Patrick Lawrence: 90 Min That Shook the Liberal World

CNN’s spectacle made it clear that Biden and Trump present no sensible choice and stand as insults to those who persist in the act of voting. 

Donald Trump – Joe Biden CNN debate on June 27. (C-Span still)

By Patrick Lawrence 
ScheerPost

Give me a sec to think. I need to make a list. Two.

The genocide in Gaza, the Middle East tinderbox, Bezalel Smotrich, the lost proxy war in Ukraine, relations with Russia, the danger of nuclear war, the fate of NATO, China, the threat of war with Iran, the emergence of a new world order, Europe’s turn toward populism, third world debt, global inequality, the sharply worsening climate crisis: It is a start on the foreign side, in no particular order. 

Inter the endless alia in these United States, I’ve got social and economic inequality, money in politics, our drift toward late-imperial bankruptcy, the corruption of the judiciary, the housing crisis from hell, Julian Assange and press freedom, the creeping censorship regime, widespread drug addiction, immigration, the price of eggs, the Pentagon budget: I will leave out Taylor Swift and stop here.

So, a brief précis of the imposing problems defining the tasks of all world leaders in 2024, and then another atop the first for the man or woman who sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, as every president since Kennedy has. I settled last night at 8 Central time thinking I might hear a little something about, maybe, one or two items on each of these lists as Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off — I decline the term “debate” — in a studio at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta. 

Nothing. Not a usefully coherent thought to any of this. Nero should have been up there as an honorary third candidate — with his fiddle for the background music, of course.    

When these two frightening people descended into a bickering exchange concerning Biden’s golf handicap and Trump’s girth, I knew this first and probably last direct exchange between two incompetents contending for the world’s most powerful office was a lost cause. I lost 90 minutes of my time as it schussed down the chute. But never mind that.

And never mind the media “analysts,” who rated the event like theater critics according to who turned in the best performance. The American people lost and they lost big. And beyond Americans, the rest of the world lost, too. 

I have regretted for years the extent to which elections in this country have come to be determined not by ideas, courage and imagination, guiding principles, or the articulation of wise ways forward, but by affect.

There is a history to this that goes back to the 18th century — sentimental politics, let’s call it — but we can leave that for another time. We are on notice as of this CNN face-off that affect is all there is left in the matter of presidential politics. 

Spectacle  

“The Society of the Spectacle Guy Debord” video still, September 2009. (Marc Blieux, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Guy Debord, the tortured sage of the 1968 événements in Paris, warned us all those years ago that public life in what used to be the Western democracies had lapsed into sheer spectacle. This is what we saw last week, but let us not stop there.

Our politics, our political process, our voting rituals: These were up on that studio stage last week right along with the two buffoons demanding our attention, and we must now see that these are all mere spectacle, too. Let us not speak of any such thing as oratory: Far too elevated, that, as it presupposes thought. 

The best that might plausibly be said of the Biden–Trump encounter is that can be read as a confrontation between the populism on the rise across the Atlantic world and the liberal-authoritarian elites waging political, social, economic, and ideological war against it from the watchtowers of sequestered power. But this may be grasping at straws, I confess.

If Biden is a good-enough expression of what has become of American liberalism — or what it has been for at least a century, as I see it — Trump is an appalling representative of populism as it now revives, even its rightist stripe. I can take Jordan Bardella, who now carries the standard for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, seriously. After Wednesday night, even those few worthy ideas Trump has had over the years — a new détente with Moscow, etc. — do not redeem him.

A blowhard who makes things up met a confused, addled man who is past it: This is the instant orthodoxy among mainstream media — how swiftly do they settle on what they will write and broadcast in boring unison—seems right but nothing like the right story. The right story is that we are in immediate, very serious, very consequential trouble.

In the immediate, we had better consider carefully the beyond-dispute, recorded-on-television reality that a demented man now stands (for however many hours a day he can stand) as the world’s most powerful leader. And if human beings are at bottom sight animals, Americans most of all, they can now see, if they care to admit what they have seen, that these two men present no sensible choice and stand as insults to those who persist in the act of voting.  

I have marveled for years as the Democratic machine, Wall Street and all those flaccid liberals in Hollywood put their faith and many millions of dollars into a man whose mental and physical capacities were failing. This made no sense, other than to suggest the Democrats operate according to whose turn it is or could find no credible candidate.

Miranda Devine, the right-wing columnist at The New York Post, reported in The Laptop from Hell, her 2021 exposé, that those in Biden’s inner circle were remarking on his incipient dementia as far back as 2012. 

