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Biden crashes and burns in debate … beyond worst expectations

Biden crashes and burns in debate … beyond worst expectations

In advance of the presidential debate, most analysts – including me – expected President Biden to dispel some of the concerns over his physical and mental condition with a vibrant debate performance.  We believed he would rise to the occasion as he did with the State of the Union Speech in January.  A good performance would not entirely dismiss concerns about Biden’s ability to take on the responsibilities of the presidency for four more years, but would at least give Biden’s allies a positive talking point.

That is not what happened.

As I wrote in my pre-debate commentary, both Biden and President Trump had Achilles Heels.  For Biden, it was the age and mental acuity issues.  For Trump, it was his tendency to go overboard with bs and pugnacity.  Trump avoided exposing his Achilles Heel — mostly.  Biden’s Achilles Heel was his downfall as it was the mythological Achilles.

It is almost impossible to describe in words just how badly Biden performed.  Rather than assuage concern about his age and abilities – or more accurately, his debilities – he exposed a Biden that appeared to be in far worse condition than even his harshest critics had ever alleged.

It did not take long.  Within minutes of the beginning of the debate, my response was shock.  You would have to see it to understand how weak, feeble and out of touch Biden seemed from the very onset of the debate.  Some Biden folks said his performance improved as the debate went on.  Not much.  He struggled in his closing comments.

Biden’s voice was weak.  When not speaking, Biden often had one of those vacant wide-eyed stares into space that we see in elderly people in a state of decline.  He often lost his train of thought — and mumbled incoherently from time to time.

Out of curiosity, I switched on closed captions to see how they handled those incoherent moments.  They were unable to make sense out of some words.  Sometimes it was a gap .. other times closed captions attempted to respond with a mistaken or invented word.  By way of example, it printed “MT” for what I believe was supposed to be “amount.”   Biden did not stumble, but he did a lot of old man mumbling.

There were a number of notable “senior moments.”  In one case, he strangely and inappropriately interjected the murder of a young woman by an illegal immigrant in the middle of a statement on abortion.  On another occasion, his train of thought went completely off the rails as he struggled to complete a thought – which he never did.

Despite days of lock-down coaching, Biden demonstrated no control over his own debate strategy.  He repeatedly failed to counter Trump’s statements – even the grossly false ones.  Whatever went into his brain during his coaching sessions was gone or addled when he took to the stage.

My highly negative assessment of Biden’s opinion is nothing compared to many of the media personalities and political operatives on the left, who would be expected to spin in favor of Biden. 

Democrat strategist David Axelrod said that there was a “state of shock as to how he (Biden) came out at the beginning of this debate.”  He went on to say that Biden “seemed a little disoriented” and called him “incoherent” at times.

Biden’s own former White House communications director Kate Bedingfield called it a “disappointing debate performance by the President,” adding “there isn’t any other way to slice it.”

Former White House press secretary and now an MSNBC anchor Jennifer Psaki said that the Biden campaign now has a “deep hole.”  The network’s Donny Deutsch said the problem was not unfixable and suggested that Biden had to step down.  That was echoed by former Senate college Claire Maccaskill.

Former Obama White House adviser Van Jones said he loves Biden – worked with him – but said watching the debate was “painful” and “he (Biden) did not do well at all.”  Jones said that Biden needed to restore voters’ confidence in him “and he did not do that.”

Across the left-wing media, there was acceptance that the debate was an unmitigated disaster for Biden.  Virtually every news commentator spoke of receiving numerous calls from Democrat operatives, officeholders and donors who were in a high state of panic. That naturally led to a more talk about replacing Biden on the ticket. 

In the history of presidential debates, I have never seen such a negative assessment of a presidential candidate from the home team.  But many said they have never seen a worse performance in a presidential debate – surpassing the Richard Nixon debacle in 1960.  As one Biden panelist said, “We cannot spin enough to overcome what the people saw.”

Democrat operative Ben Rhodes said that there is no way to tell people that they did not see what they saw.  Axios’ Alex Thompson amazingly said that the Biden seen on the stage was the Biden they see every day. He noted that Biden sleeps late in the morning and ends his workday by early evening.  He meets with the press less than any President in modern history.  Thompson said the State of the Unions Speech was the outlier – not the debate.

New York Times columnist and good friend of Biden, Tom Friedman, wrote, “I cannot remember a more heartbreaking moment in American presidential campaign politics in my lifetime.”  Describing the President as “a good man and a good president” Friedman concluded that Biden “has no business running for re-election.”

