Democrats Circle the Wagons

AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza

It was only a few hours ago that I wrote about the Democratic response to the Special Counsel report and, at the time, there were a few anonymous people willing to admit it was a disaster and a few on-message strategists brushing it off as no big deal. But by this afternoon the tone had changed. Now the full voice of the party seems to have settled on a specific set of talking points: The special counsel was "politically motivated" and his comments about Biden's memory were "inappropriate."


White House officials on Friday called the special counsel’s report into President Biden’s handling of classified material politically motivated, escalating their attempts to discredit a document that characterized the president as elderly and forgetful.

...Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, said it was “inappropriate” and “troubling.”...

The Biden response, in some ways, has been straight out of a traditional White House playbook: When a prosecutor makes unflattering or damaging assertions, counterattack by describing the prosecutor as a partisan.

VP Kamala Harris got in on the act using all the agreed upon talking points.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday told reporters at a gun violence prevention event in Washington that the report was "inaccurate and inappropriate."

"The way that the President’s demeanor in that report was characterized could not be more wrong on the facts," she said, adding, “And clearly politically motivated, gratuitous.”

Josh Marshall at the aptly named Talking Points Memo turns the few words into a few paragraphs amounting to the same thing.

Are we sure that Hur let his political bias get in the way of his professional judgment? Can we draw that from his background as a politically connected Republican lawyer? I don’t even think it’s a serious question. The lengthy and gratuitous comments speak for themselves. Of course he did.

The descriptions in the report sound bad because they are designed to sound bad. These are from a five hour discussion the day after the October 7th attacks on Israel when I’m sure Biden was focused on that unfolding crisis. Without watching the interview we have no way of knowing whether these are representative of the tenor of the conversation or cherry-picked gotchas.


But it's all faux outrage designed to change the subject by attacking the prosecutor. This is exactly the same as Trump going on a rant about AG Letitia James being a Trump hater. I could swear Democrats thought that was the lowest form of politics until about four hours ago.

The bottom line is that Democrats are scared and desperate. As one of my friends on Twitter said, they are circling the wagons around a turnip.

But underneath all the bluster they've managed to generate this afternoon, they are trapped, aware there's nothing else they can do.

Privately, some longtime Biden donors and supporters said there was a significant level of concern in their circles after the report and Mr. Biden’s news conference performance. But there was no obvious outlet for that angst: They expect Mr. Biden to be the party’s nominee, win or lose.

Even if you're an optimistic Democrats who still believes Biden is more capable than he often appears, how in the world can anyone believe he'll be okay in another two years much less another four. To anyone who has dealt with elderly parents or grandparents and seen them decline with age, it defies belief.


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