Trump and Biden during the CNN face-off. (C-Span still)

Beyond this, the Man from Scranton simply did not present himself as presidential timber, as it is put. It is one thing to roll logs in Congress, where small-time horse trading and corruption are more or less part of the routine, and altogether a mistake to think a long-serving senator who has his teeth whitened can import these habits into the White House and make them work there. Could no one see the mismatch?

Last Wednesday night, not to be missed, finally shook Biden’s clerks in the media awake. James Carville, the barb-tongued Southerner who has advised Democrats for decades, remarked before the debate that all the mainstream liberals would watch the debate hearts in mouths hoping there would be no fatal slip or silence. There were a few, but all in Biden’s 90 minutes before however many millions tuned in were one-start-to-finish slip. 

The New York Times published an astonishing opinion page in its Friday editions. No fewer than six regular contributors, all of them Biden devotees for years, now say he must step aside. Tom Friedman’s headline: “Joe Biden Is a Good Man and a Good President. He must Now Bow Out of the Race.” Paul Krugman: “The Best President of My Adult Life Needs to Withdraw.” Ross Douthat, in one of those back-and-forth “conversations” the Times stages in its pages: “Is Biden Too Old? American Got Its Answer.”

Something curious in the Krugman case. His piece, in which he argued that Kamala Harris would make a fine replacement should Biden drop out — amazing, Krugman — was pulled from the page a few hours after it was published. I’m not even going to speculate why the economist-turned-Democratic-ideologue took this decision.

Harris speaking at a primary rally in Orangeburg, South Carolina on Feb. 20. (Eric Elofson/Biden For President, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I decline to mark this down to wisdom (always a safe course when corporate journalists are at issue). To me this sudden volte-face reflects nothing so much as years of irresponsibility, ideological conformity, and a lemming-like march to what turns out now to be a tumultuous political sea.

“No one respects us,” Trump insisted severally during the fateful 90 minutes. “The world laughs at us.” I seriously doubt another Trump presidency would improve matters in this line, but his reminder of how American politics looks beyond American shores was right.  

“I am worried about the image projected to the outside world,” Sergey Radchenko, an international relations man at Johns Hopkins, wrote on “X.” “It is not an image of leadership. It is an image of terminal decline.”

I’ll say. What’re they thinking, I wondered while watching Wednesday evening. What thinking in Paris, Moscow, Brasilia, Beijing, Mexico City, Pretoria? The question kept ringing in my mind like some awful case of tinnitus of the brain.   

I have heard and read various answers, all to be expected, none good. I do not get many foreign observers laughing, but many or most worrying or worse. Here is one from the eye of the storm.

Mazin Qumsiyeh is a professor at Bethlehem University and an energetic publisher of a privately circulated newsletter. He wrote Thursday morning, and I will leave the harsh language as it is:

The U.S./Israel empire marches on with some successes and some setbacks. Zionist-picked Conman Trump faced off against Zionist-picked Genocide Joe in a presidential debate with no public moderator by two committed Zionist Jews, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash…. It gives the U.S. public a distraction to keep the delusion that they still have democracy instead of dealing with real challenges like climate change, rich getting richer and poor getting poorer, the madness of war, etc.…

Israel as an apartheid regime must end or the US/Israel killing machine goes on and will lead us to global catastrophic war thanks to the lobby/special interests. We need to focus efforts on stopping the addiction to war (and genocide) for profit and to work to build a sustainable future.”

Just a few words to remind ourselves of what people sound like in the imperium’s distant reaches. Professor Qumsiyeh founded and directs the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability. He signs his newsletters, “Stay human and keep Palestine alive.”

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows, available from Clarity Press or via Amazon.  Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. 

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This article is from ScheerPost.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

46 comments for “Patrick Lawrence: 90 Min That Shook the Liberal World

  1. debi
    July 5, 2024 at 19:26

    It is terrifying that we do not know who is currently in charge in the US, making their fateful military decisions.

    Whatever people think about Russia and China we have to be thankful that their leaders are competent and in control. What if one of those countries was also run by a senile leader?

  2. BigOboe
    July 5, 2024 at 18:43

    I for one will not be putting forth the effort to vote in the presidential election, not with a choice like this. I am sure to get flak for it from some family and friends, but I think a boycott will make them all look silly and illegitimate.

  3. Rudy Haugeneder
    July 5, 2024 at 14:53

    ‘t Your comments about the failure to at least mention one or more of the pressing issues facing humanity and the public — and media’s — lack of interest in the two presidential candidate ever whispering about them, reflect, in hindsight, how bad things really are. I was among those who watched the so-called debate, not thinking about anything other than whether it would in some manner be entertaining. I to some degree was entertained. I thought absolutely nothing about the issues that should have been at least referred to: nothing, nothing, nothing. And didn’t until reading your article today. On reflection, I am ashamed I didn’t notice: Ashamed. The overwhelming majority of us should also be ashamed since these are the issues that impact are future.

