Biden digs in while Democrats launch blame game as much of the party wishes he’d bow out

It was just a bad night. You can’t judge a presidency by 90 minutes. It’s the inner circle’s fault for screwing up the debate prep. 

It’s the media’s fault for obsessing on the age issue. It’s the CNN moderators who failed to push back on Donald Trump’s falsehoods. It’s the Democratic Party’s fault for being a bunch of bed-wetters.

The blame-shifting has kicked into high gear as President Biden and his campaign try to minimize the damage from his disastrous debate performance and silence criticism that he is destined to lose the election.

The problem with all the finger-pointing is that 50 million people watched the president struggle to deliver any kind of coherent message or to challenge Trump’s attacks, at times completely losing his train of thought.


No one needed a bunch of pundits to analyze what they could see with their own eyes – a White House incumbent with a vacant stare and his mouth agape.

Now it’s true that the liberal media establishment has proclaimed that Biden should step aside in favor of a younger nominee. That includes the editorial boards of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as prominent names like Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman, David Ignatius, Nick Kristof and David Remnick.

As for the impact, a post-debate CBS poll found that those who don’t believe Biden has the mental fitness to serve another term jumped from 65% to 72%. 

But Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon put out a memo saying: “If we do see changes in polling in the coming weeks, it will not be the first time that overblown media narratives have driven temporary dips in the polls.”


Excuse me, this was the debate that Biden wanted, and it was carried out under the no-interruption rules that he demanded. With the Democratic Party in a state of panic and talk of the convention picking someone else, of course it’s going to be covered as a huge story.

Trump also got an assist yesterday from the Supreme Court, which ruled that he has absolute immunity for official acts – such as dealing with the Justice Department – while sending parts of the Jan. 6 indictment back to the trial court, which means more litigation. Trump called it “a big win for our Constitution.”

The “one bad night” defense doesn’t hold water. While Barack Obama said he too had a bad night (against Mitt Romney in 2012), he was 51 years old. Nobody was questioning his stamina or mental acuity. It’s very different with a faltering 81-year-old asking for another term.

At a Biden family gathering on Sunday at Camp David, the discussion centered not on whether the president would step aside but how to move past this crisis, the Times reports. And Jill Biden, who in my view is drawing plenty of unfair attacks, is supporting her husband. The couple has always backed each other’s decisions, it’s not realistic to expect her to tell the president to abdicate.

Biden walks to board Air Force One

The media are taking plenty of heat for supposedly covering up Biden’s growing infirmities, but they have collectively been making an issue of the president’s age for a long time. With a handful of exceptions, most journalists don’t have access to Biden. They have seen what everyone else has seen on the air, the president increasingly mumbling and stumbling, and now it’s clear why his top advisers have been so determined to shield him from the press – even a softball Super Bowl interview.

Even more stunning is an Axios report saying that most White House officials and even the residence staff, including butlers, were barred from Biden’s presence, so they wouldn’t see his true condition. Think about that. They, led by Jill Biden’s top aide, kept the president bubble-wrapped and isolated from most of those working for him on the taxpayer’s dime. They were therefore shocked at his debate performance.


Now the reason the Democrats are in such freakout mode is their absolute conviction that if Trump wins he will end democracy as we know it and govern as an authoritarian. To this day, liberals fail to understand Trump’s appeal and why, even as a convicted felon, he is leading this race.

But if their fears are well-founded, how can they risk putting Trump back in the Oval Office against an octogenarian who suffered such a humiliating meltdown on debate night? The Democrats regularly accuse Trump of caring only about himself, but aren’t they being selfish as well?

Trump on debate stage

It’s probably too late now, but those who suggested that perhaps Joe shouldn’t run – former Obama-Biden official David Axelrod said last November he should consider dropping out – suffered huge blowback. The White House leaked word that Biden had called Axelrod a “prick.”

I have covered Joe Biden since the 1980s, when he enjoyed talking to journalists at length, and profiled him when he launched his first White House campaign in 1987, which ended in a plagiarism scandal. He also flamed out in 2008, only to be named Obama’s running mate, and the press declared him toast in 2020 when he finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire – before a huge win in South Carolina sent him hurtling toward the nomination.

Biden has spent his adult life trying to become president. Flying around on Air Force One is addictive. He still thinks he’s the only Democrat who can beat Trump. 

He is not going to walk away from the White House, even though much of his party thinks he should.

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