Why didn't Biden watch a replay of the debate? By Hal Brown, MSW (2024)

Why didn't Biden watch a replay of the debate? By Hal Brown, MSW (1)

For me the most important and illuminating thing President Biden said in the interview with George Stephanopolous was when he was asked whether he watched the debate at some time afterwards and he said that he hadn't.

This came at the very beginning of the interview. It was the third question. Here's the context:

STEPHANOPOULOS: And — and I know you’ve said that before as well, but you came — and you did have a tough month. But you came home from Europe about 11 or 12 days before the debate, spent six days in Camp David. Why wasn’t that enough rest time, enough recovery time?

BIDEN: Because I was sick. I was feeling terrible. Matter of fact, the docs with me, I asked if they did a Covid test because they’re trying to figure out what was wrong. They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, you know, a virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And — did you ever watch the debate afterwards?

BIDEN: I don’t think I did, no.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what I’m try — what I want to get at is, what were you experiencing as you were going through the debate? Did you know how badly it was going?

BIDEN: Yeah, look. The whole way I prepared, nobody’s fault, mine. Nobody’s fault but mine. I, uh — I prepared what I usually would do, sitting down as I did come back with foreign leaders or National Security Council for explicit detail. And I realized — about partway through that, you know, all — I get quoted, The New York Times had me down at 10 points before the debate, nine now, or whatever the hell it is. The fact of the matter is, what I looked at is that he also lied 28 times. I couldn’t — I mean, the way the debate ran, not — my fault, no one else’s fault, no one else’s fault.

Before Biden answered this question he paused for a split second as if he was searching his memory, but this couldn't be what he was doing. It is crucial to break down his five word response into two parts. First he said "I don't think I did" before he said "no."

How could he notimmediatelyknow whether or not he watched a rerun of the debate? How is it he had to say "I don't think I did?" It makes more sense to believe that in this moment he was wondering if this was a gotcha question. In fact,it really wasor should have been, but Stephanopolous never followed up on it. Anyone with any self-critical inclination would want to watch a recording of something that was leading to the furor about their cognitive ability that this debate was for Biden.

Put yourself in his place. If you gave a widely panned perfomance that could hurt your career, one that even those who usually praised you were highly critical of, and had the chance to see a replay of the perfomance, wouldn't you want to see what everyone was talking about? Add to this that your performance was leading friends and foes alike to question whether or not you had lost your usual mental acuity, or worse, had dementia, wouldn't you want to see why they were saying this?

Stephanopolous should have confronted him on this by asking something like "why, Mr. President, wouldn't you want to see the debate to gain insight and self-understanding about yourself?"

Depending on the answer a follow-up could have included asking whether he watched recordings of the shows on friendly networks like MSNBC and more balanced networks where his usual allies were showing clips of the debate and expressing shock at his bad performance and speculations as to what had caused it.

I think that any self-aware and self critical president would have aides recording all the post debate television coverage. If I was Biden I'd want to see what Rachel Maddow was saying about the debate.

Why didn't Biden watch a replay of the debate? By Hal Brown, MSW (2)

Above:This was discussed after the interview on CNN from 59 seconds 1:45 mins., . and it came up again at 6:20 mins. here.One commentator said... "he said oddly that he hadn't watched the debate and that did not strike me as all that clear..." This struck another commentator as odd.

Someone on Facebook alerted me to this post-debate coverage. It was much more analytical than the coverage on MSNBC which had Ali Velchi without the A team I'd expect.

Stephanopolous pursued the question about what the debate perfomance meant throughout the interview even going as far as to ask whether he'd have a cognitive test and neurological examination:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I know your doctor said he consulted with a neurologist. I — I guess I’m asking — a slightly different question. Have you had the specific cognitive tests, and have you had a neurologist, a specialist, do an examination?

BIDEN: No. No one said I had to. No one said. They said I’m good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognit — cognitive tests and release the results to the American people?

