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June 29, 2019


Such is the primary system. Trump isn’t in this race. As plenty of pundits will tell you the rough and tumble of the primaries ensures that the strongest candidate emerges from these circular firing squads. And they will coincidentally be pundits whose job is to do about half the work of their political opponents and if, by god, there isn’t a controversy then you make one. The candidate who does emerge will therefore will be pre wounded and maybe crippled. In this system unprimaried presidents running for a second term will have a huge advantage. And history bears that out.

Harris did no worse than make it clear that she isn’t interested in a VP slot. The golden ring hangs there. Polling indicates right now that virtually any Democratic candidate can beat Trump. By the time the primaries are over that won’t be true. The interesting question to me is where Harris thinks she will pick up support. It almost certainly won’t be from Biden supporters who will resent these attacks. Other candidates may decide going after Joe is the most profitable route to bumping up the polls. In which case Trump’s chances improve dramatically.

But here’s the thing: Why wasn’t Biden ready with a sharp comeback to what everyone knew was coming? Does he think he’s so beloved by Democratic voters that he’ll just skate to the nomination? If so, he really is out of touch. Biden may be the front runner in the polls, but judging from the Democrats I know—most of whom consider themselves moderate—there’s zilch enthusiasm for him. In contrast, notice what Buttigieg did with a similar attack from Swalwell. He gave a sincere, credible reply, and when Swalwell kept jabbing, Pete just stared him down and it was obvious then who the bullshitter was. Notice than none of the more competent candidates tried to attack him on this issue because they know he’d be ready for it and it’d blow up in their face and only elevate his candidacy further.

The Democratic Party does not need to nominate a candidate with one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel. That goes for St. Bernard as well as the Schmoe.

Before the Biden pity party gets out of hand, please note

“If Biden had prepared at all, an answer on busing could have been "While I'm sorry you had that experience, I consulted with many African-Americans who opposed mandatory busing." Instead he launches into states rights? What in the world.

“Like Harris had actually done her homework. And that's what the problem was for Biden. It wasn't busing per se. It was that he didn't have an answer and looked like Trump would crush him. Harris looked like the type of candidate who would beat Trump.”

Exactly. It was a low blow on Harris's part, but that's politics for you. The busing policy that was under consideration would've exacerbated racism and segregation. Why couldn't Biden summon the words to clearly explain that? He would've trounced Harris, made her look like an opportunistic hypocrite, and bolstered his lead. Instead he looked rattled and out of touch. Just look at how Buttigieg masterfully handled a similar cheap shot.

Sorry, but I worry the man is too old. I'm tired of people accusing me of ageism when this is scientific fact. Hell, my own parents, who are in their 70s, agree, as does every other elderly person I've talked politics with. At that age, people often excel at teaching and mentoring, but an 80-year-old brain is simply not capable of learning and synthesizing massive amounts of new information and making the long-term calculations that lead to good outcomes. Hell, that's part of Trump's problem. Besides his psychosis, he's just too damn old!

As my son said while watching one of Biden's halting answers the other night, "Wow. He's old!"

All across the country, millions of Americans were getting the same message.

Joe still can salvage his reputation with a classy withdrawal statement, and pledging his support to the new generation of Democrats. I won't hold my breath though.

"The interesting question to me is where Harris thinks she will pick up support."

I was alerted to an interesting NYT article that makes the same point. Harris is appealing to a rabid Democratic base which is considerably smaller than Trump's base.

Democrats, looking for the ideal candidate, look to damage a perfectly serviceable one, arguably the only one with a chance against Trump.

And you think Trump won’t exploit that and run to town with it?

I think you may be overstating the ability of any candidate whatsoever to anticipate every possible attack. Sure Joe could have pointed out busing sucked as a policy. He could have pointed out that schools are just about as segregated now as ever. He could have pointed out that more than a few people on the progressive side now advocate segregation as being in the best interest of the segregated students. He had how many seconds to get that in?

And yet Harris didn’t go after Sanders who also is on the record as opposing busing in the seventies. Curious. But I do think this is all pretty irrelevant. Biden’s got a large block of solid Democratic supporters who have been around the block. They were there and now what kind of person Biden is and was. Modern takes by woke young puppies trying to reclassify him as a racist are very unlikely to work.

