903 Comments
deletedJul 2
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I'm not sure that's accurate about what Republicans are thinking; from https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/29/us/politics/trump-youngkin-virginia-rally.html:

"But beneath the jubilation, there was a low-grade panic stirring. It was the kind of panic that one sometimes feels when everything in life seems to be going … a little too well.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s comeback campaign, his supporters have told anyone who would listen that Mr. Biden was nothing more than the tool of a shadowy establishment that would, at the right moment, pull him to insert a more formidable candidate. Now, as they see it, this exact plot is playing out before the eyes of the nation."

It might be that some Republicans are unable to suppress the impulse to gloat, but it seems pretty obvious that Biden is in a perilously weak position and any replacement candidate would at least introduce more uncertainty into the race, which is not what you want if you're ahead.

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If true Democrats are rallying behind Biden, and it is only Republicans who have the sense to see reality, that's the worse for true Democrats.

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Democrats would be surprised that you're using the words "Republicans" and "reality" in the same sentence.

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Given they were surprised by the slap reality just handed them in the debate, maybe they should update their beliefs.

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I've been reading the assessment of lies and distortions of the debate (both sides). It seems to me that Trump isn't so much lying as he is living in an alternate reality.

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I suspect that's mostly because Trump isn't talking to you, and he isn't speaking in your language.

In terms I think will make more sense to you, Trump doesn't speak in coordinates in concept-space - he doesn't "say what he means". He speaks directionally; this is the -direction- of the thing he's referring to. In linguistic terms, it's kind of like the difference between directions to a place which list distances and road names, and directions to a place which rely entirely on landmarks. The landmarks in this case are emotional.

It's like how there's a bunch of people who before Roe v Wade said they were against abortion who, if asked now, will say they are for it. They aren't telling you what the policy they support is, they're telling you what direction to go from the current policy is, to arrive at the policy they support. People within the culture understand what is being said; people outside the culture consistently misunderstand what is being said.

He's speaking in a language that the left refers to, when it is spoken by groups of people they approve of in contexts they approve of, as "lived experience". This shouldn't be taken to imply that it is his lived experience, because the term "lived experience" is one the left made up, and that's just the way the left refers to this form of communication.

Plausibly you may have more luck understanding him if you try to understand him through that framework.

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I appreciate your cogent explanation, and have never doubted the emotional component of politics, and Trump's talents for that ALL-CAPS-exclamation-point stuff. When you say "directionality" I get it -- that lies, mistakes, equivocations are all the tools of directionality. In and of themselves it's a part of politics, but in Trump's case I detect a toxic comorbidity. I see it to be similar to the George Santos delusions, that the entire world has got it wrong. Spoiled, whiny, exceptionalism that only takes root in delusion. Trump's firm denials of an encounter with Stormy Daniels give me the impression of self-delusion rather than lies. I don't find the encounter offensive, so that's not the issue, nor do I find it improper, nor do I blame him for denying it. It's more though. His downplaying the Jan 6 aggression at the Capitol may be "directionality", too, but his comments strike me as being comorbid with delusion.

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I think this is a very good analysis and that you're right.

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Jul 3·edited Jul 3

if i go on tv and say my daughter is perfect, half of the country would go, 'i guess she is pal!', and the other half would tell you the cnn fact checker says i'm a liar - no one's perfect, especially not his daughter!

too many democrats are living in a fantasy land now, can't decide on genders can't decide on what the pride flag means anymore and can't admit my daughter is perfect

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But Trump didn't tell anyone to drink bleach.

He did make a silly suggestion that medical researchers should look into whether some disinfectant like bleach might make a good Covid treatment, but if anyone took that as saying they should drink bleach, it's because the media and Democrats lied about what Trump said.

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deletedJul 2
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I'm not sure what you're referring to here. But I take it you're not at all concerned that you've been lied to and didn't have the wit to realize you were being lied to?

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

You just blindly repeated an obvious lie and then changed the subject. Can you just acknowledge that the drinking bleach thing was a lie?

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deletedJul 2
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deletedJul 2
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Here is the actual clip, or at least part of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zicGxU5MfwE

I think most people are going to see what they want to see. Personally, i dont see him recomending injecting disinfectant, just kind of musing about what people 'should check'.

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Clearly, "would be interesting to check that" is a suggestion for medical research, not a recommendation that people drink bleach.

If there was an increase in bleach poisonings after Trump's comment, it would be due to the FALSE REPORTING of his comment as a recommendation to drink bleach. Some people prioritized scoring a cheap, dishonest political point over people's health.

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How do you separate the noise here? Clearly poisonings are up 93% from March 2019 before Trump says anything. I assume because everyone is paranoid about covid and using bleach excessively? Attributing the rise in April to Trump is highly speculative, since the poisoning rate was rapidly growing anyway in the previous months. Further, it would be helpful to post the actual source for this instead of just the text.

Also, going from Trump's rambling and coming up with drinking bleach is quite a stretch.

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My “Not Biden for DNC nominee”contracts on Predict are up $0.10.

🎵We’re in the money!🎶

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Damn it! I knew I should have bought in!

Scott's confusion over what Biden's coterie was thinking seems to miss an obvious explanation: they wanted to pull Biden all along, and this was to be the spark; thus why the time (come on, who doesn't know about sundowning?! why, it was used in the Simpsons even, years ago!); thus why two strangely early-in-cycle debates (if one went okay, the next could be bad)...

I had been musing on this possibility long before the debate, but — since I don't really have friends (one) and don't keep up with the media at all, I had no idea this was a conspiratorial theory already... well, that explains the reaction I got the one time I aired the idea—

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I support pressuring Biden to resign and replacing him on the 2024 ticket through some kind of process at the Democratic Convention.

Having said that, while I think Biden has certainly slowed down, I certainly don't think he's senile or unable to function as as effective President. Debates are a uniquely challenging environment, where there is tremendous pressure to have a vast set of facts and arguments at the ready, to be able to summarize key arguments quickly and cogently in a matter of seconds, and to be able speak effectively extemporaneously depending on what one's opponent says.

Failing in this environment doesn't mean one's senile or unable to function effectively in the day to day work of being President.

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The questions are fairly obvious, if not provided on the sly, so I don't buy this. Similarly, Trump may often rant to some strange degree, but his basic positions are fairly well known. These aren't debates, but chances to summarize your key talking points. Biden couldn't do that at all well.

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I actually think he did that fine. He just lost his train of thought or couldn't retrieve a fact a few times.

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This really understates the disastrous performance Biden had. When given the chance to pounce on abortion, Roe vs Wade etc. (with Trump saying that Dobbs was a great and universally popular thing to do!), Biden instead... brought up crimes by immigrants against young women. That's not losing your train of thought or not retrieving a fact. That's completely misunderstanding the logic and sequence of arguments and counter-arguments. Like, he heard "young women" and this triggered a memory of an argument brought up in prep - except it was supposed to be Trump's talking point.

