, I read about Biden’s physician and he seems highly competent and principled. Hope so.

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  17. Jack says:

    I’m no Biden fan, at all. Not bright. Not the good guy as media portrays. A crook. But I have to say, this is very sad. Its the ultimate public, and unnecessary, spectacle. And its dangerous. Maybe its Biden’s personality. Maybe its his shrew of a wife. Or Hunter. I don’t know. But his advisors do not serve him well.

    The man did spend 50 years in public life, whatever one thinks of it. But this is what history will record. After the interview, on top of the debate, continuing supporters and willful denialists have to be looked at as the crass and immoral people they are.

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  18. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Whip that, uh, horse, Taylor! Whip it good.

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  19. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: My dad gave up the keys when he couldn’t figure out how to exit the parking lot at their favorite restaurant (roughly the size and layout of a typical convenience store lot). Even then, it took him a week or 3 to decide.

    Been there. Got the shirt, visor, and souvenir beer cozie.

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  20. just nutha says:

    @Jack: A rare, sympathetic statement of a sad situation, but you still had to follow with an inane, partisan hack dig. Sadder than Biden, even. SMH.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    @Jack:

    Maybe its his shrew of a wife.

    What makes you think she’s a shrew? Is it just misogyny, or is there an example of her shrew nature coming out?

    Which Democratic women aren’t shrews?

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  22. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: Yeah, I caught that too. Probably thinks that Melania “Who Gives a F*$# About Christmas” Trump, is not at all a shrew. I mean who stands by their husband when he’s in court? So boring!

    My guess is simple misogyny.

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  23. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    Melania is the most graceful, elegant, intelligent, beautiful, and stylish First Lady we’ve ever had. Ask any MAGA.

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  24. Andy says:

    Just one poll but Harris looks better than alternatives especially among key demographics. Still losing to Trump, but not by nearly as much.

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  25. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner:

    The stakes of losing to Haley are much lower, after all.

    IMO, the “stakes” are disassembly of the US democracy.
    I am significantly more fearful for the country of a Trump presidency, than of a Haley presidency.
    Were I in Biden’s shoes, and thought that there was an democrat that is had a better chance to defeat Trump, I might seriously consider dropping out. OTOH, if the Republican candidate were (for example) Haley, it would be easier to convince me that some another Democrat could win.
    The contest for the presidency out to be a contest for what’s best to preserve the US – not a contest of who has the grandest ego. YMMV

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  26. ptfe says:

    Dear Lord, our country’s leader is going to have to be taken aside and asked to give up the nuclear codes for everyone’s safety, and we’re going to be treated to the grim spectacle of several weeks of him simply refusing.

    Hope October Surprise 2024 (does it need to be September Surprise now, with all the absentee voting?) is bad for Trump because the public airing of this Democratic event cannot be good for the party.

    I’ll be voting for Biden or his replacement, but if it’s still Joe at that point, we’re fucked.

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  27. DK says:

    @Jack:

    After the interview, on top of the debate, continuing supporters and willful denialists have to be looked at as the crass and immoral people they are.

    “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
    – Convicted Felon Trump

    Donald Trump to Howard Stern: It’s okay to call my daughter a ‘piece of ass’

    “I did try and fuck her, she was married. I moved on her like a bitch. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. Grab them by the pussy.”
    – Rapist Trump

    Yeah, we all know how you Trump trash abhor crass immorality. Thanks for the lulz

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  28. CSK says:

    Biden said that he’ll drop out of the race if the Lord tells him to do so. Having not been raised in any religion at all, I’ve always been a bit puzzled by such comments.

    Tell me: Am I correct in suspecting that the Lord invariably tells you to do what you’d already planned to do? If so, does Biden plan to disobey a divine command?

    I’m confused. Please help me out here.

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  29. EddIeInCA says:

    Is it possible the media and the pundit class is out of touch with the average American?

    Biden Regains Some Ground Lost To Trump After Debate, Including in Swing States

    President Joe Biden regained some lost ground following his poor debate performance against Donald Trump, reducing the gap that had widened in multiple key swing states amid the fallout.

    On Saturday, Bloomberg/Morning Consult released a new poll showing Biden regaining against Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin. Moreover, Biden appeared to narrow Trump’s lead in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina.

