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Am I taking crazy pills here? Do I have dementia? I think its fair to say that at least a third of the political chatter about President Biden for the last year, and quite possibly half of it, is about the Presidents age. But maybe the omertà is about to end? Im still trying to process the idea that a top Washington reporter really thinks theres been some kind of fix-is-in ban on discussing the Presidents age. As David says, the press sees the blood in the water and this will keep up for a while now. As for the report itself, if you missed it, I shared my thoughts on that yesterday. The Presidents ongoing verbal gaffes speak for themselves. I wanted to zoom in on something a bit different about yesterdays spectacle. Aside from discussions of the Presidents cognitive faculties, the main focus actually the two were melded together was commentary about his anger. This seemed to be a universal response from the DC press corps, that the whole impromptu press conference was a mess because the President displayed clear and clearly genuine anger.
Its probably not lost on you that Donald Trump is basically permanently angry. And not just angry in response to particular events but the kind of perpetual and often peristaltic anger that in day to day life most people find threatening or at least off-putting. But we virtually never hear anything about the purported damage from expressions of anger when its Donald Trump. Thats not bias. Its simply that its assumed. So it just doesnt come up. Its no longer policed. Thats just what Donald Trump does. But theres an additional factor that people dont notice. Being responsive to this kind of press policing signals a basic weakness, a perpetual hedging, a practice of being controlled and responsive to the press chorus rather than indifferent to it. Trumps able to work outside this framework of policing because he simply ignores it and because of that reporters decide it doesnt apply to him. This isnt just Biden. Its not even just Trump. Democrats for a host of reasons tend to be far more responsive to this kind of policing. People want to see expressions of agency and power from political leaders. Trumps ability to set the terms for how the press reacts and interprets his actions is itself an expression of power.
All of which is to say that it wasnt just okay that Biden showed some anger. It was good. And he should do more of it. Both because people expect people to have normal and appropriate human responses and grow latent suspicions when they dont see it but also because its Biden showing some energy and direction. They should put him in front of reporters and the cameras more, not less. If you are responding to the tut-tutting and line-drawing of the prestige media youre losing. Its as simple as that. Youre always either reacting or being reacted to. The latter is always better.
Biden spent five hours answering Hurs questions on October 8 and 9.
From a response letter from Bidens attorneys which is included in the report:
At bottom, former President Trumps stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the President beyond the reach of all three Branches. Presidential immunity against federal indictment would mean that, as to the President, the Congress could not legislate, the Executive could not prosecute and the Judiciary could not review. We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter. Careful evaluation of these concerns leads us to conclude that there is no functional justification for immunizing former Presidents from federal prosecution in general or for immunizing former President Trump from the specific charges in the Indictment. In so holding, we act, not in derogation of the separation of powers, but to maintain their proper balance. See Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. at 754.
You can read it here:
The United States, the ultimate guarantor of Israeli security, has suddenly revived, with urgency, the idea of a two-state outcome, which Netanyahu has resisted for decades. Israel is more internationally isolated. Settlers are demanding a rapid ratcheting-up of forces in the West Bank; and in many cases, with little training, they are themselves being recruited into the military that is charged, at least officially, with preventing them from attacking their Palestinian neighbors.
Hamas has only become more popular in the West Bank, and the Palestinian Authority remains weak. Abbas, who has ruled without an election since 2005, is now 88, and he has no clear successor. An educated younger generation of Palestinians finds itself without any hope for its future. Weapons have flooded into the West Bank from Jordan and elsewhere. Shtayyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, says that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are under tremendous pressure because the people want us to do something, they want us to launch war on Israel. Abbas has never publicly condemned the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which infuriates Netanyahu.
A third intifada is not impossible. The level of Palestinian anger, combined with settler violence, is combustible. But prodded by the United States, Shtayyeh says we have been using every possible way and measure to disengage the West Bank from what is happening in Gaza.
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