Twitter is a fascinating place. On it no memory exists. And very little knowledge. I was just accused of generational warfare for not admitting that there is no case for Biden running for President. In the course of which exchange I pointed out that the bulk of his supporters skew older, were present for all or most of Biden’s career and know bullshit when they hear it.

But I do have a very good memory still. And I remember exactly how the most popular and admired woman in the world, Hillary Clinton, was turned magically into a war mongering racist author of mass incarceration. As First Lady no less. Now we are watching the same thing. People are worried about future electoral interference. Why they think this isn’t already happening escapes me? I see to have made my young Twitter interlocutor quite angry by pointing out he was almost certainly part of a strategy and he didn’t even know for who.

What could possibly go wrong with that strategy Ed? Once you explain to this very large block of the most reliable Democratic voters just how much they suck and how worthless their judgement is why they are bound to yield. Works every time right? Have you given any thought to which candidate you are going to make them support?

Of course. But in this case the issue has been out there for over a week, it’s been splattered all over the media, and every politico yahoo has been sputtering their opinions on it, so I don’t see how Biden couldn’t have seen it coming.

It’s not the charges of racism that matter—I don’t think anyone thinks Biden is a racist; Harris explicitly said so herself—it’s how he responded. I can’t stand the whole whole crowd either, but in this case, I’m hearing from plenty of moderates and elderly people who would’ve enthusiastically supported Joe 10 years ago or even 3 years ago that they have serious reservations now. It was one of the great tragedies that he was in no emotional condition to run in 2016, but that’s the reality we’re stuck with. I greatly admire PM, and I’d love to be wrong, but I think he’s lost all objectivity here.

*woke crowd 😜

I love this comments section. I write a detailed response, check it over, hit "Post", and it disappears.

So I will say what I said in far fewer words: Harris did nothing wrong in that debate, and a lot right. This is politics, and she's under no obligation to sit back and let anyone, including Biden, waltz to the nomination without a fight.

And she fought fair. (BTW, it is inaccurate to lump her in with the "1-2 percenters", as she has been polling at 7% since April. Which, in a field of more than 20, is actually pretty good.)

Biden has never been the kind of fighter we need now. And he is much too old. You think "progressives" fled the party in 2016? Nominate Biden, and see what happens.

I know Tony, how to be mean. Hard to tell maybe but I do try to restrain myself. I know why Harris did what she did. As a prosecutor she has taken a lot of flack from the Black community itself for incarcerating Black people and particularly Black males. Biden has a lot of support in that community, more than Harris or Booker. I am certain the calculation was basically that she needed to enhance her credibility as non racist herself and maybe demonstrate that she could chip away at Biden’s support by labeling him as the racist.

Now if I wanted to be mean I would start dropping tweets in the right places about how busing was how Harris learned to be White. And how to jail Black males.

You will perhaps be surprised that on general principals I agree with you. She had a perfect right to give it the old college try. I think the charge itself is bullshit but to each his own. The more important thing to me is whether or not it will work out as she hoped. And I will wait for the correct relevant polls to consider that.
In the two days after the debate she hauled in two million in donations. Much needed donations. They came from about 60 thousand new donors and averaged about thirty bucks a pop. That is certainly significant but hardly game changing.

Trust me I take your point Jason. But I suspect that a glib and snappy comeback would look worse and sound worse anyway. The format did not permit much in the way of reply. I think I would have gone with outrage at the accusation myself. Good old reliable that is. There is no factually based reply Biden could have made.
Not sure if I am going to refer to this sort of thing as Hillarization or Clintonization yet. There’s more than one Clinton.

Just thought you'd be interested in seeing this:

All too true. I guess I'm not looking for anything glib and snappy, but a succinct, clear response would've sufficed. And yes, a little outrage wouldn't have hurt either. Instead he went with, of all things...states' rights?!?

No, I think it is you who might be on the short end of the objectivity scale. I heard the debate. I heard Biden give good, solid objective answers to many questions, delivered well. So he didn't respond to Harris as you thought he should. I personally don't think he should have gotten down into the dirt with her.