    The survey also indicated Trump’s lead over Biden has shrunk to 2% across seven essential states with a lead of 47% to 45%. Per Bloomberg, this is the closest margin Biden has gained to overtaking Trump since October of last year, showing not only regaining lost ground but exceeding some pre-debate polling.

    So Biden is polling better than he was before the debate in several swing states.

    Hmmmm……

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  30. Slugger says:

    I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, but the President doesn’t pull a big wagon full of the country’s problems, and we are not dependent on his material strength. We saw how Trump handled Covid, and we see how Biden’s outfit has been handling things since. Trump is not an energetic young guy. If something serious happens to either of these guys, and I don’t see Trump as substantially less likely to have a problem, in my view the Biden will handle things better.

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  31. SenyorDave says:

    @DK: You don’t understand average Americans. Lots of guys want to hear a shock DJ refer to their daughter as a “piece of ass”. Isn’t that the whole point of having a daughter?
    And Epstein? What 50-year-old guy doesn’t appreciate a hot 13 year old?

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  32. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I think the Dems had best start vetting Veep candidates for Presidential nominee Harris; also start digging through Project 2025 for simple, easy-to-understand attack lines on Agent Orange. I think (as has been mentioned on another thread) the Democratic convention would be the right time for Biden to make a withdrawal speech and ask for maximum support for the new nominee.

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  33. wr says:

    @JKB: “Yes, being the only country where the People (eroded since FDR) are sovereign ”

    Yes, that darned voting rights act certainly lessened the sovereignty of “the people” — that is, the ones that JKB considers people.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: I took it as meaning barring a major, sudden health crisis or death.

    Or a burning bush, I guess.

    Isn’t that how God sends messages?

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  35. Bill Jempty says:

    From Yesterday’s New York Post

    A top Washington D.C. neurologist had a meeting with President Biden’s personal doctor at the White House earlier this year, visitor logs reviewed by The Post show.

    Dr. Kevin Cannard, a Parkinson’s disease expert at Walter Reed Medical Center, met with Dr. Kevin O’Connor, and two others at the White House residence clinic on Jan. 17, according to the records, which emerge as questions continue to swirl about the 81-year-old president’s mental health in the wake of his debate debacle last week with former President Trump.

    Dr. John E. Atwood, a cardiologist are Walter Reed, was also in the 5 P.M. meeting, the White House visitor logs show.

    Just another log on the fire.

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  36. DK says:

    @Gustopher:

    He also lacked humility and vulnerability. This is the first time I have seen him not show any, and I don’t like it. Usually there’s a self-deprecating joke here, or an anecdote there. It’s what makes him likable

    Yes, but: for others, Biden has also never been more sympathetic than he is today, as a national piñata facing a pile-on. He’s proved expert at manipulating empathy for his political advantage. And many are “feeling sorry” for Biden rn.

    Instead he came across like an old man, angry that his kids have told him it’s time to hand in the car keys.

    And this age group are the most consistent, reliable voters in our electore — unlike the Free Palestine kids. They’re the reason we have a gerontocracy: they turn out for each other. Biden already performs better with Boomers and Silents than any Democrat in recent history. If Biden insists on staying in, his campaign would be wise to attempt making them and others personally offended by the insensitive language coloring concerns about Biden’s age. To wit:

    Biden Narrows Gap With Trump in Swing States Despite Debate Loss (Bloomberg):

    The incumbent trails his GOP rival by just 2 points across key states, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult shows, even as three in 10 Democrats say he should leave the race…his best showing yet…even as voters offered withering appraisals of his debate performance…

    Each poll result like this will make Biden’s inner circle ignore potentially negative trends. I continue to believe only a total polling collapse will lead to Biden bowing out. But Diamond Joe, like his opponent Teflon Don, is a resilient old bugger.

    Morning Consult should have run numbers on how Harris fares in swing states.

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  37. Jack says:

    @just nutha:

    Nice try, Zero.

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  38. Jack says:

    @Gustopher:

    Hey, idiot. She’s his ultimate advisor. She’s really the one putting him through this grotesque public humiliation.

    Shame on you.

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  39. Bill Jempty says:

    @Gustopher:

    Isn’t that how God sends messages?

    I’d ask John Denver or George Burns but they both died 25-30 years ago.

