Mr. President, defiant denialism violates the ultimate political commandment: Win with your best shot

How much insight is needed to project the frailty of the last many months into an electoral NO on any four year bet?

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Often it takes an unfolding process before the best and right choice emerges 

Talk about not digging yourself out—by denying the size of the hole. Proposing that anxious voters should banish empirical evidence of frailty not only dooms Biden’s chances, but jeopardizes an equal challenge: Holding the Senate and retaking the House. To lose all three prompts Shakespearean tragedy. Though Biden’s increasing flaws (and pressure for alternatives) are self-evident, how telling is it that Biden scoffs at calls to withdraw, thus further underlining for months the implicit WH cover-up. If the debate weren’t bad enough, adding to Trump’s lead, the president’s rigid defiance belittles his own honest doubters, making a bad situation worse. As with cognition, time rolls on: taking too long to withdraw (or obstructing) will amplify party divisiveness beyond the nonsense that his deranged, more demented opponent spouts daily.

Joe, listen up to swing state voters after the debate disaster, pushing Democrats towards Trump. “’Choose someone different‘” defines a horror show voiced by one twenty-year, 71 year old NC Democratic loyalist leaning Trumpwardafter Biden’s “scary” embarrassment. “I’m sad more than anything,” she saId, “It feels like elder abuse . . . Like him or not, Trump does have that zest, he has that vinegar.”  Well, loyalists might say Biden defensiveness smacks of vinegar—when sang-froid is what’s needed. From a Wisconsin independent after Friday’s interview, “If the object of this interview was to prove to me that you’re not old, it didn’t work.” Who now thinks only Biden beats Trump—with enough coattails to deliver Congress?

Split party balloting only goes so far—and no wonder at the nation-wide panic on Biden’s fate. An already marginal campaign looks at free fall, and more about his cognitive decline than anything else. Reports of competence at critical staff meetings no longer has pull with key crossover, purple-state voters. Sure, Biden could again magically come from behind, but weakly defending undeniable aging is not a winning, let alone redemptive party message. Anything that facilitates WH re-entry by a dictatorial fifth columnist qualifies as dotage married to malpractice—and a finale certain to stain the positive Biden legacy.

Losing is not an option

Democrats need to invoke Vince Lombardi’s “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” While not true about life and relationships, this maxim counts during political campaigns, the Olympics, big sports events, and life-threatening surgery if “winning” becomes “success.” The urgent question is not whether Biden is no worse than other 81 year olds, but whether he’s the Democrat’s best shot. Losing is bad enough but knowingly accepting in advance a tarnished candidate is worse, whether we blame momentum, sentiment, past achievements, what he knows, or his genuine love of country. All the good will pales against the bad will, bad faith, and staggeringly unfit Trump, whether for the WH or convict oversight committee.

Here is the hill to die on: what does realistic evidence (polls, opinions, party pressure, confirmed decline) show—and do Democrats have viable alternatives? Thus the urgency of replacing a probable loser with a stronger candidate voicing overlapping agendas and with obvious advantages—as in youth, lack of baggage, a more flexible personality, more energy and mental vitality. It’s not pretty when big shots refuse timely retirement, more so when the public flees (a six point Biden lead a year ago now nearly a six point deficit). 

I have no worries that Biden’s moderate decline impairs his remaining time in office. Whoever’s critical in decision-making, rife with competent, principled support, the White House is a team sport ready for anything. But four long years loom—and that for me takes this increasingly defiant mighty mouse, known for stubbornness, out of the running. Further, the WH outreach is as dicey as debate incoherence, now culpable of an official, anti-transparency cover-up. More Dems are daily pushing for withdrawal because it’s too daunting to imagine high Biden coherence two years hence. Unlike misreadings or blunders, cognitive decline is both obvious and impossible to fix, inexorably moving in one dire direction.

Latest fundraiser pitch tipped my scale

Saturday, I got a revealing fundraising email from the Biden campaign, headlined “The pundits have gotten everything wrong.” The highly defensive tone, in Joe’s putative voice, quickly gives away the game with a demonstrable logical blunder, “I want you to ask yourself, what have these people been right about lately?” First, note the logical fallacy of overgeneralization, as if all “pundits” are guilty of never being right, then the invocation of “lately” while misleadingly invoking 2020 and 2022. If that’s “lately,” call the memory tester.

Then there’s illogical vagueness (even putdown) of nameless “people” as if out to punish Biden for growing old. Countless Americans have been forced to ask themselves about Biden’s fitness (very lately), thus painful super-majorities (whopping 74 and 76% across two polls) deem this president too old or unfit. Wow! That includes almost 60% Democrats joining in with impugned “pundits” and noxious “people” as suspiciously wrong. Biden lists his notable wins, but past is no prologue here—and Congress falls with a weak ticket.

Biden refuses to get a cognitive test, blaming in effect a sympathetic WH doctor who won’t insist that all 81 year old candidates should independently attest to brainpower and clarity. Including Trump, of course. Responding to special counsel Robert K. Hur’s cheap shot last year (Biden as a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory”), all the president could then do is scoff with a lousy dodge, “I’m well-meaning, and I’m elderly, and I know what I’m doing. My memory is fine.” Fact: the last person to know his/her memory or skill-sets are shot is the creaky oldster under scrutiny. Biden muffed badly, the refutation flat, whatever Hur’s accuracy. When any CEO, chef, general or politician, even with good faith, declares without qualification, “I know what I’m doing,” time to rush the exits. Think Nixon’s “I am not a crook.”  

Outliving the last hurrah

The Friday ABC interview did not improve transparency or full appraisals most Democrats (hardly only pundits) are demanding. Why no cognitive test, bluffed Biden this week, because “no one said I had to … they said I’m good.” Then Biden weakly (even misleadingly) dismissed even the idea of an independent exam, “I have a cognitive test every single day” as president. No, a logical category error. That’s unchanged since 2020 when the 77 year old Biden likewise barked, “Why the hell would I take a test?” Not revealing enough understanding of a 77 year old brain only looks far worse four years—and countless stumbles and mumbles later—thus amping up today’s high anxiety. “Old age,” as a movie opines, “is not for sissies.” 

I think Biden still has enough marbles to finish his term, but his falloff disqualifies him for re-election—confirmed by enormous voting majorities. How much insight is needed to project the frailty of the last many months into an electoral NO on any four year bet? That Trump is more deranged and more demented (item: endless word salads WITH a teleprompter) does not excuse Biden from conceding serious aging issues, that pundits are not always wrong, and that demanding transparency is an essential, democratic standard. 

We all understand the reluctance to leave the zenith of power. Thus our two-term limit, until a fascist-style autocrat undermines it because nothing should “impede my freedom or deny my destiny.” Just call it an official act. Jeopardizing our future is a terrible cost because old folks naturally deny losing it. After all, we only grow old once and that makes every new morning renew our gift of consciousness. 

True enough, but picking a president demands an electorate with as much unsentimental toughness that this hard job, the complex tasks and our collective safety require. For those paying attention, not out to punish a decent president, we know what we know. It is rational, if not prudent intelligence, the gift of evolution, to change course when reality changes. Otherwise, MAGA psychopaths have an open field to ply their deviant malice.

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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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