Via the Daily Beast, this isn’t even the best conspiracy theory from yesterday’s show. At the start of this clip, Rush speculates that Biden did so well on Thursday night that some viewers may have come away wondering if his many absent-minded moments on the campaign trail are part of a long con. What if the apparent senescence of Joe Biden is just an act aimed at getting Republicans to lower their guard, only to have Joe reveal himself as a razor-sharp political dynamo at the debates?
He’s not endorsing that theory, mind you; elsewhere in the same clip he says he still thinks Biden will find a way to weasel out of the debate. (Spoiler: He won’t.) He just knows how populists’ minds work. If you enemy had a good night, there must be a sinister explanation.
In reality Thursday’s performance was a gift to the GOP. Biden proved in a setting with relatively low viewership — lower than the debates anyway, and with far fewer swing voters watching — that reports of him having “lost a step” may be exaggerated. This is the moment for Republicans to stop lowering expectations for him and start raising them so that, when he and Trump finally meet in a month, the big question before the debate won’t be, “Can Joe Biden still formulate coherent thoughts?” If the debates are a referendum on his acuity, Republicans are all but guaranteed to lose.
But no, let’s keep pushing that bar down further.
“Now, the assumption I think that everybody had going in, was that he was live,” Limbaugh told listeners. But, he added, “Some people are of the opinion that it had to be taped—and that it had to be taped in segments. And the segments had to be edited together.” Because, as “some people” think, Biden is “not capable of 22 minutes, even reading a prompter, with no screw-ups.”
“This is the prevailing theory,” Limbaugh added, claiming to know some “professional video people” who are currently studying the tape. “They’re trying to find out if it was taped or live, based on the premise that there isn’t any evidence that Joe Biden has the ability to go 22 minutes, even on a prompter, without making a mistake, without some kind of a flub.”…
Limbaugh summed up his “legitimate question” as, “Was that thing really live, or was it a series of edited-together segments, made to look live, on the premise that Biden isn’t capable of 22 minutes, however long it was, of flawless reading, with proper emotion and all that, of what’s on a teleprompter, without making a single mistake?”
“It’d be hard for him to do,” the host concluded.
If it was live, Rush reasons, why didn’t they hold the speech outside before a socially distanced crowd? Possible explanation: More can go wrong outside, and I don’t mean wrong with Biden’s brain. There could be ambient noise, protesters could race to the scene to try to disrupt it, or maybe the vibe just wouldn’t be that energetic from a smallish crowd. Especially given the themes of Biden’s address, a quieter speech delivered directly to the camera is arguably more effective than a speech delivered at a podium to a crowd of, say, 200 people offering tinny cheers and horn honks outdoors.
An outdoor speech would have required more resources to manage too. And Democrats went very, very low-key on production this year:
Amazing fact: apparently the DNC convention was helmed from (Emmy winner) Glenn Weiss's living room in Brentwood. He had pants on but no shoes. pic.twitter.com/urM6y1Zxk3
— John Brownlow (@JohnBrownlow) August 21, 2020
The smoking gun, though, is that there actually was a flaw in Biden’s delivery of the speech that got picked up by sites like Breitbart. Rush mentions it at one point as no big deal, but if the theory is that the speech was taped and Democrats needed umpteen takes for him to get right, there’s no reason that flaw should have made it into the “final cut.”
Free advice: Drop the “Biden is senile” stuff at least temporarily, as we’re at the stage of the campaign where it does more harm than good. Now that he’s proved he’s at least well enough to read a Teleprompter convincingly, insisting that he’s lost a step is less persuasive and works against Trump at the debates. If Sleepy Joe has any sleepy moments at the debates, then bring back the “Biden is senile” argument with full force. No one’s going to make up their minds about his mental state at this point anyway. That’s the sort of thing that might tip voters into Trump’s column in the last weeks of the campaign, when people are finally making up their minds.
Exit quotation from WaPo reporter Robert Costa, reminding us that outlandish speculation certainly isn’t exclusive to the right: “They’re talking about the 22nd Amendment that bans a president from going beyond two terms. Democrats are looking at that Obama speech tonight and saying maybe one day he could come back? Maybe the 22nd Amendment could be repealed?” (Spoiler: It won’t be.)