• The Great Debate, Biden As El Cid

    July 1, 2024
    Screenshot, Joe Biden during 6/27/24 Presidential Debate

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    On June 27, Democrat President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump met in mortal combat during a “debate” led and moderated by two CNN reporters, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

    Seen through the eyes of the Biden team, the debate was an opportunity for the president to show that he was sharp and on point in defending his nearly four years in office. His campaign had been bedeviled by charges supported by news clips that he was off his game.

    Throughout the Biden presidency, Republicans had strongly suggested that Biden’s inept policies had led to a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, a porous southern border, a tripling of the cumulative inflation rate, and many other associated economic, cultural and political disturbances, all of them laid at the door of an incompetent administration that was intent on advancing a new progressive era in American politics. The President Barack Obama administration had begun the effort, and the Biden administration would haul it across the finish line, pronto.

    The never subtle Trump repeatedly put it this way during the Great Debate: “This guy is the worst president in history,” exclamation point!

    Democrats had hoped to knock Trump as the worst threat to democracy in U. S. history, forgetting for the moment both the history of the Civil War under the southern Confederacy and former Vice President Aaron Burr’s attempt to conquer Mexico and combine it with some southern states into a new nation more to the liking of Burr. Jefferson’s Vice President, it may be noted, was considerably more ambitious than Trump.

    Concerning all this, we may reach some firm if not final conclusions.

    1) The debate was not a debate but rather a much-hyped news conference, one of the most conclusive Biden has permitted during his presidency.

    2) Some thought CNN, because of its pro-progressive political bias, could not be fair to Trump. These were disappointed, the questions were fair enough, and both contestants were given space enough to hang themselves.

    3) In the end, the guerdon went to Trump. Even news outlets and commentators that earlier had crowded Biden’s corner, propping him up against accusations that he was physically impaired, were forced to acknowledge, post-debate, that  they had been misled by their own political proclivities. Post-debate, some previous Biden supporters were raising the possibility that he could and should be replaced as the Democrat Party challenger for the presidency.

    4) Trump supporters were delighted with the turn of events and could not help smirking, “We told you so.” By the way, there is nothing new in all this. Reliable political historians tell us that a nonpartisan media is the exception rather than the rule in American politics. So it was from the founding of political parties in the Adams-Jefferson presidential race to the Lincoln Douglas debates and beyond. During the Lincoln-Douglas Great Debates, the Republican press shamelessly supported Lincoln, and the Democrat press as shamelessly supported Douglas. These were real debates, not press availabilities.

    5) The CNN debate turned on political policies and character. Trump very likely is not Caligula. He was during the debate a live and responsive presence. Biden was dusted over with visible and audible infirmities.

    Before the debate, stout anti-Trumpist Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” said concerning the spry 81-year-old Biden, “The question is can -- we know Joe Biden can govern. I'll debate that issue and I will win. I will destroy anybody that wants to debate Joe Biden's record over the past 3 1/2 years. He can run the White House. He can run the country effectively despite the barrage of lies that constantly come at him like Donald Trump's lies last night, but can he run for president in 2024?"

    Immediately after the debate, a crestfallen Scarborough noted that Biden “tragically did not rise to the occasion last night." Biden had failed, following a full week of coaching, to respond to any of Trump’s manifest lies, according to Scarborough.  Biden spent “much of the night with his mouth agape and his eyes darting back and forth. He couldn't fact-check anything Donald Trump said. Not only that, he missed one lay-up after another."

    Within Democrat Party precincts, Biden has now become a problem and his rerun for the presidency highly problematic. The Biden we all saw during the debate was the Biden described in Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report as "a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” For this reason, Fox News reported hours after the debate, Hur wrote in his February report, “he would bring no criminal charges against the president after a months-long investigation into his improper retention of classified documents related to national security.”

    Here in Connecticut -- a state in which the Democrat Party controls all seats on the U. S. Congressional Delegation, all the Constitutional offices, the General Assembly and the governor’s office – the response to Biden’s failure to “rise to the occasion” was highly scripted and, as usual, leading Democrats were tossed softball question batted out of the park by Democrats who tend to value votes over a true assessment of problems.

    In fact, Biden closely resembles Democrat President Woodrow Wilson at the end of his presidency, a man who had strokes before he became president, even as Biden had a brain aneurysm February 1988. When Wilson’s incapacity to govern became common knowledge, his political wards tucked him away from public scrutiny. Wilson, who died of a massive heart attack in 1919 while attending a peace conference in Paris, was succeeded in office by Republican Warren Harding.

    Some on the Republican right have suggested that an El Cid presidency – provided Biden does defeat Trump in the upcoming 2024 presidential election – would greatly benefit Democrats, because a disabled Biden could then turn over the presidency to his Vice President, Kamala Harris, and the current Democrat neo-progressive power structure would remain intact.  According to legend, following his demise, El Cid’s wife Jimena ordered that his corpse be fitted with his armor and set on his horse, Babieca, to bolster the morale of his troops during the siege of Valencia.

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    Don Pesci

    Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.

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