July 5, 2024

The First Biden Post-Debate Test

 President Biden was interviewed earlier today by George Stephanopoulos, and the 22-minute unedited interchange was broadcast on ABC Television this evening. As I noted yesterday, this was an important test for Biden. Donald Trump declined to participate in a similar interview. He could afford to do so.

I think it fair to say that the president did not pass this crucial test with flying colors. I am reluctant to say he failed miserably, but I’m tempted.

We don’t expect the exuberance of Donald Trump from Joe Biden, of course, but Trump’s animation suggests a vigor that Biden’s performance did not.

At the beginning of the interview, Stephanopoulos asked about Biden’s debate performance. The president admitted that he had a bad night, that he was sick with a cold, and that he was distracted by Trump’s speaking after his opponent’s mic was shut off. Incredibly, Biden admitted that he has not watched video of the debate!

Stephanopoulos asked if Biden would take a cognitive test to reassure us of his mental competence. He responded that he is tested every day, by which he meant by his daily work as president. He gave no direct answer to Stephanopoulos’s question.

The president repeatedly spoke of his accomplishments in office and suggested briefly a few objectives for a second term—better health care and child care as well as tax reform, but his fundamental pitch was:

  1. “I’m still in good shape.”
  2. I know how to get things done.
  3. Donald Trump is a pathological liar.
  4. I beat Trump once; I’ll beat him again.

George Stephanopoulos asked Biden about his low poll numbers. Biden apparently doesn’t believe them. When asked what he would do if Democratic leaders came to him saying that he must step down. His response: that won’t happen.

Biden simply did not look like someone who would make a good president. His record is admirable, but he did not inspire confidence in his ability to continue executing the job of chief executive. He seems determined not to step down, however. When asked how he would feel if he lost and Democrats lost control of Congress. He said that he would feel that he did his best.

The question now: which two people should be on the 2024 Democratic ticket?

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