The White House (
by Dan Burns
Jun 30, 2024, 1:00 PM

About that debate

I didn’t watch. I don’t watch Trump. Nauseating. In fact I never watch the debates. But I’ve seen plenty about this one.

There are no “winners” or “losers” in these contrived, all-but-scripted “debates” because the debates don’t matter. People, without necessarily even consciously realizing it, just take away from them what they want to take away. In this case, Trump fans are exulting in President Biden’s weak, tired display. So are corporate media Beltway Brain types desperate for a cliffhanger election lest they get caught up in the next round of corporate media “rightsizing.” Biden’s backers can point to Trump having been his inevitably raving, pathologically dishonest self, and consider that now corporate media might have a harder time covering for him. (But, see below). And the perpetual doom-and-gloom scaremonger crowd on the left certainly took away what they wanted, and have been running with it with all their might. I’m not sure what they think they’re accomplishing – it seems to me they’re largely just reinforcing the opposition’s narrative – but that’s their business, and what do I know anyway?*

(Like a lot of people I avoid the terms “lies” and “liar” unless I’m pretty sure the person is consciously aware he’s claiming to be true what he knows is false, or vice versa. In Trump’s case I believe that due to his malignant narcissism, delusional disorder, paranoia, and advancing dementia he honestly believes every insane thing he says. He is, by any reasonable standard, clinically insane.

(Perhaps corporate media will get around to noting that. After all, they’re potentially in for a very rough time, themselves, if Trump were to somehow slither and slime his way back into the White House, bent on “revenge.” But even if they do it won’t be for a while yet.)

So this one just reinforced existing narrative. President Biden will have plenty of chances to do better, and he probably will. (If he doesn’t, I certainly acknowledge that will be real cause for concern.) And in any case within a couple of weeks this will all be ancient history.

*I need to provide more explanation of my take on the doom-and-gloom crowd:

– Thanks to the in my opinion generally underestimated influence of negativity bias in human cognition, scaremonger-type appeals are what consistently work best for fundraising. Which is not online progressives’ fault. A lot of great work gets done on the progressive internet, and it costs money, and people gotta do what they gotta do.

– Due to their own combinations of nature plus nurture, some people – strike that, plenty of people – are just plain high-strung, wrapped tight, however you want to put it. Everything’s exaggerated, everything’s dramatic, and in political contexts every little setback is The End. Let’s just say they have a tendency to overreact. I’ve worked with such people, and I will say they keep you on your toes. It’s how they are, and I don’t judge. Though I will acknowledge that I’m glad I’m not that way.

– Many people tend to project out, consciously or not so much, to worse-case scenarios. That way if the worst does happen they’ll hopefully be ready for it, and if not, good deal. Of course in reality things rarely turn out as badly as the worst-case scenarios project (the current Israeli atrocity being a rare exception). Though they generally don’t turn out as well as the best-case scenarios project, either.

Comment from Mac Hall: I, too, did not watch it live … but read some of the reaction live … and then saw some of the clips … and Biden was worse then I thought possible. Heck, it was just in the middle of June that he was great in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel at a fundraiser in LA … held as he returned from the G7 summit in Italy … he had to be tired then, but was sharp in responding to questions.

Age is a factor … the job of the presidency is to be a decision-maker and have the experience and knowledge of what to do … the staff can implement the policy … so if Biden misspeaks that “we finally beat Medicare” instead of Covid that can be corrected by the staff … but when Trump said “don’t buy Goodyear tires” because the company would not allow employees to wear MAGA hats, he would not allow that to be corrected (and would be implemented by the MAGA-controlled House.) Or when President Trump shilled for Goya beans, that should scare any business.

IMO, Biden has done a great job and being term-limited he could make deals with Republicans that may not please the Democrats but could be good for the country.

That said, Biden would be a lame duck and would have to hand the baton unto others next cycle … why not encourage him to do that now ? We have all seen athletes who play longer than they should …. and does Biden want to be defeated in the Electoral College ? Does he want to be a one-term President (like Carter) or see the number of States that could win shrink to Mike Dukakis levels ?

Biden should quickly announce that after much soul searching and the personal attacks on his son, that he will release his delegates for an open convention. There is about seven weeks for candidates to visit states and participate in debates … that could energize voters. Trump is still Trump (thank goodness he sent in the National Guard to protect Minneapolis — just one of his many misstatements he made during the debate) … the Supreme Court will probably have an replacement (heck, there will be four over the age of 70 when the next inauguration takes place) and if Biden were to not seek another term, he could argue that others like the Supreme Court, McConnell, Grassley, Reich should go to (but that opens the question about Sanders, Durben, etc.) And the Congress could be controlled by Republicans next term with Trump as president or Biden having to fend off Republican impeachment efforts and a Senate that won’t confirm his cabinet.

This is not gonna be a pretty election … Trump’s voters are guaranteed … Biden’s are not … and people may not want to participate (which could hurt the Democrat chances for Congress) or cast votes for third-party candidates.

As much as I like Joe’s policies … it’s time to hand that baton off.

Comment from Joe Musich: Nicely done piece. I did not watch the debate. It was pretty predicable that CNN was going to fuck it up and they did. It was really three against one. Biden did not have a chance. Why the dems went for an early debate knowing Biden’s schedule is beyond understanding. I am not ready to write off Joe quite yet. But if he drops out I will gladly vote for Harris. After some thinking and anger over the incredibly poor quality of CNN debate structure seeing Harris at the top of the ticket would be more than acceptable.

Comment from Mac Hall: Does Angie Craig get a “Profiles In Courage” nomination for her call for Biden to end his re-election bid … or is this Erik Paulsen rejecting Trump in 2016 after the Access Hollywood tape ?

If you review Craig’s votes, she has many times bucked the party (especially on the southern wall/immigration issue – i.e. 14 Democrats joined all the Republicans to pass H.Res 957 Denouncing the Biden administration’s open-borders policies, condemning the national security and public safety crisis along the southwest border, and urging President Biden to end his administration’s open-borders policies

Craig explained her vote : “The border has become one of the top two issues in our district, and my vote was designed to send a message to the president and his administration that they must address it.It was a non-binding resolution, so in that sense for sure it was a messaging bill. There will be some who won’t like the bipartisan agreement coming out of the Senate and Mike Johnson may not bring it up in the House but I believe we must look at what we can do to ensure the border is both humane and secure.”

Craig won’t gain any votes for her stance on the border and will be attacked by her GOP challenger if Biden stays on the ticket, so I vote for a “Profile in Courage” nomination.

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