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  40. Jack says:

    @DK:

    Read Raw Story much?

    I hear there is now some ginned up tie to Epstein. Pee tapes. Russia, Russia, Russia, anyone?

    Boy. Meat wolf. Now cry umpteen times.

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  41. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty: I don’t think this means anything other than that Biden is old, and is getting decent healthcare along with monitoring for potential problems. I would expect every 80 year old has a cardiologist. Even Dick Cheney had a cardiologist, and he didn’t have a heart.

    It could even be Biden getting prudently checked out before fully committing to a campaign.

    I know you’re very emotionally invested in “Biden is senile”, but you’re assigning specific meanings to pretty ordinary things.

    I would hope that Biden is quietly taking a little time in the very near future to get checked out.

    I suspect he is just old, and more in denial of how his terrible debate performance shook people’s confidence, rather than denial of a health problem. A “I do all this stuff, how dare anyone question my fitness” rather than a “everyone gets lost when they are finding their way back from the bathroom, right?”

    But I also expect the latter looks a lot like the former, even to the person in decline. So, where there is any doubt, get checked out.

    Maybe they will ask him “Mr. President, do you know who is President?”

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  42. Eusebio says:

    While the interview aired past his bed time, it was conducted early in the day while he was still fresh. This is likely as good as he gets.

    The interview was conducted later in the afternoon, in a middle school building where Biden had a campaign rally earlier that afternoon. I saw the latter part of that campaign speech and the meet-and-greet with the crowd, and he was fairly energetic. He talked and shook hands with a lot of people in the first two or three rows, and took a bunch of selfies with people’s phones. He looked like a natural handling phones and taking selfies, for what that’s worth.

    His low energy starting off the Stephanopolous interview was quite a contrast.

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  43. Gustopher says:

    @Jack: so, you have no explanation for why she is a shrew, and you cannot name any nonshrew Democratic women.

    Ok, plain and simple misogyny.

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  44. DK says:

    @EddIeInCA:

    Is it possible the media and the pundit class is out of touch with the average American?

    I mean yes, obviously lol

    But not necessarily on concerns about Biden’s age. They are out of touch in terms of their relative unconcern about Trump and Republican extremism. Despite his flaws, Biden is still running against Project 2025, a corrupt and unpopular far right Supreme Court majority, and Trump — a deranged rapist who said he’d be a dictator on day one. The elite media is concerned about Biden’s age for revenue and scalp-collection purposes. Outside of MAGA, the rest of us are concerned about Biden’s age because we don’t want Hitler With a Fake Tan to win. It’s not the same.

    Also, voicing these legitimate concerns in a serious and sober way is not the same as hysterical, groupthink ageism. The latter is good way to generate empathy for a stubborn old man.

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  45. Gustopher says:

    @Eusebio:

    His low energy starting off the Stephanopolous interview was quite a contrast.

    I think he was trying to look Presidential and respectable for the interview. Biden has always been better when he lets his guard down and just wings it.

    I’m a firm believer in “Let Joe be Joe” because he’s always been pretty good when he has done so. He’s a man whose most favorably quoted line is a hot-mike “this is a big fucking deal.”

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  46. DK says:

    @Jack:

    I hear there is now some ginned up tie to Epstein.

    Fact Check: Did Donald Trump Call Jeffrey Epstein a ‘Terrific Guy’?

    True:

    “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” – Donald The Pedophile Felon Trump

    Meet your perverted, crotchgrabbing, Epstein-bestie rapist hero. Vomit.

    Now keep raging that everyone here recognizes you Trump trash as lying hypocrites in love with crass immorality. As do the voters who caused gross pedo pig Trump to lose the popular vote twice.

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  47. just nutha says:

    @CSK: What you’re describing/asking about is my experience with what happens when people claim to be hearing “the voice of The Lord.” I’ve tended to be cautious about the topic. If The Bible is any guide, God doesn’t seem to talk to all that many people, and I whether one should run/refrain from running for office doesn’t appear to be a likely topic.

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  48. Bill Jempty says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t think this means anything other than that Biden is old, and is getting decent healthcare along with monitoring for potential problems. I would expect every 80 year old has a cardiologist. Even Dick Cheney had a cardiologist, and he didn’t have a heart.

    Gustopher, I understand the need to see a cardiologist. I’ve been in the care of one for 16 years or since I was 47.

