More A-list material here for the “Preserving the Dignity of the Office” wing of the august Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Casino.
I’ll have to go back and rewatch the dozen or so Democratic primary debates at which Biden was supposedly unable to mutter a coherent sentence, as I missed them the first time. As it is, the “that’s what I hear” part of the clip below reminds me of Trump telling reporters back in 2011 that he had top-flight investigators hard at work in Hawaii digging up the truth about Obama’s birth certificate. (Even at the time, the media was all too willing to amplify his innuendo.) “They cannot believe what they’re finding,” he assured Meredith Vieira. He never sent anyone to Hawaii, Michael Cohen confirmed a few days ago, and didn’t even believe the Birther stuff about Obama himself. He simply realized that plenty of credulous nobs would love him for confirming their worst suspicions about a president they despised. So that’s what he did.
There was a method to his madness then and there’s a method to his madness in this case too. Sort of.
"I think there's probably, possibly drugs involved. That's what I hear." — during interview with Judge Jeanine, Trump casually accuses Joe Biden of using performance enhancing drugs pic.twitter.com/RVWJMqPNhn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 11, 2020
He’s mentioned the possibility of Biden being on performance-enhancing drugs before but this is the first time (I think?) that he’s said so on camera. It’s his Trumpified way of doing what campaign manager Bill Stepien’s been doing lately in interviews, raising the bar for Biden at the debates after the GOP spent months inexplicably lowering it until it rested flat on the ground. Until recently the Trump campaign’s line on Sleepy Joe was that he was in late-stage mental decline and would probably duck the debates altogether to avoid revealing that to the world. We’re now 18 days away and someone, probably Stepien, finally figured out that reducing expectations for Biden to the point that he only need speak in complete sentences to prove he’s fit for office was a bad idea. Stepien’s new line: Joe Biden may be a moron and a policy disaster, but he’s an expert debater.
Stepien argued Tuesday that Biden is a skilled debater, with decades of experience over Trump. He said the small team helping prepare Trump has been watching all of the former vice president’s debates in recent days on — as he said in a jab at Biden’s 47-year political career — “creaky movies reels.”
“He’s a politician. He gives speeches. He’s really good at doing it. He’s also very practiced at it,” Stepien told NBC News, diverging from the campaign’s usual effort to cast the Democratic nominee as borderline incoherent and stressing that Trump has only been in politics for five years.
“Joe Biden is not formidable anywhere else but he is formidable on the debate stage,” Stepien added. “We just hope he shows up.”
Trump could use that same talking point in theory, but it’d be a hard sell even for him after he’s spent most of the year assuring his fans that Biden’s mind is shot. He needs a Trumpier way to raise expectations for his opponent and supply MAGAworld with an excuse in case Biden does, in fact, sound coherent on September 29. The solution: He’s on drugs. He’s gotten hold of some secret “Flowers for Algernon” sauce that turns him from a stammering imbecile into Pericles overnight.
It’s the same strategy he’s running with his heavy-breathing over mail-in ballots, drop boxes, and so on. If he loses the election, it must mean Biden cheated. If he loses the debate, it must mean Biden cheated. That’s the way a young child approaches adversity — “if I didn’t win, it’s not fair!” — but here we are.
Change Research recently polled the major swing states and asked voters there how they’re feeling about the basic mental competence of the two major-party nominees. Quote: “A 51% majority said Trump is mentally unfit to be president, while 49% answered that he is fit to hold the job. A similar share, by a 52% to 48% margin, responded that Biden is mentally unfit to be president.” When the new president takes office next January, he’ll do so knowing that a majority of his constituents in the most electorally influential states are skeptical that he’s playing with a full deck. What a country.
Exit question: If Biden were constantly boasting about imaginary auto manufacturing plants that were built during his time in office, what would we conclude about his mental capacity?