Opinion: SOS to Clinton and Obama: You Can End the Biden Nightmare after That Debate


I woke up yesterday morning and started making calls.

I had a 7.30 p.m. appearance on CNBC and a question to answer on a loosely floated topic: Do debates matter any more? I dialed national and local reporters, strategists, analysts, campaign veterans, winners and losers, Republicans and Democrats alike.

All had the same basic answer. This far out from election day, unless there is a major gaffe or a major punch landed, it’ll be forgotten within 48 hours—maybe less, given our proximity to the July 4th holiday.

And then, 9 p.m. rolled around. I met up with media friends—all from New York City—of differing political persuasions. We talked trash, but mostly commiserated about the state of the country and wondered aloud about how these two people—a sympathetic well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory and an adjudged sexual assaulter and criminal felon—could be our only choices. This is America after all. We grew up in an era raised on Wheatie commercials, expecting gold medals at the Olympics, and when we told Gorbachev to ‘tear down this wall’ we meant it, and he did it.

In the run up to Thursday’s debate the GOP, recalling and preemptively defending against President Biden’s visible strength and cogency at the State of the Union a mere four months ago, was on-message and on offense. Biden would be ‘juiced up,’ presumably on performance-enhancing drugs to get himself through the 90-minute long televised—and highly controlled—discussion.

Democrats mocked Republicans, feeling bullish that our 81-year-old nominee would replicate his past performance and overcome the very low bar set for him. It was, after all, our idea to debate this early.

And then, the ‘debate’ began.

And within 30 seconds it was over.

Biden’s pasty complexion coupled with his doddering and incoherent speech in the first answer sealed it. Blank faces with raised eyebrows darted around the table as cell phones began to explode with texts.

Jesus Christ, what is happening?

This feels like elder abuse.

My god, this is an unmitigated disaster…

Who prepped him? Who let him on stage looking like this?

How is it possible that Trump looks…presidential????

The verdict was swift and resounding, and as the meandering answers and long-faced, open-mouthed stares into space got worse, all I could think of were comments from longtime Obama adviser David Axelrod nearly seven months ago, “Only @JoeBiden can make this decision. If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s?”

At the time, I agreed with Axelrod, but watching the swift reaction of the Democratic establishment in tarring and feathering him as a traitor, I kept my feelings to myself. Seven months later, watching as the election was being handed to Donald Trump, I couldn’t stop thinking Axelrod was right and we all knew it.

The mixed political group I was with agreed to switch channels to MSNBC; if there was any network that would spin their best to frame the debate as even neutral for Biden it would be them.


The panel of far-left commentators resembled a funeral, as each, presumably wary of their own reputations, was forced to publicly articulate the undeniable reality: Joe Biden is not up to serving another four years. Donald Trump won the debate, handily. And the more the far-left media echo chamber continues to deny it the more complicit they are when the inevitable happens.

“Jesus Christ, what is happening? This looks like elder abuse”

So now what?

In 2020, there was a point in the spring where Andrew Cuomo was polling double digits ahead of Donald Trump, and was the far superior candidate to Joe Biden with the Democratic Party. Stories ping-ponged around the internet about a move to replace Biden with Cuomo on the ticket.

What people not in the inner sanctum of Democratic politics didn’t understand was that, while the move may have seemed smart and electorally sound, it was not only not seriously contemplated, it was never even discussed. The party was always going with the guy they voted for in the primary. And the same is true today.

The only way out would be for the party elders—in this case Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—to approach Biden and convince him that he has done his time. “You are a true patriot Joe, and the country will never forget that or you, but now it’s time to step aside…”

Let’s pretend in an imaginary world that happens. And scrappy Scranton Joe agrees. Then what?

Those unfamiliar with the inner workings of the Democratic Party may think it would be easy enough to swap him out for the best-polling alternative. They would be wrong.

A brokered convention would be a complicated political mess.

Kamala Harris—potentially the only person worse-positioned to run against Trump—would engage in an all-out campaign to capture the coveted slot. Gender and race politics would be at play. And a party already fractured by the ongoing geopolitical issues in the Middle East would be further splintered.

The only alternative would be for a party elder to pledge to step in for one term and allow an open primary four years from now, assuming that person wins. And even then: Who is that person?

This morning the Democratic Party is waking up with a collective hangover. The question has been answered; debates this far out can matter. Axelrod was right. Between that and the realization that, Biden being well past retirement age, Gatorade and Advil aren’t going to turn it around, we are faced with a question. Do we acknowledge the complicated politics of our party and change horses, or crawl back under the covers and pretend it was all a bad dream?

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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