    The Parkinsons/Neurologist consultation is a whole other matter.

    More than a few commenters here think I’m nuts. My neurologist ordered my head to be x-rayed. Nothing was found.

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  49. DK says:

    @Jack:

    Russia, Russia, Russia, anyone?

    Rapist, pedophile, and convicted felon Trump publicly called for Russia to meddle in our election. His campaign met Russian spies in Trump Tower. And, now, Trump 2016 camapaign chair Manafort has admitted giving data to Russians.

    Trump passed sensitive Israel intel to Russia, an ally of Hamas — then publicly defended doing so. He wrote love letters to communist North Korea and sent a terrorist mob to the Capitol addled on sore loser election lies. And now Trump says he wouldn’t care if Putin attacks Europe.

    We use to hang traitors, not make them three-time Republican presidential nominee. We use to do a lot of bad things, but that was one thing we did right.

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  50. Jen says:

    @EddIeInCA: See, this is just what I suspected was going on.

    Campaigns–at least well-run ones–do not flake out after a bad debate. They look at numbers, and I’m guessing their internals were showing some of this. I don’t know who leaked what when that Andy linked to in another thread, but there’s clearly conflicting numbers–and if swing states are polling better post-debate, people need to calm down, (in the words of herself, by that I mean Taylor Swift).

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  51. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    Damned if I know how God sends messages. That’s why I asked the question.

    I will say that I’ve observed that when people say they prayed and God told them what to do, what God wants them to do invariably profits or benefits them in some way.

    Thus you get:
    “I prayed and God told me not to donate to the homeless.”
    “I prayed and God told me not to not to my neighbor a lift to her doctor’s appointment.

    Yes, I’ve actually heard those. Not often, happily. But once is enough.

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  52. Eusebio says:

    I watched the interview when it aired at 8:00 EDT, and there were two moments that had me yelling at the screen.

    The first was when Biden said he’d been distracted during the debate by Trump still yelling after his mic was muted. I mean, no shit. The mic muting was a stupid idea before the debate, and the two podiums were ridiculously close together. The Biden campaign should’ve known that Trump would be blathering while Biden was trying to speak. The mics did not pick up any sound beyond the speaker’s podium, which meant that viewers couldn’t hear the distraction, and I don’t believe the moderators asked either candidate to stop interrupting. Not that any of this excuses Biden’s poor performance, but it was a lousy debate design that naturally favored the one prone to spew BS.

    The other was the dreadful “as long as I gave it my all” response.

    As for the comments that Biden is so out of it that he’s unable recognize he needs to step aside, I think it’s more a matter of standard politics and PR… Do not even hint that you might change your position, or that change will be the new story.

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  53. PT says:

    @Jen:

    If swing states are polling better post-debate, then I will indeed calm down a bit.

    ETA: Maybe no more interviews or debates though.

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  54. DK says:

    @Jen:

    and if swing states are polling better post-debate, people need to calm down, (in the words of herself, by that I mean Taylor Swift).

    It’s just one not-so-terrible poll, cutting against conventional wisdom. But that’s the point: there’s not enough consistent data yet either way for the folks Biden might listen to try and push him out. If Biden’s polling collapses, okay. If not, then it becomes more complex because of ballot access headaches and the fact Biden’s replacement would need to defeat not just Trump, but sexism tinged with racism.

    To the extent there are Democratic power brokers lying in wait, they’re probably watching a bit for more polling data. That’s wiser than making decisions from media-driven pile-on hysterics and anonymous source handwringing.

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  55. charontwo says:

    @CSK:

    He continued by saying that won’t happen – just a sarcastic way of saying na ga hoppen.

    He kows the Lord does not do that, using that as an example of something that won’t happen.

    ETA: People are reading it differently than his intended message.

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  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    James, 9 times out of 10 (I am being generous) people see what they expect (want?) to see.

    As to what happens next, sometimes these things take on a life of their own. Tomorrow, Joe Biden could rise up into the sky just by raising his arms and smite all of our foes and that would not not be good enough for some, maybe not even a majority.

    At this point the media has been flogging the “Joe is old” horse for so long, reality has ceased to matter.

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  57. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    The Parkinsons/Neurologist consultation is a whole other matter.