Even attempts to spin away the problem – such as the unscheduled post-debate appearances on the networks by Vice President Harris – could not undo the crushing criticism of Biden’s performance. 

Just minutes into the debate, when the disaster was already unfolding, the White House issued a statement that Biden had a cold.  Most saw that for what it was – a pre-planned emergency button if things started to go bad.  Miraculously, Biden’s cold went away when he spoke more forcefully at a debate watchers party immediately following the disaster – with wife Jill leading the effusive but dubious praise.

In an unusual expression of crudeness, the banner at the bottom of the screen on CNN quoted an unnamed Democrat source with this simple summary.  “We’re F—ed.”  And no one on the media panels disagreed with that assessment. 

Team Biden now has two problems – to convince American voters that the debate performance was an anomaly and that his obvious condition will not get worse over time.  That seems an impossible task, after what millions of Americans say with their own eyes – and have been seeing for some time.

So, there ‘tis.

(President Trump’s performance will be the subject of a subsequent commentary).

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Harold blankenship

    Good job Joe. You got bested by the best

  2. Andrew Gutterman

    Biden lost, but Trump did not win. Nobody in the “Not sure who I will vote for” camp was the least bit convinced that Trump is capable of being President. Trump was speaking to his base the entire debate. He does not need to convince his base to vote for him. It’s everyone else he needs to convince, he did anything but that in the debate.

    • Tom

      I agree Andrew! The people Trump needs to convince want to hear the truth and they know his record and Biden’s record. So all of Trump’s lies were ineffective because his true record is known. Neither man put forth any vision to sink your teeth into.

      • Americafirst

        Tom, well, then, why don’t you run for President? Between you and your girlfriend, Franki, you both could hold a beautiful campaign on truth and integrity. You seem to know everything when all other people don’t know a damned thing. You and Franki exhibit that every single day that you post on this site that you also think you own. I don’t really care what you say back to me, it will show others what and who you really are. So, come on – give it back! We are all waiting with bated breath!

        • Tom

          Americafirst, let me answer your question with a simple example of the difference between you and me.

          In a previous blog on 6/13/2024, you claim Trump has royalty roots. And that we did not know the grandeur of whom we were talking about.

          Based on the research, what you said was just a lie. The lie was conjured up by his grandfather to avoid the scrutiny of his Jewish friends. it does not excuse his behavior, his dementia, his bashing of America and our legal system, nor does it give him license to lie, gaslight, adulter, cheat, pet women’s genitals, trash witnesses, etc. If anything, his bloodline is probably tainted from incest and other sexual immorality. Read the real history of the Trump family at **

          AGAIN Americalfirst, YOU HAVE SWALLOWED A LIE!!!

          And this is the difference, I do not gulp down Trump lies like you do. I cannot tell if you are intellectually disabled or just wanting to push misinformation. And I hate to take advantage of lower IQ people, or even put them on the spot. But you asked for it, so I gave it to you.

          And please do not whine like you did on 6/13 that I do not know you. As for you, YES I know you from your writing. You are an addict that cannot admit they are an addict to lies and revenge. You are a royalty worshipper. You are at least a MAGA sympathizer that wants to change our democracy into an autocracy. You trash those people who tell the truth and then whimper about something written about you – this is exactly what Trump does! You have all the signs of missing your other half of your brain which was discharged pre-conception! You ask what gives me the right to say these things about you. Simple. The same source that gives you the right to say ugly things about people that tell the truth. We call that the US Constitution. Something I was in the military and end of a war for.

    • larry Horist

      Andre Gutterman … I think two things are true. In terms of a big gain among voters, I would tend to agree with you that there are not enough uncommitted to give either of them a decisive knock out win. They are fighting over a very small group — maybe 4 percent of the voters. But there is no doubt that Trump comes out the winner in the debate for two reasons … he looked good and made sense to a lot of voters and Biden … well … he showed the world his condition and that is a big deal. remember …. he had to break out of a close second, and he did not. That keeps momentum on Trump’s side. Yes … there is time for things to change, but this was one missed opportunity for Biden. And Trump is holding onto more than is hardcore base. And Trump also wins if eve a small percentage of Biden voters go third party or skip the top of the ticket. The point is … a small gain is a big deal when it is so close.

      • frank stetson

        Horist, I think the point is Trump made sense to voters with minds made up. To the rest, he was nonsensical, meandering through emotional issues, or just bad policies. Very few plans, just lots of vitriolic’s.

        Still won, but more important was Biden’s loss that was all Joe, no Don..