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Don't forget that he then pivoted from rapes by illegal immigrants to rapes by in-laws, brothers, and sisters. That's a helluva train of thought.

I would like to know why Biden's mind associates "rape" with "in-laws". Yes, I'm looking at you, Hunter and Hallie.

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Debates are challenging but not uniquely so – POTUS can reasonably expect to be asked demanding questions requiring the synthesis of old and new knowledge late at night in the Situation Room, for example. There might be two compelling courses of action and he could be the only one with the authority to choose, and that requires understanding context and specifics in the moment.

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Mostly agree that "debating" shouldn't necessarily map to the ability to do the job of president. With the exception of a black-swan nuclear event, the job consists mostly of choosing from a few options presented by aides who have filtered out the truly awful decisions, and signing stuff that Congress sends you.

But it is notable that nearly everyone clears the bar for basic debate competency. Some performances are better than others, but no one totally embarrasses himself. Obama had a notability weak first debate in 2012, but that was because he was wonky and low-energy. Clinton clobbered Dole in 1996 but the old guy didn't look like he didn't know his own name. Ronald Reagan had a notably bad first debate in 1984, but that's not really a helpful counter-example given that he was suffering from early Alzheimer's by the time he left office.

We've had what, probably north of thirty presidential-level debates since 1960, along with many more primary debates, and no one has ever been this bad. So I would say that the ability to draw a clock has nothing to do directly with the job of president, but if you can't clear that low bar you shouldn't get the job.

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I agree. It's why I support replacing Biden.

My objection was really to the claim that Biden is senile. And that we were "lied to" about his condition. I think Biden has lost his fastball (one that was never that fast to begin with), but I still don't believe he incapable of being an effective president.

I am fully convinced, however, that he can't be an effective presidential candidate.

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I guess that depends a lot on what the job of the president is. If we think the president is primarily told what to do by wonk types in your party tell you to do, then just about anyone can be president. A good president would be someone who picks the right people to listen to, and resists pressure to do the wrong thing.

I hold presidents to a much higher standard. I think Obama met my higher standards, as did pretty much all of the presidents in my lifetime. Trump may be an exception, and I think Biden is also an exception (more now than when first elected).

There's also a big question here of whether Biden is capable of vetting who he listens to. There's a good chance that he listens to his wife, his brother, his son, and other family and friends. Those are not at all who I would hope are advising a president. He probably also listens to top aides and cabinet members, but the highest position in the country, maybe the planet, hinging on "probably" listening to good advice is not okay. That's far too low of a bar for a sitting president.

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> With the exception of a black-swan nuclear event

"Black-swan" implies randomness. Nuclear events, and other such high-stakes geopolitical conflict situations, aren't random -- they happen when some other nation-state decides to make them happen. If e.g. Xi or Putin believes that the US is internally too dysfunctional to take the kind of action that requires the guy at the top to make a tough decision, they will be emboldened to create such a situation.

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The whole point of the term black swan is that all the swans in Europe were white, but Europeans did eventually come across black swans in Australia. This is also "non-random" in a similar sense--no one set out to find black swans specifically, but it was pretty inevitable once such long-range voyages became possible. But also, from the point of view of someone without perfect information (so, everyone) these events are still effectively random.

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> these events are still effectively random

Which is why it's a bad metaphor in this case. Black swans either exist or they do not. But geopolitical conflicts do not just spontaneously happen, or not happen, at random times. They are instigated by some party, at a time of that party's choosing, because that party expects to benefit somehow from calling the other side's bluff.

The poster I was responding to, referred to a "black-swan nuclear event" in a way which suggests that such events are too unlikely to worry about, so it's not a big deal if the President does not have the mental capacity to deal with them. But that's wrong, because the probability that such an event will happen is not independent of the potential instigator's knowledge about the American President's mental capacity.

It's like making a big-money bet that black swans do not exist -- with an expert bird-breeder. Maybe they would not have otherwise existed, but the chance that they *will* turn out to exist in the future, just became a bit bigger.

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I agree that a country deciding deliberately to use nuclear weapons might not count as a 'black swan'. But what about a situation where, through accidental circumstances, nuclear-armed countries come to think someone else is going to use nukes? Or launch a full invasion which would require a nuclear response?

Those kind of things have happened before - ABLE ARCHER, Stanislav Petrov etc. There are books describing plausible scenarios where countries go nuclear through confusion e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_2020_Commission_Report_on_the_North_Korean_Nuclear_Attacks_Against_the_United_States

A black swan is not an event that's "too unlikely to worry about", it's something you didn't anticipate that has a major effect.

I don't think it's unlikely that some sudden crisis that might lead to nuclear escalation could happen leaving a president to make a snap decision.

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We are in a proxy war with nuclear power. Is this the guy you want being told "you have 15 minutes to make a decision".

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It sounds like a better choice then the guy who will give away 50 years of hard won strategic gains because he's afraid of going broke personally.

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You must have in mind some specific example of this from his first term, right?

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The time in 2017 when he disclosed Israeli intelligence sources in Syria to Putin in what appears to be simply a boast comes to mind. Using Mar-a-Lago to host important and sensitive meetings, both domestic and international, despite warnings it was insecure, quite possibly for profit, may be another example.

And I'm not pro-Biden these days, overall. And I'm not even going into the whole secret documents thing because that would derail the sub-thread.

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Fair but weak. Hard to see that really fits An Engineer’s pearl-clutching, and the whatabout writes itself.

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I don't care about "strategic gains" a fraction as much as I care about not dying in a nuclear exposion

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Is there evidence that he is still competent, that would create reasonable doubt in a moderate Republican voter?

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It's not just a question of if he can handle being president now. It's a question of if he can handle it for the next four years. And I think it's important for the president to be able to function in especially challenging environments.

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Oh man, where were all the "mental acuity is not that important for being President" Democrats during the Bush presidency?

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I don't understand. Firstly, I assume you mean W as opposed to H. W. Secondly, though you may have disapproved of his policies, did you seriously doubt his mental acuity for making them?

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Slamming George W. Bush's mental acuity was a major Democratic theme throughout his presidency. He was often depicted as Alfred E. Neuman. I have a magnet showing him in a Cat in the Hat hat, with text surrounding that reads "I can lead it all by myself".

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Depending on how hard you want to take "seriously", there's an entire Wikipedia article on "Bushisms":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushism

"Bush's use of the English language in formal and public speeches has spawned several books that document the statements. A poem entitled "Make the Pie Higher", composed entirely of Bushisms, was compiled by cartoonist Richard Thompson. Various public figures and humorists, such as The Daily Show host Jon Stewart and Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, have popularized Bushisms.

....British journalist Christopher Hitchens published an essay in The Nation in 2000 titled "Why Dubya Can't Read", writing:

I used to have the job of tutoring a dyslexic child, and I know something about the symptoms. So I kicked myself hard when I read the profile of Governor George W. Bush, by my friend and colleague Gail Sheehy, in this month's Vanity Fair. All those jokes and cartoons and websites about his gaffes, bungles and malapropisms? We've been unknowingly teasing the afflicted. The poor guy is obviously dyslexic, and dyslexic to the point of near-illiteracy. [...]

