Presidential Debate Massacre and By-election Disaster

TORONTO – If USA President Joe Biden has/had outstanding debating assets, he hid them well in the June 27 debate with Donald Trump. Unfortunately for him, and for those Americans not overcome with MAGA mania, I am not the only one smitten with that impression.

A post-debate poll claims that 67% of viewers thought Trump triumphed as opposed to 33% who saw Biden as the winner. I do not know what program this latter group was watching. Even reporters, staff and analysts of the decidedly Democratic, pro-Biden CNN were aghast at the pitiful performance of the president. Polls prior to the debate had Biden 55% to 44% to win the debate.

Less than a minute into his introductory, Biden’s delivery began to disintegrate, becoming disjointed and incoherent. What might have been a debate on issues, on which Biden should have had significant advantage, turned into a stream of reciprocal, schoolyard, ad hominem, attacks.

On Saturday, the New York Times another Democratic stalwart, issued an editorial “begging” him to resign. The Democratic National Committee met with the Biden Campaign Committee. It could be that the meeting had been arranged months earlier, but it had the telltale marks of “damage control.”

Age, mental acuity and medical condition are now the tests Joe Biden must overcome to beat Trump. His wife still is encouraging him to soldier on. Why not, he already has surpassed the 1,976 votes required of any candidate in the primaries to secure the nomination It is his – come “hell or high water”. Unless he resigns, any potential Democratic substitute will be navigating a venomous snake pit to the Presidency.

In Canada, political conditions do not bode much better for the outgoing government. After the by-election in Toronto-St. Paul’s (T-SP) Canada’s Prime Minister is facing similar calls for resignation – from current MPs and former Cabinet Ministers. If the Toronto Star is correct, some current Cabinet Ministers are indiscriminately revving up their Leadership Campaign teams. Provincial Liberals are distancing themselves from Mr. Trudeau’s persona and the Party’s platform.

T-SP was Canada’s version of the debate. No one in the Prime Minister’s entourage seems to have anticipate a loss. Yet, perceived inertia by the government in the face of daily accusations and/or evidence of increasing anti-semitism would have had negative consequences in a constituency that is home to 15,000 residents (at least 10,600 of them voters) who self-identify as Jewish.

Even Jagmeet Singh, whose Party is propping up Mr. Trudeau, is muttering that Canadians have had enough of his partner in the Minority government. His own Party is melting under a Conservative rising sun: their combined totals in the polls suggest whatever support they have/had among the electorate does not equal that of Mr. Poilievre. Besides, until the House of Commons resumes its sitting (maybe) in September, Mr. Singh cannot orchestrate a defeat of Mr. Trudeau in the House, thereby forcing an election.

Of course, were Mr. Trudeau to resign as Leader to accommodate a Leadership Convention, any scenario that does not include an unanticipated early election falls into the category of “wishful thinking”.  

A screenshot from the Trump-Biden debate on CNN