Opinion | After the debate, Joe Biden’s supporters sound like Donald Trump – The Washington Post

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Opinion | After the debate, Joe Biden’s supporters sound like Donald Trump – The Washington Post

Like Team Trump before them, Team Biden is telling us that the truth is whatever they say it is.
The Biden campaign has now had almost a full week to process the president’s debate performance and the resulting panic within the Democratic Party, and his advisers have settled on a strategy.
The message is: Whatever you thought you saw, you didn’t actually see it. Stop quivering like a bunch of nervous guinea pigs and get out of our way.
Campaign aides have derided nervous supporters as a “bedwetting brigade.” They’ve admonished their contributors to calm down and “breathe through the nose.” They’ve preemptively dismissed negative polls as the product of “overblown media narratives.”
Apparently, President Biden just had a routine, subpar debate, like a lot of other presidents. It’s the rest of us who must have experienced a 90-minute senior moment.
It’s an intensely maddening tactic — not because Biden shouldn’t be president, or because he can’t win, but because the Biden people seem to have taken their inspiration directly from the shiftless demagogue they’re running against.
I have real empathy for Biden. All of us get older. All of us face our own mortality. To confront these things so publicly, to have old friends talk about you as if in elegy, has to be profoundly painful — especially when you feel like you’ve still got it. “Humiliating” is the word I heard from someone who cares about the president.
But we’re not talking about the dignity of one man; we’re talking about the fate of the country. And I’m offended by a bunch of campaign aides who think they can stonewall their way though this thing by bullying patriotic Americans into submission. If I didn’t despise the word “gaslighting” as a faddish cliché, that’s what I’d call it.
This is pretty much the way Biden and his team have handled the age issue ever since he started to think about running again. For the past few years, the president’s aides have behaved as if they’re living in a Harry Potter sequel: “Joe Biden and the Cloak of Invisibility.”
They managed Biden’s time in public, limited him to scripted events, avoided serious, in-depth interviews, embraced a silly meme of Biden as a superhero. Two years ago, in a New York Times piece by my former colleague Peter Baker, one of Biden’s closest aides, Mike Donilon, described him as an all-night policy-idea machine who wouldn’t let his younger aides sleep on plane rides. It wasn’t believable even then.
The problem here (as some of us noted repeatedly) was predictable: It turns out that people have eyes, and occasionally they use them. Inevitably, Biden was going to have to run a more conventional campaign than he did amid the pandemic of 2020, when he was younger and less exhausted. Inevitably, voters were going to see him on a not-so-good day. What were his aides going to say then?
Now we know. They were going to say Biden was as vibrant as ever, and millions of people watching at home were just hysterical and easily manipulated.
To which I say: you guys get that there is no actual cloak of invisibility, right? You know we can actually see him, yes? So the only ones you’re fooling are yourselves.
By trying to fool the rest of us, Team Biden is doing exactly what they have always loathed about Donald Trump and have sworn to banish from our politics.
They are telling us that the truth is whatever they say it is — just like Trump had the biggest inauguration crowd ever, just like he won the last election, just like the litany of things he said in last week’s debate that were true in his mind and nowhere else.
And much like Trump’s aides, the Biden crowd has decided to enforce this make-believe business by cowing their allies into pretending it’s true, too. A few notable Democrats — Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), for instance — sounded a note of alarm after the debate. But most party leaders — including former president Barack Obama, who had his own bad debate in 2012 and damn well knows the difference — went along with the “rough night, nothing to see here” version of events. These are the same Democrats who routinely pounded Republican leaders for aping Trump’s unreality, and deservedly so.
I can’t say whether Biden is fully capable or not, or whether he might have many more good days than bad ones. What I can say is that the president’s team needs to stop treating everybody else like they’re hallucinating — especially as more elected Democrats, in the past 48 hours or so, seem to be wavering on Biden and at least opening the door to alternatives.
Instead, they need to make Biden available, immediately, for a couple of serious interviews in which he can make the case not only that he has what it takes to beat Trump, but also that he has enough left in the tank to govern for another four years.
Because if he doesn’t, then what Biden’s aides are doing right now isn’t just condescending to their friends. It’s also breaking faith with the democratic norms they claim to care so much about.

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