Biden Ally: "The Worst Day of His Presidency"
The Democrats' self-reinforcing nightmare
Yesterday was a year's worth of a rising wave that came crashing down on Democratic hopes for 2024. They had hoped Republicans, motivated in part by constant lawfare attacks, would nominate Donald Trump -- only to tear their party apart during the summer as denial of election eligibility in key states made clear he had no path to victory. They had that by carefully managing Joe Biden, with access even more locked down than during the height of the pandemic, would survive questions of age and infirmity. And they had assumed the special counsel's report, while sure to include some damning equivalence with Trump's stacks of Mar-a-Lago memorabilia, would be a story for a news cycle, easily survived and ultimately unmemorable.
Things have not gone according to plan, to say the least. Partisans who cheered the Mar-a-Lago raid in its moment have to be asking themselves if they would have been better off never opening this inquiry. The special counsel's report puts in black and white what Americans have believed, suspected, or feared: the president is literally too feebleminded to be prosecuted for his obvious violation of the law. Calling it the Uncle Leo defense or the Vincent "The Chin" Gigante defense is wrong, because it's actually the Abe Simpson defense: they were faking it -- Biden really is coping with senility, with the nuclear codes just out of reach.
The biggest problem with this declaration is that, as much as Biden's defenders on Morning Joe can huff and puff that everything is fine, it is an ever-present statement of fact tied directly to the president, the man. Where Hillary Clinton's email server and Hunter Biden's financial improprieties are scandals based on past activity, this indictment of President Biden's mental capacity is constant and self-reinforcing, with visual and audio proof offered every single time he steps up to a microphone -- including last night, when Biden showed why he doesn't often talk after the late hour of 7 PM lest he confuse Cairo with Cabo.
The report hands Republicans a frame for the entire fakakta situation that allows them to escape accusations of ageism: the president is feebleminded. His own government lawyers told us so, this is an indisputable fact, backed by the moral authority of the Democrats' lauded and unimpeachable Department of Justice. And for the Democrats, this truly is a moment of crisis. For Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi (who cares about Hakeem Jeffries), do they actually pull the trigger on taking that trip to the White House to tell Joe it's time to go? Can they replace him at this point even if they wanted to? This is about more than just Joe Biden's legacy, after all -- and their new slogan "vote for the vegetable" is sure to win over those Swifties they need in November.
So here's the question that remains: how does Donald Trump screw this up? Because it's still very possible he could! It's a long time until Election Day, and he is his own worst enemy. But it is possible, as one astute podcast listener suggested to us on this week's Thunderdome, that the president's legal struggles are just the distraction needed to keep him away from a campaign operation that seems far more focused than his prior efforts. Trump needs to remember that the only thing worse than losing to the pandemic version of Joe Biden in 2020 would be losing to the doddering version on display today, a punch-drunk fighter failed by his corner who should've thrown in the towel a long time ago.
It was tough enough for Biden to reassure voters about his heath before Hur’s report hit like a thunderclap Thursday afternoon, prompting members of his own party to question whether he could remain the nominee in November.
“It’s a nightmare,” said a Democratic House member who asked to speak anonymously to provide a frank assessment, adding that “it weakens President Biden electorally, and Donald Trump would be a disaster and an authoritarian.”
“For Democrats, we’re in a grim situation.” …
“It’s been a problem since way before this ever happened,” said a longtime Democratic operative who noted that when focus groups are asked to apply one word to Biden, it is often “old.”
Just this week, Biden twice referred to conversations he’s had as president with foreign leaders who’ve long since died. In his remarks Thursday night defending his competency, while talking about the war in Gaza, he referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as being the head of Mexico. White House press aides have downplayed such lapses as the sort of mistake anyone in public life can make.
The Hur report strips away the defenses that Biden’s press operation has used to protect him and raises fresh doubts about whether Biden is up to the rigors of the presidency, Democratic strategists said in interviews.
“This is beyond devastating,” said another Democratic operative, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk candidly about Biden’s shortcomings. “It confirms every doubt and concern that voters have. If the only reason they didn’t charge him is because he’s too old to be charged, then how can he be president of the United States?”
Asked if Hur’s report changes the calculus for Democrats who expect Biden to be the party’s nominee, this person said: “How the f--- does it not?”
Another Biden ally called it “the worst day of his presidency.”
“I think he needs to show us this is a demonstrably false characterization of him and that he has what it takes to win and govern.”
Here’s a timely book excerpt on Jill Biden’s reactions to all of this elder abuse — which have to be repeated in some form behind the scenes today.
It was Jan 19, 2022. President Biden and top aides were gathered in the Treaty Room, the president's study in the executive residence, after a press conference that ran nearly two hours. He made several factual errors.
Suddenly, the group saw Jill Biden in the doorway, Rogers writes in "American Woman":
"She had watched the news conference, and the look on her face told everyone in the room — from the president on down — that they had some explaining to do."
