Joe Biden Rolls the Dice

Well that’s a surprise. Joe Biden is up to debate Donald Trump, not once but twice. There are conditions — no audience, a network studio, dead-mike time limits, and more — but against all expectations he has agreed to share the stage with the man who called him a moron at least a dozen times during that monster rally on the Jersey Shore last weekend. The Oval Office keepers even produced a snippy video of the President coming on like Dirty Harry, including a squinty “make my day” you just knew was coming. More disconcerting than a withered old man’s B-movie belligerence were the edits: five sudden cut-and-jumps. If it required that many takes (maybe more, who knows?) to assemble just 14.2 seconds of footage of Biden throwing down his gauntlet, a full hour of stumbling bravado in the debates’ spotlight promises to make for entertaining viewing.

Well that’s what Donald Trump is hoping and, surprisingly, the Democrat establishment’s truest believers are also keen to see their man at a debate lectern. Brave, valiant Joe rising to the moment, he’ll give Trump a dose of what sent Corn Pop packing! It’s likely, feeble-mindedness being distressingly common in the general population and especially so in  election years, that at least a few diehard Democrats actually believe an elderly gentleman with a poor memory, as special counsel Robert Hur recently described the President, could turn in a winning performance. Their hopes are heightened by memories of the last time, in 2020, the pair faced off and Biden acquitted himself if not with aplomb but at least coherence. The litany of lies he shot back at a snaky Trump, even more boorish than usual, didn’t count against him on the night. When Trump bored in with Hunter Biden’s ‘laptop from hell‘, Biden countered with the “51 former intelligence officials“, their signatures and support rounded up by his very own White House aides, who said it was all a Russian scam. Trump’s efforts to make his point about Biden Family Inc’s influence-peddling came to nought as Biden spat contempt and moderators barked interruptions about the need to forget the laptop and hear the candidates’ thoughts “on race”.

But all that was four years ago and Biden is but a shell of the shell of the man he was then, a decline confirmed by the White House’s rearguard action against the release of the audio record of Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Hur, whose brief it was to determine if he illegally retained classified documents — the same crime for which Trump has been charged — from his time as Obama’s vice-president. Hur reported that, yes, Biden clearly broke the law, not least by disclosing the documents’ contents to unauthorised third parties, but he had also become so mentally enfeebled there would be no point in prosecuting him. Too far gone to appear in court but, according to Democrat supporters, entirely capable of leading the Free World. These are strange days in America.

This week, twice, when quizzed by friendly media, the only sort he will deal with, Biden insisted inflation was running at 9 per cent when he took office. The actual figure Trump bequeathed him was 1.4 per cent, but having been no doubt gently corrected by his keepers, an unchastened Biden immediately repeated the claim and recast recent history all over again. The gaffes and fantasies — his poignant assertion that son Beau died in Middle East combat, for example, when it was cancer in a Bethesda hospital with his forgetful father at the bedside — are so commonplace the shamefully sympathetic media simply ignores them. Instead, pathetically and predictably, it prefers to focus the distorting lens of its coverage on Trump. The headline below actually appeared this week in the New York Times, a newspaper that fancies itself as America’s journal of record.

The Times was at it again this morning (May 17 in the US) when reporting, sort of, the mislabelled ‘hush money’ trial in lower Manhattan, where the prosecution’s star witness, Michael Cohen, and his credibility have been methodically and thoroughly shredded. After hours of relatively gentle prompts to admit he has lied to other courts and the US Congress, stolen from clients and diddled the tax man at every opportunity, Trump’s lead counsel, Todd Blanche, brought down the hammer with such force that courtroom observers reported jurors were briefly open-mouthed.

Cohen’s claim and a key plank in the prosecution’s case is that he contacted Trump via the mogul’s bodyguard to report mattress actress Stormy Daniels had accepted a $130,000 payout to deny a brief affair at a 2006 golf tournament and that her lips, unusual for a porn star, were sealed. There was a record of just such a call having been placed, and the prosecution had listed this entry in the phone’s log as an exhibit to help demonstrate the fanciful legal theory that plying a harlot with cash is actually a violation of federal election laws. If voters knew about the one-night stand, the argument cooked up by Democrat Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg maintains, many more would have voted for Hillary Clinton, hence Trump is guilty of election tampering. That Bragg has no jurisdiction to enforce federal election laws and that he has not specified which particular statute was allegedly violated did not stop the curtain going up four weeks ago on the surreal circus that has ensued. Judge Juan Merchan’s donations to Democrat candidates haven’t scuttled this courtroom farce, nor has his daughter, a Democrat National Committee operative, raising some $90 million in donations with direct-mail solicitations predicting catastrophe for American democracy if Trump isn’t locked up.

Late on Thursday afternoon Blanche delivered the killer blow. Having obtained additional text messages between the bodyguard and Cohen which the prosecution had made a point to keep from the defence, it emerged that Cohen had contacted Trump’s office because — wait for it — a 14-year-old phone prankster had been peppering him with nuisance calls. The conversation lasted barely 90 seconds, which makes it all but impossible to accept Trump could have been on the other end. There simply wasn’t time to explain the prank calls to the bodyguard, then be transferred to Trump so the nondisclosure pact’s details could be explained. Cohen, the defence thundered, was lying yet again. At the New York Times, however, what would have been a fatal, trial-ending blow if brought to light before any judge but this one, it was reckoned a draw.  “Trump’s lawyer matches wits with Cohen“, said the headline. The word “match” in the Times’ dictionary has a rather more expansive definition that that of the Oxford and Webster’s.