I know from my teaching experience that nature very often compensates the dyslexic with a higher IQ or some grant of intuitive intelligence. If this is true for Bush it hasn't yet become obvious."

Others were "No, he's not naturally stupid, he's chosen to be stupid":

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2004/05/how-bush-chose-stupidity.html

"The question I am most frequently asked about Bushisms is, “Do you really think the president of the United States is dumb?”

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is yes and no.

...What’s more, calling the president a cretin absolves him of responsibility. Like Reagan, Bush avoids blame for all manner of contradictions, implausible assertions, and outright lies by appearing an amiable dunce. If he knows not what he does, blame goes to the three puppeteers, Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfeld. It also breeds sympathy. We wouldn’t laugh at FDR because he couldn’t walk. Is it less cruel to laugh at GWB because he can’t talk? The soft bigotry of low expectations means Bush is seen to outperform by merely getting by. Finally, elitist condescension, however merited, helps cement Bush’s bond to the masses.

But if “numskull” is an imprecise description of the president, it is not altogether inaccurate. Bush may not have been born stupid, but he has achieved stupidity, and now he wears it as a badge of honor. What makes mocking this president fair as well as funny is that Bush is, or at least once was, capable of learning, reading, and thinking. We know he has discipline and can work hard (at least when the goal is reducing his time for a three-mile run). Instead he chose to coast, for most of his life, on name, charm, good looks, and the easy access to capital afforded by family connections.

...As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was not born stupid. He chose stupidity. Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he’s something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool."

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I didn't, but Democrats did, they spent the whole eight years harping on about how Bush Jr was a drooling moron, based on the (very weak) evidence of his occasional verbal malapropisms.

So it's amusing to see Democrats suddenly sliding into "ehh it's fine if the President has a few roos loose in his top paddock, it's basically just a ceremonial role anyway..."

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Jul 4·edited Jul 4

This talking point was very real and persistent across left wing circles, though often it got more of the meme treatment than anything serious -- but focus groupers and pollsters found that there was a net effect, and it actually *hurt* Al Gore. In the first debate, watchers went in with such low expectations that they came away impressed at how normal W sounded.

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From what I've read, Bush also deliberately cultivated the image in order to appear more relatable to ordinary voters.

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Jul 4·edited Jul 4

Yes, it was very much a thing. I think it was a combination of the generic "Republicans are a bunch of dumb hicks" stereotype, Bush's tendency towards malapropisms, and his (mostly affected) folksy good-old-boy public persona.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

So imagine being a firefighter. 99% of the time there isn't a fire and you're either playing cards with your colleagues or doing some busy-work around the station which doesn't require any specific competence. But you've not been hired for that; you've been hired for the times when there *is* a fire and you need to be able at a moment's notice to slide down the pole, jump in the truck and get ready to run into a burning building and carry someone on your shoulders down six flights of stairs.

If a firefighter isn't able to do the actual firefighting part of his job, or is only able to do that job on some days but not on others, it's not much of an excuse to say "well, he can do the other 95% of the day-to-day work just fine".

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Instead of 99% of time busy-work, 99% of the decisions that will effect the daily life of the country, and the other candidate being interviewed is wearing an "I love arson" T-shirt.

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We do remember who started most of the bad fires over the last eight years…

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Let me guess, you are blaming Biden for the Ukraine war?

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No, I was talking about the burning cities in the U.S. But since you mention it...

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I seem to recall Putin starting the Ukraine war. Are you one of those that think Putin wouldn't have started it if Trump were in office? And if so, why not? Other than Trump's rhetoric about it, him basically being too scary?

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Maybe we could have a rock as President.

https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/heuristics-that-almost-always-work

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At this point it would outperform both candidates, so the rock has got my vote. Also, being a non-binary silicate-American, it gets a lot of diversity points !

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Lol

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Are silicate-Americans exclusionary to, say, slate-Americans?

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The most rational voting strategy, truth be told, is to weight foreign policy higher than almost anything else (except maybe general economy stuff), because that's the one part where the president has actually an incredible amount of latitude.

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Abortion is another, or at least it was eight years ago.

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The man probably can't do his own laundry. The idea he is fit to be President is a joke.

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Do you think Trump knows how to do his own laundry? I've encountered people who have been rich since birth, and they are often completely ignorant of basic everyday stuff since someone else has always handled it for them. I'd be surprised if Trump had any idea how to work a laundry machine.

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At least the leading replacement candidate knows French laundry.

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Yes, as has been noted elsewhere many times, the job of being President is much different than the job of running for President.

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"Debates are a uniquely challenging environment, where there is tremendous pressure to have a vast set of facts and arguments at the ready, to be able to summarize key arguments quickly and cogently in a matter of seconds, and to be able speak effectively extemporaneously depending on what one's opponent says."

And that's not the case when meeting with Vladmir Putin, or when trying to pressure centrist Democrats or even Republicans into supporting his agenda, or when trying to avert the next Cuban Missile Crisis that could turn into a nuclear war?

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On an off-topic, Vladimir Putin would probably perform really bad at debates. He didn't have anyone disagree with him for a long time – it doesn't sound he'd be able to form a cohesive argument outside of metaphors and long stories. Even Tucker was telling about how nervous Putin seemed to be talking to him.

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This is a great point, but didn't Nixon and Khrushchev have a famous series of debates about capitalism vs. communism in some sort of fake kitchen? And Khrushchev appeared to hold his own. Maybe he came up in a much more vigorous debate culture inside of the USSR, but that seems hard to imagine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_Debate

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Debates are less trying than being the chief executive of the US.

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I kinda feel bad about joining what's a bit of a pile-on, but come on....

> Failing in this environment doesn't mean one's senile or unable to function effectively in the day to day work of being President.

This is a horrible take. Not sounding literally demented for a couple of hours is OBVIOUSLY an easier job than being president of the USA.

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I think this is mostly an argument that we don't need a President at all in most cases. This might be true but since we do get to choose a President we should test and choose one who is competent at President-y leadership-y things.

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founding

This is a naive take. We know Biden's history, he has shown his entire career that he's an effective and confident communicator. He is a natural at public speaking, debates are his literal strong suit. You think he got overwhelmed by the pressure? No, he's clearly in the early stages of dementia/senility. Slowing down a bit would be talking slowly and maybe not getting all the points across as vigorously as he'd like. He lost his train of thought and spit out gibberish on multiple occasions. That's not slowing down a bit.

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Biden was never a good communicator nor a good debater. Part of that, likely, was his stutter. Part of it was that he was never that bright. Biden's strength has always been that he is good with people. The combination of that, the sense of loyalty he built as a good VP to Obama, and his good fortune in the rest of the Dem candidates running too far to the left in 2020 is what made him the nominee.