  4. Jeff Harrison
    July 5, 2024 at 00:36

    Very good, Patrick. We need to dispense with the terms like liberal. conservative, Neo-con and replace them with what the Cap’n really mean to say.

  5. lester
    July 4, 2024 at 21:40

    That the US is ruled by blithering idiots has been obvious for a long time!

  6. C. Parker
    July 4, 2024 at 21:18

    Really, is anyone surprised by Biden’s debate performance? Back in 2020, thanks to Covid which was used to prevent Biden from active campaigning and debates, most of his campaign speeches took place in his basement. Even then, most could see Joe Biden was not quite right. The DNC and the media did all they could to hide this from the voters.

    Once in office he was more visible to the public. Americans witnessed Joe Biden’s walk, facial expressions and speech were concerning.It appeared quite obvious he was in mental decline.

    One of the more embarrassing, let’s say scary, moments happened late last year. President Biden was to give a medal to a Vietnam veteran who was being honored for his bravery in landing his helicopter in dangerous zones. The veteran stood on stage awaiting the U.S. President. When Joe Biden walked on stage, applause was heard from the crowd. However, Joe Biden now on stage walks right past the veteran, continues to walk off the stage. No medal, no speech. As President Biden walked past the crowd he was replete with an empty look on his face having no idea where he was or what he was doing. The veteran, along with another military officer remained standing-at-attention in awkward silence. Someone from the audience in a military uniform gave a signal to remain standing. Soon, someone else arrived on stage to present the honor. I will add, Joe Biden did not serve in Vietnam.

    That is one small occasion from last year. How many more had there been? The D.C. rulers and media have grown accustomed to damage control.

    This is frightening. We should all be questioning who is running the country. It isn’t someone the American voters put in office. Makes you wonder what’s all the fuss about campaigns? Pay no attention to that man in behind the curtain!

    So, why now? Why are all those in power and press in such a furry as they try to work out how to handle the President’s presumed dementia? Following the debates they suppose that most of the world knows. Hopefully, it is not meant to punish Americans or the world even further…are they planning to make Kamala Harris the interim president? That is, should Biden resign before November? I cannot think of a more dangerous decision. Biden has already set the world on the brink of nuclear war. What would an inexperienced politician do to prove she is one of the tough guys? She is likely to do something very stupid, push the envelope just a wee more insulting the Russia, China, and all, with her lack of cool-headed diplomacy. She will do whatever appears the most tough. Cringeworthy stuff. This is very, very frightening.

  7. Nonclassical
    July 4, 2024 at 12:58

    …some 4-5 years prior, “Responsible Statecraft” article defined Silicon Valley A.I warning; either U.$. funds high-tech above seas, below seas, land, air, space tech new “warfare”, OR they sill take tech to China to perform…
    With move by NEOCON war criminals from gop to dnc during trump, obviously, Wall $treet, MICIMATT, Rand, Silicon Valley have (Taibbi, Musk, etc.) perpetrated Ukraine win-win-win-win, to eliminate old warfare machinery while propagandizing voters with proven phony “russiagate” rationale, empowered at public expense, old and new tech.
    Proxy war Ukraine failure attempt to “good war” = Israel ignore Ukraine failure compounds NEOCON madness, and as “censorship industrial complex (see Mike Benz, Internet Freedom Foundation interview by Tucker Carlson, Taibbi interview by Chris Hedges), buries alternative to absurd U.$. politic, as 76% + voters disapprove of both candidacies – party purchase (see “Citizens United” result of
    Princeton U. defined 97% legislation benefitting corporate contributors)…and as apparatchiks scapegoat voters they define controlling primary process.

  8. Robert Emmett
    July 4, 2024 at 09:24

    Shook the World. Ha ha, good one, CN. Muhammad Ali they ain’t. The only ring they would enter is full of hats. The only fighting they know how to do is with their lying tongues. The Presidential Tongue Off, ha ha ha.

    Two old, out of shape rope-a-dopes with nothing left but jabs. This has been obvious for a while. But oh, now the official weeping & wailing & gnashing for all the good it will do.

    It would be more honest if the Bozo Twins would don masks & skirts, shaking their feeble asses in a shambling interpretive kabuki dance. Stumble bums are what they are. But well-clothed & fed by a network of corruption.

  9. Rafi Simonton
    July 3, 2024 at 22:52

    “It is an image of terminal decline.”

    No better way to express the truth! If the elites were serious about bringing “democracy” to the world, we’d have real candidates for the Presidency and not addled, mediocre puppets or incompetent, wealthy narcissists. We lessers, mere economic cannon fodder in Wall St.’s war on workers, have no say. What are we compared to billionaires buying elections or the Ivy League “meritocracy” of the D elite?