BIDEN: Look. I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test. Everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world. Not — and that’s not hi— sounds like hyperbole, but we are the essential nation of the world.

The answer I highlighted is crucial and if not a lie, it is not true.Many peoplesaid Biden wasn't good in this regard. Stephanopolous should have jumped on this response. He should have followed up with asking Biden to name who the "they" who said he was good actually were. After all, there was a chorus of people we assume Biden respects suggesting he have a neurological examination and wasnot goodin this way.

Throughout the interview Biden parried every question about his cognitive ability with examples of all his accomplshments. This was a total deflection from the issue as to whether he might have either a significantly aging brain, or worse, early dementia.

Here's another example of his not answering a question about cognition by trying to be flippant:

Stephanopoulos asked. “Do you dispute that there have been more lapses, especially in the last several months?”

“Can I run the 110? No. But I’m still in good shape,” Biden replied.

Stephanopolous should have schooled himself thoroughly in the diagnostic critera for early dementia vs the mental slowing down many people experience when they are Biden's age. Whenever Biden touted his cognitive ability by describing his accomplishments as president and the work he was still doing, Stephanopolous should have zeroed in on asking about things like forgetfulness, losing his train of thought, misplacing items, confusing names, and blanking out for brief periods. Instead he allowed Biden to make mini-campaign speeches about how effective a president he was and assuring that he would continue to be able to do this for four more years.

A tough question would have been about the statistics which show that a minority of people, 22%, his age have or will get dementia between the ages of 85 and 89 (reference). Stephanopolous could have asked whether he thought it was fair to the country to take the chance that he would be one of these people.

The fact that the debate was held during the day and not at night is significant. People with dementia often present their symptoms at night. This is called sundowning. The debate was held at 9:00 PM. The interview should have been conducted at the same time. Even if Biden doesn't have dementia why not have an interview at a time of day when he isn't at his best? A president can be called upon at any time day or night to deal with a crisis.

Not to to get into the weeds about this, but people of any age may have problems adjusting to long distance travel across times zones. This is probably more difficult with elders. It makes sense that a younger president is better suited to deal with world leaders at international meetings.

The question as to whether or not Biden has dementia was not answered for me in the interview. While I didn't see indications of cognitive impairment or dementia what I did see was someone who was like many people withor withoutearly dementia who are afraid or unable to look candidly at themselves to see if they might have this dreadful disease.

Someone can be self-aware and able to look unflinchingly at themselves and their weakness and foibles in many ways but they may have blind spots. Thinking about your own death can be such a blind spot.

As one enters their senior years some people may resist looking at their mortality. At the age of 80 someone like me, with no life threatening conditions who is in good health, still knows they at the end of their life. I try to live my life to its fullest, but I know I am one medical appointment, one blood test, away from being told I have some terminal disease.

Not everyone wants to think about this. Looking into the abyss isn't for the faint of heart.

This is a transcript of the entire interview.


Silver calls for Biden to resign after ‘incoherent’ comments in ABC interview, in The Hill


“This is a pretty incoherent answer including a non-sequitur [complaining] about a New York Times poll, which he incorrectly claims had him down 10 points before the debate,” Silver wrote on X, sharing a clip of the interview. He added that The New York Times survey only had Biden down 3 or 4 points.

He also wrote "During the interview, Biden refused to take a cognitive test. Silver said that this decision was “disqualifying on its own.” The article concludes: “At this point it’s only like their 4th most important problem but the fact that the White House has drunk the Kool-Aid on the poll denialism stuff all cycle long isn’t helping matters.”

This is a transcript of the entire interview

You can read this and previous blogs on two websites. One may look better than the other because of how the platforms present the page.

Read on the WordPress Stressline.org


Read on the Google Blogger platform HalBrown.orgThis version has a Disquis comment section which makes it easy to post links and images.

Why didn't Biden watch a replay of the debate? By Hal Brown, MSW (2024)
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