Meanwhile, the interviews and press conferences he has done, although few in number, make it clear that he not yet senile. But I would certainly agree that he has slowed down too much to be an effective presidential candidate.

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Biden doesn’t have to leave willingly. They could 25th amendment him.

Would this mark Harris as a Kingskayer though?

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This would remove him from the presidency, but not actually prevent him from being nominated as the Democratic candidate for 2024.

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I’m overwhelmingly confident that Biden would drop out at that point. The humiliation would be unprecedented.

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I think it could also poison the well for any Democratic candidate and the Democratic brand in general.

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why? if anything its to little to late

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If 2024 is a lost cause the logical next step is to not throw 2028 away.

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why would doing the prudent and sensible thing of removing a senile man from office harm the brand in the long term?

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There is absolutely nothing they can do in 2024 that will kill their chances on the other side of four more years of Trump.

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I'm pretty sure the 25th is easy enough for Biden to challenge. It looks like he just has to send a letter, and if he does then at least two thirds of congress have to agree to invoke it to remove him. That's plausible, but I think highly unlikely unless Biden is in a coma or forgets his own name.

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Especially as the Republicans are likely to see prolonging the Democrat power struggle as being in their interest. They're not going to agree to apply a super-expansive definition of "incapacitated" for the benefit of the Democrats.

Also Congress has twenty-one days to determine whether the President is able to discharge his duties, during which they might be able to put him through all sorts of humiliating public tests.

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As a complete aside - the thread right above discusses Kamala murdering Biden. For a brief second, I read "this would remove him from the presidency but not actually prevent him from being nominated" as a reply in that thread. Oddly fitting.

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People have been posthumously elected to office before! In 2000, Mel Carnahan was posthumously elected to the Senate, defeating John Ashcroft. The seat was taken by his widow, Jean, while Ashcroft was appointed Attorney General.

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That would be dirty. Much cleaner to ask the CIA to "remove" him.

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And frame Trump/Russia? Now we're getting somewhere!

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There's probably "Whitmer kidnapping" style groups out there being kept in reserve, consisting of a couple of right wing loonies and half a dozen undercover FBI agents. Maybe you just steer these guys in the right direction at the right time.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

Kamala Harris could murder him and then pardon herself. Then she could get seal team 6 to assassinate all her rivals, including Trump. Since the Supreme Court has decided that’s okay. She could also get rid of the justices she doesn’t like. Poetic justice.

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If the President orders Seal Team 6 to assassinate all their domestic political rivals, and *Seal Team 6 is actually willing to do it*, we are already in a dictatorship and prosecuting the President will be functionally impossible regardless of what the law says.

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I’m not an expert on this, but the President is commander in chief, right? So he could presumably just appoint any psychopath to Seal Team 6 or create a new unit.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

Funnily enough, this isn't the first comment invoking Seal Team 6 I've seen in the wake of the decision, which is pretty quick off the mark.

Is this going to be the new Democratic, leftist, and progressive canned talking point? "The Supreme Court says the President can order Seal Team 6 to assassinate his rivals!"

How about directing that energy towards selecting an electable candidate in preference to coining snappy slogans?

Also, can somebody tell me what is so special about Seal Team 6 that they are a meme? Yes, I could look it up, but I'm lazy and prefer you nice people to explain things to me intelligently and wittily.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

It was discussed at length at the Court of Appeals hearing. One of the justices (Florence Pan) brought it up. It was part of the legal arguments not a ”meme” someone just made up.

As for what seal team six is, (I had never heard of it before the hearing) — it’s a special missions unit.

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I don't think the President's authority over the military extends to that level of detail, but I'm not an expert either.

At any rate, if we're assuming most of the military including all top-level officers are still loyal to America as a democracy and would vehemently oppose any attempt to impose a dictatorship, then assassin-team-6 will have a very serious problem. If anyone else finds out what they're up to, they'll all get locked up and court-martialled, and if they offer proof their orders came directly from the President then I'd expect Congress to conduct the fastest impeachment in history.

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"Stop quoting laws to men with swords" - Paraphrased from a quote attributed to Pompey after the city he was conquering objected that his actions were illegal (!).

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This is untrue. It’s drummed into even lowly enlisted people that there is not only no obligation to follow an unlawful order, there is a duty to not obey it. Killing random civilians for political purposes is an obviously unlawful order.

(Yes, I am aware of Anwar al-Alwaki, no that was not unlawful.)

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

What specifically is untrue?

Military people do carry out unlawful orders sometimes, so the president would only have to ask enough people.

Also, you know, my comment was kind of a joke.

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“Then she could get seal team 6 to assassinate all her rivals, including Trump. Since the Supreme Court has decided that’s okay.”

That part is untrue. She can’t get Seal Team 6 to do it (unless they’re willing to break the law and commit murder, but then we’re not talking about Presidential powers, just crimes) and the Supreme Court never decided that was okay.

What unlawful orders do you think military people carry out? Do you have examples?

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You know, this Seal Team 6 scenario is something that has been discussed publicly for months now, in the Court of Appeals and in the Supreme Court and by various media commentators. It was mentioned in Justice Sotomayor’s dissent. So you don’t need to be offended by my bringing it up (and again, I was obviously making a joke - after all I don’t think Kamala Harris would murder Biden).

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This seems like the kind of question where one can reason circularly that whatever orders they DID (and DO) follow may be deemed "lawful" because, of course, the US military would never follow "unlawful orders." You did precisely this in passing, as a parenthetical remark.

And of course, no one is going to try the president in court for his orders to the military, so arbitrating precisely what laws he ISN'T being subjected to is a silly exercise.

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The Supreme Court did not “decide that’s okay”. Stop repeating this lie.

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You're watching too much MSNBC.

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Beyond their ever agreeing to do this, you grossly overestimate the CIA's competence. If they asked the CIA to remove Biden, they'd end up removing the entire rest of the cabinetiaside from Biden.

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This opens up the possibility of the funniest (albeit extremely unlikely) possible outcome: the Democrats attempt to invoke 25th Amendment on Biden, and the Republicans refuse to give them the 2/3rds majority needed to do it.

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I can understand their possible reticence, given Harris would then be President.

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I was checking up on the 2/3 majority of Congress - turns out that requirement comes into play if the VP and majority of cabinet declare the presidency disabled, the president declares there is no disability, and Congress needs to ratify the decision by the VP and cabinet.

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How does the 25th Amendment (and the legal discussion surrounding the 25th Amendment) operationalise disability?

Alternatively phrased: Since the VP, the Cabinet members, and the President him/herself are not professionally qualified to make a disability assessment, how do they choose the professionals that make the evaluation? Also: What is the procedure if the President refuses to be examined by the professionals?

These questions could become rather important, if Biden wins the election and then experiences further functional decline.