    None of these who desperately want us to believe they’re our betters have learned the lesson of David Halberstam’s //The Best and the Brightest.// So on we go with an econ system destroying environments and human communities plus a government enthralled by wars that are classic signs of attempts to shore up a failing empire.

    Seems to be a widespread felt but little understood reaction to the end of Enlightenment confidence. Where Euro philosophers and their colonist descendants were certain their politics and technology, administered by the best people (them,) would solve all problems. Progression and expansion were inevitable and natural, per evolution. Never mind that not everyone on the planet agreed or that this interpretation was at the cost of a sense of purpose and meaning for our lives.

    I’m convinced few people really want to see–D for denial, R for rigidity. The icon for American (and western Euro) political parties should be the ostrich. But they, too, are restricted by an Aristotelian/Enlightenment and theological either/or. Still present as good or evil, with us or against us, good guy or bad guy, true or false, wave or particle binaries. Cabinet administrators want these limits. Political party faithful don’t want to look beyond the binary through the thin veneer of their party’s candidate because a frightening reality would become all too visible. Acknowledging that would be disorienting; so now what? Who’s offering alternatives that wouldn’t be even worse?!

    It’s hard work to build coalitions with people whose attitudes, cultures, or class are very different from your own. Rank and file parties, like New Deal Dems, the NDP, or Labour, once places to learn political organizing skills, no longer are. More symptoms of that terminal decline.

  10. hetro
    July 3, 2024 at 20:40

    Next, after we’ve found somewhat unconvincing the faint voice, the vacant stare, pausing and mumbling joined to a schoolboy sort of squabbling and sneering, perhaps we should also look to WHAT was said with its fantasies and fairy tales and no evidence presented . . . ?

    • Joette Storm
      July 4, 2024 at 15:22

      It is time to look to a third choice. The Green Party has an organization and a candidate with empathy for the common person. Dr. Jill Stein could lead our nation away from genocide and to a better nation where fairness is the standard.

      • BigOboe
        July 5, 2024 at 18:48

        I was not planning on voting but…. does the Green Party endorse nuclear power as clean energy? (it’s the best form of clean energy by far) The Greens in Germany dismantled 2 nuclear power plants, which is shameful IMHO. Thank you.

  11. ZimInSeattle
    July 3, 2024 at 18:36

    Well said as always. When will the electorate pull their collective heads out & vote in mass for 3rd party candidates? You’d have to be pro genocide to vote for either the carnival barker or the cadaver. So I ask all the shitlibs out there, how’s that lesser of two evils voting working out for you?

  12. firstpersoninfinite
    July 3, 2024 at 15:17

    Well said, Patrick Lawrence. And now that we’ve all seen the gaping maw hungrily positioned to receive our probable future, the most important thing is to let neither the neo-liberal nihilists or the Christian fascists use the chaos unleashed by the failures of our policies to strengthen their hold over humanity. They both believe that their moment has finally come, but that moment of complete control over society of which they have both dreamed for over a millennium is why we are at where we are today. The elites, along with those purveyors of eternal truths claiming for themselves the rule of heaven, are a priesthood raging against human values, and must not be given control of society – no matter what chaos ensues.

  13. Eric Arthur Blair
    July 3, 2024 at 15:01

    Pre-Presidential Election debates are normally held in September. So why was the Biden-Trump debate held so early this June, an acrobatic backflip after the Establishment originally insisted there would be no debate at all? Because the Demoncrats were finally forced to accept that Biden’s dementia could no longer be covered up, so best to publicly expose it, then mount a mainstream media campaign to eject the babbling cadaver who had refused to leave voluntarily. Do it early to find a replacement.
    However the issue is not whether a braindead corpse is worse than a narcissistic conman. The issue is that the entire US political system is completely rotten and corrupted by big money and the MIC, who are railroading everybody towards WW3.
    To paraphrase Rosa Luxemburg, our choices are either ecosocialism or barbarism. Short of Dr Jill Stein being elected, only popular revolution can bring about ecosocialist reform, which will not be complete until the last private banker is strangled by the entrails of the last Raytheon executive.

  14. Drew Hunkins
    July 3, 2024 at 14:42

    I’m not voting.

    I’m not voting as I refuse to lend any sort of legitimacy to this rotting corpse of a violent and dying empire.

    I’ve just about never missed an election in the past 25 years, even the boring off-year election stuff when I’m about the only guy in the school gym after work voting for dog catcher and a referendum on the local water works. But no longer, no freakin’ way!

    Not voting is the correct thing to do morally this autumn.

    37,000 murdered Palestinians in Gaza and counting…

    • Mikael Andresson
      July 3, 2024 at 21:28

      Drew, I’m not voting either, because I’m Australian. We vote for Australian politicians who obey US presidents who we don’t vote for. But the obvious truth seems to have finally popped out. A vote for Joe Biden was always a vote for Kamala Harris. Now perhaps, US voters will be able to vote for her in person, rather than indirectly. But I suspect they won’t. (ps. I only care about US wars. If their POTUS stops today’s wars and avoids new wars I’ll be happy enough. Australia always joins their wars and I oppose war.)

      • Drew Hunkins
        July 3, 2024 at 23:45

        You have better choices Down Under than we do here, that’s for sure.

        Keep up the anti-war fight.

      • BigOboe
        July 5, 2024 at 18:50

        Is it true that voting in Australia is mandatory? Thank you.

        • Consortiumnews.com
          July 6, 2024 at 01:41

          Yes it is.

    • sisuforpeace
      July 4, 2024 at 15:42

      Please reconsider not voting. That’s what they want you to do – give up. But a democracy is only as good as it’s citizens engagement. Jill Stein of the Green Party is a great candidate and there are couple of good independents running – Dr. Cornell West is one of them.

  15. Teleman
    July 3, 2024 at 14:05

    I would like to know where the Military Academy graduates are who swore to protect the Constitution from enemies without and within.
    In the 80’s we had a President who was senile and a Vice President who told us about The New World Order.
    The Communication Act of 96 removed ownership restrictions and journalists who asked hard questions like Helen Thomas were removed.
    This is no surprise to we ‘nuts’ who were awake and asking hard questions.

  16. LeoSun
    July 3, 2024 at 13:37

    “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

    “Houston,” the “Eagle” aka POTUS has c r a s h e d!!!” The world “watched,”the “BIG Guy,” “take one GIANT” face plant. “One small step,” for removal, replacement, repentance!. Imagine, an act of contrition from the “Big Guy.”

    …..fuhgeddabout it! It’s NOT gonna happen. The “Big Guy” lacks the skill set. He’s ill-prepared, i.e., “When the brain lacks sufficient oxygen, cognitive and mental ability declines, followed by physical incapacitation, and then unconsciousness or even death.”

    “[IN the IMMEDIATE],” “we had better consider carefully” that 90 minutes (+) 2 “power” surges = S.O.S!!!

    …… 90 minutes later, the world, “watched” imo, the dementia addled, truth challenged, political corpse posing as POTUS, masquerading as human, assisted, off CNN’s stage, by his doctor, FLOTUS.

    Hence, calls to shut-down using, abusing & abandoning “fossils” to fuel a debate, is in process. The “psyopcracy,” Cathy Vogan called out, is in plain sight & feel! aka, the fakery & the phuckery. It’s as toxic as what’s been Hur’d ‘round the world,’ about the miserably aged, “the most powerful man, in the world,” he willfully f/up. Everybody, knows it.

    Regardless, Hur’d round the world, “a sympathetic, elderly man w/a poor memory,” has been deemed incapable of “standing” for trial, before, during or after November’s 2024, Presidential $election.” Fuhgeddabout, removing, replacing, retiring the the f.u.b.a.r., “fool on The Hill.” Add that to the list of, “It Ain’t Happening!” Yet.

    No doubt, the Ayatollahs, on the SCOTUS, have delivered “the key that opens, reminding US that it’s also, the key that locks.”

    “HERE’S The DEAL,” “The oligarchic and military elites have a handmaiden in the Oval Office, and he won’t be ousted as long as he serves their interests.” …. “The Useful Idiocy of Donald Trump,”. Chris Hedges, Mr. Fish @ https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-useful-idiocy-of-donald-trump/

    ….. “Trump provides the daily entertainment; the elites handle the business of looting, exploiting and destroying.” “As long as Trump” [BIDEN-HARRIS] “serves the interests of the elites [he/she] will remain president.”

    ‘HELP IS ON THE WAY,’ “If, for some reason,” [he/she] is unable to serve these interests, [he/she] will disappear.”

    NEEDED: Facts & truth to be relevant. No doubt, everyone, “might care when just how far the decay has gotten, is understood,” i.e., imo, CNN set-up Biden-Harris to fail; &, DJTrump w/the death knell….” SCORE! “Done & Dusted.”

    ……“It’s ridiculous. We have a debate. You know it & I know it, we’re trying to justify his presidency. His presidency, [Biden-Harris] his – without question, the worst president, the worst presidency in the history of our country. We shouldn’t be having a debate about it. There’s nothing to debate.” Donald John Trump

    Concluding, Donald John Trump, aced CNN’s “Cognitive Test;” and, Joseph Robinette Biden, failed, miserably.

