President Donald Trump has spent a lot of breath – and tweets – attempting to cast former Vice President Joe Biden as a doddering old man who doesn’t really know what’s going on.
“Biden can’t put two sentences together,” Trump told “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace last month. “They wheel him out, he’s goes up, he repeats – they ask him questions, he reads a teleprompter, and then he goes back into his basement.”
In the wake of a strong speech by Biden at the Democratic National Convention last week, Trump appears to have swapped out the “Biden’s out of it!” attack for one even more bizarre.
“Nobody thought that [Biden] was even going to win,” Trump told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York in an Oval Office interview Wednesday. “Because his debate performances were so bad. Frankly, his best performance was against Bernie. We’re going to call for a drug test, by the way, because his best performance was against Bernie. It wasn’t that he was Winston Churchill because he wasn’t, but it was a normal, boring debate. You know, nothing amazing happened. And we are going to call for a drug test because there’s no way – you can’t do that.”
Just to be clear as to what’s going on here: The President of the United States is suggesting that the Democratic nominee against him – and the man who spent almost a decade as the vice president – is (or was) using some sort of drugs to enhance his debate performances. Pressed by York on a) what, exactly he was saying and b) what proof he had to make such a bold claim, Trump responded this way:
“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. 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 …
” … All I can tell you is that I’m pretty good at this stuff. I look. I watched him in the debates with all of the different people. He was close to incompetent, if not incompetent, and against Bernie, he was normal … and I say, ‘How does that happen?’”
So, Trump’s proof that Biden is on some sort of performance-enhancing drug (or drugs) is that he, Trump, is “pretty good at this stuff” and “I look?” That’s the totality of the evidence offered up by the President to back up the claim that his opponent started using a drug to make him better in debates sometime in mid-March. That’s it.
To call Trump’s allegation irresponsible is to do a disservice to the word “irresponsible.” Trump has zero evidence – like, NONE – to suggest that Biden is using drugs. There are 1,000 reasons why Biden might have been better in the debate against Bernie Sanders in March than he had been in previous debates. It was a one-on-one debate rather than one with eight or 10 candidates on the stage. Biden practiced, knowing he needed to do better in debates. He was more confident in that debate because his campaign had turned itself around by then. He got a great night’s sleep the day before.
Who the heck knows why Biden did better against Sanders than he had done in previous debates? Or if he even did! Trump seems to think so but I remember watching that debate and thinking that while Biden was marginally better in the one-on-on debate with Sanders, he still wasn’t great. I certainly didn’t think: “Man, Biden must be on something! He is killing it!”
Here’s the scariest part of all of this: The election isn’t for another 69 days. If Trump is saying, with zero proof or even a hint of evidence, that Biden is doing drugs this far from November 3, what is he going to be saying two weeks from the vote? While I can’t imagine where Trump goes from here, the last three-plus years have proven that he is always able to go higher (or lower).