Side note:

...although according to the radical version of the social model of disability, disability is just a social construct. if so, perhaps non-medical Cabinet members - and Congress members - are just as qualified as anyone else to make the assessment:-)

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The 25th Amendment very specifically states that all that matters is whether the VP and a majority of the leaders of executive departments have determined that a disability would prevent fulfillment of the role of the Presidency. I think it is for the best that it leaves it up to their judgment as human beings about what sort of expert testimony or diagnosis would be relevant, rather than spelling out some particular concept of expertise.

I don't think the social model of disability disagrees with any role of expertise in determining whether or not someone has a disability. They'll agree that whether or not someone's eyesight is acute, or their motor control of their legs has certain features, is likely to be evaluated more effectively by people with certain kids of professional expertise. The social construction is rather on the other side - whether acute eyesight or motor control of legs counts as a "disability" that might cause problems with ordinary life, or are just within the realm of variance that don't cause problems, depends on social factors, like how easy and accepted it is to wear corrective lenses everywhere, and whether buildings are often constructed to have a step before entering the front door.

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"I think it is for the best that it leaves it up to their judgment as human beings about what sort of expert testimony or diagnosis would be relevant, rather than spelling out some particular concept of expertise."

... I did not really expect the legal texts regulating the 25th Amendment to be very specific, for the reason you mention. However, this sensible legal "openness" as to what kind of expert testimony (if any at all) that is necessary in order to invoke the 25th Amendment can create a rather delicate political situation if Biden wins, his situation deteriorates, and he - and his advisors - disagree with the opinions of the VP and the rest of the Cabinet concerning if he has become disabled (or how it can be decided).

So there is a risk associated with not having specific procedures and operationalisations; a risk worth discussing before the election in November.

(I am reminded of the situation in a student collective, where everyone agreed that we do not need specific rules of who owned what, since we were always going to be such good friends. It then turned out that you need to agree on specific rules at a time when you are still friends. Because when you have stopped being friends, it is too late.)

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Yeah, I think there's an essential tension between the advantages of spelling out conditions in formal detail in advance of when they are needed (because at the time they are needed, emotional and political conditions often overrule people's reasonable judgment) and the advantages of leaving conditions up to the judgment of the people at the time they are needed (because our imaginations in advance often misunderstand what the relevant considerations in the actual circumstance will be).

This is related to the tension between giving experts flexibility to make the judgments that they deem best, and requiring that experts explain their judgments in ways that can be understood by non-experts. (The people who are actually living in the unforeseen future circumstances are analogous to the experts, and the people writing the details of the rule are analogous to the people asking for explanation from the experts.)

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>These questions could become rather important, if Biden wins the election and then experiences further functional decline.

<mild snark>

Proposed bumper sticker:

25th in 2025!

</mild snark>

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Since you're quoting Nate Silver's estimate of 40-45% pre-debate, it's worth pointing out that he lowered that to 35% when he first published his model (which was still before the debate).

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The Dems seem to be in quite an unpleasant double-bind with how everything's going overall, it seems like

My impression is that a shorter-notice candidate is maybe a better idea than running Biden in the short term, but it's still fairly rare with an incumbent who's both willing and eligible to run again. This isn't Coolidge saying he chooses not to run and leaving a clean slate for his party, the Dems and Biden have very clearly positioned him to be the next candidate before the debate debacle. It feels like the risk they run isn't just losing (which is a very substantial risk they run no matter what at this point) - but also exposing someone like Newsom to a brutal mudslinging campaign in 2024 for no reward, lowering the "this guy is fresh and new" appeal of a more winnable 2028 run, when the whole situation could very easily be affected by the DNC trying to pull a bit of a Weekend-at-Bernie's with Biden this year. It's not just ditching the incumbent, it's doing so as basically a tacit admission that Biden hasn't been 100% for a long while and the Dems simply forgot to mention that - It isn't a good look, even with a good replacement candidate

On the other hand, if the choice is "take the inevitable L for 2024 and regroup with a fresh candidate for 2028", stuff like the Chevron deference overturn/Trump v. US and Project 2025 are scary from a liberal point of view. The idea of Trump as an existential threat has been a big part of the Dem platform for a while, it's the basis of their going "yes, Hillary and Biden might not be too inspiring but you gotta vote them in anyway", and the idea of rolling over and minimizing harm in the long-term would seem to be incompatible with that view + current events. Like him or not, Trump has already had long-reaching impacts in establishing a solidly conservative SCOTUS, so it seems like the Dems are basically forced to fight hard (potentially unsustainably so, in a way that makes 2028 less of a slam dunk than necessary) for a win that might simply not be there at all.

Also, I do get the "Biden isn't senile" thing - it's a weird comparison, but it kinda reminds me of how fight viewers treat Max Holloway. For years now, he's faced massive hitters and almost none of them have even gotten reactions by hitting him really hard - so every fight cycle, someone's like "maybe this is the one Max's chin is gone". And every time so far, they've been wrong, and Max just went up a weight class to clown on a huge hitter who's even bigger than the other guys he's tanked while everyone was worried about him. But eventually those people will be right, and it'll come as a shock to everyone - but they're not right through any particular small-scale prescience, just that everyone is eventually washed or senile, so you can be wrong 100 times but the fact that you've gotten 100 chances makes the next one more likely to be right

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Whoever accepts the nomination in 2024 must know that it is their last shot in their entire life of winning the presidency.

If Newsom accepts in 2024, it has to be a mix of "better one in the hand than two in the bush" and patriotic duty.

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"If Newsom accepts in 2024, it has to be a mix of "better one in the hand than two in the bush" and patriotic duty."

Mrrrrowp?

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Is there actually solid evidence that losing a presidential election reduces your likelihood of winning it later? The last one to even try a second time was Nixon, and he won. Stevenson lost twice to Eisenhower I guess, but overall the idea that it’s better for one’s future viability as a candidate to stay out of the race than run and lose seems like folk wisdom rather than empirical fact. I could just as easily see it the opposite way: getting the nomination and losing at least makes you a household name, which puts you ahead of other candidates among the large swath of the public that pay almost no attention to politics.

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Yeah, I second this, especially with the incredibly obvious point that if a Democrat loses (barring another massive shift), it'll be to ANOTHER person who already lost a Presidential election, and as an incumbent no less.

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In fact some wondered if Romney (as an example) should have run again. He did pretty okay against Obama, who was a generationally tough opponent, and a lot of what he talked about ended up being correct.

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Yeah I think you're definitely overestimating the degree to which there is such a thing as "Democratic party elites" who can make meaningful decisions about this stuff, aside from the candidate themself. Trump on the Republican side proved that a candidate who can win over the voters can't meaningfully be stopped by the party insiders and I think that applies on the other side as well, it's just not as blatant because the voters and the insiders are more on the same page..

In some ways this is good: in most cases people would describe unelected power brokers pulling the strings behind the scenes as a bad thing, and say that the voters and the candidates they select having all the power is a good thing. But it's certainly awkward in a situation like this.