      • Andrew Gutterman

        My impression of Trump in the debate was “word salad”. I KNOW what word salad is, a long time ago I was married to a paranoid schizophrenic, Trump sounded a like like her. Endless nonsense with no connection to the question s asked. Spewing vomit.

      • Tom

        Larry, I think that depends on how a person define a win. Independents want truth, policies make sense, and vision. Trump showed neither. We all know his record quite well, and we know how much he lied and spun. Trump’s lied with great confidence! He looked great while he was lying his teeth off! And many Americans just look superficially at how a person looks and sounds. Biden looked bad but we know he tells the truth and we know his accomplishments. We know who’s economy is really better, as do the economists who came out and said Trump lied about that too! They also said his Tariff plan was ridiculous and will never work, and will be a disaster. LOL

        It will take a few weeks before polls will be able to reflect any long term damage. I suspect their may be a little but not much. We will have to wait and see.

  3. frank stetson

    Yes and no, Andrew and Tom. Biden has a lot of softness in his party, indy’s, and undecided.

    So many of renown are calling for his stepping down.

    I say —– take the offensive, Obama for VP, solves so many issues. I have told team Biden, but is anybody listening? And if Obama no want to run, just give him the Frank Regan “you gotta give just a little more for the good of the nation” speech..

    • Americafirst

      Franki, dead men cannot speak. Unless you believe in ghosts.

      • Tom

        Not true. Diaries, videos, audio recordings, wills, foundations, etc. are all of the ways deceased persons can speak.

  4. Darren

    Trump can run on his record!
    He did not need to sell anyone any vision.
    If the media had promoted Trumps triumphs during his Presidency
    and did not try to take him out at every turn, Everyone would and could have
    benefited from his presidency.
    There are those in this country who benefit off the demise of our nation.
    Biden Supporters are among this group.
    You must all feel very proud!
    You should all start an Adopt an Immigrant program!

    • Tom

      Independents want vision and we know his record. His record is not that great. His lies make his record sound great. Do the research.

      • Americafirst

        What lies. Tom? I want you to prove for a fact lies Trump said. Prove it! Where is the proof?

        • Frank steson

          Af ur felon rapist King, the great defamer, stated that inflation caused prices to quadruple or more. It did not. That was a lie.

          There are over 30,000 Trump lies sourced, databased, and factually shot down with evidence in multiple sites on the web.

        • Tom

          There is plenty of proof out there. Trump was Trump, lying and creating his alternative reality and tried his hardest to get viewers to believe it. Trump even took credit for Biden’s Insulin cost reduction which was a signature achievement of his administration. Problem is Biden did not call him on the Trump theft. Trump also deflected and did not answer two important questions even after the moderators circled back to get his answer, he deflected again on Jan 6th, and accepting election outcomes. Biden did not call him on this. Trump lied on Jan 6th, porn star sex, Insulin cost reduction, economy where stats show several administration economies have been better than Trump administration economy, abortion that everybody wanted the issue handed back to the states which we know to be false, full term abortions which are rare and only usually given when mother’s life is at stake, lied about his tariff program and how it will hurt average Americans, lied about Medicare and SS cuts, justified revenge for his opponents, lied about inflation and his contribution to it, veteran care where he said he did great with Veterans but left office with veterans still suffering from burn pit fumes and cancers with no help from the VAetc. Trump did not answer questions about child care or the opioid crisis.

  5. Tom

    This article gets a Stop The Spin (STA) rating of STS 3. Here is why:

    Its nice that there were so many initially negative comments by Dems and media at large so that Larry does not have to do much spinning and lying by omission. The facts of the article are accurate, but again, the article is not balanced. Some of the information below may not have been available when the article was submitted for publication.

    1) With Independents, Trump had one more Achilles heel that the article does not mention, his constant lying. He is incapable of telling the full truth. This Achilles heel should have been mentioned up front in bold letters instead of being buried much later in the article.

    2) The article says, “Axios’ Alex Thompson amazingly said that the Biden seen on the stage was the Biden they see every day. ” There are also many who spoke up and said that Biden is energetic and very engaging during the times they were discussing issues with him at the White House.

    3) Latest national polls gave Biden a two point upward bump from the debate that Trump did not get – Trump is pissed off about it. Truth is that it will be a couple of weeks before polls can/will display any long term damage to Biden from the debate.

