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Debate, disaster, and dilemma



On Thursday (June 27), the Democrats played out their Big Gamble – and lost. “Resident” Joe Biden shuffled onto a stage for his much-promoted debate with the real President, Donald J. Trump. He had the rules stacked in his favor, including muting Trump’s microphone so he couldn’t interrupt. But because CNN insisted on offering a live stream to their legacy media buddies, they couldn’t delay the feed. Result: as time wore on, Biden faded quickly. By the end of the evening, he had all his legacy-media pundit friends suggesting he should bow out. That alone is a disaster from which their Party might never recover, and certainly won’t recover in time. Worse, it leaves them with a dilemma they might never solve.

How the debate went

His mere taking of the debate stage set the wrong tone. A candidate for President should stride onto the stage, head high, eyes front, ready to take on the world. (Which Presidents of the United States normally do all the time.) And his is a purposeful stride, the stride of a man who has places to go and things to do. Trump delivered that stride; Biden did not. He always shuffles, and he shuffled this time. The only thing he didn’t do was fall down.

Someone must have taught Donald Trump the patience of Job, because as the split-screen footage shows, Trump simply stood where he was, taking his adversary’s measure, and biding his time while Biden tried to speak. Yes, tried to speak. His voice came out raspier than that of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He didn’t quite lapse into his trademark word salad, but he came painfully close several times. Several times he seemed to forget his talking points. At one point Trump made this statement that said it all:

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

But the not-so-grand finale was the worst. His wife Jill, and a male employee, literally helped him down three steps at the foot of the stage. And they did it in front of millions of people.

Afterward, the Democrats put out this Lord Haw-Haw-ism:


Except, as Erick-Woods Erickson pointed out, the picture was from 2021.

Everyone cries “Disaster!”

The only person, besides the official Democratic X account, who tried to spin Biden’s debate performance positively, was Kamala Harris. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was having none of it, and said so – loudly – again for millions of people to hear.

Likewise, Van Jones actually called the debate “painful” to watch.

Philip Melancthion Wegmann said it best:

Biden said, “Watch me!” The country just did.

David Axelrod reported, before the night was out, that the Democratic leadership was panicking. (But even then, he and all other commentators on the left are living in a world of their own. More on that later.)


Most legacy media commentators reacted in shell shock, all of them admitting the bad performance, and the damage. “Joyless” Reid made an almost iconic statement from the dais at MSNBC.

The Washington Examiner embedded video of her pronouncements – and much else. Here is their partial transcript:

I was on the phone throughout much of the debate with Obamaworld people, with Democrats, with people who are political operatives, and with campaign operatives. My phone really never stopped buzzing throughout. And the universal reaction was somewhere approaching panic.

Biden, said Reid, had “one job” to do: to “reassure” his Party and base. Instead he showed himself incapable of carrying on any further.

CNN’s Kasie Hunt had this remarkably frank assessment:

And from Ben Rhodes:


Note: many suggested that Biden was on drugs, like Adderall®, a “mixed amphetamine salts” cocktail.

But Biden has delivered angry speeches before, and gotten through them. Witness his divisive September 2, 2022 speech. He didn’t need drugs; he was keyed up and full of adrenaline. But an adrenaline rush couldn’t last for 90 minutes, and didn’t. Adderall® normally lasts for hours, so he probably was not on that.

The dilemma(s)

For all that, the Democrats cannot replace Joe Biden even if they try. To be sure, many on the right are bragging that Joe Biden will not be the candidate anymore. Recall what Tom Ellsworth said in his X post embedding Kamala Harris’ laughable interview with Anderson Cooper:

If you don’t think DNC hot swap is going to be Gavin or Michelle you’re not paying attention.

One wag shared video of a Major League Baseball pitcher warming up and captioned it, “Gavin [Newsom] stretching in the bullpen.”

According to RealClearPolitics’ Susan Crabtree, a short list of replacements already exists. In addition to Newsom, she named Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), J. B. Pritzker (D-Ill.), and Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.). She also named Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. But would the Democrats consider her, after she lost a Big Case at the Supreme Court yesterday?