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Primary elections in general are a pretty bad way of selecting candidates. While like obviously "party elites choose" (which was the status quo pre-1972) isn't a particularly appealing scenario, they did have an incentive to pick someone who would be palatable enough to their base while also likely to win. Primaries appeal specifically to the most engaged members from each side of the political spectrum and ask them to choose which candidate to support. George McGovern doesn't happen under the pre-1972 system. Donald Trump doesn't happen under the pre-1972 system.

The best system though is probably one without primaries, be that an IRV or Approval Vote or Score Vote or whatever election. With FPTP, you can't really have multiple candidates and the ability for all voters, regardless of political belief, to pick the one they like the most, so you end up with either smoke-filled rooms or primaries, both of which lead to pretty bad outcomes.

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The Alaska system (and there's a proposition on the ballot to introduce this in Nevada) seems to do this quite well. The primary cuts the fields down to four or five candidates and then they use IRV amongst those.

IRV and similar systems, where more than just two candidates can win, require voters to form opinions on more people, and that first-stage (calling itself a primary) cut by higher-information voters eliminates candidates with very little chance of winning and so reduces the overload of apparent choices for the average voters without significantly reducing the real choice in the election.

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Jul 4·edited Jul 4

IMO simple approval voting (vote for as many as you like, highest number of votes wins) is the most natural method with the least voter education and prep, and a very high degree of intuitiveness. The situations where strategic (i.e. untruthful) voting takes place are much less and don't leave the same "bad taste" in the mouth.

It's such a significant step up with fewer downsides, to the point where I almost wonder if the IRV effort is a kind of deliberate scheme to distract from approval voting. And of course you can still do reasonable things like require a certain signature threshold to make sure the ballot doesn't get too cluttered.

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A sitting president can't really be moved, and there's no mechanism whatsoever to force a candidate to give up the significant funds donated to him. The 2020 primaries pre candidate with no incumbent were very different, and it's quite likely there was some teamwork to ice out Bernie

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Somewhat, but it doesn't really take that much to ice out a guy who doesn't have majority support from the party's primary voters or any plausible path to it.

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The majority of spending is "independent expenditure," not bound to the candidate (and ostensibly, not even coördinated with him), so that's unlikely to be a significant concern.

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>quite likely there was some teamwork to ice out Bernie

Bit of an understatement, no?

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I mean, I think there is such an elite, though functionally it's only really strong on the Democrat side (the Republican operators don't have the same level of media connections, which limits them). But at the moment we're seeing a split between the Biden faction, and the probably larger set of people who want a more winning candidate. A number of the people close to Biden are likely to be much less influential if he's not President, so they're more willing to try to somehow pull out a win with him.

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Yeah, even the best example given for a possible elite, the coalescence around Biden in March 2020, was really just about Buttigieg and Klobuchar personally preferring Biden to Sanders, and seeing that Biden wins on Super Tuesday were the only way to avoid a Sanders candidacy.

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it was also Warren staying in an extra week once this happened to stick a dagger in our back

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

"Trump on the Republican side proved that a candidate who can win over the voters can't meaningfully be stopped by the party insiders and I think that applies on the other side as well, it's just not as blatant because the voters and the insiders are more on the same page.."

That is why Team D has, among other things, superdelegates.

as it were, Team R party insiders did try to block Trump, by trying to get Trump delegates to switch sides and even cancelling primaries (Colorado, IIRC) that Trump was likely to win.

Team R and its insiders failed for two reasons: they could not agree on a single non-Trump candidate (is it Cruz, is it Rubio, is it Jeb!, is it Kasich?), this dissipating their efforts and they could not rely on the national media to carry their water.

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If you've been paying attention you'll notice that over the last decade or two the superdelegates have been stripped of basically all of their power because people didn't like the idea of unelected party insiders overruling what the primary voters chose.

> Team R and its insiders failed for two reasons: they could not agree on a single non-Trump candidate (is it Cruz, is it Rubio, is it Jeb!, is it Kasich?), this dissipating their efforts and they could not rely on the national media to carry their water.

Notably these problems seem like they would also apply to any attempt to replace Biden.

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I seem to recall otherwise in 2016 concerning superdelegates.

No argument regarding any attempt to replace Biden.

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IIRC in 2016 there was some speculation that the super delegates could make a difference but in fact they didn't, and after that the rules were changed to reduce their influence even further.

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Superdelegates in 2016 turned out to be unnecessary, but were held in reserve, in the event that the coronation didn't go as planned.

That doesn't mean that there weren't and aren't there.

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That seems like a very speculative claim about what people were intending/planning that you aren't providing any evidence for. And it doesn't at all engage with the actual facts of the way the rules around superdelegates work. After 2016 (maybe even earlier, I don't remember in detail) they changed the rules so superdelegates don't even get to vote on the nominee anymore (unless no candidate gets a majority in the first round, which IIRC has never happened in the modern primary system).

And even back when they had more ability to sway things, I think you're overestimating the likelihood or even the possibility of the superdelegates operating as a unified block. Mostly they're just past elected officials in the party, who can be a fairly diverse bunch.

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I think a lot of people ignore how only Harris is allowed to use Biden's massive war chest, and that alone is a huge incentive to go with her over another perspective replacement. Imo, Newsom is heavily overvalued in the Republican-leaning predictive markets as his sparring with DeSantis greatly increased his figure in those spheres, while not having as much of an impact among Dem voters. He poorly targeted his marketing of himself if his intention was to position himself as a future presidential contender. Or maybe he didn't and you just take whatever press you can get when you're a local political figure trying to raise your profile.

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People don't like Harris though. People also don't like Newsom, to be fair.

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Who do they like?

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Generic Democrat. That guy has the advantage of not being real so you can't criticize him in any way.

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If he isn't real, then how could he have the best hair? And without that, how could he win?

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No, YOU can't criticize him. For starters, he's pro-abortion, anti-gun, soft on crime, for open borders, and supports the climate hoax. Also, he's probably anti-Israel.

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Dems voted like 180-30 for aid to Israel. Stop living in whatever bubble you're living in.

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You demonstrate the lack of imagination that keeps you from criticizing Generic Democrat.

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Michelle Obama. But she has too many principles to get involved in politics.

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She has the advantage of never actually having held office. But the moment she throws her hat in the ring she has to start taking positions, giving more speeches and interviews, leading to more gaffes, and her opponents would now have a vested interest in tearing her apart.

The popularity of popular non-politicians - Michell Obama, Dwayne Johnson, etc. - is, imo, basically a mirage, and would dissipate the moment they enter the ring. I suspect most of them know this and that’s why they rarely try to capitalize on it and run.

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Jeb!

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Biden

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Harris is the sole option. Running her would be better because

1) She was already scrutinized for scandals.

2) She would be the president anyway in the next 4 years.

3) She is already running a presidential ticket.

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There should be reverse betting odds. "Will Trump die of old age and biden live through the election?"

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>Nobody ever thinks in their own head “Haha, I am an evil person who is deceiving my friends and the world”.<

Eh, never say never. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_and_Loeb The Superman theory is mostly dead, but mostly dead is not all dead.

