Ouch. Pieces Don't Get Much Worse Than This...

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Can you imagine being Jill Biden and reading this paragraph in New York Magazine? Or Karine Jean-Pierre? Or almost anybody in the Democrat establishment?

Who was actually in charge? Nobody knew. But surely someone was in charge? And surely there must be a plan, since surely this situation could not endure? I heard these questions posed at cocktail parties on the coasts but also at MAGA rallies in Middle America. There emerged a comical overlap between the beliefs of the nation’s most elite liberal Biden supporters and the beliefs of the most rabid and conspiratorial supporters of former President Trump. Resistance or QAnon, they shared a grand theory of America in 2024: There has to be a secret group of high-level government leaders who control Biden and who will soon set into motion their plan to replace Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee. Nothing else made sense. They were in full agreement.



The article, by New York's Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi, dropped at 2 P.M. on July 4th. It was timed to be read, digested, and talked about in the hours before the President of the United States sat down with Bill Clinton's former spokesman and now ABC's premier political reporter, George Stephanopoulos.

The interview is a last-ditch effort to save Joe Biden's campaign for a second term, and the White House didn't need an article titled "The Conspiracy of Silence to Protect Joe Biden, The president’s mental decline was like a dark family secret for many elite supporters" to hit the proverbial newsstands hours before this critical interview. 

The article says the obvious: everybody in the family knew that Biden was gone, and in this case, the family included every reporter, every donor who met Biden, and everybody in the Establishment. The secret is out, folks. Everybody knew, and everybody was in on the conspiracy to hide the obvious. 

If Nuzzi is to be believed, and I do believe her, reporters openly joke about how dead the president looks on any given day. 

Exiting the room after the photo, the group of reporters — not instigated by me, I should note — made guesses about how dead he appeared to be, percentage wise. “Forty percent?” one of them asked.


Forty percent dead on that particular night in April at a fundraiser. Obviously upright and mobile, but not aware of being surrounded by admirers, reporters, donors, or aides. 

Nuzzi has offended many in her set--the Washington and New York elite--by hinting that Biden hasn't been fully there for years. She covered the president when he started running in 2019, and she carefully reminds her readers that she expressed doubts about Biden's abilities during the 2020 campaign. As she describes it, she was sort of excommunicated for pointing out that Biden hasn't been all there for quite a while. 

I had written that there were “[c]oncerns, implicit or explicit, about his ability to stay agile and alive for the next four years,” and that “[f]or political reporters, marveling every day at just how well this isn’t going, watching Biden can feel like being at the rodeo. You’re there because on some level you know you might see someone get killed.” 

The whispers about Biden's accelerating decline apparently began to become more common last year, with people literally whispering to each other about how he couldn't remember who they were or couldn't make it through basic events. 

Bulls**t. Everybody knew. Everybody. 

People--and not just Jill Biden and the inner circle--all knew. As the article's headline said, there was an actual conspiracy of silence, and that conspiracy included everybody in Washington and New York elite circles. 


How could they not know? Biden is an animated corpse much of the time. 

Up close, the president does not look quite plausible. It’s not that he’s old. We all know what old looks like. Bernie Sanders is old. Mitch McConnell is old. Most of the ruling class is old. The president was something stranger, something not of this earth.

This was true even in 2020. His face had then an uncanny valley quality that injectable aficionados call “low trust” — if only by millimeters, his cosmetically altered proportions knocked his overall facial harmony into the realm of the improbable. His thin skin, long a figurative problem and now a literal one, was pulled tightly over cheeks that seemed to vary month to month in volume. Under artificial light and in the sunshine, he took on an unnatural gleam. He looked, well, inflated. His eyes were half-shut or open very wide. They appeared darker than they once had, his pupils dilated. He did not blink at regular intervals. The White House often did not engage when questioned about the president’s stare, which sometimes raised alarm on social media when documented in official videos produced by the White House. The administration was above conspiratorial chitchat that entertained seriously scenarios in which the president was suffering from a shocking decline most Americans were not seeing. If the president was being portrayed that way, it was by his political enemies on the right, who promoted through what the press office termed “cheap fakes” a caricature of an addled creature unfit to serve. They would not dignify those people, or people doing the bidding of those people, with a response.


But all you had to do was look at him, no less spend time with the president. He comes across as a man whose makeup artist is a mortician and whose handlers are kindergarten teachers or perhaps nurses in a memory care unit. 

The pool reporters often struggle with the challenge of how hard it is to hear or make sense of the president. Radio reporters do not always obtain usable audio of his remarks. Print reporters squint and strain and crane their necks, trying to find the best position by which their ears may absorb the vibration of his voice in the air. Reporters scrutinize their audio recordings and read quotes to one another after the fact. Is that what he said? You heard it? In that order? You sure?

These are reporters who have routinely parroted the White House line that everything is fine, there is nothing to see here, and you have to be a MAGA freak to believe otherwise. 

All those videos of Biden looking and sounding like a dementia patient? Donald Trump and Vlad Putin concocted them. 

But Nuzzi has been hearing from her friends and colleagues for months about the dramatic decline in Biden's already diminished capacity from her social and work circle. 

They lived and socialized in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. They did not wish to come forward with their stories. They did not want to blow a whistle. They wished that they could whistle past what they knew and emerge in November victorious and relieved, having helped avoid another four years of Trump. What would happen after that? They couldn’t think that far ahead. Their worries were more immediate.

When they discussed what they knew, what they had seen, what they had heard, they literally whispered. They were scared and horrified. But they were also burdened. They needed to talk about it (though not on the record). They needed to know that they were not alone and not crazy. Things were bad, and they knew things were bad, and they knew others must also know things were bad, and yet they would need to pretend, outwardly, that things were fine. The president was fine. The election would be fine. They would be fine. To admit otherwise would mean jeopardizing the future of the country and, well, nobody wanted to be responsible personally or socially for that. Their disclosures often followed innocent questions: Have you seen the president lately? How does he seem? Often, they would answer with only silence, their eyes widening cartoonishly, their heads shaking back and forth. Or with disapproving sounds. “Phhhhwwwaahhh.” “Uggghhhhhhhhh.” “Bbbwwhhheeuuw.” Or with a simple, “Not good! Not good!” Or with an accusatory question of their own: “Have you seen him?!”

Those who encountered the president in social settings sometimes left their interactions disturbed. Longtime friends of the Biden family, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, were shocked to find that the president did not remember their names.


As I have written a number of times since the debate, this is the real story. Biden's decline and his failing candidacy are fascinating to talk about, but ultimately not nearly as important as the fact that everybody in America has had the opportunity to see that everybody in the political elite is a liar.

They knew. Every single one of them. And they have engaged in a conspiracy to prevent you and every American from knowing one of the most important facts of our time: none of us knows who is running the federal government, but you can be sure it is nobody who is elected. 

The most respected reporters, publications, elected officials, and experts have all been reading the same script, and their goal has been to fool American voters into believing a total falsehood. 

There has to be a secret group of high-level government leaders who control Biden and who will soon set into motion their plan to replace Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee. Nothing else made sense. They were in full agreement.


It's not a conspiracy theory; the conspiracy is real. 

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