    The dude had a massive brain aneurism a couple decades ago. I think it’s very plausible that there’s a semi-regular neurologist consult.

    Your theory regarding the January doctor visits is that they found something, are covering it up, and he decided to run anyway. (Or “they” decided to run him) Do I have that right? Because that’s the only way January doctor visits could be relevant.

    Have we ever seen anything in Biden’s past behavior that would suggest he would act that way? He didn’t run in 2016 because his kid had recently died and he wasn’t up to it.

    Maybe the dude has begun to decline mentally. I don’t know. But, it’s far more likely that this would be a recent development than that he would knowingly hide it and run anyway. He’s old. Old people can decline quickly, and what wasn’t noticeable in January might be more noticeable in July. Especially after a trip, and a medium illness.

    Or maybe he was just tired and a little sick.

    ——
    By the way, I would have much rather he answered Stephanopoulos’s “Have you been checked by a neurologist for cognitive decline?” question with “Of course, I’m 40 billion years old, and we check for a bunch of things every few months to make sure I’m not slipping because an impaired President would be a disaster. I just don’t brag about passing the most basic competency test like my opponent does.” Because at 40 billion years old, that should be the policy.

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  58. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Presidents do 4 jobs:

    1 Commander in Chief
    2 Head of State
    3 Executive Branch CEO
    4 Head of Party

    Biden is very high performing by objectives measures at the 1st three. He absolutely sucks as Head of the Democratic Party.

    Ironically, White Democrats, the group that preaches Country over Party, want to fire Biden for his performance at job number 4.

    Make it make sense Sway—

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  59. PT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Speaking for myself only: I’m just using my eyes, mate. It’s alarming and not what I want to see. There will be no smiting tomorrow, and this isn’t the same ole same ole’ media flogging. Or maybe it would be anyway with any 80 year old candidate (perhaps that should be instructive?).

    Anyway, may there be more positive polling data tomorrow. Please. I’d be happy with another four years of a Biden staffed administration. Certainly miles (light years) better than the alternative.

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  60. SenyorDave says:

    Bottom line is that it is disturbing that my candidate is slightly behind, and his main way to come from behind seems to be emphasizing that his opponent is horrible, not that our guy is great. Biden’s been a very good POTUS, his people are on the whole very good, but his debate performance has become the 800 lb gorilla in the room.

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  61. SenyorDave says:

    @DK: You can bet that the Biden camp has dropped some serious money on internal polling in the swing states. The internal polling is much more accurate on a statistical basis than the newspapers and even the Gallup polls. These polls will get a much more representative sample (and cost far more) than the polls you read about.

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  62. Tony W says:

    @Andy: Harris is losing to Trump in the polls, but that’s before we get to see a debate where she absolutely shreds him to pieces, and before we have a campaign in which she is free to challenge him however she wants.

    My guess is that the kid gloves come off when Harris is in charge, and it will be a sight to behold.

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  63. Fog says:

    First, I wish someone here would tell me how Biden’s performance as President is evidence of clear cognitive decline. Where are all the missteps and blunders in the execution of his policies? I’m with DeD here. If the argument is Well, he’s been doing great but he looks bad on TV, I would ask for more.
    And if you say “But it can happen quickly.” I would say that you’re attempting to predict the future.
    Second, Project 2025 is the predictable outcome of any fascist takeover. Simply replace everyone in a key government job with people whose only necessary talent is to do what they are told – with sufficient enthusiasm. Down here in Florida we call it Project Ladapo after the outstanding example. The chief medical officer in Florida is an anti-vaxxer.

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  64. TheRyGuy says:

    To be clear: if my choice in November is between him and Donald Trump, I’ll vote for Biden without hesitation.

    Which is why James Joyner is the real threat to democracy, not Donald Trump.

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  65. Matt Bernius says:

    @TheRyGuy:
    Seriously, what did James ever do to you to create this fixation?

    And by the way, I also sign onto James’ statement (as a lot of us).

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  66. DK says:

    @TheRyGuy:

    Which is why James Joyner is the real threat to democracy, not Donald Trump.

    But did James Joyner hang out with Jeff Epstein for 20 years, admit on national broadcasts sexual attraction to his daughter, be found civilly liable for rape, be convicted if 34 felonies, or send a terrorist mob to the Capitol like Trump did?

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