    IMO, JRBiden’s left, w/his grubby, dirty, bloody talons (hands) holding tightly, to his (Biden-Harris) “only,” defense, “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” A federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities.” Otherwise, the “well-meaning elderly man, with a poor memory,” is bankrupt!

    TY, Patrick Lawrence, CN, et al. Onward & Upwards. Ciao

  17. bardamu
    July 3, 2024 at 13:07

    Sadly, moribund senility is Joe Biden’s best quality. Obesity must be one of Trump’s more benign.

    What idiots set Joe Biden on a public stage with a their own personal stakes depending on it? Apparently the state is demented, not just the president.

    It’s just as well this has happened; it’s past time that people knew–and that Krugman started withdrawing his writing.

  18. Michael G
    July 3, 2024 at 12:52

    Populism as described in Thomas Frank’s THE PEOPLE, NO was a grass roots agrarian uprising. Black and White. Last sentence is key. It mobilized the “authoritarian elites”. They pulled out all the stops to quell it, realizing that it was existential for them if The People joined forces against a common indignation (see list two above). The beginning of the beginning of the end (to borrow phrasing from Mike Duncan’s THE STORM BEFORE THE STORM) for the Democrats was the turn away from traditional Liberalism with the Powell Memo in 1971. Chris Hedges describes what happened from that specific point in time in DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS. So I would say that no, Biden has not been a “good enough” representation of Liberalism. He has been a sterling representation of Neoliberalism (see David Harvey’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEOLIBERALISM), which is Capitalism without the faculty of one’s soul. Republicans can trace their lineage back to the old robber barons and act like it, see Thomas Frank’s THE WRECKING CREW HOW CONSERVATIVES RULE. They just handed a metaphorical cigar to the Democrats when they showed up at the capitalist party without the ‘looking out for the working class baggage’. Neoliberalism began on what was probably a sunny day in October 1979 when Paul Volker raised interest rates to double digits, intentionally bankrupting a large portion of Latin America . The vultures of Wall Street then lifted ponderously off their guano spattered perches and headed south.
    Democrats and Republicans have been joined at the hip against the working class ever since.
    Neither Trump or what’s left of Biden have been, or ever were there to help us. And the Democrats and Republicans more generally have collectively not been since August 23, 1971.
    We are all in a list two (above) situation, and it is not getting any better. But we have to understand who’s responsible, then take steps to mitigate their effects. As best we can in a country where we have democracy in name only.
    As far as the Israel Lobby is concerned, I am reading THE ISRAEL LOBBY by Mearsheimer and Walt right now. We just need to put the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations on a rail and run them out of the country, a la ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’

  19. Voltaria Voltaire
    July 3, 2024 at 12:26

    Personally, I like Sam Husseini’s idea with Votepact. Instead of voting for a lesser evil or a more covert form of greater evil, team up with someone from the opposite side and each vote for a third party of their choice that has not proven itself to be a complete disaster, rather than cancel each other out. This is just to tip the scales for more choice in the future. They want us to give up and not vote. They want us to give up on the idea that we will ever have a choice or say so in what happens in our world. But the sane in this world greatly outnumber the psycho incompetents. The sane don’t know it because it doesn’t SEEM like anything can be done about it. The insane psychos at the helm, out of control at the wheel, steering us into oblivion, KNOW they are outnumbered. That is why they try so hard to censor, and vilify every spark of truth. They are TERRIFIED.

  20. Richard Pelto
    July 3, 2024 at 12:12

    Lawrence provides an element of the story long in making.
    This “democracy” has been producing the same thing for decades now—candidates that leave the public choosing always between which is the lesser of two evils. The last time I voted with some enthusiasm was for JFK.
    We have to do the same again.
    For me, Trump is by far the preferable choice on one issue alone—Biden’s literally turning the borders wide open. And every conscientious reader of Consortium should know that an excellent case can be made that Biden played a key role in creating the Ukraine war putting us on the razor edge of nuclear war.
    Trump is hated to such a degree that the establishment has thrown out every democratic principle in order to undermine and possibly imprison him because he swerved the country from its global hegemony aspirations by being willing to talk to “enemy” leaders like Putin and Un, questions things like males thinking they are females and vice versa, and generally throwing material into the gears of conditioned thinking.
    He, like almost all previous to him, has flaws. I would vote for Robert Kennedy or Tulsi Gabbard if that didn’t threaten Biden’s reelection.
    And Biden tells the world what we have is a choice between autocracy and democracy!! B.S.

    • Susan Siens
      July 4, 2024 at 16:36

      Thoughtful comment from someone who did not fall into the liberal trap of smearing Trump. I am no fan of his, did not and will not vote for him, but really! What was Barack Obama except a con man? What was Bill Clinton except a con man? Oh, but they were / are con men beloved by liberals.

