On Thursday night I watched ten Democratic contenders debate. Afterwards, I switched from channel to channel, listening in on the all-knowing commentary, and I realized that I must have been watching a rather different show than the one being reviewed and lauded by the blatheriat on CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox. Maybe because, just as Billy Joel can maintain a “New York state of mind,” I was taking it all in with my stubbornly “Indiana state of mind.”
Hoosier that I am, or maybe just because I am dyspeptic, on Thursday night I didn’t see the Pete Buttigieg whom CNN’s Van Jones marveled at as being “magic”or the Pete who was praised by another CNN contributor for his “faith.” I wasn’t lured by the siren “voice” that MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace assured me Beto O’Rourke had “found” – a voice praised by Joy Reid for its “confidence” and authenticity. Much else did I fail to see, although I did find myself wanting to have coffee and a good laugh with Andrew Yang. The guy’s ideas are loopy, but I have the impression that he would be genuinely interested in discussing opposing points of view.
In particular, I didn’t take no particular ʻcount of the Joe Biden whom former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, acting as a CNN commentator, gushed over as an outstanding intellect.
None of the channels I watched on Thursday night even ran what I thought was Biden’s obvious headline moment, although there were muted references to Joe’s having “tired” as the evening had grown late. Friday morning’s Wall Street Journal glancingly mentions that some of Biden’s responses were “halting.” The New York Times waits until the 35th paragraph of a 38-paragraph article specifically devoted to the debate’s “zingers” and “groaners” before making a coy reference to a “curious” “flourish” by Biden that the Times mildly refers to as “meandering.”
My HoosierVision did not see Joe Biden as “meandering.” And I remain flabbergasted and gobsmacked and all a-cattywhompus that none of the chattering class seemed to notice, or at least to acknowledge, the headline moment. Joe’s attention didn’t simply wander or flicker for a moment. He didn’t make a cute little gaffe. Joe Biden was in full-blown early-dementia mode. Or call it what you want, but Grampy’s knittin’ needles ain’t clackin’ like they used to.
Biden was asked about racism and reparations. He began strongly, declaring trenchantly, if debatably: “There is institutional segregation in this country!” (Plays well in Berkeley, but I wonder how it went down in the Midwest.) But Joe then veered into an unintelligible babble about numbers of school psychologists… Then, alarmingly, he fell headlong into a truly bizarre tangent about radios and record players: “Play the radio, make sure the television… make sure you have the record player on at night.”
I cringed for Joe. I wondered who among his staff would be brave enough to give an honest answer to Biden’s sure-to-be post-debate question of “How bad was that?” (Honest answer: “That was weird, nonsensical, and embarrassing.”)
As I cringed and wondered, debate Moderator Linsey Davis threw Biden a lifeline, indicating that his time was up. (It sure is up!) But Clueless Joe persevered. Mr. Biden apparently sensed that the night thus far was low on word salad, so he threw out some chopped nouns and verbs about… Venezuela? “No, I’m going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here’s the deal. The deal is that we’ve got this a little backwards. And by the way, in Venezuela, we should be allowing people to come here from Venezuela. I know Maduro. I’ve confronted Maduro. No. 2, you talk about the need to do something in Latin America. I’m the guy that came up with $740 million to see to it those three countries, in fact, change their system so people don’t have to chance to leave. You’re all acting like we just discovered this yesterday! Thank you very much.”
Check out the general consensus of the Anointed, however. They’ll tell you that Thursday’s debate was a win for Joe Biden. For them, the pivotal moment of the debate was a testy exchange between Biden and Julián Castro over health care. I’m not sure why this would be a peak element, because no one actually thinks that Mr. Castro is a serious contender for the nomination. MSNBC and CNN could hardly contain their Biden-Warren-Sanders Delight, overlaid with a dash of Biblical Buttigieg and just a soupçon of the Vocal Beto. Why, it could be the basis for a new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor.
Joe Biden is the naked Emperor now being paraded before a viewing audience that is advised to adore him, because his own coronation and anointing is imminent.
But, I am perversely Midwestern. And in the Midwest, we have a down-to-earth tendency to not only tell emperors who are un-clothed that they are “stark nekkid,” but also to advise in the strongest terms that they go put on a damned pair of overalls!