I have taught lawyers  at legal seminars for many years that jury trials are battles of impression and not logic. We know that science has established human beings size each other up quickly. In general first impressions occurred in just seven seconds of seeing or meeting someone. It is significant that once we have an initial impression of someone it is difficult to change that opinion. We also know that appearing calm and confident demonstrates intelligence.  Studies show that people who are rapid in their speech or reaction to events are seen as less intelligent. Unfortunately, president Biden violated all these basic truths in the impression he created at last night’s debate. The immediate and following impression Joe Biden created of himself was that of a frail, elderly man who was confused and having difficulty remembering or expressing himself clearly.

His political advisors should be fired for not preparing him properly. To start with, he clearly had a voice issue which projected an impression of fraility. The Biden campaign after the debate said the president had a cold to explain why he sounded so hoarse and weak They should have known that everyone would note this problem as soon he opened his mouth to speak and would instantly ask themselves: “I wonder what’s wrong with him?” Rather than have people be distracted by the issue and speculate about it,instead of listening to his answers,  he should have been told to simply say something like: “I’m sorry for my voice, but I’m recovering from a cold” and put an end to listener’s mental distraction.

Biden spoke entirely too fast and Trump’s measured rate of speech made Biden’s rapid monotone even worse. It created a bad impression of lack of sincerity and was hard to follow.  He had no voice inflection or emphasis. He spoke in a flat unemotional monotone like someone reciting as memorized article. I suspect his advisors made the mistake of teaching him answers to questions or issues.  It appeared to me that when a key word like “inflation” was brought up, it triggered a memorized response of statistical information  even if not answering the question. I think his advisers instructed Biden along the lines of:  “Now, if Trump or the question is this, you are to respond this way.” As a result, there was no spontaneity or feeling behind Biden’s responses. It was just a hurried effort to remember the learned response and repeat it in the time allowed. That greatly contributed to Biden’s problems of momentarily forgetfulness, confused reponses and stopping to correct himself. Trump, on the other hand, simply ignored the question  and repeated his campaign slogans and lies. It gave Trump the ability to make spontaneous statements at a measured speaking rate with proper emphasis compared to Biden reciting his learned responses in a raspy voiced monotone.

Biden’s pale demeanor contrasted with Trumps artificial tanning also created a wrong impression as did Biden’s default expression of a slacked jaw open mouth.   Biden’s reaction to Trump’s lying his way through the evening, spewing statement after statement that had little or no basis in fact was one of being shocked and and confused.That’s not the reaction he should have had to Trump’s wild claim after another. Trump  blustered his way through pointed questions about the attack on the Capitol. He declined again to say that he would accept the results of the election if he loses. Biden’s overall impression was to listen to this and appear to be confused. He responmded by calling Trump a liar instead of refuting the lies with examples or citing facts to show the lies. The impression  Biden created was that of a school child calling another child: “Liar, liar,l pants on fire” and not presidential response.

His advisors should have prepared his responses to Trump’s claims by addressing the issues directly and not by citing a litiney of all the “great achievements” of the Biden administration. When it is clear Americans consider immigration issues a major concern, the response to Trump attacks was to that issue directly and not cite statistics that are meaningless to the immediate concern of Americans.  The response should have emphasized and expand on the fact that the Biden administration had crafted law dealing with the issue, but Trump and the Republicans refused to pass it because Trump wanted as a political issue. People watching the debate are not persuaded by a list of all the good things the Biden administration has done. They want answers – short and simple – to what is goingto be  done about the issue they are most concrend about. It’s a question of ” what have you done for me lately” or “what are you going to do about it.”   Instead the Biden response was a long narrative of statistics about what has already been done. Trump understands that fact. After all, his simple response to immigration concerns was “build a wall and Mexico will pay for it.”

As the Washington Post observed: “But Biden’s stumbles right from the beginning played into his biggest vulnerability — his age and whether the 81-year-old is up to the challenge of handling four more years in office. Instead, he looked genuinely shocked and confused, which is never a good look. Can he persuade voters to forget what they saw Thursday night and reassess his fitness to serve a second term? His overriding goal was to dispel doubts that he is too old and too frail to lead the country for another four years. Instead, he reinforced those doubts —”

Shakespeare captured my impression of the debate failure:   “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”


The debate was on June 27th. Eight days later, the Biden campaign arranged a one on one interview with Biden by George Stephanopoulos which was intended to reassure and make up for his damaging performance during the debate. There were two dramatic possibilities for the interview. One was a seismic gaffe from Biden that would end his political career; the other, a performance so strong it would hush his detractors and stabilize his position. Neither happened, but his original harmful impression from the debate was unchanged.  Biden was tan this time, unlike his pale appearance at the debate. But, his voice still was hoarse and not normal. It seemed clear Biden had not grasped just how bad his debate impression had been about his ability serve as president. He was unable to recall if he had viewed the video of the debate and kept brushing off his debate performance  as just a  “bad night.”  My conclusion is that he is surrounded  by  a tight knit group of advisors who are giving him bad advice. I think he thinks he is doing a good job and not grasping the reality. He reminds me of someone who hasn’t accepted his age limitations and thinks he is doing fine when the truth is othewise. I don’t think he has an accurate picture of this situation.

The salient questions are: (1) Can he beat Donald Trump for the office?  (2) Is there somerone else who would have a better chance of beating Trump in the remaining time before the election if Biden drops out ? and (3) is it likely he will have difficulty functioning as president over the entire four years.?  While the answer to the first questions may be debatable, I think it is clear there is no one who would have a better chance of defeating Trump in the four months left. Nor could anyone else raise the necessary funding for a campaign. That includes Kamala Harris who would have even a less chance than Biden of beating Trump given political reality.  While there is a significant risk regarding the third question, the ultimate goal is to defeat Donald Trump if we are going to save the constitutional democracy of this country. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump vs United States granting the president virtual total immunity Donald Trump in the white house would be a total catastrophe. This has become an election with one issue: “anyone except
Trump.” People who care about this country are faced with the dilemma of “Hobson’s Choice” This expression, from the 1600’s refers to Thomas Hobson who owned a stable of rental horses in Cambridge, England. Because students at Cambridge University often rented his horses he was concerned about how the horses were treated. He had a rule that they could rent any  of the horses in the stable as long as it was the horse that was nearest the stable door. So, Hobson’s choice, was no choice at all.  That’s where America stands in this election: no choice at all – It’s anyone but Trump.

The comedian Will Rogers used to say “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”  Republicans have remained steadfast in their support of Donald Trump through all of his politcal outrages including felony convictions, $454 million dollar civil fraud verdict and multiple sexual misconduct findings plus the lies and misrepresentations which were documented he offered in the debate. The Democracts, on the other hand, have engaged in a public frenzy of concerns about Biden’s ability to be elected, his competency and endless worry about his dropping out which only aggravates Biden’s chances of losing to Trump. The reality is that Biden is the only person with the capability to defeat Trump.  Those who agree Trump should not serve again, should unite behind the only person who has a chance to defeat him and not undermine Bidens chance of victory.

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