With Debate Months Away, It's Clear Biden Isn't Ready for a 1-on-1 with Trump


In just under five months, both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will, one assumes, step onto a debate stage at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

It’s one heck of an assumption, and for more reasons than one. We don’t know if there are going to be debates this year, much less in-person ones. We don’t know where they’re going to take place. We don’t know when they’re going to take place. We assume we even know the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee will be Joe Biden, given the current situation involving Tara Reade.

Assuming Biden is still the nominee and the debates take place as planned, they’ll step onto the stage in less than five months — on Sept. 29. And Joe Biden definitely won’t be ready.

Oh, you’re going to tell me, you already know this — of course Joe Biden won’t be ready for these debates. Even in the days where he wasn’t experiencing what appears to be some form of diminishing returns in the cognitive department, this was not a verbally felicitous man. This certainly wasn’t his boss at the White House or his immediate predecessor as Democratic nominee, not by a long shot.

He’d probably call you a lying dog-faced pony soldier, but fair enough. Let’s limit ourselves to just one thing that’s going to be up for debate. I can guarantee it’s going to be up for debate because, in a certain way, it’ll be the only thing up for debate: coronavirus.

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Let’s start with the fact he can’t remember the word for it.

That’s uncomfortable. This is probably why, during the appearance on the same episode of Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show recently, he appeared to answer questions in a manner that seemed suspiciously like he was reading them off of something.

I’m not sure what format the debates will take this autumn, but I’m fairly certain they’re going to ensure you can’t use a teleprompter to get fed answers.

But then, what are you supposed to do when your candidate can’t even remember basic facts about coronavirus, like what we’ve taken to calling it? Coronaviruses are, in fact, a family of viruses that can cause everything from mild colds to SARS and MERS, but let’s first start with just getting that right.

But, wait — he does know that it’s part of a family of viruses, believe it or not. He just also doesn’t know what the name for the disease this virus causes is.

“We have to invest more money in dealing with pandemic research, dealing with viruses, dealing with studies relating to what these viruses are likely to be in the future,” Biden said during a virtual town hall. “There’s more than one coronavirus.”

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“This COVID-9 is one strain of that, and there’s a lot of means we have to take now to make sure we have the testing capacity nationally to deal with what will be coming, not just what has already come.”

I didn’t forget a digit there; he called it “COVID-9,” not “COVID-19.” Which, by the way, isn’t even the name of the virus. That’s SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is the name for the disease that’s caused by SARS-CoV-2.

We should be able to expect a president to remember all of that, but we can start with them not calling it “COVID-9.”

And then he’s saying things like this:

I have no idea what that means, and yet I’ve watched it so many times.

So what do you do if you’re Joe Biden and this is you? David N. Bossie wrote, in a Fox News opinion piece published Thursday, that Biden’s using what he calls the “Tahiti strategy,” which he described as “staying off the grid until Election Day so you don’t make any unforced errors.”

“In other circles, it’s called the ‘prevent defense.’ But as we all know, sometimes choosing this minimalist approach prevents you from winning the game,” Bossie wrote.

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“The coronavirus pandemic has created for Biden something of a forced Tahiti strategy and at the moment it’s buoying him in the polls a bit. Although just a snapshot in time, recent survey data is indicating that the Trump-Biden match-up will make for yet another highly competitive presidential election contest.

“For instance, even in the midst of extreme economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll found that Americans believe that the president ‘was better suited to create jobs’ by a margin of 45 percent to just 32 percent for Biden.”

And this is also part of the problem for Biden. As his skills atrophy on the shores of Tahiti, Trump is spending every day in coronavirus news briefings. He’s the one dealing with the pandemic, answering the media’s pointed questions about it.

Biden has, no doubt, a talented group of people prepping him on the disease. Most of them, I would wager, are far more able — at least at this juncture — to be president than the man they’re prepping. But no matter how much cramming Biden does, it won’t be anything compared to being in the arena and dealing with this thing on your own. And this wasn’t a man who most people would have tipped to win the debates even before coronavirus had us all locked down.

This was a man who would have arguably never been ready for a 1-on-1 with Trump in the debate arena, at least not in 2020. That’s especially true now.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture