The Do-Something Caucus Responds In Force

INSIDE: Your comments on the post-debate Biden saga
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the NATO 75th anniversary celebratory event at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium on July 9, 2024 in Washington, DC. NATO leaders convene in Washin... WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the NATO 75th anniversary celebratory event at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium on July 9, 2024 in Washington, DC. NATO leaders convene in Washington this week for its annual summit to discuss future strategies and commitments and mark the 75th anniversary of the alliance’s founding. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A special reader comment edition of TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

A Polarizing Post

Yesterday’s Morning Memo generated more diametric reactions than any other edition I’ve written before. Many of you wrote in to say how much it resonated for you. In equally eloquent terms, many others wrote in to express their deep frustration with it and with TPM’s broader coverage of the Biden saga over the past 13 days.

I’m not going to flatter myself by republishing the accolades. Instead, I’m going to publish here some of the critiques, not as an exercise in self-flagellation but to give voice to some of the despair, outrage, and exasperation that many of you are feeling.

I’m not sure you’ll pick up on it from the reactions I’ve selected, but one thing I noticed yesterday for the first time (it’s when I first noticed it, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been present over the past couple of weeks and I just missed it) is that some people see the debate fiasco as an opportunity for a do-over since Biden is trailing in the polls and in key battleground states. In other words, the poor debate performance offers a chance that might not otherwise have existed to change horses midstream since Trump now has a clearer path to victory in the Electoral College than Biden does.

That reinforced and extends something that I think has been clear since the night of the debate: This would be a different conversation if Biden had gone into the debate with a commanding lead and the race seemed like his to lose. If defeating Trump is your one and only goal, then there’s some logic to taking advantage of this disaster to try to re-set the race. I don’t think it’s as simple as that, but I get why if you think Biden is now certain to lose you would see dumping him for a different nominee as having no real downside. (The effect on down-ballot races might be a different analysis, but when you have people like Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) publicly warning that Biden is about to lose Democrats the House and Senate, too, the analysis may not be different at all.)

With that preamble out the way, I yield the floor to reader comments.

‘You’ve Never Been this Wrong’

I’ve been reading TPM since at least 2008 and a subscriber for years. I don’t feel like your general tone has ever been more off. Yelling “do something” may not accomplish anything in and of itself. But in a free and fair society you can’t do much of anything until people agree something must be done.

In both of these scenarios, something absolutely needed to be done. Deep water horizon wasn’t Obama’s fault, but it was a major problem the required attention, reassurance and a plan. And it was the job of the executive branch to make sure that the something was timely and effective. 

I love Joe Biden. I have since the first time I heard him say “don’t tell me your priorities show me your budget.” But, in this scenario the man who is the only hope of stopping a truely disturbing movement in our politics has shown multiple times in a row that he cannot answer simple questions he should have been prepared for coherently. His response to “did you watch the debate” was gibberish AND factually inaccurate.

Something does have to be done. And we have to agree to that before we can decide exactly what. People like you are the people I’m depending on to come up with a solution, not to try and sell me on the idea that a solution might not be necessary. 

TPM Reader DP

‘Not Sure I Get The Point Here, DK’

Interesting, but not sure I get the point here, DK. Critical coverage is good but be critical of excessively critical coverage? I think the “sense of proportion” is about right given that 1) Biden will in all likelihood lose, 2) Biden is in all likelihood unfit to be president, and 3) Trump, a fascist, is headed back to his throne unless we “do something.”

Biden’s numbers are abysmal across the board compared to 2020, even in solidly blue states, before the debate and esp now. He trails Dem senators by 8-10% because 70-80% of the public can see with their own eyes that he is weak physically and mentally and I’m happy for the critical reporting b/c we need a strong president, and not just between 10-4pm. Age has been and remains the key issue. From my POV, it’s absurd to think he can lead for 4.5 more years. So put me in the “do something.” Better than “avert your eyes, suck it up, and fall in line.” …

Political journalism is messy, click-baity, and sensational in this moment, yes, but we’re in a political crisis and maybe that’s what we need to get the Dems to show how a competent and deliberative party can respond and rise to the moment. Do something or lose.

