Biden: Slip Slidin' Away

Column: Time is running out for Biden to save his campaign

(Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
June 7, 2024

You know the nearer your destination

The more you're slip slidin' away

— Paul Simon

President Biden "shows signs of slipping," the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Journalists Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes—no conservatives—spoke to 45 people who have met with the president and noticed his mental and physical decline. They recount, in detail, several meetings over the past year where Biden has been forgetful, confused, and out of it. The president, Linskey and Hughes report, "appears slower now, someone who has both good moments and bad ones."

No kidding.

You don't need the Journal to tell you that Biden is diminished. You need only to open your eyes. Go over Special Counsel Robert Hur's report into Biden's unauthorized removal of classified documents. Review Biden's Oval Office meltdown after Hur released his findings. Watch Biden try to sit at a D-Day commemoration in France on Thursday.

Or read, if you dare, the transcript of Time magazine correspondent Massimo Calabresi and editor in chief Sam Jacobs's recent interview of Biden. It appeared the same day as Linskey and Hughes's story.

This is the interview where Biden says—twice—that Russia invaded Russia. Where, immediately after saying, "I'm not going to comment," Biden says that "there is every reason" to believe Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prolonging the war against Hamas for political gain. Then Biden says that the 19 percent increase in prices since he became president is due to "shrinkflation" and that he could "take" the Time reporter who asks about his advanced age.

The weirdest moment comes when the reporters ask Biden to describe his second-term agenda. That's what we in the biz call a "softball question." And here—excuse the long excerpt, but it is necessary to grasp the full absurdity and danger of having this man continue to serve as president—is Joe Biden's response:

 To finish what I started in the first term. To continue to make sure that the European continent—I'll tell you, I got a call from Kissinger about 10 days before he died. And he used the following comment. He said that not since Napoleon has Europe not looked over their shoulder at dread with what Europe—what Russia may do, until now. Until now, you can't let that change.

The point is that we have an opportunity to have the decisions we make in the last couple of years, in the next four years, are going to determine the future of Europe for a long time to come. And so that's why we can not let NATO fail, we have to build that both politically and economically. And militarily, which we're investing significantly. In addition to that, I am desperately focused on making sure that we deal with the… what they are calling the south now. There are going to be a billion people in Africa in the next several years. We have to, we have to be a catalyst for change for the benefit, for the, for the better, we have to help them build back better, we have to help them.

We, on the climate side, have come along and we've done everything that is reasonably—and three other countries are the reason we're in the problem we're in. But what happens if all of a sudden, on the Amazon, they're starting to clear, vast swaths of land, cut down forests, etc. Back when Dick Lugar was alive, he and I started something back in the '90s, where we said—late '80s, excuse me—where we said to, in the Amazon, they said, look, if you, we’ll make a deal with you Brazil. You don't cut your forest, we'll pay you not to do it. We’ll pay you not to do it. We have to prevent— And that's why we're working so hard to make sure Angola can be in a position that they have more solar capacity than almost any place in the world, to help that whole continent.

That's why we want to build a railroad all the way—with others in Europe—all the way across the continent. So that you have, you have countries that have overproduction of agriculture and some that don't have it, but no way to get a transfer. There's so much opportunity in Africa. And we have to work it.

This is what we can look forward to in a second term? Working to make sure that Angola has robust solar capacity?

No mention in Biden's answer of inflation, home prices, nor interest rates. Neither the border nor achieving positive outcomes in Ukraine and Gaza makes his second-term list. There's not so much as a glance in the direction of the electric vehicle boondoggle. Instead, Biden mangles a quote from Kissinger and gets lost in a story of how he and Dick Lugar paid the Brazilians not to chop down trees.

In any other era, the White House, congressional Democrats, and the national Democratic Party would be in full-blown panic at the president's physical, mental, and political condition. But because we live in the era of Trump, Biden's allies have continued to deflect and downplay the deleterious effects of his age, his enduring unpopularity, and his haphazard, too-little, too-late, incompetent, and iatrogenic policymaking.

Biden is not just slipping personally. He's slipping politically. The polls have barely moved since May 31, when a New York jury convicted Trump of falsifying business records. Biden continues to run behind Trump, as he has since the fall of 2023. The reason the election is close is not that the public likes Biden. It's that the public is reluctant to send Trump back to the White House.

Now, with his personal condition becoming more noticeable and the Trump trial failing to move the polls massively in his direction, Biden has one more opportunity to reset the race. The debate scheduled for June 27 has become more important than I had thought. A triumphant performance might revive Biden's candidacy. But a flop could end his presidency.