Doddery Biden shocks the nation

In 1787, the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, journeyed by barge down the Dnieper River accompanied by a number of foreign ambassadors whom she hoped to impress with the wealth and stability of the settlements in the region.

Unbeknownst to Catherine and her guests, the prosperous towns and villages they viewed along the way were an illusion created by Grigory Potemkin, Catherine’s former lover and the Governor of the region – with the buildings little more than mere facades or temporary buildings disassembled and moved to the next location, once the barge had passed.

Since that time, the term Potemkin Village has come to refer to an impressive façade – often in politics and government - created to hide an unpleasant reality.

Based on President Biden’s embarrassing performance during the election debate in June 2024 and his obvious cognitive decline, which has been covered up for more than a year, it would appear that the current US Administration resembles a Potemkin Village more than any of us might care to admit.

An election debate gone seriously wrong

By any standard, Biden’s poor showing in the debate represents a serious setback for the President and the Democrats’ hopes for achieving a second term in office. For instead of seeing a man who was still at the top of his game – as his handlers had hoped - millions of viewers saw a man in a rather advanced state of mental and physical decline, whose words and thoughts wandered and who at one point froze for some 14 seconds.

For many ordinary Americans, who had believed up to that point that the President was just fine, seeing the reality of Biden’s condition came as a terrible shock. Which was totally understandable given that they had been told for months by White House spokespersons, innumerable elected officials on the Democrat side of the aisle, and much of the mainstream media that he was in good health and brimming over with energy. And yet here he was – not fine at all.

However, harder to understand and credit was the shock and alarm expressed by key Democrats and many journalists who should have been expected to know the real state of affairs, since it was their job to do so and who, in some cases, would have had contact with him and those closest to him. To believe that they somehow had been unaware of his condition or deceived by others seems a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

To my mind, a more likely explanation is that many knew and, for whatever reason, chose to parrot the Administration’s narrative or stayed silent, believing discretion to be the better part of valour (or career success).

This latter explanation was given credence in an interview given by Carl Bernstein on CNN, in which he claimed that sources close to the President have told him that the situation seen during the debate was not a one-off event, but rather that there have been 15 or 20 similar events that have occurred recently. He further claimed that there have been concerns for the last year about Biden’s health and mental acuity and that many people have known about this, including many journalists.


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That being the case, the question arises, “Why have none of these people – especially journalists, who are supposedly tasked with keeping the public informed and speaking truth to power – spoken up until now?” And why have some journalists dismissed warnings as little more than political posturing by Republicans – as seen in the ever-popular “Republicans pounce” phrase that appears in so many headlines and articles in the US mainstream media? 

What now?

So now that the cat is out of the bag, what now?

Well, to begin with, there is a great deal of damage control to be done by the Democrats and their media allies. For having a candidate who is cognitively challenged is not the best way to win an election – however, politics being what it is, recent history suggests that this is not always a deal-breaker.

So media lines will have to be crafted immediately – the current spin-du-jour being that Biden stumbled, but at least he’s not a liar like Trump. And an even more recent one is that the Presidency is more than one person – which is true in a way, but which also implicitly suggests that we can always fall back on the Deep State if Joe gets in real trouble. (Cynics might suggest that the Deep State has, in fact, been running things from the beginning – with Biden little more than a figurehead throughout his time in office.)

As well, they will have to mount a counter-attack, coordinating the efforts of the White House with their allies in the media and various sympathetic organisations.

And then there is the question of whether to ditch Biden and find someone to replace him for the fight in November. This remains to be decided – with important Democrats still uncertain as to which way to go.

Larger issues at stake

Still, all of these are just a matter of politics. And political fights and posturing are usually short-lived and ephemeral, as those of us who have engaged in them or reported on them can testify.

But there are larger issues at play here – which may well have longer-term, real-life impacts that do matter.

Such as how revelations about Biden’s mental sharpness (or lack thereof) may impact perceptions of foreign leaders concerning American resolve and power – which could make the world a more dangerous place by encouraging some to take gambles they might not otherwise consider. 

And perhaps most serious of all is the damage that has been done to the trust Americans have in key institutions, such as the government and the media. For, having been reassured for least a year, maybe more, that Biden is just fine and reports of his many blunders are little more than “cheap fakes”, citizens have now seen with their own eyes that the man is definitely not okay.

Recognising the discrepancy between what they have been told and what they saw in the debate, many will conclude that they have been lied to – a conclusion that, quite frankly, is difficult to rebut.

And many may conclude that this particular lie was not a one-off event, and that being lied to by those in power may be a feature of the system rather than a glitch. When that happens, trust in the system – which has been dropping precipitously for some time – will plummet even more.  A situation that, if left unchecked, can threaten the very existence of democracy.

Reasons to hope

Still, all is not lost. For America is a great nation. Americans are a great people who have gone through even more perilous times in the past than these. And each time, they emerged even stronger.

There is a strength and resilience in the American character that reasserts itself eventually, in spite of the fools and scoundrels who all too frequently have plagued the nation’s history.