    4) Article did not mention that the next day Biden gave a very good speech in Philadelphia. The next day, many of the commenters from the debate saw his next day speech and were pumped up on Biden again. Dems are encouraged and seem to be seeing this as just a bad day. They now are saying they need to activate the bench around Biden and begin to create more energy. Independents will still go with Biden if he can show in the next few months that the first debate was simply a bad day. Biden is strong in morals and truth – and being Joe in front of the people is what they want to see, the Biden heart.

    Biden’s voice was very raspy from the first word. I thought it was either a cold or to much talking between his heavy D-Day / G7 meeting and the fundraiser just before the debate. The man had a travel schedule that most men, even many ten year younger men, might not be able to keep up with. To me, this was the fault of his handlers and advisors.

    American voters look at “how a person looks and sounds” much more than how wise they are and how much they have done. Biden has never been a good showman. He has never been good on stats and figures. He is a heart speaker, a person’s person, and the debate prep I believe did not match his natural style. In Philly, he was in his natural style and it was a good groove!

    The choice is still the same from an Independent’s point of view: Either select a sociopath malignant narcissist that most of the world hates who cannot stop lying and now is claiming accomplishments that were solely by Biden (lowering insulin costs to $35) , OR an elderly man that has much more wisdom, tells the truth, the world likes, but his aging must be managed just as is his health as well as his schedule and activities are managed, and he may or may not last the full term.

    I will pick the old nice guy and hope he can make it through at least two years or more.

    • larry Horist

      Tom … I was paying $35 per month for insulin before Biden took office., Trump reduced the cost for those on Medicare … Biden expanded it. And according to recent reports, some world leaders though Biden had cognitive problems at the G7 and in France.

      • Tom

        Good point Larry, Thanks! I guess the confusion is that the reduced prices only started for the 2021 year. Yes those G7 member reports are out there but I am skeptical of the doctored videos, particularly the sky diver video. Still the truth is, Biden is going to have a problem explaining it all away. We all saw it. We will have to wait and see!

        • larry Horist

          The video of Biden looking at the sky divers was a pool camera. I saw the same video on all networks without any differences. One could say that Biden was distracted from the business at hand, but alone that video was not convincing. However, other videos of his actions and statements are. The debate night was not an anomaly. The senior moments have been increasing … the concern rising and he cover up more outrageous. As one Democrat said … the toothpaste is out of the tube and cannot be put back.

          • Tom

            Larry, I agree the toothpaste is out of the tube. However, good, reliable predictors of debates versus election wins show that Biden is still the best choice. He checks off most of the boxes. One of the predictors was on tv and reminded us that Obama was trounced in the debates but went on to win. Others have had poor debate performances and won. I think at this point, Dem’s best chance is still Biden. I will disagree with anyone that states that the debate performance was the norm for Biden. There were circumstances like his heavy travel schedule and maybe being ill, as well as maybe a bad prep plan that were at play. Many of his staff say he is normally sharp. But we must face reality that he is aging and will have to be managed more carefully. I will also disagree with anyone who thinks or attempts to gaslight the electorate that everything is just fine. As a Masters degree aging specialist I can affirm all is not fine, but also, all is not a disaster either. Still I and many like me feel he is a better choice than a Project 25. And I would be happy to work with the administration to develop an aging presidency plan for him that blends aging and capacity maintenance concepts into his life as president.

            Now on insulin,

            I think Frank’s comment has merit. You Larry, seemed to fall into one of the qualified categories. Good for you. I read two good articles. It appears that Trump got some cost reductions going by partnering with a couple of pharma companies, but not all, and some insurance providers. Biden seems to have picked up where Trump’s program fell short and as you said, Biden expanded the program by including more pharma companies, more competition in the insulin industry, and working with more insurance providers. You know I have often said that both were responsible for the inflation we have today. Weeeeell, it would seem to me based on these articles that both can claim part of the victory for many Americans enjoying reduced insulin costs. Kuddo’s to both of them. To me this is actually an example of cross-administration wholesome progressiveness. We need more of this. The two articles I read were: ** which discusses Trump, and, ** which discusses Biden’s successes in this area.

            The sad thing about our society is that the inventors of insulin, on 23 January 1923, Banting, Collip and Best were awarded U.S. patents on insulin and the method used to make it. They all sold these patents to the University of Toronto for $1 each. Banting famously said, “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.” He wanted everyone who needed it to have access to it. Our pharma companies are the villains in this if you ask me!!! For more, see **. I am glad that these great men are finally seeing their wish come true, that insulin is affordable for all.

        • frank stetson

          Policy versus Performance: If Larry paid $35 for insulin under Trump, first, sorry, hope it works, I’m lucky, on the pill(s).