TPM Reader CB

‘You Don’t Understand How Screwed We All Are’

First of all, I want to say that I have been reading you consistently since you about 2005, and I am in awe of what you’ve done. Thank you for being there. I can’t imagine trying to understand American politics with you. 

Second, this is the first time I’ve ever written into you. And I wanted to write because almost every time I have read you, I have felt like you all “get it” from both an inside the beltway and an outside the beltway sort of way. … It’s not just a game to you. 

But I have to say, when it comes to this upcoming election, I really don’t think you understand how screwed we all are. And in your relative dismissiveness of calls for Biden to let someone take his place, I think you are missing how absolutely loathed Biden is among many of those who, four years ago, were out knocking on doors for him. In a “will they or won’t they?” sort of way, I get why you are writing the way you do. But if you want the Democrats to actually have any chance of beating Trump, I would be calling for Biden to step down immediately, if I were you. From where I sit, it seems like our last chance. 

I live in Los Angeles … I don’t think folks in DC understand how absolutely enraged many of us in the creative and helping professions are at Biden. For the way he has handled Palestine, first and foremost. But even more than that, we are so, so, so tired. We are mainly a group of writers, artists, and activists who have spent our entire lives fighting to improve the world, trying to fight inequality,  trying to fight racism and gender inequality and homophobia. Trying to fight climate change and environmental catastrophe. And every single step of the way, we are told that we can either do that, or we can own a home. We can either teach children, or we can afford our own children. We can either live uncomfortably trying to make the world a better place, or we can live comfortably destroying it. This is a cultural and systemic failure, and it has been one since I was born, right around when Reagan became president. …

What we need is someone from the left who also recognizes this, but who actually has constructive solutions. Not a Biden who go out there and say “America is the greatest,” “democracy is the greatest,” “we must defend our way of life,” but someone who goes out there and acknowledges the complete absurdity that is living in the US right now while also having a vision for how to actually turn this around. Someone who actually has some ideas for shifting the social and institutional norms that have put us in this bizarro world where we are rewarded for hurting our communities and punished for helping them. I don’t know who this is, but this is a last minute chance to find someone like that. 

Because to be honest, without someone like that? I do not see how Biden wins. And even if he does, four years from now? We will have someone worse than Trump. 

So please, for the love of God, could you recognize this for what it is? One last chance to get someone to run against Trump who might actually win? 

TPM Reader SF


Long time lurker first time caller. I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been by TPM’s recent coverage of the first debate and its political implications. … I am truly boggled at the brittleness of your support for Joe Biden and your amplification of this DC elite nonsense of replacing him on the ballot. He looked old at the debate. He is old. Get over it. This has never been an election about the validity of gerontocracy. This election is about democracy

TPM Reader JW

‘Also Disappointed’

Personally, I’m also disappointed about how much of the discourse has been about media personalities and rivalries. I don’t really care whether pundits have been fatuous or self-important, and it doesn’t seem to me evidence of anything important. Joe appeared senile at a critical moment in his campaign. I don’t need a pundit to tell me that or to make me worry about it. I remain a deep admirer of TPM and all your work, but am also a very worried and unhappy Democrat.

TPM Reader SM

Feedback Request

How would you feel about Morning Memo being devoted to reader comments from time to time? What frequency would be about right? Once a week? Every other week? Monthly? Never? Let me know at the link below.

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  1. Good morning.

    David, in response to your feedback request. I wouldn’t be opposed to a ‘readers comments’ type column from time to time but I wouldn’t want to see it more than once a month (at most). We all get to see each other’s comments daily (when the comment section is working). That seems sufficient to me.

    I do enjoy your take on the current state of the political world and I generally find myself in agreement.

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