  21. Barry Watson
    July 3, 2024 at 11:54

    The opinion of most, is that the U.S. election debate was appalling and frightening!
    Both candidates being way far past their ‘sell by dates’!

    The subsequent reviews, in print, social media and on TV, proves to me that the U.S. is full of
    very bright intelligent and insightful political commentators, which begs the question-how did
    these two get to be the only candidates standing for head of State?

    The Psychiatrist’s/Phycologists are having a ‘field day’ speculating on the neurological problems
    which may be affecting these old men.
    But, if these two guys cannot focus their thoughts and speech,
    what chance is there for their doing the job, of understanding and controlling the Governance of the U.S.
    and Foreign policy?

  22. Renate
    July 3, 2024 at 11:46

    What is the definition of the word “liberal world”? Its meaning appears to depend on the context and narrative used.

    • Susan Siens
      July 4, 2024 at 16:37

      Well, one definition of “liberal” I have seen is someone who will not support her own argument in an argument with herself.

    • LeoSun
      July 5, 2024 at 12:25

      Renate, that’s a good question.

      Literally, “liberal world,” means a “FREE” planet/world. However, the reality is, the “FREE” world,” is saturated w/“Liberals” manipulating, 24/7, annually, plant, animal & human life. IMO, The “liberals,” have been coming @ US from the left, right, center. They’re, everywhere. IMO, the “Liberals” are the HACKS, the lemmings, the sick-o-phant$, the feral cats, demonizing, weaponizing, straight-up “CATFISHING,“ the world’s “alley cats.”

      …….. “Round here, we talk just like lions; but, we sacrifice, like lamb. Round here,” ‘The Heart Is The Marketplace.’

      Consequently, “the most powerful man, in the world,” the “elephant,” in the room; basically, a worn-out jackass, in a feral cat’s “$tate of mind,” is “On Tour!” No worrie$,”every elephant carries his own trunk!” AND, the world “watches” POTUS’ doctor, FLOTUS, assist in shuffling HIM onto every $tage, to change hearts & minds about POTUS’ yappin’ & yellin’ into the I-Cloud. IMO, POTUS’ “legacy,” POTUS & FLOTUS “catfishing,” captured, forever!

      BTW, Russia’s President “gifted” N. Korea’s President, a beyond, futuristic “BEAST” of a ride. The “liberals” around the Cable Network News,’ TV & Print, “armpits,” wanna “gift” POTUS, more time, to work less, sleep more; &, “catfish” @ his leisure.

      Consequently, “we” the people, are still looking for a “Leader.” In the interim,

      …… “Dear Joe Biden, the next time you kneel for confession, ask the Good Lord, that Rock of Ages, to engrave justice, human rights, decency, and peace, in your hardened mind and callous heart. “And Jesus wept.” (Raouf J. Halaby, 7.9.21)

      “Keep It Lit!” Ciao.

  23. Eddie S
    July 3, 2024 at 11:43

    Thanks to Patrick Lawrence for enduring this anachronism/bad theater. I watched about 15 minutes of one of these presidential debates 3 or 4 decades ago and that was all I needed to confirm the worthlessness of the event — and that was back when the League of Women Voters used to run it and it had a vague semblance to being a serious forum. These debates are just another campaign event with all the empty promises and rhetoric and ‘gotcha questions’. I learned back in 7th grade that the most reliable way to judge candidates for political office is to look at their voting record — the rest is just empty bombast…

  24. Renate
    July 3, 2024 at 11:06

    Patrick, many thanks, your article is a breath of fresh air. The political establishment, including journalists and pundits, are morally bankrupt, for million $$$ salaries all they talk about is campaign strategy, supporting the highest paying donor.

  25. Nylene
    July 3, 2024 at 10:23

    Harris seems the sensible solution. I do not know anything about her, but she is a woman and that would be progress. Otherwise I think Trump will be our next President. Bernie says that it is not WHO is President, but who is Behind the President that really matters and so we should support Biden, and Bernie is right, but I don’t think the average American voter will go for that.

    Maybe they will just rig the elections and Biden will win. But that will not go over well either, and we could have real trouble. I don’t think the Democrat Party Leaders know what to do.
    What we the people can do is start to organize a 3rd Progressive Party. Progressives need to organize. I for one, will be voting Green.

    • Susan Siens
      July 4, 2024 at 16:40

      I would suggest that you learn something about Kamala Harris. She was Willy Brown’s sidekick and she sided with white-collar criminals and put poor black people in prison for marijuana violations as a prosecutor. She did not do anything she said she was going to do as vice-president, and she snorts enough blow to keep Hunter Biden happy. And African-Americans are well aware of her record.