          Second, Larry got lucky since Trump’s POLICY was voluntary inclusion to the POLICY, if that’s what you call a voluntary version. Trump’s VOLUNTARY POLICY did not cover Part B, never covered all types of insulin, just a few, and other Trump VOLUNTARY POLICY access restrictions. In total, Trump’s POLICY covered 38% of Part D plans —– Horist was lucky proving that anecdotes are not statistically valid and statistics put the truth into anecdotal data.

          Trump’s policy covered 880K people with it’s restrictions; Biden’s covers 3.3M plus the Part B users. Horist was in the lucky 25% of the universe being covered by the BIDEN POLICY…..

          Here’s the straight skinny on Trump’s weak tea POLICY and Biden’s comprehensive one.


          • Tom

            Thanks for the info Frank! I am glad Larry was in the lucky 25%. Also glad so many more are now enjoying lower insulin costs. I do not have this issue so I only know what I read.

            Are you on Metformin? If so, I heard there are some nasty long term effects.

            I’m glad both POTUS’es got the job done on this issue!

          • frank stetson

            Yes Horist is lucky. The Trump POLICY was voluntary thing for show, hats off to big pharma, and he was quadrupled, without inflation, by Biden’s real policy. What kind of EO Policy is voluntary? That’s performance art versus real policy. Just for show. And that’s the point. These folks think he’s delivering when often it’s only 25% of what you need, if that. And they will look you in the face and tell you Trump delivered a health plan better than Obama’s, better than BIden’s.

            Tom, thanks for the head up on the Metformin; it’s been over two decades, think I am OK. I do a full panel every quarter so we did pick up on the b-12 deficiency, no biggee. My Doctor is a fantastic diagnostician and really good on the drugs. He loves the new, still uses the old, so I am on a cocktail and one of the first to get the next gen stuff. Been pretty stable slow progression so far; I do watch my diet but I am not totally off the good stuff.

            As we say: at this point, chances are it won’t be the DBII that gets me. My progression is pretty slow so far.

            Being in NJ, we have easier access to treatment trials as well. While Diabetes is still hot, the next drug wave will attack fatty liver — trust me, trials well underway. Can’t wait!

  6. Archie

    Why would it be close? A man who really cares about the country or a demented old prick being dragged around by his wife just so she can have prestige? I don’t think the polls are giving retard joe a chance. We are talking about morons supporting an old fool or a man who handed over a great economy

    • frank stetson

      Arch, Biden and the Democrats are in real trouble. And your guy is only three years behind, and remember, Joe was pretty spry three years ago too, But, to your opinion: why would a man “who really cares about the country” take all those draft deferments and when they ran out, suddenly develop a severe case of bone spurs that have never bothered him before or since?

      He cares so much about country that he ripped off his university students, stole from his charity foundation, and cheated on taxes in business and personal accounts? I guess he does care about country when it comes to bailouts and bankruptcies. Afterall, he has over a half dozen of them that the taxpayer covered. Then there’s that pesky $150,000 Trump took for no damages at his 40 Wall Street location, almost a mile from the Trade Center. For love of country no doubt, he took 9/11 money for a building a mile away and not damaged. I’m sure he did that for love of country and all the others that needed it more.

      When Trump turned over his great economy, unemployment was near 7%, having dropped to that terrible number from the 15% record Trump set. He ran up the largest deficit ever, a massive $3.1T which fed the largest US debt ever at over $27T which shows how terrible the $3.1T deficit was. His tax cut was predicated on a 3% GDP growth, Trump PROMISED over 4% and he delivered 2.3% — the same economic engine as Obama’s eight years. Clinton got 4%, now that’s an economy. In 2020, he delivered a negative 2.77% GDP growth, worse since Hoover —- and that’s what he handed off.

      Oh yeah, and for added insult, Trump printed $900B in stimulus money around December of 2020, preannounced in the fall to steal the election, but helping to cause the inflation that plagued Biden. Nice handoff.

      Not so great an economy based on the numbers. That does not mean that you were not better off with all those tax dollars causing the deficit, the free money that fueled inflation and the deficit.

      FYI: Biden’s economy is better, on the numbers, but he too fueled inflation with too much free money printed, his GDP growth is not stellar, and while he tapered the deficits and debt, he is losing that in his fourth year. But personally, under Biden, life under inflation sucks, even if everyone is working.

      But Trump having a great economy is dubious, and having over a great economy is a false notion. Don’t believe the Rapist King, felons lie.


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