Editorial: Getting past Biden's bad night

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Tuesday July 2, 2024
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President Joe Biden was energized when he spoke in Raleigh, North Carolina the day after his faltering debate performance. Photo: AP
President Joe Biden was energized when he spoke in Raleigh, North Carolina the day after his faltering debate performance. Photo: AP

President Joe Biden did not have a good night last Thursday when he gave a fumbling debate performance against former President and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. But given the stark choice between the two men, and the unlikelihood that Biden will drop out of the race at this late stage, it's critical that LGBTQ voters continue to support the president. As second gentlemen Doug Emhoff said at the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club Pride Breakfast last Sunday, "This is a binary election — binary, which means you just have one or the other. And on one side of the ledger, you still saw that at the debate — the lies, the deceit, just the things coming out of his mouth as a former president, let alone someone who wants to have office again.

"Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the most pro-LGBTQ administration ever," he added. "We know that all goes away" if they are not reelected.

It's true. While there are a handful of third-party or independent candidates seeking the presidency, none will win. Most threaten to take votes away from Biden, though polls show Robert F Kennedy Jr. siphoning off some votes from Trump's base as well. In other words, the choice — even as many Americans are not happy about it — is between Biden and Trump.

Far more important than Biden's halting debate performance is the real danger being unleashed on this country by the U.S. Supreme Court. That's why we disagree with those who say there is no difference between Biden and Trump. The former president is a threat to the very foundation of our country, even more so after Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gives presidents substantial immunity for "official acts," which ties back to Trump's working, as president, to try and overturn the 2020 election. Should he be elected, Trump's reach will know no bounds, as the justices greatly expanded presidential power.

People in this country should know by now that Trump will lie, cheat, and bully his way into power. He cannot be trusted. His comment during last week's debate that "everybody" wanted Roe v. Wade overturned is just one example. According to a May report from the Pew Research Center, "Currently, 63% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% say it should be illegal in all or most cases." Yet it was Trump, with his appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices, that led to the overturning of Roe and the constitutional right to abortion two years ago.

The justices Trump has appointed — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — have worked to curb administrative power to the point that real lives could soon be endangered. Last week, those three joined Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in a 6-3 decision that sweeps aside long-standing precedent. Known as the Chevron doctrine, it allowed "specialized agencies to fill gaps in ambiguous statutes to establish uniform rules in their areas of expertise, a practice they say was contemplated by Congress," as the New York Times reported. The Environmental Protection Agency, labor agencies, health care, the treasury department, and the IRS are all likely to be affected. In rejecting the Chevron precedent, it will be the courts that will now decide these issues, which will probably take years to litigate. The conservative legal movement and business groups have long wanted this decision, the Times noted, in part because they are hostile to government regulation and that the agencies should only operate under power that Congress explicitly gave them. We don't see Congress suddenly developing specific regulations for all the federal agencies; these days Congress doesn't do much at all except stoke the culture wars.

As for the Times editorial board calling on Biden to drop out of the race — the paper should have called for Trump to withdraw after he was convicted on 34 felony counts. One poor debate showing does not equal criminal convictions. The Times is doing the same thing to Biden that it did to Hillary Clinton in 2016 — in his case, obsessing over his age. (Biden, at 81, is only a few years older than Trump, 78.) In Clinton's case, it was the paper's maniacal fixation with her emails. Meanwhile, Trump gets to spout off lies and misleading statements with no effort to fact check him in real time by CNN or its debate moderators.

The day after the debate, Biden acknowledged the obvious. "Whether young or old, here's what I know," Biden said. "I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done, and I know what millions of Americans know, when you get knocked down, you get back up. Folks, I would not be running again if I did not believe with all of my heart and soul that I can do this job because, quite frankly, the stakes are too high. Donald Trump is a genuine threat to this nation."

One bad night certainly doesn't mean voters should abandon Biden. If anything, they should empathize with him and focus on the many things he and his administration have done over the past three years to help improve people's lives.

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