Hoo boy: Biden shouldn’t debate Trump, says Pelosi

Political Twitter is aghast that she said this, and not just the conservative wing. Can I take you back to this post from a few days ago, after she called Trump and the GOP “domestic enemies” for questioning the integrity of mail-in ballots? Quote:

[T]his isn’t the first time lately that her rhetoric about Trump and Republicans has gone to a place that seems motivated less by strategy than by not-quite-controlled contempt. Sometimes it’s petty insults, like when she claimed in May that Trump was “morbidly obese.” Other times it’s bareknuckle demagoguery, accusing Republicans in June of trying to get away with the murder of George Floyd because their police-reform bill wasn’t to her liking. Last month she took to calling the coronavirus the “Trump virus.”

Most famously, there was the spectacle of her theatrically tearing up Trump’s prepared remarks on camera after he finished the State of the Union.

When, exactly, did Nancy Pelosi start to lose her sh*t?

By “lose her sh*t,” I don’t mean in a Biden-esque way where she might forget at a given moment what year it is. I mean it in terms of her temper. Pelosi is a calculating politician, but her disgust at Trump increasingly seems to overwhelm her ability to think strategically. There’s no strategic reason to say this and every strategic reason not to:

For months, Trump and other Republicans have claimed that Biden intends to skip the debates. Despite the fact that he participated in all of the primary debates, despite the fact that his campaign agreed to this fall’s debate schedule before Trump’s campaign did, Team Trump keeps pushing this idea as a way of seeding doubt about the Democrat’s mental acuity. Trump took the strategy to an absurd new length yesterday in an interview with Byron York:

“I don’t know how he could have been so incompetent in his debate performances and then all of a sudden be OK against Bernie,” Trump answered. “My point is, if you go back and watch some of those numerous debates, he was so bad. He wasn’t even coherent. And against Bernie, he was. And we’re calling for a drug test.”…

“Go back and watch his performances in some of those debates,” Trump continued. “He didn’t know where he was. And all of a sudden, he was not good, he was normal, and I don’t understand how. I don’t know if there is or not, but somebody said to me, ‘He must be on drugs.’ I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’m asking for a drug test. Both candidates. Me, too. I take an aspirin a day.”

The Republican claim is that old age has turned Biden’s brain to goo. What drug would supposedly restore the cogency of a sundowning 77-year-old?

Biden should take him up on the offer, though. Maybe we’ll finally find out why Trump has the sniffles so often and only sleeps three to four hours per night.

Anyway, every time the media amplifies some Republican claim that Biden is looking to duck the debates, Democrats screech that they’re carrying Trump’s water for him. No one on the left has even suggested skipping the debates, they cry. Except … now someone on the left has. The highest-ranking Democrat in the federal government, as a matter of fact.

Team Biden rushed out a statement politely disagreeing with her:

What is Pelosi thinking? If you strain hard, you can fashion a theory in which she’s playing good cop/bad cop with Biden, essentially manufacturing an opportunity for him to reiterate that he’s gung ho to debate. Why, he’s so eager to do so that he insists on proceeding despite the sage counsel of the Speaker! I don’t buy that, though. It’s stupid for any Democrat to supply oxygen to Trump’s claims that Biden’s own party is nervous about his mental state. And whatever else you think of Pelosi, she doesn’t normally behave stupidly.

I think her Trump-hate has simply gotten the better of her judgment. At least she retained the presence of mind in the clip above to note that Biden disagrees with her.

Now the media will have ask him about it and supply even more oxygen to the claim. Here’s the RNC doing its best with Biden’s response this afternoon, noting that he said he intends to debate *if* the debate commission “continues down the straight and narrow.” But Trump has also made his participation contingent on whether he believes the commission is treating him “fairly.” They rejected Rudy Giuliani’s request for a fourth debate, remember. As far as I know, as of today, the president still has yet to commit to showing up.

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