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Ghost in the Machine

Hollowed-out Biden shocks Democrats with pallid debate performance

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A "political earthquake." An "unmitigated disaster." "Absolute annihilation." A "bloodbath."

The results are in, and the takeaway from the first 2024 presidential debate is this: Joe Biden is unfit for the presidency.

And that is putting it mildly.

Everywhere — from social media posts to newspaper headlines to TV talking-head analysis — the consensus was universal, and unequivocal:

There is no way Democrats can spin their way out of the hole — the grave — they dug themselves Thursday night by pushing a quasi-catatonic candidate onto the debate stage with Donald Trump.

A sampling of social media reactions over the course of the hour-and-a-half debacle sums up viewer sentiment:

  • "You can't tell me this dude is fit to be president."

  • "Who is running the country???"

  • "Joe Biden is literally malfunctioning."

  • "He's flubbing the entire debate."

  • "This mf is actually retarded."

  • "Biden's team WANTED this?"

  • "I'm texting with fellow Dems. We're HORRIFIED."

  • "It's frightening."

  • "Cleanup on aisle CNN!"

  • "Trump is murdering him."

  • "Shame on you, Jill Biden."

  • "They accidentally gave Joe placebo tonight."

  • "They accidentally gave Joe the downer."

  • "This man is not well."

  • "One foot in the grave."

  • "Send him to hospice."

  • "He needs to go."

  • "Yo this nigga Biden is gone."

  • "Biden is done."

  • "Game over."

  • "Abandon ship."

  • "Pull the f**king fire alarm."

  • "We are f**ked."


From the moment Biden appeared on stage, things began going south.

As he shuffled to the podium, the weight of his 81 years was on full display. Throughout the evening, Biden stood open-mouthed; face sagging; voice rasping; frequently lapsing into a vacant, glassy-eyed stare. Multiple times, when trying to fire back at a sharp-witted, sharp-tongued Trump, the president lost his way, trailing off into incoherent mumbling and embarrassing verbal misfires.

Perhaps the most memorable line from the evening came not from Biden, but Trump.

When CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked Biden why Americans should trust him to resolve the border crisis, the president offered a baffling response. "I'm going to continue to move until we get to total ban — on the total initiative relative to what we're going to do with more border patrol and more asylum officers," he said.

Not missing a beat, Trump pounced:

"I really don't know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don't think he knows what he said, either."

Continuing discussion of the border crisis provoked another flub from the president. Attempting to defend his disastrous mishandling of the massive migrant influx, Biden made the claim that the the US Border Patrol endorsed him and his "position."

Within minutes — in an unprecedented takedown of the president by representatives of a government agency — the Border Patrol Union took to X to refute the claim:

"To be clear, we never have and never will endorse Biden."

Even on abortion — widely-regarded as his strongest issue among Democrats and Independents — the president dropped the ball. After Trump praised the Supreme Court for allowing the issue to be decided at the state level, Biden meandered into yet another minefield, inadvertently highlighting fallout from the border crisis, and suggesting that American women are suffering mass incestuous rape — including at the hands of their sisters:

"Look, there are so many young women who have been, including a young woman who just was murdered, and he went to the funeral. And the idea that she was murdered by an immigrant coming in, to talk about that. But here's the deal. There's a lot of young women are being raped by their in-laws, by their, by their spouses. Brothers and sisters, by — it's just ridiculous. And they can do nothing about it. And they try to arrest them and they cross state lines."

The president crashed and burned once more when attempting to respond to a comment Trump made regarding his administration's COVID response.

"Dealing with everything we have to do — look, if — we finally beat Medicare," Biden declared. Tapper then jumped in, saving Biden by cutting him off. Immediately after, Trump pounced:

"Well, he's right. He did beat Medicaid. Beat it to death. And he's destroying Medicare because of all these people are coming in. They're putting them on Medicare, they're putting them on Social Security. He will wipe out Medicare. So he was right in the way he finished that sentence."

Incredibly, unprompted by debate moderators or Trump, Biden even brought up his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan — widely regarded as his most catastrophic foreign policy mistake (to-date) — as though it were a laudable achievement.