For the rest... oh whatever, I'm linking Nick Lutsko's Living Dead In Washington D.C. NSFW.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv9KHHSbpXw

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founding

On a less Nietzschean note, "Haha, we're cleverly putting one over on all those suckers" is probably fairly common among the sort of professional liars we're talking about here.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

Yea, SA's extreme positivity bias of nice people in a nice world strikes again. Evil isn't so rare and not amongst the elites. It is a psychopathic club for psychopaths who have spent thousands of years building and shaping the world to better accept them as rulers. They are not simplistically evil like cartoons, but so what. Evil need not be understood from a child's view point. If you want to know what they're like, look at their private talking which they never thought would be public. Just 30 seconds of real talk sunk Romney's campaign. They know they have to hide what they are.

Nixon tapes come to mind. Or any court case where internal docs from executives come out. Smart psychopaths can in fact lie convincingly. Nixon level selfishness, greed, list for power, and damn the consequences style people are the norm. And they lie about it, of course.

I recall a case of a doco film making on Rogan doing Erin brokovich style reporting on companies dumping toxic crop into water leads to disease in town stories and the executives all voted in favour of continuing to dump toxins for longer after they knew it was killing people and even had hand written notes from their board meeting about it with demented cruel and comically evil lines about killed whole we can to make as much money now as possible, extract ecey last dollar of sales before this gets banned and let the company go down. They also gave themselves bonuses.

These truly are evil people and Scott lives in a fantasy world where he pretends pretends don't and can't exist except in rare historical cases. Yet thin f s are more house of cards and less people making mistakes.

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I disagree. Most politicians never do anything overtly evil. Most exaggerate and embellish and sometimes outright lie, but so do regular people. Most politicians probably sincerely think they’re doing so for the greater good. Most of the ‘evil’ things you would attribute to your least favorite politician are things half the population think are good, so it’s not really politicians but rather that half of the population that is ostensibly evil.

Overall, I don’t think regular people are more moral than “elites.” Their moral defects are just as acute (it wouldn’t surprise me if even more so), but just happen to be constrained by their impotence.

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most politicians take bribes from the country's wealthiest people to enrich them further, at the expense of their constituents, and then cast votes to murder people halfway around the world

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

I am fighting a similar thing with my own mother right now who is about Biden's age. (She is 78). We super don't want to shuffle her off to a care home or have her move in with us. We are *very* motivated for her to maintain her independence and pride as long as she can. But, like, she just can't do certain things anymore. And I don't mean certain things will kill her. If she wanted to go bungie jumping or something, I'd totally endorse it. "I died at age 78 while bungie jumping" seems like a pretty damn good way to go really. My 80 year old dad just went sky diving for his birthday on our dime as a gift.

It's the mundane things. Telling her she can't afford certain things on her fixed income. Telling her that she forgets things a lot now, it's already gotten her in trouble, and thus she needs to outsource some aspects of navigating her labyrinthine benefits and medical expenses and so on to us. She doesn't like it but it seems cruel to me to *not* tell her this and just let her like lose her car or her apartment or something. Biden's family baffles me. Let the old man retire with dignity rather than feed his delusions and let him go out in an epic loss of cantankerous pride that also jeopardizes the country. He is 81. There will be *no* recovery for him on that.

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> Biden's family baffles me. Let the old man retire with dignity rather than feed his delusions

I have to believe that most of the time, Biden's still pretty much all there, and that it's only under actual pressure that he can completely run out of gas. Otherwise it means all the people around him are monstrous.

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Yeah, there's hundreds of interviews and rallies done in the last few months where he looks fine. Feels like they overprepped and over pressured him for the debate and that backfired

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He doesn't do interviews. He reads off a teleprompter.

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Biden has multiple instances of reading off the teleprompter incorrectly. Reading instructions out loud such as "(Pause for applause)".

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Has he done more than the well known handful in the last week? This seems like it would be a very good time for him to be in some unscripted situations to prove his capabilities. As far as I know he's been in like *two*, maybe three scripted situations since last Thursday, and zero unscripted.

Either he doesn't have it, or they're terrified he does have it, or they're very foolish for wasting the opportunity to fix the situation.

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I'm not sure. Actually, the debate cemented my feeling that the FBI got their case correctly when assessing his (mis)handling of classified documents.

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"Otherwise it means all the people around him are monstrous." - AKA the right-wing perception

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If you know he's going to bomb the debate like that, and you still put him out there, to fail like that in public? That counts as monstrous in my book. *shrug* Machiavelli might approve, if it were a necessary part of a plan to get a better candidate for the general election. But that wouldn't make it less cold-blooded.

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Is that monstrous or delusionally optimistic?

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When your delusional optimism causes you to publicly humiliate someone whom you should be caring for, someone who trusts your judgement?

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The key word is deluded. If it's deluded, it's still genuine, and not monstrous.

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Jill’s fawning but condescending praise to Joe after the debate, on camera — “You did a great job! You answered every question!” — convince me that she knows exactly what his condition is, and that she is indeed monstrous.

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I've had a low opinion of Jill ever since I saw her pretend her doctorate in education a real degree. It's the textbook definition of a vanity degree that people with a load of money get to feed their egos without having to do any real work. Shaquille O'Neal and Bill Cosby have Ed.Ds.

I see I was entirely right to feel such.

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HIs family gets huge benefits from his current position. This big time politicians are like a mid-sized corporation there are dozens of people at a minimum living off his position right now. That is a big difference from your mother.

No most of them won't necessarily become impoverished or anything, but a lot might lose their jobs and/or substantial incomes.

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Notably, Trump is also 78.

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I spoke the other day to a 93 year old human. Sharp as a tack, she was.

Biden? Er, not so much.

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Do we know at what rate dementia tends to progress? One of my biggest concerns is that this is most lucid version of Biden that we're ever going to get, and it can only go downhill during the next 4 years.

Trump seems increasingly demented as well. I think if we looked for issues or errors during speeches between 2016 and today we would see an increased rate in the last couple years. I wonder if anyone has done that...

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I'm sure if we had a psychiatrist around here he could tell you about prognosis for dementia. I wouldn't even know where to begin to look for one though.

A lot of this discussion seems to be predicated on the idea that Biden will definitely be alive in four and a half years, and our choices between an 86-year-old president of unknown lucidity and Donald Trump. The chance that Biden will not be alive in four, two, or one years is substantial.

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That feels really hard for a psychiatrist to do? My sense was that first impressions and patient background were undeniably important, but that you’d need real neuropsychological testing, or at least proper interviews, to diagnose a dementia and its progress accurately enough for a semi-decent prognosis. And that’s before the variability in how well he would putatively respond to treatment.

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There are a couple of drug treatments, but last time I looked into the matter what was available made relatively little difference in how fast the dementia progressed: If you took one of them it took you 28 months to decline as far as untreated people did in 24 months. As for how fast his dementia would progress, it's variable, like that of most progressive illnesses. However, very slow progression is rare enough that it's a safe bet that in 4 years Biden will be way worse off than he is now.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

Just based on age and actuarial life expectancy tables, Biden has a 32% chance of dying over the next four years, Trump has a 23% chance. That's high for both of them! By rights it should warrant greater scrutiny of the the VP candidate, since there's a strong chance they end up as president.

