My friend Jon Alter has a piece up about how Biden and his campaign can defuse and limit the damage from concerns about his age and mental acuity. Every point he makes is so on the mark I want you to go read it. The gist is the Biden’s age and occasional brain freezes are obviously a political liability. Jon has known and been interviewing Biden for 35+ years and he says he’s always been that way.
Sure Biden’s slower than he was even a decade ago. But the verbal missteps are same old same old for him. How you address that is leaning into it, getting Biden out in front of the public a lot. Yes, he will swap one name out for another or mangle words sometimes. It is what it is. Even though right wing media will seize on every goof viewers will also see a President who is basically fine, addressing complex issues in able and sophisticated ways. They’re already seizing on every awkward moment. If you keep Biden under wraps that’s all anyone will see.
The news conference Biden held just after the release of Hur’s report is actually a case in point. Biden was clear, assertive, even angry. That was all good. He addressed specific policy issues in a way that demonstrates his active engagement with them. He didn’t confuse anyone with anyone else. He swapped “Mexico” in for “Egypt.” But what he was describing was clearly the U.S.’s ongoing negotiations with Egypt over the situation in Gaza. The point is that very few viewers would have even noticed that goof. But it’s close to the only thing reporters focused on afterwards. Saying how this is unfair is great for commiserating with fellow Biden supporters. It may have a marginal impact bludgeoning reporters for their hackish work product. But the only way to get around that is to make those public appearances frequent and pervasive enough people actually see them. Yes, he’s a goofy and clumsy public speaker. Keeping him under wraps to prevent Fox News gotchas is totally self-defeating. Jon even, ingeniously, suggests cutting a viral blooper reel of Biden bloopers going back to his 30s and 40s and 50s. It wouldn’t be hard and makes the point. Certainly no one would have to worry about whether it would go viral.
I’m hitting some of these points here but Jon makes them so clearly I want you to go read his piece. Biden needs to go on offense. Get him out there. Show anger and feistiness. When you’re explaining your losing. Stop trying.
The only part Jon gets or got wrong is this: He’s been saying until now that Biden shouldn’t run again. Now with filing deadlines passing, he says, that’s all moot and the focus has to be getting Biden reelected. That’s wrong. We are on a solo voyage halfway across the fucking Atlantic Ocean on this one ship. The quality or seaworthiness of the ship is the mootest of points. We’ve just got to get to land. Jon gets this. But the truth is we’ve been here for at least a year and probably substantially longer. I think most people significantly overstate how much stronger the other logical candidates — Newsom, Whitmer, et al. — would be. But again, moot point. Totally moot point. Now go read Alter’s piece.