Black Eyes, Lifeless Eyes, Like a Doll’s Eyes. Biden Done!

Written by John Harris.

Social media lit up quickly as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump faced off in a CNN debate on Thursday. Although both candidates received their share of critiques, Biden’s appearance seemed to draw more attention.

Moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper introduced the candidates without a live audience, creating a quiet atmosphere for their entrances. Almost immediately, viewers commented on Biden’s appearance. Both camps have made a habit of poking at each other’s ages: Trump is 78, while Biden is 81.

“It’s hard to imagine this debate starting worse for Biden,” journalist Chris Cillizza tweeted just minutes into the debate.

Former CNN host Brian Stelter noted the difference between Trump and Biden was “striking,” despite only listening to the audio.

Conservatives didn’t hold back either.

Cenk Uygur, Young Turks co-founder and an independent presidential candidate, declared the debate was “over” just minutes in, saying Biden looks “ancient.”

Biden’s Response and Post-Debate Remarks

After the debate, Biden addressed a Democratic watch party, focusing on what he called Trump’s falsehoods during their 90-minute confrontation.

“Look, folks, over the next few days, they’re going to fact-check everything he said,” Biden stated, his voice clearer than it had been on the debate stage. “I can’t think of one thing he said that was true,” he added, stirring the crowd to chants of, “We need you!”

Sources familiar with Biden’s preparation noted he had been battling a cold, which explained his hoarse and raspy voice during the debate.

Performance and Public Reaction

Biden’s uneven performance during the debate heightened concerns about his age and ability to serve. His attempts to confront Trump often seemed halting, reinforcing worries among Americans about his capability at 81 years old.

Trump, at 78, reminded voters of his bombastic style from his previous term. He declined to clearly state he would accept the November election results, similar to his stance in 2020, which led to the January 6th insurrection.

David Axelrod, a long-time advisor to former President Barack Obama, expressed his shock on CNN, noting, “He seemed disoriented at the beginning. He did get stronger, but the initial panic set in.” Prominent Democrats also voiced doubts about Biden’s future candidacy.

Van Jones, another Democratic strategist, bluntly stated, “He did not do well at all.”

Trump and Biden’s Contentious Debate Moments

Biden began the debate with a raspy voice and a halting delivery. While trying to defend his economic record and criticize Trump, he appeared to lose his train of thought at times. His struggle sparked renewed discussions about whether he should continue his candidacy.

Trump countered Biden’s criticism by leaning into falsehoods about the economy, illegal immigration, and his role in the January 6th insurrection. He defended the actions of his supporters on that day, shifting blame to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Biden accused Trump of encouraging the Capitol rioters and doing nothing to stop them. “He didn’t do a damn thing, and these people should be in jail,” Biden stated emphatically. Trump, in response, defended the convicted insurrectionists, criticizing Biden for their treatment.

Personal Attacks and Policy Disputes

Both candidates didn’t shy away from personal attacks. Biden invoked his son Beau, a veteran who died of brain cancer, to criticize Trump’s alleged remarks about fallen soldiers. Trump denied making those comments and slammed Biden for the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden mentioned Trump’s conviction in the New York hush money trial, calling Trump’s morals into question. Trump denied the allegations and suggested Biden could face criminal charges after leaving office, despite a lack of evidence.

On policy, Biden blamed rising inflation on the situation he inherited from Trump. Trump, however, claimed his term left the country in good shape, dismissing the chaos of his final months in office.

Clash Over Abortion and Foreign Policy

Abortion and foreign policy were major points of contention. Trump highlighted his role in overturning Roe v. Wade, claiming it returned abortion decisions to the states. Biden countered that it made basic healthcare harder to access for many women.

On foreign policy, Trump blamed Biden for the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, suggesting these aggressions were due to perceived weaknesses in Biden’s leadership. Biden dismissed these claims as “malarkey.”

Final Moments and Aftermath

The debate ended with both men traveling to key states to rally support. Trump headed to Virginia, while Biden planned a large rally in North Carolina, a state Trump narrowly won in 2020.

Our Take

This debate highlighted serious concerns about both candidates’ abilities to lead. Biden’s halting performance raised valid questions about his age and fitness for office. Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting election results and his defense of insurrectionists show a disregard for democratic norms. This situation is troubling for the public, as it underscores the instability and division within American politics. Voters deserve candidates who respect the democratic process and can lead with integrity and clarity.

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