by Scott McKay
On Tuesday, at 9:22 a.m., reporters covering the Joe Biden campaign were told that there would be no more events or newsmaking to issue forth from Team Biden for the rest of the day.
The same thing happened on Saturday. At 8:35 a.m. on Sept. 19, Team Biden put a “lid” on that campaign day.
In fact, the lid has come down before noon no less than eight times this month. That would be 36 percent of the campaign days in the month of September in which the Biden campaign has canceled its activities before lunchtime.
On Sunday, Joe Biden said that 200 million Americans had died from COVID-19, which would make the virus twice as deadly as the Black Plague in Europe was in less than 1 percent of the time. As there are some 330 million or so Americans, many of our readers have apparently died of COVID-19 and weren’t aware of that fact.
That was one day after the campaign shut Biden down before noon.
Then on Monday, Biden answered a question about socialism in the Democrat Party by trashing Bernie Sanders. “I beat the socialist,” he said, which probably didn’t inspire his Hard Left base. This, along with catching a question about the Democrats’ “new” idea of packing the Supreme Court in which Biden’s answer was that he would refuse to answer the question because then it would be a distraction from what a terrible guy Donald Trump is.
By Tuesday, it was time to shut Biden down. Six weeks before Election Day, Joe Biden was off the campaign trail.
In a week, on Tuesday, September 29, Joe Biden is scheduled to meet Donald Trump in the first of three presidential debates.
And while Trump is making multiple campaign stops a day in front of substantial crowds, jokingly asking why Biden bothered to get plastic surgery if he was just going to cover his face with a mask and trolling Biden with threats that he would ban him from the presidency by executive order, Biden can’t even show his face nearly 40 percent of the time.
And when he does, it’s to do softball interviews from his basement or bizarre “campaign” events in front of practically no one. Biden gets off a plane and waves to an empty tarmac, while Trump speaks in front of a hangar full of people.
Does anyone really believe that Joe Biden is going to show up to that debate next week?
Why is Biden’s campaign shutting him down before noon? The pat answer would be that Biden is ahead in the polls and so can play defense. But you’re not playing defense if you’re not playing at all. He isn’t playing defense. He’s on the sidelines. And his lead, if it actually exists at all (the methodology of those polls showing Biden ahead is every bit as suspect as the same polls from four years ago that led Hillary Clinton’s camp to think she had it won), isn’t big enough to sit still and let Trump outwork him.
But the real answer, most people who aren’t partisan Democrats know — and even some partisan Democrats who’ll admit it know — is that Joe Biden’s campaign is shutting him down out of fear that he’s in such bad shape that he physically and mentally can’t perform at the level of a presidential nominee.
This is hardly a controversial theory. It’s obvious. When Biden killed off 200 million Americans with COVID-19 on Sunday, it was the second time he’d made such a gaffe. Back in June he said it was 120 million. Back then people were questioning whether he had dementia or some other debilitating brain condition. He was asked about taking a cognitive test a few weeks later, and, to be charitable, he didn’t handle the question particularly well.
Then there’s the issue with the teleprompter. Biden uses one even for softball interviews, and he Ron Burgundys his way through those often to comic effect. He’ll give obvious hand signals to the teleprompter operator. He’ll flub the lines he’s given, stop in mid-sentence, and then say what he’s reading. He’s read stage directions as though they were lines. In one appearance he took a question, instructed the teleprompter operator to begin scrolling and then let out an audible sigh as he waited for the words to show up on the screen. And in another interview he broke out a framed photo of himself with his two sons to show the audience, and in the glare of the reflection off the glass a teleprompter was clearly visible.
But when Bret Baier earlier this month asked Biden’s campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo about the teleprompter, the latter went ballistic and accused Baier of shilling for the Trump campaign. Baier calmly interrupted Ducklo’s tirade to note that he wasn’t answering the question.
It ought to be pointed out that Biden’s teleprompter, without which his speech becomes especially messy, won’t make an appearance at the debate. His team might attempt to “cheat” using an IFB earpiece, but if Joe Biden could listen and talk coherently at the same time, something that is not all that easy to do, his team would be doing that with him rather than the teleprompter. He’s going to have to speak extemporaneously in dueling with Trump.
Let’s remember that Donald Trump is the man who took on one of the most impressive, voluminous fields of presidential hopefuls ever assembled — the 2016 GOP field — and systematically destroyed it. He took apart Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and several other high-profile Republican political veterans who were known for impressive debating abilities, and did it with ease. Then he eviscerated Hillary Clinton in a similar way.
That was when Trump was a political novice who didn’t have as full a command of the issues as the veterans did. Now he’s been president for three years and probably knows those issues better than anyone else.
And certainly Joe Biden, who (1) has, in the words of former Obama defense secretary Robert Gates, been wrong about every foreign policy issue in modern American history (and isn’t any better on the domestic stuff; this is a guy who voted against the Alaska pipeline, for crying out loud) and (2) thinks two-thirds of the American people are six feet deep due to COVID-19.
Joe Biden isn’t black, he isn’t gay, he isn’t Hispanic, and he isn’t female. Joe Biden is a decrepit old white guy who has probably said more racist things than any American politician since David Duke. Nobody is going to cry for Joe Biden if Trump were to spend 90 minutes dressing him down and clowning on him on national TV. Sure, Democrats will whine about it, but “persuadable” voters who may not care for Trump’s brusque style but haven’t written him off yet will at least note how much more “on the ball” Trump is than Biden, even if they think he’s committing elder abuse at the debate.
Trump is just three years younger than Biden, after all.
And everything about Biden’s campaign to date indicates they don’t think there are any “persuadable” voters out there anyway. They think this election is all about turnout, whether of real people or fictitious ones, or perhaps some of those 200 million dead Americans who will rise from the grave and mail in their COVID-soaked ballots for Biden regardless of what gaffes he makes between now and Nov. 3. That’s why they’ve begun shutting Biden down at the first sign he might actually perform worse than the current disqualifying, face-planting status quo.
How it happens I can’t say, though the obvious theory would be that Biden will suddenly test positive for COVID-19, but it’s hard to see Team Biden putting their guy into that debate next week. The most obvious way for him to lose this election would be to have an utter meltdown in which he descends into a nonsensical word salad while Trump berates him for his lack of preparation and offers the crowd a “See what I’m telling you?” indictment of Biden’s lack of fitness.
Far better to be accused of cowardice and getting known as “No Show Joe” than to have that meltdown in front of the Americans COVID-19 hasn’t taken from us. It’s the old line — better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.
That’s why the “lid” comes out almost half the time. And it’s why you might want to make backup plans for next Tuesday night in case the debate doesn’t come off as scheduled.
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics. He’s also a novelist — check out his first book “Animus: A Tale of Ardenia,” available in Kindle and paperback.
Photo “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.