Perhaps he is not at his best with nit-picking from a supposed ally. I expect it would be very different against a real villain like Trump.

Hey, I did like your guy Buttigeig. The most articulate and reasoned of all the debaters. But he has his own albatrosses on his back which might keep him from crossing the finish line.

I've been told that I can be mean, too. Although, I don't believe it. ...then again...

I do know that Harris' meanness did not play well with me, regardless of your accurate explanation of the reasons she did it. We will just have to see how this plays out.

More generally, I have a theory that a large fraction of Democrats have fallen into a trap, set consciously or unconsciously, by Trump. His character and actions are so atrocious that Democrats feel that they must go to the opposite extreme. Perhaps we can call it "Trump Derangement Syndrome". Trouble is, the majority of Americans are not ready to join them on the opposite extreme.

In short, by plan or by instinct, Trump has created the Democratic Party he wants to run against.

Sorry Jason but that is ageism, not scientific fact. I've known plenty of elderly people, some in their 90s, that while physically frail are mentally sharper than most people are at any age. Everybody ages differently. I'm up there in years myself but am fully "capable of learning and synthesizing massive amounts of new information and making the long-term calculations that lead to good outcomes". Many younger people will never be able to manage that in their entire lifetimes.

This was a mistake on Harris' part but not an unexpected one. I've watched her climb from San Francisco DA to state Attorney General (mixed record and a few flip flops), to U.S. senator and now a presidential candidate. She has always struck me as a cold, calculating political climber rather than an advocate of the people.

Her attacks on Biden for his comments on working with segregationist senators were out of context and history free. And her comments about being bused as a child were followed the next day with "That Little Girl Was Me" T-shirts. She got much deserved negative blow back from some of her own supporters for that calculated move.

I'm not sure what Joe could have said in 60-90 seconds that wouldn't have sounded glib. The Democrats have formed up the usual circular firing squad. How disappointing.

With respect, I doubt you’re working a job as demanding as President of the U.S. Research has shown that, statistically, normal aging processes are associated with a notable decline in certain types of cognitive functioning, especially those related to processing speed, memory, and verbal recall. Here’s one article put out by the NIH:

It’s not ageist to point this out. Elderly people can still be mentally “sharp” obviously, but there will almost always be a decline in certain other areas, perhaps in ways not noticeable in ordinary everyday living. But as President of the U.S? Nuh-uh, I’m very hesitant about chancing that. Note that I’m not saying Biden has dementia or anything like that. He simply sounded like he wasn’t cognitively up to task the other night.

And you’re right, most younger people are not up to the task either, because being President is really, really demanding. That’s why I worry about entrusting the job to an 80yo. If Biden seems as mentally engaged, quick, and agile as the younger candidates, I’ll change my views, but evidence certainly didn’t bear that out at the debate.

I agree with you regarding Harris, but Biden had no excuse to not be ready with a response.

“Senator Harris, while I greatly respect what you’ve gone through in your life, that was a cheap shot and here’s why. I was against the busing policy because I met with prominent leaders in the black community and they explained that it would make segregation and racism worse. Instead, we advocated for more economic investment in black schools and communities—a cause I’m still fighting for today. In fact, if you want to put your record on civil rights legislation against mine, I’ll be glad to have that debate.”

There, that took all of 15 seconds.

I guess time will tell. We all have our own perspective on these things. Let’s see how it shakes out.

This is spot on:

I agree that with age comes some decline in cognitive functioning but there is also experience and wisdom. I've stated in previous posts that because of Biden's age he should be a one term president, so it matters who he would choose as a running mate. Even though I don't agree with some of his choices in the Senate, his experience is what we need right now to undo as much damage as possible as quickly as possible. This is not a time for on the job training.

I don't think the modern presidency is a doable job by any one person no matter their age, so cabinet and advisor choices are extremely important. All presidents delegate.

Let's face it. We've had sickly presidents, one with Alzheimer's, a current one that is mentally ill, and some that were just plain dumb shits. I think Joe would do fine.

Well by God, he appears to have increased his lead in the polls, so you may very well be right. I’m open to the arrangement you mentioned. It’d be unprecedented but it could work. The #1 goal is to defeat Trump, and a Biden/Harris ticket could be devastating.

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