The president also falsely claimed that no American troops have died under his watch. Online, his foes were quick to dispel that notion, recalling the thirteen US troops — Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Nicole L. Gee, Darin T. Hoover, Hunter Lopez, Daegan W. Page, Humberto A. Sanchez, David L. Espinoza, Jared M. Schmitz, Rylee J. McCollum, Dylan R. Mercola, Kareem M. Nikoui, Maxton W. Soviak and Ryan C. Knauss — who were cut down in Kabul as a result of Biden's blundering:


Just minutes into the CNN-sponsored debate, #ElderAbuse began trending on X, as well as terms such as Dementia, Adderall, and Go Joe.

Other trending terms indicated that horrified Democrats were seeking some last-minute means to cut Biden loose: Michelle Obama, Kamala, Gavin Newsom and 25th Amendment — referencing the procedure for "replacing the president or vice president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation" — all caught fire in the early minutes of the debate.

For Democrats, the word of the night was "panic." A sampling of Establishment media headlines in the bloodletting's aftermath confirmed the level of fear among those on the Left:

  • From The New York Times: "A Fumbling Performance, and a Panicking Party."

  • From The Washington Post: "Democrats Panic Over Biden's Debate Performance, Doubt His Future."

  • From The Guardian: "Defcon 1 Moment: Biden's Debate Performance Sends Democrats Into Panic."

  • From The Hill: "Dems in Full Panic Mode After Biden's Stumbling Performance."

  • From Politico: "'WTF': Panicked Dems Start Looking for Alternatives to Biden."

News satire website, The Babylon Bee, meanwhile, avoided the term "panic" in its headline, opting instead to run with: "Trump Indicted for Murdering Elderly Man on CNN."

The Babylon Bee was far from alone in using humor to summarize the carnage. Throughout the evening, big-name conservatives and Independents from politics and media resorted to comedy to assess the Greek tragedy that Biden's performance had become:

  • From pundit Ben Shapiro: "Congratulations to President Jill Biden, who has clearly been running this country for the last several months."

  • From political commentator Candace Owens: "Quick break! Dr. Jill Biden, please up the dose of amphetamines!"

  • From Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO): "I will hand it to the Biden campaign, they definitely did not drug him."

  • From former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy: "They didn't drug up Biden. They lobotomized him instead."

  • From author Michael Knowles: "I used to think Biden's doctors administered narcotics. I now believe they practice necromancy."

  • From comedian Russell Brand: "What do you think of the faces Joe Biden is making while Trump is speaking? They're rather rigor mortis, no?"

  • From US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL): "Does Biden look like the undead?"

  • From host Dave Rubin: "Biden sounds like he's taking his last breaths."

  • From political activist Matt Walsh: "Biden is literally on stage staring into the afterlife."

  • From journalist Megyn Kelly: "Drink!"

  • From podcaster Tim Pool: "Hahahahahahahaha."

Elsewhere, however, analysts weren't laughing.

"May God be with our country," Never-Trumper Meghan McCain lamented.

"I ... was on the phone throughout much of the debate with Obama-world people, with Democrats, with people who are political operatives, with campaign operatives. My phone really never stopped buzzing throughout. And the universal reaction was somewhere approaching panic," conceded MSNBC host Joy Reid.

CNN correspondent Kasie Hunt provided a similar account. "The voice, open-mouthed look, and visual contrast between President Biden and former President Trump all have Democrats I'm talking to nearly beside themselves watching this debate," she said.

"This has been, quite frankly, a car accident in slow motion," CNN anchor Chris Wallace concluded. "He sunk his campaign."

Some of the gravest reactions came from inside CNN's own studio, where a pall shrouded panelists during their post-debate analysis — their collective shock on full display.

CNN chief national correspondent, John King, was first to speak:

"This was a game-changing debate, in the sense that right now, as we speak, there is a deep, a wide, and a very aggressive panic in the Democratic Party. It started minutes into the debate and it continues right now. It involves party strategists; it involves elected officials; it involves fundraisers. And they're having conversations about the president's performance, which they think was dismal, which they think will hurt other people down the party, in the ticket, and they're having conversations about what they should do about it.
Some of those conversations include, 'Should we go to the White House and ask the president to step aside?' Other conversations are about, 'Should prominent Democrats go public with that call?' because they feel this debate was so terrible. ... It started minutes in. It started with the first couple of answers and it has continued throughout the night, from 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God' to 'What do we do about this?' and it involves very senior people in the Democratic Party, including elected officials, saying, 'We have a problem'."

