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Thoughts on Biden's interview with George Stephanopoulos

It’s hard to see how Democrats tuning in to George Stephanopoulos’s interview with President Biden could come away encouraged.

Biden was not as bad as he was during the debate (a low bar), but in no way did he make the debate seem like a one-off event — giving faltering answers that were incoherent at times. He also seemed completely oblivious to how behind he is in the race as well as to the mounting concerns of Democrats. 

While Biden insisted that the debate was a “bad episode” because he was “exhausted” from foreign travel nearly two weeks before the debate, and some sort of bad cold (which his campaign did not mention until the middle of the disastrous debate), his answers demonstrated the same inability to finish one thought before moving on to the next one. 

For example, when asked whether he knew during the debate whether it was going poorly, he said:

Yeah, look. The whole way I prepared, nobody’s fault, mine. Nobody’s fault but mine. I– I prepared what I usually would do sitting down as I did come back with foreign leaders or National Security Council for explicit detail. And I realized– partway through that, you know, all– I get quoted the New York Times had me down, ten points before the debate, nine now, or whatever the hell it is. The fact of the matter is, what I looked at is that he also lied 28 times. I couldn’t– I mean, the way the debate ran, not– my fault, nobody else’s fault, no one else’s fault.

So to sum up, he starts off seemingly wanting to make a point about being briefed with too many details. But before finishing that thought, he mentions some nonexistent New York Times poll that had him down ten points. Then he starts talking about Donald Trump lying 28 times. He also twice repeats the fact that it was only his fault, evidently a talking point meant to avoid the perception he was blaming his staff. 

He also did not seem to recall whether he watched the debate afterward, stating, “I don’t think I did, no.”

Biden refused to agree to an independent cognitive or neurological exam, claiming the presidency was itself a daily exam.

Unchallenged, he rattled off a series of supposed accomplishments that he didn’t really accomplish.

He boasted of Middle East peace, but fighting in Gaza continues with Hamas still in power and holding hostages and Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel still threatening a regional war with Iran. He said, “I’m the guy that shut Putin down” — even as Russian troops are still in vast parts of Ukraine. He took credit for expanding NATO, even though that was only caused by countries reacting in fear of the very Russian aggression that Biden claimed to have “shut down.”

He dismissed polls showing him at 36 percent approval and trailing Trump as unreliable. Asked how he would turn the campaign around, he pointed to the rally he had this afternoon in Wisconsin. “How many people draw crowds like I drew?” Biden asked. When Stephanopoulos noted that Trump draws massive crowds, Biden suddenly dismissed the importance of crowd size. “You can draw a big crowd, but what does he say?” 

He also dismissed the idea that there were any elected Democrats who wanted him to step aside, claiming it was only the media.

Ultimately, Biden said that the only way he would drop out of the race is if “the Lord Almighty comes down” and told him to.

The level of denial is not likely to calm the nerves of Democrats, who both in private and increasingly publicly have been asking for an acknowledgement that the campaign is in trouble and in need of a course correction.

But with Biden in control of about 99 percent of delegates to the convention, if Democrats can’t convince Biden to drop out, it would take a party civil war to oust him from the ticket.

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