About Last Night…

The following is an editorial by Sarah Jones.

If you are someone concerned about the state of democracy under a potential Trump second term, last night probably upset you. Last night, President Joe Biden took the stage to face off against an infamous troll and he, like all of Trump’s opponents before him, didn’t fare well.

Biden came to the debate with a cold, so right off the bat his voice was so low it was hard to hear at times.

He ceded his time repeatedly, letting Trump dominate the discussion.

Biden struggles with a stutter. His cold and the format of short answers were both obstacles he was unable to overcome consistently, though he did well with answers on Roe, January 6th and Donald J Trump’s historical disrepute that has recently been enshrined via the legal system finding him liable for rape, being a con artist, and of course his 34 felonies and counting.

One of President Biden’s best moments was when he called Trump a whiner for not accepting his huge loss in 2020: “I doubt whether you’ll accept it because you’re such a whiner. The idea, if you lose again, you accept anything. You can’t stand the loss. Something snapped in you when you lost the last time.”

The President’s worst moment was when his stutter and cold seem to have taken the wind out of his sails and he, who has fought to protect Medicare (the Republican lie that he cut Medicare by billions has been debunked by experts) and has a plan to extend Medicare solvency permanently, jumbled his words, ending with, “We finally beat Medicare.”

That’s a line that you’ll be hearing replayed by conservatives for the next ten years, but that doesn’t make it accurate. It’s actually disturbing that this line will be used as a cudgel by people whose policies seek to undermine the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid. Trump’s policy advisers at Project 2025* make it clear that Trump would strip Medicaid and raise drug prices for those on Medicare if president again.

But Biden did several key things that Trump was unable or unwilling to do; Biden spoke about his own policies that have helped the American people, he made a valiant effort to remain honest, and he upheld democratic principles and norms even while Trump attacked his son Hunter Biden.

Those things should have been rewarded, but some of legacy media had already set the stage to make Joe Biden’s age the issue of this election and so instead of focusing on the fact that Joe Biden’s character remained true to the decent guy who wants to help people and feels compelled to stick to facts (with a Democratic agenda as a given), Biden was at a disadvantage.

Biden wasn’t at his best, but it’s also unfair to expect any candidate to fact-check a Gish galloping notorious liar during a debate — a feat even fact-checkers who aren’t on a stage trying to focus on their policy thoughts ever managed during Trump’s entire political career.

Why? Because Trump is the problem.

Trump spent his time on stage lying and smearing as cover for his refusal to discuss policy. Policy is the thing that is going to make an actual difference in voters’ lives, and they deserve to hear about it from candidates.

But instead, Trump, who bragged about being responsible for overturning Roe, then dodged accountability claiming everyone could just follow their heart.

This line shouldn’t be overlooked, Trump at least twice used the word “heart” during this debate, which is an age old political strategy to avoid accountability for actions by citing a mythical “heart.” Think of it as a murderer (or in this case, a convicted criminal) saying in court, “I have a good heart.” It’s meaningless, but it’s meant to diffuse and excuse harmful actions. It’s a Get Out of Jail Free card for deceitful people.

Project 2025 also lays out plans to take away women’s freedom nationwide by using the Comstock Act to “ban the mailing of drugs used in medication abortions, instruments and equipment used in surgical abortions and even information about abortion.”

So it was noteworthy to hear Trump lie about Roe saying “everyone wanted to get it back to the states… everybody, without exception, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives.” Trump then claimed he believed in exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, telling people to “Follow your heart,” as if women in states where abortion is banned can simply follow their “heart” if they want to live or not be medically tortured.

Perhaps something everyone in the media should be able to agree on is that Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the last election and his incitement of an attempted insurrection are way more problematic than anything Joe Biden has ever done.

When asked twice if he would accept the results of the election, Trump started to reveal some of his most noxious personality traits — a combination of perpetual persecution, delusion, and stunning immaturity. He could only agree to accept the results “if it’s a fair and legal and good election.” Oh, okay, but 2020 was the most secure election in modern history and Trump refused to accept that, so he continued to lie about the 2020 election, “But the fraud and everything else was ridiculous.”

So about last night… Biden was constrained by reality; Trump was free to lie so much he blamed Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol Police for 1/6.

This isn’t Biden’s fault nor is it CNN‘s fault.

Haven’t we had enough of blaming Trump’s victims for his behavior? Trump is unfit for the president. The fact that he was up there on that debate stage at all is the fault of the Republican Party, whose standards now reside beneath the dankest level of Hell alongside their alleged “conservative principles”.

President Biden needs to reassure voters that he’s got this via another State of the Union type performance, but none of us should lose sight of the fact that Donald Trump turned off swing voters in focus groups last night. That nausea you had while even thinking about watching this debate is not yours alone; it is shared by far more Americans than you can imagine.

If we look at last night as a litmus test as to which one of these people showed us they could handle being president, there is only one person standing — even given his weak performance. That person is Joe Biden. Like many incumbents before him, Biden had a bad debate. But a bad debate does not a bad president make.

Biden made this case for himself on Friday, admitting he doesn’t debate as well as he used to:

This president has shown us every day in his priorities that he is running this country with an expertise that only comes with age and experience.

*Project 2025 is the work product of Trump advisors, former Trump administration officials with the Heritage Foundation that is supported by over 100 Right-wing groups.

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