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Do you believe in bets with very long odds?

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Since I’m coming from a similar place — skeptical about claims that Biden’s age was a serious problem before last month, then terrified by what I saw at the debates and what’s come out subsequent to that — I agree with much of this post. One point, which is obviously relevant to the question of whether he needs to at least be tested for Parkinson’s, is that there’s some evidence that Biden has declined significantly in the past few months:

Biden isn’t doing press conferences. He’s using teleprompters at fundraisers. The joint appearances with Bill Clinton or Barack Obama look like efforts to keep attention off the candidate. It’s not just that he’s avoiding hostile interviews or refusing to sit with the New York Times, he isn’t even doing friendly-but-substantive shows with journalists like Ezra Klein or Chris Hayes. It was a while ago now that I talked to him, and though it went well, I haven’t heard recent rumors of many other off-the-record columnist chats. The seemingly inexplicable decision to skip the Super Bowl interview is perfectly explicable once you see the duck. In a re-election year, a president needs to do two different full-time jobs simultaneously, and Biden was really struggling with that. Apparently foreign governments were sitting on some anecdotes that have now leaked, which I wouldn’t have thought possible.

But the biggest data point that I blew off was a recent and totally unambiguous one.

Five days before the debate, someone who’d seen Biden recently at a fundraiser told me that he looked and sounded dramatically worse than the previous times they’d seen him — as recently as six months ago — and that they were now convinced Biden wouldn’t be able to make it through a second term. I blew that warning off and assumed things would be fine at the debate.

Now that Biden apologists like me are discredited in the eyes of the public, most people will probably just decide he’s been unfit this whole time. Per my fundraiser source, and people I know who were deeply involved in IRA work, I don’t think that’s true. My guess is that the rigors of the campaign schedule combined with the linear progression of time and the trauma of Hunter’s legal problems made things much worse. But nobody’s going to care or believe anything this White House says.

The second point worth emphasizing is that if Biden should stay in the race and lose there will be lots of dumb arguments bemoaning how “the Democrats” “allowed” this to happen:

One thing that I do think I was right about is that the chorus of pundits, myself included, who suddenly rose up to say “Ezra was right, Democrats need a new nominee” had basically no efficacy. People love to get mad about articles, but the Democratic Party is not, in fact, run by a cabal of center-left columnists.

Yes, everyone knows that not only the party but American political discourse in general is controlled by posts at obscure political science blogs! Moving right along…

More to the point, the Democratic Party is quite literally not run by anyone.

Every time I read a take that expresses bafflement over how “The Democrats” could have put themselves in this situation, I get mad all over again. If you call “the Democrats,” nobody picks up the phone. The reason no major political figure ran against Biden in the primaries is that major political figures are adults with polling operations and those operations told them they would lose. Dean Philips did, in fact, run against Biden, and it’s not just that he lost, he never even put up “surprisingly good” numbers that would tempt someone else into the race. Don’t forget that in the 2016 cycle, Bernie Sanders was not the major political figure he is today. It’s not that Hillary Clinton’s nomination was contested by a powerful left-wing faction, left-wing factional power was built because Sanders’ campaign identified and exploited her weak standing.

[…]

As far as I can tell, Biden is currently taking counsel primarily from his family. That is, on its own terms, a bad sign. Biden’s narrative about the 2016 and 2020 primaries is that he was dismissed by the cognoscenti (including, critically, Obama in 2016) and nobody believed in him but himself and his inner circle. There is some truth to this, and it’s why he won’t care what pundits say. But crucially, front-line Democratic Party elected officials believed in him in 2020. Donors thought Mayor Pete was the best electability choice and quants thought Amy Klobuchar was the best electability choice, but swing seat Democrats liked Biden more. The people Biden should be meeting with are Tammy Baldwin and Bob Casey and Ruben Gallego and Jared Golden and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and others with skin in the game.

In February, I think the right thing for those people to tell him (in private) would have been that he needed to get out there and run a real campaign, that if he wasn’t up for that then he should step aside, but that swing state Dems would be much better off with him at the top of the ticket than with Kamala Harris or with the downside risks of an open convention. Today, I think it’s clear that Biden cannot run a real campaign, so the message needs to change. It’s still better as a private message than a public one, but it’s not clear to me that the president is even having private conversations with the people he needs to be talking to.

Ultimately, the decision whether to keep running is Biden’s, and it would appear that the decision has been made:

For the reasons just stated, I would avoid the “party has decided” framing — Biden has apparently decided and at that point there’s not much that can be done by Dem politicians in public than to support him because he’s infinitely better than the alternative. Do I see anything from the campaign he’s run so far that suggests he’s likely to make up the 4 or 5 points he needs to win the Electoral College? Well…I guess we’re going to find out.

…on the other hand:

I, personally, think we should be allowed to openly discuss points that the likely next Democratic leader in the Senate are raising.

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