All of a sudden, some prominent Democratic partisans, seemingly in unison, are going public with recommendations on how Joe Biden should back out of the three scheduled debates with President Trump.
One savvy Democratic leaning journalist has just written, “Let’s scrap the presidential debates. They’ve become unrevealing quip contest.” Another wrote, “The truth is that the debates have long since stopped serving the needs of voters and instead only exist to benefit television networks and cable news, in particular. Perhaps its time to consign them to the dustbin of history.”
But why are these calls coming now? What’s changed? Biden’s cognitive decline was, sadly, there for all to see during the primary debates, and his ability to stand up to questioning and Donald Trump was plainly put in doubt. What didn’t these pundits get about his fractured syntax, his inability to speak in full sentences, his incomprehensible responses, his inability to focus and stay on topic, and his overall deer-in-the-headlights demeanor?
We, therefore, don’t think the advice has anything to do with the challenges Biden faces in making himself understood. Those will continue to be in play. Rather, the problem lies in Biden making himself understood since his cognitive challenges evidently make it difficult for him to decide what should and should not be put on the public record.
Thus, Biden told one African American interviewer, “Unlike the African-American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community.” To another African-American interviewer, he said, “If you don’t know why you should vote for me, then you ain’t black.”
He responded to yet another African-American interviewer who asked him if he had taken a cognitive test by asking the interviewer if he had recently taken a drug test and if he was “a junkie.”
Joe Biden has been around Washington a very long time and has taken many positions that are not politically correct by today’s standards. In particular, he has been criticized for some of the stances he took on certain civil rights issues and work he did with some out-and-out Southern segregationist senators. So some of his more recent gaffes are being looked upon by some as offering an unfiltered window into what he really thinks.
In sum, Biden may be able to survive not being understood. Being understood is another thing. And the fear of him viscerally blurting out something is prompting concerns among Democrats about him debating Donald Trump.
From where we sit, though, Americans have the right to know and the debates can only help.