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Probably both risks are overstated if you're just looking at age; they're both rich, upper-class and in generally good health so far as we can see. Of course it's really 4.5 years we're concerned about. And Trump is a bit overweight. And POTUS sounds like a high-stress job.

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And also it's not only death . Falling into a coma, needing prolonged healthcare in bed following a serious stroke or a heart attack, particularly debilitating cancer - the cumulative likelihood of all of those and more has to be substantial.

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The issue is that Trump looked 30 years younger than Biden at the debate, not three, to paraphrase one talking head. The debate in essence gave the public to make a head to head comparison between the two candidates in terms of their mental fitness. It was an unmitigated disaster for Biden.

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There's a lot of variability, but yes, this (Biden's current/average state, not his debate performance, which, given that his handlers allowed him to do the debate, is probably worse than his average state) is the most lucid version of Biden we're going to get, and it will only get worse. I suspect it will seem to get worse very very quickly - my grandmother's decline was relatively smooth and stable over the course of at least thirty years, but it felt like it was accelerating, because the capabilities that she lost were increasingly fundamental, until one day she stopped being able to drink. (We did not attempt to keep her alive beyond this point, it would have been senseless and cruel.)

Trump doesn't seem unusually demented; he definitely showed his age in the debate, but this actually worked for him, because his historic behavior is uncomfortably manic, and it brought him more in line with what people expect to see from politicians. Where's Biden's condition made him seem like a more dangerous and risky candidate (relative to our expectations of Biden), Trump's condition made him seem like a safer and saner candidate (relative to our expectations of Trump).

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Charts and graphs on decline won't help much I suspect.

The reason why so many people already thought Biden was too old to serve is because so many people already have direct and personal experience with the mental decline of the elderly. It's a one way street of variable steepness.

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It took 18 months for my father to go from basically normal to forgetting everyone's name to being dead. (Fortunately, be never forgot who we were but he forgot our names often).

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Betfair has matched $28 million on the 'Election Winner' market and $15m on the 'Democratic Nominee' market. The rest of the world reads your media and contains enough smart rich people to correct obvious mispricings, so it seems like a mistake to ignore these markets!

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Right now sportsbet.com.au is offering 4.50 to 1 for Biden to win the Presidency. If you think the prediction markets are right about there being a 29% chance, you should jump on that.

They're also giving 7:1 for Harris to be the Dem nominee and 8.50:1 for Gavin Newsom. Honestly I'm tempted to put some money on at those prices (but I know that if I were to sign up for online betting I'd probably wind up losing in the long run).

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

Unless you're ~100% sure you don't have compulsive gambling tendencies lurking inside you, I'd say it's not worth it. Even if you have the brain and the temperament for it, you're unlikely to make significant money without putting a lot of time and effort in, and the downside risk is high.

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You're confusing fractional odds with decimal odds in your writing (though I think you understand the decimal odds correctly). The Sportsbet figures that you quote are decimal odds, so you should omit the "to 1". Decimal odds of 4.50 are equivalent to fractional odds of 3.5 to 1.

You're correct that 4.50 is good value if the true probability is 29%, since 4.5 * 0.29 > 1.

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

The weighted averages across prediction sites of candidates' probabilities of winning conditional on being nominated are wrong. Biden's average can't be 31% when only one source gives a lower probability than that (29%), and that source has a very low weight, and there are sources with much higher probabilities and much higher weights.

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Yeah, looks like Scott accidentally divided the weights by 2.5 to make them sum to 1, even though their sum is actually 2.2.

It looks like the same mistake affects all candidates, so it doesn't matter for their relative ranking. But the weighted probabilities are all too low.

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It also seems like he is wrong about nailing Nate Silver's number for today? I looked at Nate Silver's chart and it seems that in all of the last few days Biden is being pinned at ~40%, and has never been as low as 31%? Am I missing something?

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Jul 2·edited Jul 2

I believe you're looking at the polling average, not the probabilities of winning (which is behind a paywall).

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oh ok, paywalls ruin everything DX

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author

You're right, thank you, fixed.

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Right now Manifold has Biden 73% to be the nominee, 34% to win the election conditional on being the nominee, and 29% to win the election (unconditionally). What am I missing?

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A 73% chance of being the noninee to have a 34% chance of winning is 25% rather than 29% so there's definitely a bit of gap between the answers

I think different questions can influence how you react to them, most famously for the bias to choose yes on yes/no polls

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"the Republicans would say 'ha, this time is going to be the proof that he’s senile!' And then he would always do fine.”

"Fine" is doing a lot of work here. In 2020, Biden's decline from the 2012 debate with Paul Ryan was notable. Due to COVID he was able to get away with running the most stage-managed campaign in history. And the measures designed to hide his decrepitude - limited interviews, pre-screened press conference questions, calling a lid before lunch - began immediately upon taking office. There was still a lot of weird behavior that couldn't be blamed on an alleged stutter that no one has actually heard.

Republicans did overreach, though, setting the bar very low. I suspect this was because while they knew what was happening, they couldn't prove it; there was nothing they could do about the protective measures, so they just shouted "he's senile" in the hope that everyone would see three obvious decline.

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Yeah the big tipoff that he was actually in decline was the way they have been handling him the last 18 months or so. Don't listen to screaming on Fox News, think about the actual concrete facts you hear. There was more than enough smoke to know there was a fire.

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I remember about a year ago thinking Biden was probably senile, at like a 55%. It was the superbowl interview cancellation that made me go to 90% senile. It was such an easy opportunity, and the only reason I could think that someone would refuse it is if he had good days and bad days.

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It's been there all along, steadily escalating; there wasn't actually an inflection point 18 months ago.

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Yep. The fact that they were acting like he needed to be treated with kid gloves should have greatly increased your prior that he did.

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Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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author

I watched the 2020 debates. It was hard for me to compare it to the 2012 debates because debating Donald Trump is such a different experience from debating Paul Ryan.

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I grant that the opponents were different, but I still think there were clear instances of "senior moments" during the 2020 cycle, like when Biden confused Cory Booker for Barack Obama. Not as bad as he's gotten since then, clearly, but still things that couldn't easily be brushed off as the kind of verbal slip up that everyone makes.

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Except Trump also had plenty of similar senior moments around the same time. Their respective declines felt similar until recently.

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Yeah, people have been saying "Biden was fine in 2020" but it was a very common thing to observe in 2020 that he had already declined considerably. Certainly he didn't seem mentally incompetent at the time, but starting to get fuzzy around the edges. If you went back to 2020 me and showed a clip of this 2024 debate, I probably would've thought, "yeah, that's about what I would expect Biden to be like in four years or so." I would have been very perplexed at why the Democrats would have made him the nominee though...

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