DAVID WOIWOD: President Joe Biden’s abysmal debate performance has pushed the left into deep panic

David Woiwod
The Nightly
Joe Biden’s performance has sent the US Democrats scrambling, writes David Woiwod.
Joe Biden’s performance has sent the US Democrats scrambling, writes David Woiwod. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What’s the name for an emergency alert level beyond “code red”?

Because whatever it is, that’s where US Democrats are right now after Joe Biden just self-immolated on primetime TV.

Confused, inarticulate and at times vacant — the President’s debate performance hasn’t just left supporters cold.

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It’s plunged his party into an existential electoral crisis. Deep panic is gripping America’s left.

And so it should.

How can Americans be expected to vote for a guy that can’t even articulate his largest policy advantage, abortion rights?

He lurched from point to mumbled point. Unable to state with clarity the position he’s been pontificating on for years now.

This wasn’t a car crash performance from Biden.

This was a train derailment through a nuclear reactor and into a kennel of puppies.

The President’s inability to prosecute a single argument on basic election issues which he’d been prepping months for is not just baffling, it’s entirely alarming.

The 81-year-old was so bad at the podium, he achieved the impossible; he made a convicted felon and sex offender look presidential.

That’s no mean feat.

Trump’s performance was disciplined. CNN’s rigid format, including no audience and a menacing mute button helped keep the former president within the lines.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden at the first presidential debate
Both Trump and Biden went into the debate under pressure to display their fitness for office. Credit: AAP

He went typically off course where he could, keeping fact-checkers across the country on their toes with mistruths, half-truths and flat-out lies.

But who was watching Trump when Biden was stepping on rakes left, right and centre?

At one moment the President lost his train of thought completely.

And as he trailed off while talking about Medicare, you could almost hear the Democrat Party hardheads behind the cameras screaming into the void.

This was bad.

At one point on border control, Biden’s oral gymnastics had tied his tongue in a knot so tight, that I found myself in rare agreement with Donald Trump.

“I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence”, Trump mused.

Moderators walked the pair through the big issues. There were no surprises: Ukraine, Israel, the economy, NATO, January 6, borders and immigration.

Trump is exposed on a number of those topics.

Yet Biden was glitching and couldn’t land a glove on him.

The President’s policy achievements — including strong jobs numbers — were drowned out by his inability to communicate with any impact.

And when it was over, even the staunchest of Biden allies occupying cable news panels were forced to level with their audience.

“This did not go well at all”.

Vice-president Harris, a fierce prosecutor and formidable debater herself, was wheeled out for the wash-up.

She admitted the boss was sluggish, and that he got off to “a slow start”.

Quite possibly the understatement of the evening.

We know that age is a dominating factor in this White House race. And instead of allaying fears surrounding his fitness for the top job — Biden’s debate performance only fanned them.

His display tonight was the campaign equivalent of a slip in the shower and keeping him on the ticket right now is beginning to feel more and more like political malpractice.

David Woiwod is the 7NEWS US Bureau Chief

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