But Erick-Woods Erickson and Dr. Steve Turley both discounted any possibility of replacing Biden. Lay aside Erickson’s usual snidery against fellow conservative commentators. He raises these points that none can dispute. First, the only candidate who could somehow “inherit” Biden’s campaign cash (and credit) is Kamala Harris. The Democrats will not pick her; she is a raving maniac, and they know it. She’s also less popular even than Biden, if one can imagine that.

Second, by law and Convention rules, Biden’s delegates must vote for him on the first ballot. Only if he releases them will they vote any other way. And he will not release them. Did everyone think Hillary Clinton insisted it was her turn in 2016? Biden insists it’s his turn.

Debate or no, Biden is possibly deluded, definitely determined

Yesterday Biden was already trying to quash any talk of replace him. To do that, he conceded that he was off his game during the debate. He made those remarks at a post-debate rally in Raleigh, North Carolina. His wife, wearing a dark blue dress festooned all over with the word VOTE, flanked him.

Of course, Biden, and every other Democrat, are living in a world of their own. In their world, as James Carville has said in the titles of two books, they’re right, and we’re wrong. Everything they say is true; everything Trump says is a lie. Nothing and nobody will change that.

Barack Obama shared another concession that the debate was not what the Democrats wanted.


Switch the identities of the two candidates Barack Obama was talking about, and the above statement is true. That aside, no one wants to think of replacing Biden. Gavin Newsom made a big show of disclaiming any ambitions along that line:

I think it’s unhelpful – and I think it’s unnecessary. We’ve got to keep our head high, and as I say, we’ve got to have the back of this president. You don’t turn your back because of one performance. What kind of party does that?

Not that anyone would pick Gavin Newsom anyway. He has made a first-class jerk of himself, and every other Democratic governor knows it – and says it. He’s also gone further to the left than most rank-and-file Democrats want to go. Evidently his ridiculous abortion political ads didn’t help. (Furthermore, the U-Haul Truck Finder says it’s 2.5 to 3 times as expensive to rent one-way from Los Angeles, California, to New Braunfels, Texas, as to rent the other way.)

But what about RFK?

On the other hand, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., now an independent candidate, declared himself “open” to replacing Biden. That could be nothing more than presumptuous wishful thinking on his part. Too many Democrats think he has betrayed the legacy of Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. and his sons. (Of those sons, the only one to come close to current Democratic Party orthodoxy is RFK Jr.’s Uncle Ted.)

In fact, MSNBC panelists were desperately trying to persuade Biden to release his delegates. “Joyless” Reid talked about someone having sent her a copy of the rules. Nicole Wallace insisted a legal pathway did exist. But Rachel Maddow gave the hard truth: that will not happen. She went further, trying to get her fellow panelists to stop talking about it.

Indeed it’s too late, anyway, in a large number of States, as Charlie Kirk pointed out:


In Wisconsin, in particular, a nomination switch happens only in the event of death. Is Biden that close to death? No one knows. But if he dies, say hello to President Kalamity Kamala, Kamala the Maniac.

Advice for Trump

At the same time, whoever is advising Trump, gave him some bad advice for the debate. Holding his peace while Biden almost made word salad, and displayed his infirmity for all to see, was good advice. But holding back on “red meat issues” on the right – that was bad advice.

For instance, he expressed support for the Supreme Court’s “punt” on mifepristone, the abortifacient sent through the mail. That pill stays on the market, all right, but it is still illegal to send through the mail. For Trump to wink and nod while Biden refuses to enforce the Comstock Act (and Democrats introduce bills to repeal it), is inappropriate. Trump needs to own the issue, up front. If he doesn’t, he risks watching people stay home and sit on their hands. Especially since the Court has restrained some of Biden’s worst excesses in recent decisions. (Yes, Biden would retain the power of nomination, and yes, Justices Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito are getting old. But conservative voters aren’t thinking about that.)

More broadly, Trump needs to look forward, not backward. He should give voters – many of whom did vote for Biden, or sat on their hands in 2020 – a reason to vote for him. Furthermore, the same voters who took bribes from Democrats to give them their absentee ballots will do so again. Unless Trump gives them a reason not to – and the best reason is how he will “Make America Great Again.”

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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