The timing couldn’t have been better.
On the same day the Joe Biden presidential campaign made a show of announcing it had accepted the idea of three debates with President Donald Trump in the fall, a Washington-based media reporter was interviewed by Fox News explaining that Biden seems to lack the mental wherewithal even to handle questions at a news conference.
Considering it’s a safe bet that virtually the entire national news corps is secretly — and not-so-secretly — rooting for a Biden victory over Trump in November, that’s a damning statement itself.
Joe Concha, a media reporter for The Hill, told Steve Doocy on “Fox & Friends” Monday that Democrats are well aware of the fact that the former vice president is no longer at the top of his game in the smarts department.
“A lot of Democrats will tell you, at least privately, that he does not have the mental acuity that he even had a couple of years ago and this is a candidate that simply would not able to withstand the type of press conferences that the current president has, as far as them going on for an hour, an hour and a half, taking questions with multiple outlets with no ground rules attached,” Concha said.
As even Trump-loathing Americans know, the president has put in extensive hours facing openly hostile questioning from the national news media – his daily coronavirus briefings alone gave even those who don’t follow politics a look at how many national “news reporters” treat their coverage of the White House like it’s a personal cable commentary segment. (Jim Acosta isn’t the only one by any stretch.)
No one who has an even passing familiarity with what passes for journalism at the national level in 2020 would expect Biden to face anything like the hostility Trump does on a regular basis.
Still, as Concha noted, Biden is unwilling to face an actual news conference made up of reporters who aren’t chosen for their friendliness to the candidate, honoring limits that have been established in advance.
“It’s a lot easier … to have, say, a handpicked interview, where you have ground rules for interviews, with certain outlets that may be friendly to your candidate, as opposed to having a press conference which Mr. Biden has not done for 80 days,” Concha said.
Actually, even with presumably liberal interviewers, Biden has shown himself eminently capable of creating embarrassing moments — like when he instructed a black radio host’s overwhelmingly black audience that if any black person has trouble deciding whether to support Biden or Trump, “you ain’t black.”
Going back to the Democratic primary campaign, Biden’s media appearances were a seemingly never-ending series of gaffes, including apparently forgetting what state he was in and what president he served in the White House.
Yet, according to a Fox News report Monday, Biden’s campaign was using its acceptance of three proposed presidential debates to attack Trump’s campaign for suggesting even more head-to-head clashes to see who will be being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021.
In a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said her candidate was ready.
“While I know no formal debate invitation will be issued to Joe Biden or Donald Trump until after the Party Conventions and the CPD’s invitation process, I wanted to set forth our views on how the Commission should proceed with planning for the fall debates,” Dillon wrote, according to Fox.
“First, once formally invited, Vice President Biden will accept and participate in the Commission’s planned Presidential candidates’ debates for September 29, October 15, and October 22; his running mate will participate in the Vice Presidential candidates’ debate set for October 7.”
“We hope that President Trump and Vice President Pence will similarly indicate their willingness to participate.”
Let’s assume it’s a good bet that Trump is just as ready as Biden is for the meetings.
In fact, given that last week, according to Fox, Trump campaign chairman Brad Parscale and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani pressed the commission for more debates that start earlier, it’s a safe bet Trump is raring to go.
And considering that Trump hasn’t forgotten what state he’s in lately, or spouted off incongruous insults like calling a young woman a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” and that he has publicly told journalist Sharyl Attkisson that Biden is “not mentally sharp enough to be president,” it’s practically a given that Trump is better than ready to handle Biden on a national debate stage.
What the country is likely to see then, especially over the course of three debates, is what Concha was talking about: A Democratic candidate who, Concha says, even Democrats know isn’t the man he was even a few years ago.
Of course, with concentration, coaching and effort, Biden could make his debate appearances better than expectations. But given his tendency to make a fool of himself in public, and the fact that he’s been hiding from the media for almost three months, Biden would probably beat expectations just by managing to stay upright for the length of any debate without spilling oatmeal down his shirt.
That doesn’t and won’t change the widespread perception, even among members of his own party, that Biden doesn’t have the fastball he used to have – and won’t ever have again.
A country that has watched Donald Trump deal daily with viperous attacks from the mainstream media knows he’s got it upstairs. He has to, or he would have been cooked a long time ago.
For Concha to bring Biden’s weakness to light on the same day the Biden campaign is essentially boasting about its willingness for Biden to take on Trump one-on-one is beyond perfect timing.
It couldn’t have been better.
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