Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the highest-ranking member of her party — said on Thursday, “I don’t think there should be any debates” between President Donald Trump and her party’s alleged nominee, Joe Biden.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Pelosi couched her remarks as a matter of dignity for the notorious hair-sniffer and plagiarist.
“I don’t think that [Biden] should dignify that conversation with Donald Trump,” Pelosi claimed.
Pelosi also admitted that “the Biden campaign thinks in a different way about this,” but a statement about refusing to debate coming from someone with her rank and influence might just set the bar low enough for Biden to weasel out.
Like much of the rest of 2020, a major presidential challenger refusing to debate the incumbent would be unprecedented, and possibly a huge turnoff for voters who already find it difficult to generate much enthusiasm for the Democrats’ cocooned standard-bearer.
“Don’t tell anyone I told you this,” Pelosi said to members of the Washington press corps while standing in front of several video cameras, “especially don’t tell Joe Biden: I don’t think that there should be any debates.”
Sure, Nancy, we’ll just keep that little nugget between you and me.
Even Dave Wiegel, that frequent pom-pom-waver for Democratic candidates, had to admit that Pelosi’s statement basically stank up Biden’s basement.
IMO bar has lowered enough for Biden already! The GOP argument goes beyond "Biden can't debate," it's that he can't handle any scrutiny at all. So Pelosi wipes Biden's ABC interview off the board and feeds the "Biden can't actually handle this" story https://t.co/5lFKEpBPdV
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 27, 2020
National Review’s Jim Geraghty quipped, “I have been assured many times that Nancy Pelosi is a master political strategist who is always thinking twelve steps ahead of her Republican opponents.”
To be fair, Pelosi has a few years on Biden, and Biden doesn’t seem to be in such great shape these days.
Mollie Hemingway noted earlier this week:
There is another issue which is enthusiasm is not high for the Democratic ticket. I know people in the media think focusing on Bad Orange Man is the way to cultivate voters. A big missed story is the lack of enthusiasm, the Biden/Harris ticket has less enthusiasm than either of the previous two losing candidates, Romney and Hillary Clinton.
But who knew that the enthusiasm gap extended all the way to the upper reaches of the Democratic leadership?
You knew, didn’t you? Me too. I just never expected such a blatant admission of it from none other than Nancy Pelosi.
Popular feminist Amy Siskind tried to turn Pelosi’s statement on its head:
Pelosi is the savviest person in DC- and she doesn't make gaffes. She is up to something – using his psychological profile in the way the Lincoln Project did to get the action she desires. I think she wants to make sure Trump shows up! https://t.co/VuTutSEvK3
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) August 27, 2020
Her assumption — and apparently Siskind has followers who will buy this — is that it’s Trump who doesn’t want to debate Biden.
I’ll give you a moment to stop rolling on the floor, laughing, and return to your screen.
CNN’s potato-shaped Fox News enthusiast, Brian Stelter, took the same desperate angle:
Pelosi should want debates, then, so that the biggest possible audience sees Trump's behavior on TV https://t.co/dihsGKjU8O
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 27, 2020
How’d that work out for President Hillary Clinton, Bri?
Most of the reaction however is more along the lines of, well, reality.
Conservative columnist Drew Holden tweeted that he’d been told that getting Biden to duck out of the debates was “a right-wing media tempest, fueled by hour after hour of Fox commentary.” But we first heard such talk in the New York Times, and now straight out of Pelosi’s mouth.
Radio show host Mark Simone said, “Democrats are now trying to call off the Presidential Debates, knowing Biden is mentally frail and could never handle a tough conversation. Also the President’s call for drug tests would reveal the drugs they give Biden to wake him up for an hour.”
It was back in March, during the final Democratic primary debate, that Yours Truly noticed Biden’s suddenly improved energy levels, and wondered during the drunkblog if he had a JFK-style “Dr. Feelgood” on his staff now, giving him happy shots before big events.
That’s why Trump’s call for a drug test is such genius.
The Biden campaign has yet to reply officially to Pelosi’s statement, but I’m eagerly awaiting whatever thin gruel his “rapid” response team serves up this time.