  26. Lois Gagnon
    July 3, 2024 at 10:22

    “Stop the world, I want to get off” never felt as real as it does right now. How does a population become so disempowered that we end up in such a sorry frightening state? My theory is we as a country are in a deep state of trauma and don’t recognize it. To think too deeply about it as you are doing here Patrick, probably feels too daunting to most people. Especially those struggling just to survive another day, week or month. We are in the process of being crushed, both physically and mentally.

    I think tomorrow’s 4th of July celebrations should be cancelled due to us not in fact being sovereign or independent. We are as colonized ourselves as the colonies we have established. All belong to the ruling bankster class. Independence Day is just another hoax perpetrated on the US public to distract us from the grim reality we are facing. At some point, no effort to distract attention will work to keep people from noticing the glaring contradictions. That day is not far off.

    • LeoSun
      July 4, 2024 at 00:29

      “HEAR! HEAR!!

      “You’re absolutely Spot flippin’ On, the monie$.” TY, Lois Gagnon!!! Keep It Lit! TY.

  27. Michael Hall
    July 3, 2024 at 10:20

    Thank you, Mr. Lawrence. I have no idea whether it is institutional laziness or the peculiarities of the American electoral process that gifted us with these two. Biden originally got the nod when Obama flexed his muscle in 2020 and convinced everyone else to drop out, almost overnight. Biden’s current unopposed candidacy is a product of the laziness of the DNC (they already have the White House, why rock that boat?) and its lack of vision. It’s interesting to see that now that laziness is being jolted, whether anything comes out of it, we’ll see. Trump, of course, appealed to the narcissism and populism of the Republican primary voters in 2016, mostly by the juvenile insults of his competitors rather than offering a vision of America’s place in the world, and none of the cowardly GOP leaders wanted to get singled out again. So here we are.

  28. Vera Gottlieb
    July 3, 2024 at 10:11

    The entire American political system is a SAD JOKE!

  29. July 3, 2024 at 09:36

    Thank you Patrick, but please stop calling the Democrats liberals. What is liberal about them? Nothing. They call themselves neoliberals, but to get at the heart of the matter you must reverse the meaning to understand them. As such, Neoliberal actually translates to Paleoconservative. Now you are getting close to the bone. Please, from now on call them by their real name, Paleoconservatives, and we will all be on the same page. What has happened is that the Democrats have claimed to be something they are not. For example, if a bank robber came out of a bank with a sack of cash and a smoking gun, and yelled “I am the police!”, would you believe them and start calling them police? I don’t think so. So why call Democrats liberals? If Paleoconservative is too dense, then just go for the jugular and call them crooks.

    • firstpersoninfinite
      July 4, 2024 at 00:24

      Exactly. There is certainly no left wing in this country worth mentioning, and there are certainly no longer any liberals – except neoliberals, and they are just Reagan Democrats who turned right after not making it over to the ruling party on time. That being said, there are progressive heroes in out midst pushing to overcome the nihilism we face from both parties. Many of them write for this publication. What no one seems to understand yet is that democracy is over, and it will take a God of much greater enlightenment than the God of the Old Testament to come down and turn this shit show around. We’re just waiting for a Justinian to come forward and codify our laws into a meaningless revolution of thought lasting hundreds of years. And we’ll celebrate July 4th each year of those hundreds of years and act like nothing ever changed. It’s called death in life, and we are in it. But the fight itself is still worth the sacrifice. The light we see by doesn’t fold into darkness just because the star emitting it has gone out. It can shine on for a very long time.

    • Susan Siens
      July 4, 2024 at 16:43

      You too seem annoyed by the butchery of the English language. The only excuse for calling Dems liberals is that they will describe themselves that way. I realized many years ago that “liberals” and “conservatives” (nothing much conservative about those who call themselves conservatives) hate each other because they bear so much resemblance to each other. Their brains seem to be made of concrete, not allowing in any relevant information, just repeating old tropes endlessly.

    • BigOboe
      July 5, 2024 at 18:59

      It seems to me that neoliberals are more akin to neoconservatives or neoclowns as I like to call them. Same Mammon worship and corporate sell outs, same pro-war and intervention policies, same expansionist foreign policiesl. Paleocons, a la Pat Buchanan, seem almost quaint these days, with their anti-interventionist principles. I would welcome a Pat Buchanan right about now.

  30. Patrick Powers
    July 3, 2024 at 09:35

    I watched the first 2020 Democratic primary debate. I knew within minutes that Biden was unfit for the office. And as I said to my sister, “it’s going to get worse.”

  31. susan
    July 3, 2024 at 08:16

    GOOD! The “liberal” world needs shaking up!!!

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