President Biden and the post-debate crisis Skip to content

President Biden and the post-debate crisis

The “crisis” surrounding the Biden debate performance is NOT the biggest crisis facing our country. Ken Wolf explains.

3 min read

The furor aroused in Democrat Party ranks by President Joe Biden’s poor performance in the first Presidential Debate on Jun 27 can be encapsulated by three headlines that appeared in the July 1, 2024 issue of the Washington Post:

1) Biden team works furiously to quell any Democratic revolt after debate

2) Biden needs support from millions of Americans who don’t think he can do the job

3) Four things to remember about post-debate polls

The first two headlines capture accurately the tone, the worry, and the fears of Democrats following the debate. The third, a report by columnist Philip Bump, was more measured. He pointed out, first, that it would take some time for the polls to show anything, and the results would vary depending upon who was doing the polling.

Bump’s second point was that “it’s likely there won’t be much movement.” People know both candidates and there has been little change in the polls so far. Bump’s third point is that Biden’s position is strengthened by the fact that he is running against Trump.

In the last two elections, Americans voted against rather than for a candidate. Referring to the 2016 election, Bump wrote “the parallel to 2024 should be obvious: Maybe Democrats (and Americans generally) think Biden shouldn’t be running and believe he can’t serve effectively. But he isn’t Trump, just as Trump wasn’t Clinton,” a person many people despised.

In the political talk shows after the debate on CNN, the Republican representatives ignored the many lies and distortions mouthed by Donald Trump. Despite his behavior, Trump was generally seen by many as the winner of the debate. The polls in weeks to come may not ratify this decision.

The turmoil in Democratic ranks over Biden’s debate performance and what it means is already beginning to die down. After all, only Joe Biden himself can release his delegates and thus allow the Democratic Convention to select another nominee. He shows no willingness to do so, and those who want him to end his candidacy are smart enough to avoid splitting the party by forcing him to do so.

So there we have it, a crisis that could cause a Democratic defeat in November, with some of our voters saying Joe Biden is no longer able to carry the burden of the presidency and should withdraw in favor of Kamala Harris or one of the younger successful Democratic governors. This is clearly a problem.

What we need to remind ourselves is there are two other problems that are much more serious than Biden’s debate performance. The first is the Supreme Court July 1 ruling granting any president immunity for “official acts” (yet to be defined by courts) performed as president, even if they might be illegal. This decision invalidates the democratic and Constitutional principle that no one is above the law.

The second serious crisis is that Donald Trump, aided by far-right Republicans who wrote Project 2025, is willing to engage in such unconstitutional actions “when necessary,” should he be elected president.

One of my Democratic friends told me that Biden’s current situation poses an “existential political crisis.” As I understand the term “existential,” this means that this crisis could result in ending the very existence of our democratic republic and its replacement by another form of government, likely an authoritarian one.

I don’t disagree that this is an existential crisis, but we must remember that this worse case scenario will only happen if Donald Trump is elected president. The primary, crucial and necessary task is then to defeat Donald Trump.

Replacing Biden as the Democratic nominee for president will make a Trump victory more likely.

Trump’s debate lies and refusal to answer legitimate question from the moderators should receive more attention in the media and in Democratic campaign advertisements.

Despite Trump’s fanatic and (literally) thoughtless base supporters, it seems clear that most American do not want a self-serving “Liar-in-Chief” as President of the United States.

Biden can effectively carry this message to the voters, but only if all Democrats do our best to make this election about Trump.


Print Friendly and PDF

Ken Wolf

Ken Wolf spent 40 years teaching European and World History, punctuated by several administrative chores, at Murray State University, retiring in 2008. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)