"A Man's Got To Know His Limitations."

President Dotard could have gone with a more appropriate Clint Eastwood tough-guy movie quote, but he picked the one from Sudden Impact:

In contrast, my headline quote is from Magnum Force, spoken just after Dirty Harry blowed up Hal Holbrook real good. Who, like Biden, didn't know his limitations.

Observation 1: Joe Biden "hasn't shown up for a debate" since 2020 either, has he?

Observation 2: That 14-second video has five cuts. Some sort of stylistic choice, or he just couldn't do the whole thing in one take?

My previous comments on debating here. Executive summary: You couldn't pay me to watch.

Nate Silver is a perceptive observer, and he tells us What Biden's debate gambit reveals.

In fact, the Trump campaign, after agreeing today to the two debates proposed by Biden, asked for two additional debates in July and August for a total of four. The White House refused, rather ridiculously citing the potential for “chaos” after they created chaos by blowing up original schedule just this morning:

The Biden campaign slammed the door on Donald Trump’s attempt to have more than two debates. “President Biden made his terms clear for two one-on-one debates, and Donald Trump accepted those terms,” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, the campaign’s chair. “No more games. No more chaos. No more debate about debates.”

So the White House unambiguously wants fewer debates rather than more. And that’s a bad sign for Biden — part of a pattern where the White House has continually tried to minimize his exposure to unscripted moments. I wouldn’t quite say they’ve done the bare minimum when it comes to media appearances. But they’ve done the bare minimum more than the bare minimum, trying to optimize some function of minimizing both their 81-year-old candidate’s exposure and media criticism about the lack of said exposure. And when they have done media appearances, it’s mostly been with friendly sources like Howard Stern and pointedly not with more adversarial ones like the New York Times or Washington Post.

Preferring fewer debates is particularly bad sign given that 1) Biden is trailing in the race and therefore should want more chaos and variance and 2) that the debates went well enough for him last time. In fact, Biden was judged the winner of both debates against Trump in post-debate polls in 2020 — something that’s been a consistent pattern for Democrats in recent years; Hillary Clinton also won all three debates against Trump in overnight polls, for instance. (Although given that Clinton lost outright and Biden badly underperformed his polls in November 2020, perhaps we should treat those overnight polls with more skepticism.)

To underline what Silver's saying, Jeffrey Blehar at NR: The NYT/Siena Poll Leaves Biden Holding Only Low Cards. And he strings out the poker metaphor.

My interpretation is this: This poll portends doom for Joe Biden. As things currently stand, he is facing worse prospects than Donald Trump did in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. Again, five months of campaigning (or rather, “campaigning”) remain, so ask me again in October. But these numbers cannot be waved away, and now point toward a Trump victory. The likely-voter screen does not save Biden anymore, and in any event the critical issue of what the likely-voter model in 2024 looks like is left unaddressed. (The standard metric is voter participation in the previous two cycles — but 2022 and 2020 were two of the most abnormal electoral cycles in living American memory.)

In 2016, from the surprisingly strong (albeit structurally weaker) position he was in, Trump had to pull an inside straight to win the presidency. Biden currently needs an inside straight-flush. Things may change — remember those pocket aces both parties believe themselves to be holding — but for now these numbers suggest to me that, were the election held today, Trump would win every single one of these states, Michigan and Wisconsin included.

Our usual look at how people betting their own money see the race:

Candidate EBO Win
Probability
Change
Since
5/12
Donald Trump 50.7% +4.3%
Joe Biden 40.5% -3.3%
Michelle Obama 2.3% -0.4%
Robert Kennedy Jr 2.2% -1.0%
Other 4.3% +0.4%

The punters seem to agree with Blehar: Trump's looking stronger. For now. As a reminder: I gave up making confident predictions on November 9, 2016.

Also of note:

  • Not in any way similar to a rose among the thorns. Jeff Jacoby imagines the upcoming scene: Trump among the libertarians.

    HERE IS a puzzle: Why would the Libertarian Party, which will be nominating a presidential candidate at its national convention in Washington this month, invite former president Donald Trump — the Republican Party's presumptive 2024 nominee — to be its keynote speaker?

    Four possible answers:

    1. Libertarians are uninhibited by ordinary political rules and inviting a rival to address their convention is just the sort of eccentric move that appeals to them.
    2. Party leaders, knowing Trump is more likely to be elected in November than their own nominee, want to encourage him to embrace libertarian ideals of shrinking government, expanding liberty, and curbing the welfare state.
    3. Libertarian Party leaders never expected Trump to accept their invitation, but will gladly exploit the publicity he brings them in order to promote their own issues and candidates.
    4. The Libertarian Party has been taken over by hardcore MAGA supporters who want to help Trump win.

    My money is on No. 4.

    As always, I suggest you read Jeff's argument. He points out that it's only been six years since the LP declared (still present on their website for now) that Trump is the opposite of a Libertarian.

  • Kamala's recent contribution to elevating the discourse.

    I'm pretty tired of anyone using the f-word lazily as a general intensifying adjective. Unless it's Jeff Maurer.

  • "Exaggrates" is a euphemism for "lies about". But I otherwise have no quibbles about Jacob Sullum's analysis: President Biden Exaggerates His Work To Reform Marijuana Policy.

    In a campaign video directed at "young voters" that she posted on X (formerly Twitter) in February, Vice President Kamala Harris bragged that "we changed federal marijuana policy, because nobody should have to go to jail just for smoking weed." During his State of the Union address in March, President Joe Biden said he was "expunging thousands of convictions for the mere possession [of marijuana], because no one should be jailed for simply using or have it on their record."

    Neither claim was accurate. It is not surprising that Biden and Harris would try to motivate younger voters, whose turnout could be crucial to their reelection, by highlighting their administration's "marijuana reform," since those voters overwhelmingly favor legalization. But the steps Biden has taken fall far short of that goal, and his description of them exaggerates what they accomplished.

    You need to go to Jacob Sullum and Reason to find this out, because (for example) Politifact won't do it.

  • Nor will the Washington "Democracy Dies in Darkness" Post. Jeff Jacoby (again: A cynical Washington Post tells Biden: Nothing matters more than beating Trump.

    Last week, the Post’s editorial board — which speaks with the institutional voice of the newspaper — declared that it regards President Biden’s reelection in November as a matter of such importance that it will not fault him for promoting misbegotten policies that are designed to attract votes. The president’s policies “clearly pander to core constituencies,” the editorial board conceded, and “some of these policies are quite bad — even dangerous.” Other pandering by the White House may be “less obviously dangerous but still violates common sense and principle.”

    For example, the Post cites the president’s refusal to approve a ban on menthol cigarettes. The editorial board has strongly supported such a ban, which it maintains would save tens of thousands of mostly Black lives. But as a political matter, it knows that if the White House were to issue the ban, the Democrats would lose a significant number of voters “whom Mr. Biden can ill afford to alienate in this close election.” And since “Mr. Trump’s reelection is the kind of nightmare scenario any responsible politician would go to great lengths to prevent,” the Post concludes that it is responsible, or at least acceptable, for Biden to let those deaths occur rather than weaken his odds of reelection. “Democrats are scrapping for every vote,” the editorial asserts, so this is no time to be fastidious about matters of principle, or about right and wrong.

    Next week the Post's editorial board will wonder why so many people don't trust major newspapers. It's a mystery!

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