CNN commentator Van Jones followed with his assessment. Like King, he was clearly shaken.

"That was painful," Jones said, seemingly on the verge of tears.

"Uh ... I love Joe Biden. I worked for Joe Biden. Um ... he didn't do well at all ... uh ... he did not do well at all," Jones stammered. "Uh ... he's doing the best that he can ... uh ... but he had a test to meet tonight ... uh ... to restore confidence ... uh ... of, of the country and of the base, and he failed to do that."

"I think there's a lot of people who are going to want to see him consider ... um ... taking a different course now. Uh ... we're still far from our convention, and there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward if he will allow us to do that," he added.


Such reactions, ubiquitous among media mavens and others inside the Establishment, have prompted some Americans to openly wonder whether the debate was actually a set-up — part of a "quiet" coup to remove Biden from power.

Speculation is being bandied about online that Washington's powers-that-be recognized some time ago that the president's chances of reelection are withering. In response, the thinking goes, Thursday night's contest was pre-engineered to justify replacing Biden with a younger, nimbler, more cogent candidate — one better able to take on Trump.

"The Democrats have to be doing this on purpose to get Biden to drop out. There is no other explanation," posited conservative commentator Benny Johnson — one of many to do so.

Likewise, the seeming mystification displayed by so many Establishment media figures is provoking suspicion.

Many observers on the right acknowledge it's plausible that the average Democratic or Independent voter — spoon-fed by the Establishment — may have had scant pre-knowledge of the severity of Biden's decline.

After all, Establishment media have shielded Democrats and Independents as best they could from gaffe after gaffe, in hope of preserving the president's image, in order to forestall Trump's return to the White House.

Additionally, considering the fact that social media is a veritable echo chamber, it's possible that most run-of-the-mill Democrats and Independents haven't seen, for example, clip after clip of Biden falling down (and in a few cases, falling up) in public, as so many conservatives have.

But the apparent astonishment expressed by DC insiders Thursday night is provoking skepticism among many conservatives. The very people who for three-and-a-half years have suppressed story after story of Biden's unraveling were unaware of just how badly the president is faring, physically and cognitively? We're to believe their shock is genuine? Many doubt it.

On Friday morning, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro gave average Americans not in the know before last night the sobering news:

"They lied to you. They told you not to be deceived by your eyes and your ears. They told you you just didn't know him like they did. They lied to you. They're not shocked by Biden's mental collapse. They knew all along, as we did. They're just shocked they got caught."

A short time later, fellow commentator Mark Levin did the same:

"The horrendous, dishonest, biased, pathetic American media, which did everything possible to cover up for Biden and the Democrat Party, now reverse course knowing that the American people saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears, once and for all, the appalling mental condition of Joe Biden. The media had a primary role in bringing our nation to this point and must suffer the consequences — that is, the media must be thoroughly denounced and condemned, and something must be done to revitalize a crucial institution to American republicanism. The infinite lies, deceit, and censorship by the media corporations and their employees must be universally condemned, the management, boards of directors, and investors must take steps to right this wrong, or the nation will not survive this." 


Whatever the Establishment's complicity may be, a frightening anecdote emerged in the wake of last night's circus in Atlanta.

Immediately following the debate, CNN conducted a flash poll, asking viewers, "Who won the debate?"

The result: 67% said Trump came out on top; meanwhile, in spite of all they had just seen, 33% insisted that Biden had won the night.

This points to what is, perhaps, the ultimate — and utterly terrifying — takeaway: Fully one-third of the American electorate is as delusional as their demented commander-in-chief.

Writer, editor and producer Stephen Wynne has spent the past seven years covering, from a Catholic perspective, the latest developments in the Church, the nation and the world. Prior to his work in journalism, he spent eight years co-authoring “Repairing the Breach,” a book examining the war of worldviews between Christianity and Darwinism. A Show-Me State native, he holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University and an Executive MBA from the Bloch School of Business at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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They knew and HAVE known about Dementia-Joe, and they still wheeled him out there. More elder abuse. They have no conscience, no moral compass.

The 33% that insisted that Biden had won the night were from mail-in votes that were counted and recounted, and re-recounted before the debate started. I know what they're up to. ;)

I can't believe that I'm saying this, but CNN did a pretty fair job last night.

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