THE MEDIUM, said Marshall McLuhan, “is the message”. Well this year, even more than most, it’s Mark Twain who is the more relevant. History, he observed, might or might not repeat itself, “but it often rhymes”. For a stumbling and often incomprehensible President, the medium has been not the message but the massage. In saying he is prepared to debate, Biden stunned fellow Democrats, especially ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who urged Biden not to share the stage with Trump. She had been saying for months that the 45th President is such a low sort, such a threat to the Republic, he must be shunned by all decent people. Other Democrats echoed the sentiment, never admitting the better reason to spurn a one-on-one is Biden’s mental degeneration.

What changed all that and prompted Biden’s laughably macho acceptance of his challenger’s invitation is the polls. Were an election to be held right now, and allowing that ballot-harvesting, cemetery voters and tallyroom magic — cheating, in other words — are no worse than in 2020, when it was indeed bad, Trump would win. If feet-on-the-ground proof is needed, look to the rally on the beach in Wildwood, NJ. The official crowd estimate — not Trump’s, that of the local police — came in at a staggering 100,000-plus (clip below). And this was in New Jersey, a blue state that should be a Biden no-brainer. The numbers from the key battlegrounds confirm that what is happening in the Sopranos state is no local anomaly, with Biden leading in only one swing state, Michigan, and there only by a single point.

Worse, blacks are straying from the Democrat reservation. It has been a rare Republican presidential contender who claimed more than ten per cent of the black vote. Today, depending on which poll you favour, Trump is pulling as much as 35 per cent in black electorates. With Democrats such as James Carville and David Axelrod, the duo that did so much to put Bill Clinton and Obama in the White House, saying a November 5 wipeout is inevitable unless Biden regains lost ground, the debate challenge must be seen for what it is, a desperation move — albeit with some home-field advantages baked into the debate conditions Biden advanced and Trump accepted.

The first debate, to be hosted by CNN on June 27, will be “moderated” by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, neither of the pair a Trump fan. Tapper is an unrestrained critic and unrepentantant spruiker of the Russiagate hoax, more recently warning that the challenger might well put his opponents in concentration camps should Americans be unwise enough to elect him. Ms Bash is sympatico with that view, memorably celebrating Biden’s 2020 victory with the quip that “America’s four-year nightmare is over.” That Trump accepted those conditions and these interlocutors came almost as much of a surprise as the invitation to debate itself, but so far there has been nothing from him by way of whining or complaint.

All Biden needs do is keep it together for 60 minutes, long enough to recite what will be well rehearsed attacks and responses, his hand-picked moderators standing ready to render the assistance of distraction and interruption when he goes vague or gets the wobbles. If Biden is lucky, Trump might even be a convicted felon by that stage, given that the Manhattan jury will likely retire next week to mull its verdict. 

The other factor in Biden’s favour, as his keepers and handlers must be hoping, is that Trump will be Trump, always with the insults, accusations and abuse. That was how he handled the debates of four years ago and it didn’t do him any good. Without exception, the post-debate polls showed him down a few points. Americans aren’t too keen on Biden at the moment, but good manners — well, reasonably good manners — still count in the judging of political aspirants’ merits.

And if Trump keeps his cool, rises above the CNN duo’s loaded questions, looks “presidential” and foils Biden’s gamble in rolling the debate dice? Well, the second of their encounters will be done and dusted well before Democrats gather in Chicago for their August convention. That leaves plenty of time for the party powerbrokers to find a replacement, just as Trump has long predicted they will.

UPDATE: If Democrats do move against Joe Biden in Chicago and he declines to bow out of the presidential race, this Wall Street Journal backgrounder lays out one tool they might well employ to winkle him from the ticket.


8 thoughts on “Joe Biden Rolls the Dice

  • nfw says:

    Biden won’t be so much entertaining viewing as entertaining whineing.

  • Adelagado says:

    If Trump isn’t dead or jailed before the debate, the CIA will drug him into a stupor or a rambling maniac.
    Or it will be such a massacre that even old Joe will get the message that he has to step aside and hand the running to Michelle O, the Dems preferred candidate.

  • Dallas Beaufort says:

    Joe Biden’s going for the sorry, forgiveness, sympathy vote, Handle with care. Yellow ribbon.

  • GG says:

    UPDATE #2: In the hours since this article was published, Trump has upped the ante.
    He is demanding that both debates undergo a drugs test just prior to the debate, and he wasn’t joking.
    This completely corners Biden, who if he says no, reveals that before speaking he’s on a cocktail of anti-dementia meds (Donepezil, Rivastigmine etc), Adderal and very likely, cocaine; or if he agrees, all is revealed.

    • Lewis P Buckingham says:

      This could get tricky.
      If JB agreed they would have to still agree on the phlebotomists and labs.
      In the racing greyhound industry there have been occasions of sample substitution.
      Alternative a false positive could destroy a candidate’s career, including T’s.
      But then, if JB is actually on medications to keep him fit and healthy, should he not be congratulated,
      despite political fallout.
      This is either ambit or very high stakes.

  • Watchman Williams says:

    It defies reality to believe that the Democrats will yield the White House up to Trump. If 2020 was a cooked result, you can rest assured that it will pale into insignificance against 2024.
    There is too much at stake, for ALL crooked politicians, both Republican and Democrat, to allow Trump another opportunity to drain the swamp.
    The true nature and character of politics in the U.S., Australia and much of the West, is fascism, that is, absolute rulership by a self anointed elite. The notion of consent of the governed is now considered irrelevant naivety.
    How else do you explain Anthony Albanese as Prime Minister on 33% of the vote.

  • en passant says:

    Biden will deliver an incoherent word salad at best.

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