"Why didn't anyone stop that?" she demanded.
Behind the scenes: "This dressing down ... illustrated the degree to which she is her husband's fiercest protector," Rogers continues:
"Everyone stayed silent, looking at one another, and then at her, and back to one another. That included the most powerful man in the world. Her husband essentially played along, not offering an answer, even though aides had slipped him a card suggesting he end the press conference."
SCOTUS Unites Against Lawfare Attempt
The oral argument today in Trump v. Anderson strongly suggests a Trump victory on the grounds advanced heroically by Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman. Many kudos to them both for the long and successful campaign that they have waged. The Court will likely reverse the Colorado Supreme Court based on Griffin's Case, the absence of congressional legislation enforcing Section 3, and the prudential and pragmatic arguments made in Section 3 of the Brief signed by Attorneys General Edwin Meese III, Michael B. Mukasey, and William P. Barr, as well as by me and Gary Lawson.
Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Neil Gorsuch made a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to get Trump's attorney to address the other plausible off ramp for the Supreme Court in this case, which is the argument that Section 3 does not apply to the President of the United States. They offered definitions of the phrase "officer of the United States" and of the word "office" and of the word "officer", but they never forced Trump's awful lawyer to say anything about the meaning of the phrase "office *** under the United States", which language appears in exactly that formulation in both Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and in the Incompatibility Clause.
If the presidency is an "office *** under the United States" that covers Donald Trump under Section 3, of the Fourteenth Amendment, then it has to also be an "Office under the United States" for the purposes of the Incompatibility Clause, which bars Members of Congress from holding any "Office under the United States." That would mean that the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 is unconstitutional because it allows either the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to serve simultaneously as a Member of either House and to hold the Presidency in the absence of both a President and a Vice President, which Presidency is wrongly said to be an "Office under the United States".
The Founding Fathers included legislative officers in the line of succession to the President, in 1792, in the Second Congress, in which many framers of the Constitution sat. President George Washington signed the 1792 Presidential Succession Act into law disregarding a complaint by Rep. James Madison that legislative officers could not be put in the line of succession to the Presidency because doing so would violate the Incompatibility Clause. President Washington and the Framers in the second Congress did not think that the Presidency was an "Office under the United States" for the purposes of the Incompatibility Clause. This is dispositive proof that the Presidency is also not an "office *** under the United States" for the purposes of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Putin Rambles On and On
The rule in Russia is the more important you are, the bigger your room - so Vlad the Bad spoke to Tucker Carlson in a preposterously big Kremlin hall.
The two men - both plastered in bronzer and crammed into tiny, camp chairs - were dwarfed by architecture, history and events spun wildly out of control. For context: the video Carlson posted before this one featured tips for men on the best make of wig.
“Why did you invade Ukraine?” Tucker asked in so many words.
“I will take only 30 seconds or one minute [to give] you a little historical background,” said Putin... and 30 minutes later was still talking about Genghis Khan, Stalin and the conversion of Prince Vladimir in 988. If Carlson looked out of his depth, the President of Russia appeared to be out of his tiny little mind.
Tuck has long floated the idea that the war with Russia might be a total mistake, that Putin is perhaps more rational - and Zelensky less pure - than Western media is telling us. So what a scoop to sit down with the man himself, and Carlson deserves credit on two counts: one, for being brave enough to go through with it (Putin has put other journalists in jail) and second, for allowing us to judge the dictator for ourselves via a lengthy, unfiltered interview.
Well, our enemy of the month turns out to be small, compact, clearly botoxed to the nines; has a nasty cough, which suggests a heart problem, and fidgety hands and feet, which imply nerves at the end of their tether (though I’m sure he could still beat Joe Biden at remembering his address). When excited, such as discussing the medieval politics of the Duchy of Lithuania, he sneered. Often, he sighed - as if matters of war and peace are boring, and Tucker’s questions are stupid.
He was refreshingly rude. Putin accused Carlson’s statements of being “complex” (ie, ill-constructed), “subtle” (disingenuous) and “pesky” (tiresome), talked over him and, when Tucker tried to drag the conversation back to the 21st century, patronisingly offered to provide more dates.
We learnt nothing new about Putin’s view of the world except that it is surprisingly tedious: Ukraine and Russia were once indivisible, the Soviets created a fake nation, Nato has tried to colonise it, yada yada. Carlson sat looking steam-rollered and bored, making one speculate how a less deferential interviewer might have handled the subject (Oprah Winfrey would’ve interrupted: “I’ve heard you’re gay. What kind of man turns you on?”)
More from Sergey Radchenko, Freddy Gray, and the WSJ, which praises Carlson for rightly bringing up Evan Gershkovich (though he ought to have brought up Navalny, Kara Murza, and plenty of others as well).
Items of Interest
“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes—not that you won or lost—but how you played the Game.”
— Grantland Rice