And while the current crop of fools and scoundrels in Washington who govern the nation may be little more than a Potemkin Village – a mere façade covering a more sinister reality – the people they are supposed to represent are anything but that, and will eventually prevail.

And when that happens, Joe Biden and those around him will be just a bad memory.

What did you think of the US presidential debate? Comment below.

Paul Malvern writes from Canada. He is President of The Malvern Consulting Group which provides public and private sector clients with advice in strategic communication and social marketing. He is also an author and social critic.

Image credit: Depositphotos


Showing 18 reactions

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  • Fred Johnson
    commented 2024-07-06 06:46:28 +1000
    Dear Peter – whenever someone trots out the “Who are you (or who am I) to judge” line, it does raise the antennae that there’s a PF influence around. My my. I don’t judge Biden, but I know I would not want his PUBLIC record at the time of his Particular Judgment. Yes yes of course there is time to repent but the clock she is a-tickin’ loudly, especially as his own kind begin the devouring process!
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Peter, I’m practical & like many who will vote for Trump, I’m voting in the hope of 4 years of being left alone to practice our faith & raise our children in peace. We have no illusions about Mr. Trump’s personal history & to me at least, it signifies very little.
    Donald Trump’s Creator may care about what convictions Mr. Trump holds sincerely in his heart but pragmatic voters just look at results.
    We’ve had 50 years of feckless, outwardly squeaky clean GOP politicians working the pro-life banquet circuit. They garnered prolife votes but did little to effect reforms. Roe was a sure fire vote-getter for them for decades. When Trump-nominated justices overthrew Roe it exposed the GOP Establishment for what it was. I think they hate Trump even more than the Democrat base does.
  • Peter
    commented 2024-07-06 04:24:43 +1000
    ‘mrscracker’, Trump has NO INTEREST in “traditional Judeo-Christian teachings on family & marriage”. Why would you believe some obscure Canadian writer or Mr D. Trump? The FACTS show that he lies whenever it is politically convenient for himself.
  • Peter
    commented 2024-07-06 04:20:41 +1000
    Fred, Trump IS pro-abortion. Keep up with it. According to Trump, abortion is ok up to 15 or 16 week.

    As for the southern border, Trump STOPPED fixing the border months ago. Why? He didn’t want it fixed so that he could campaign on it!

    And please don’t judge President Biden’s faith. Who are you to judge?

    If you have an ounce in Christianity in you (meaning all the supporters of Trump that Mercator represents), you would see through this evil man. Don’t compare Mr D. Trump to President Biden. There is no comparison. And, if you can’t see that, you are as blind to the FACTS, something Trump doesn’t like, as most of Trump’s FANATICAL followers are!

    Open your eyes, mate!
  • mrscracker
    I read an article written by a Catholic author who is in no way a fan of Trump. But he said he’s arrived at the realization a Trump presidency at least ensures those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian teachings on family & marriage will be left in peace for the next 4 years. That alone seemed a better alternative than voting for a party that is guaranteed to persecute you.
  • Fred Johnson
    commented 2024-07-06 03:58:36 +1000
    Sigh. I have spent the last seven years telling those with TDS not to listen to what he says, certainly not to listen to how he says it, but watch what he does. Let’s see – an America First policy during his presidency, peace in the ME, Islamists very quiet, deconstructing the over-regulation of all aspects of the economy, a valiant effort to secure the southern border etc. etc. but also the most Pro-Life president in the country’s history. What’s not to like unless you prefer fake Catholic Biden and his overseer Obama, who voted not once but four times against proposed bans on partial-birth abortions. I’ll take Trump any day of the week over those demons.
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Peter, which particular policies of the Trump administration do you feel alarmed about?
    Mr. Trump is not a politician, he’s not traditionally conservative, & is a very unlikely presidential candidate but I doubt we’d have seen the current situations in the Ukraine & Mid East had he served a 2nd consecutive term.
    Too many folks are SCREAMING when perhaps they should be thoughtfully weighing the alternatives.
  • Peter
    commented 2024-07-06 03:29:41 +1000
    Mercator fails once again to be fair in its portrayal of US politics.
    Sure, President (not Mr) Biden is old and there are definite signs of decline in his physical condition, but why concentrate on President Biden’s well-being and, seemingly, ignore the morally, ethically, and spiritually corrupt Republican presidential candidate, Mt D. Trump?
    How on earth can a publication like Mercator, which purports to be the teller of truth, ignore the absurdity of even contemplating another presidency of Mr D. Trump?
    Mercator should be SCREAMING the alarm of another Trump Presidency. Haven’t you, Michael Cook, learnt anything from history?
    Shame on you and all at Mercator for being complicit in this unfolding tragedy in the USA. As an Australian. I’m embarrassed to be remotely associated with Mercator and its implicit support of Mr D. Trump and the Republican Party in the US.
  • mrscracker
    There was New York Magazine article, (which from what I understand is not a publication friendly to Trump), claiming both political sides are now embracing a theory that a declining Mr. Biden has been in the hands of puppet masters. One most likely being former Pres. Obama. And that this has for all purposes been Mr. Obama’s 3rd term in office.

