Biden’s debate disaster: U.S. president freezes up against Trump

It was agony in Atlanta — for Joe Biden, for Democrats and for anyone around the world dreading another Donald Trump presidency.  

Because the chances of that happening just grew.

Biden appeared confused for an agonizing 14 seconds early on in a catastrophic moment that will enter the cringe-inducing annals in the history of presidential debates.

His voice raspy, his gaze distant, Biden’s early slip-ups immediately prompted chatter about whether the sitting president should withdraw from the race. It had Democrats eyeing the calendar and wondering whether Biden might step aside before their convention in two months, so delegates could pick a different nominee.

After the debate ended, there was hardly any need for a Republican on the post-event panels; the despondent Democrats were brutal enough, speculating about Biden dropping out.

“It’s not just panic; it’s pain,” Democratic analyst Van Jones said in a cri de coeur on CNN, right after Thursday’s debate ended.

“I love Joe Biden. I worked for Joe Biden … I love that guy. That’s a good man,” Jones said.

“[But] I think there’s a lot of people who are going to want to see him consider taking a different course now. We’re still far from our convention. And there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward, if he will allow us to do that.” 

In the generally friendly New York Times opinion section, columns carried headlines like, “President Biden, it’s time to drop out” and “Biden can not go on like this” and “President Biden is my friend. He must bow out of the race.” 

WATCH | Analyzing the U.S. presidential debate: 

Analyzing the 1st Biden-Trump presidential debate

CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault, Katie Simpson and Paul Hunter break down the U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Each candidate took aim at the other’s character and competence, but while Trump seemed confident and focused, Biden seemed to ramble and lose his train of thought in a shaky performance that has reinforced concerns about his age.

Biden’s performance distracted from Trump’s deficiencies

Former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill, over on MSNBC, also described herself as heartbroken. She couldn’t say whether Biden would remain the candidate and said she was being deluged with texts from terrified party donors and members of Congress.

Biden’s cognitive clunkers distracted from what ordinarily would have been the main post-debate story in any normal political era: Trump’s own deficiencies.

The former president made wild claims; he showed no contrition for his role in one of the darkest moments in American history — the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; and he wouldn’t say unequivocally whether he will accept the results of this election.

But a well-respected, non-partisan U.S. elections analyst argued that the damage here was unquestionable: Biden lost ground, Amy Walter said.

It was Biden who asked for this debate, months earlier than usual, because he was keen to reset the race, where he’s behind in most polls.

“Instead, only thing we’re talking about is Biden’s poor performance,” tweeted Walter, the editor-in-chief of the Cook Political Report.

“[The] biggest problem for Biden now is that his base/donors are going to be super depressed and worried.”

In other words, it’s time to panic now. Unless you’re rooting for Trump.

The opening moments of the debate, which tend to be the most watched, could easily have been a snapshot of the Biden presidency.

He’s racked up some historic wins, with one of the most successful legislative records in the modern era, with bills on infrastructure, green energy, reshoring high-tech manufacturing, lowering drug prices, gun control, expanding NATO and stimulating new jobs, which roared back after the pandemic. 

But he couldn’t explain one such win.

WATCH | Biden stumbles and Trump pounces:

Biden stumbles on health-care answer as Trump pounces

U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to lose his train of thought during a debate in Atlanta that aired on CNN with former president Donald Trump, saying, ‘Look, we finally beat Medicare.’ Trump responded by saying, ‘He beat it to death.’

14 cringe-inducing seconds

In a lapse unimaginable for most occupants of his office, Biden veered off course into a ditch of non sequiturs and failed to find the road again.

He was trying to remind viewers that Trump’s tax cuts had drained the public finances, piling on trillions in new debt (which is true); and that he, unlike Trump, wants tax hikes for billionaires.

He appeared to start making the point that tax hikes on billionaires could improve services for all Americans, correcting himself after he erroneously referred to trillionaires.

He couldn’t correct what came next: “With the COVID … Excuse me … Look.” There were painful pauses, the clock ticking, ticking, and Biden concluded with, “We finally beat Medicare.”

What he appeared to be referring to was how he beat the drug companies, forcing them to negotiate lower prices for seniors through the old-age Medicare program.

This was a historic achievement for a U.S. president. It’s just not clear how it connects to spending new tax revenue from billionaires, as it was a cost-saving measure.

There was a similar moment shortly thereafter. During an exchange about the surge in irregular migration across the southern border, Biden made dubious claims about the drop in crossings, then concluded in a trail of incomplete thoughts.

At this point, Trump started mocking his opponent’s cognitive state.

“I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence,” Trump said. “I don’t think he knows what he said, either.”

WATCH | Biden tells Trump he has the ‘morals of an alley cat’: 

Biden to Trump: ‘You have the morals of an alley cat’

After former U.S. president Donald Trump brought up the criminal conviction of Hunter Biden and accused U.S. President Joe Biden of interfering in the proceedings, Biden called Trump’s claims ‘outrageous’ and ‘simply a lie.’ Biden then brought up Trump’s ongoing criminal and civil legal issues.

Trump, meanwhile, hasn’t changed a bit

Trump’s own weaknesses have less to do with his age. Despite being only three years younger — 78 to Biden’s 81 — Trump hasn’t changed significantly, in appearance or in manner, since he first ran for president nearly a decade ago.

He exaggerated his own achievements, claiming the best economy in U.S. history under his watch. It was, in fact, a very good economy, until it collapsed during the pandemic, but by no major measure was it the best ever.

He also made wild accusations, calling Biden a criminal. Never mind that Trump himself is now a convict, faces scores more criminal charges, and has also been found liable for fraud and sexual assault — while his party has tried to investigate Biden for nearly two years and failed to find a reason to impeach him.

Trump also shrugged off an attempt to talk about Jan. 6. When the topic came up, he said only that the country was better off on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was still president.

He denied referring to military veterans as suckers and losers, which some of his former aides suggest he did; Biden, whose late son Beau was a veteran, expressed indignation: “You’re the sucker; you’re the loser,” he said.

WATCH | Trump on if he’ll accept the election results: 

Trump says he’ll accept 2024 results ‘if it’s a fair and legal and good election’

Former U.S. president Donald Trump was repeatedly asked during a debate in Atlanta that aired on CNN if he will accept the results of the 2024 presidential election. During his reply, Trump said he would — on certain conditions — before claiming he wasn’t going to run initially. ‘I would be very happy to be someplace else,’ he said.

Trump also wouldn’t promise to accept the next election results without caveats, a once-unthinkable thing for a major presidential candidate to say.

At this point Biden managed a rare, sharp jab on a substantive point: “I doubt you’ll accept it — because you’re such a whiner.”

But the debate devolved into an unseemly argument about physical vigour, about which man was a better golfer, and who was fit enough to carry his own golf bag.

This rumble between present-day and soon-to-be octogenarians might not be the debate America dreamed of; it is, however, the debate America got.

There is one thing this spectacle might have achieved, though: It might have reduced the chances that, come election day on Nov. 5, Donald Trump will be whining about the results.

“There is more than hand-wringing tonight,” McCaskill said on MSNBC. “I do think people feel like we are confronting a crisis.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Back To Top