    I don’t know. In the previous election the GOP overplayed that same hand. Mr. Biden certainly appeared to have suffered a decline in health after the Covid lockdown but not so severe as was claimed. You’d think he had been in the final stages of dementia in 2020 from the GOP spin going on back then & it just wasn’t so. Today things are different though & the poor man obviously is struggling. What I mostly felt watching the debate was sorrow for his condition. I totally oppose his policies but anyone watching him today has to have some sympathy.
  • Angela Shanahan
    commented 2024-07-05 22:57:33 +1000
    “Why have none of these people – especially journalists, who are supposedly tasked with keeping the public informed and speaking truth to power – spoken up until now?”
    What are you talking about? I am a journalist in Australia, and I write for the only national newspaper. We all knew that he was in LaLa land, and anyone else with a television could see it too. Eg. His freezing at the Dday ceremonies and later in the White House when Mr. Obama had to help him off. The stories about his incompetence,confusion, and the obvious blathering, have been going on for some years now. If we knew in Australia, ,I don’t know why a Canadian, who is a lot closer didn’t. You can’t knock the ‘media’ for that.
  • Fred Johnson
    commented 2024-07-05 22:37:57 +1000
    Well, the good news as in your last line is that within just a few months Joe Biden will be irrelevant as he also awaits another type of Judgment. I do think you are overly optimistic and kind to America though; by several accounts its heyday and hegemony are careening to an ignominious end. It’s had a heck of a run but just like reserve currencies, empires of all kinds do run their course. What comes next globally is the real question.
  • Anon Emouse

    I’ll admit I was wrong on that particular allegation, however, I will qualify by quoting also from a Newsweek article (via msn).

    “ Trump’s accuser had been expected to appear at a news conference in early November 2016, but her attorney, Lis Bloom, said she had received threats and was too afraid to show up. Doe’s attorney, Thomas Meagher, then filed a notice to dismiss the case, without providing an explanation. The woman hasn’t been heard from since.”

    That might have been a mitigating factor, no?

    Also, Michael: you allow the “mentally unfit to stand trial” comment about Biden. That is a medical diagnosis if I am not mistaken, which is NOT what Mr. Hur said in his report (nor is it an evaluation that Mr. Hur or the commenter is qualified to make) Why is that not considered to be liable or slanderous?
  • Michael Cook
    commented 2024-07-05 12:42:14 +1000
    to Anon Emouse: You referred to “the recent Epstein documents revealing Trump (allegedly) raped children?” The documents are not recent. They date back to January. You use the word “reveal” and simultaneously, “allegedly”. “Reveal” implies truth; “allegedly” implies uncertainty. Which is it?
    Fact-checkers at Newsweek examined these allegations and found them false.
    You should have checked before posting slanders like this.
    Subsequent stories have revived the allegations but they remain unspecified and unproven.
    This is an important issue and I’d like to make it clear that we won’t permit casual slanders of anyone, whether they are in the public eye or not, based on hearsay.
  • Michael Cook
    followed this page 2024-07-05 12:26:48 +1000
  • Anon Emouse

    A cursory glance at Mercatornet shows many thinkpieces attacking Biden’s debate performance. The author seems to be more concerned with Biden’s “senior moments” than he does with Trump’s “senior moments” and his obvious cognitive decline, as well as the “obvious risk of having an incompetent president”. I’d look forward to the author raising the same concerns of a potential commander in chief about how he fell asleep in court, manages to slur his words at rallies, needs handlers to and from events.

    Also you misstate the outcome of that – it’s not that Biden was “mentally incompetent” to stand trial – it’s that the prosecutor (a lifelong GOP member) was unconvinced he could convince a jury of his guilt. You misstate Hur’s findings.
  • Paul Thordarson
    commented 2024-07-05 09:51:01 +1000
    Anon Emouse,
    I have trouble seeing any connection between your comments and this article. There was a single reference to Trump, simply quoting a well known common Democratic response to any Trump reference. The article was about President Biden, his obvious cognitive decline and the equally obvious year long denial of it by the press and the Democratic party (at least until the debate aftermath). And the equally obvious risk of having an incompetent president in such a dangerous world. A notorious example of the doublespeak is the number press reports touting how fit and lucid President Biden was while simultaneously reporting his avoiding going a court appearance because he was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. Not reassuring.

    Trump was never mentioned in this article as a better alternative to President Biden or any alternative at all for that matter. It focused on the singular and serious problem we Americans currently have in the Oval Office.
  • Anon Emouse
    My mercatornet seems to be in the bag for Trump. All these attack think pieces on Biden.
    What about Trump slurring his nonsensical speech at rallies? What about Trump thinking that Nikki Haley was in charge of Congress on January 6? Falling asleep in court? Or the recent Epstein documents revealing Trump (allegedly) raped children?
  • Paul Malvern
    published this page in The Latest 2024-07-04 21:48:57 +1000