Alon Preiss: A Contrarian Opinion on Biden’s Debate Performance

All right, here is my contrarian take on last night’s disaster. 

No, I do not think that Biden did well last night. That would be more contrarian an opinion than even I could ever muster. 

But I take issue with the idea that Biden would be a good president for the next four years. Some people believe that the only problem with him is that he would have a problem beating Trump. 

This is not true. 

These Dem pundits say that Biden is hugely sharp behind closed doors and in full command of his faculties. Even if he were to waver and decline during a second term, he appoints an excellent team of Wise People on whom he can rely. So if he were to win, that would be terrific. But, they say, he just may not be able to win. 

As Joe Scarborough put it, the question is “whether this man we’ve known and loved for a very long time is up to the task of running for president of the United States.” (Emphasis added.)

He’s up to the task of being president, in other words, which is a piece of cake. Running for president, maybe not so much. 

I will still vote for him, because he will not seek to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, the cleverly misnamed climate law that various Biden allies managed to negotiate and pass, with Biden’s support, and which has the potential for a real impact during a second Biden term. 

But I have plenty of problems with Biden’s decisions over the last four years, I think this idea of Biden’s effectiveness is wrong, and I believe his lucidity will only decline if he is returned to office. 

His worst mistakes have been in the foreign policy realm, where he makes bad decisions directly. And none of his supposedly wise advisors have helped. 

The catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal made America look incredibly weak and inept, and, worse than that, many Afghans who cast their lot with us lost their lives as a reward for their loyalty. 

Biden never owned the mistake, which is a fundamental part of leadership. Dems on X blamed Trump, who negotiated the withdrawal in the first place. But it was Biden’s failure, and it was the kind of bad decision that someone inexperienced or suffering cognitive decline would make. 

On Ukraine, Biden has been afraid of either side prevailing. That’s not wisdom, it’s indecisiveness. He doesn’t want Putin to win, because that will embolden Putin. But he doesn’t want Ukraine to win, or at least not decisively, because that might anger Putin, who might then do something really provocative, like start a nuclear war. 

This thinking is so faulty that it seems absent-minded, and it’s led to so many Ukrainian deaths that Ukraine has trouble even finding enough soldiers anymore. Putin, who is weaker by degrees than America, should be afraid of us, and Biden should be able to make him afraid of us. He’s not. 

Someone else who isn’t afraid of Joe Biden or the United States? Bibi Netanyahu.

When Biden bear-hugged Israel after October 7, I thought – nay, I knew – that he was getting something for it, a moderation of Netanyahu’s opposition to the two-state solution, an agreement not to build West Bank settlements anymore, or, at least, not during the U.S.-supported war in Gaza. Israel needed us, and we had a moral obligation to support Israel but, surely, not unconditionally. 

But Biden got nothing at all, and he apparently asked for nothing at all. Since then, he’s used practically none of our leverage as Israel’s only friend to convince Netanyahu to moderate. Saudi Arabia promises to recognize Israel and rebuild Gaza with a new Arab leadership if Netanyahu just agrees to pretend to support the two-state solution. Biden can’t get him to do even that. He can’t get Israel even to pause settlement building. He can’t get israel even to stop approving new funding for settlements. He can’t even get Netanyahu not to publicly insult him. 

And let me just mention the elephant in the room. Do you know who could convince Netanyahu to pretend to support the two-state solution? And to stop building settlements while the war is ongoing? Trump. Whether he would or not, he could. And do you think Netanyahu would ever dare to publicly insult Trump, if he were president? It would never ever happen. This is not something irrelevant to the job of president, and it is not inappropriate for a voter to consider it.

Again, with a heavy heart, I am voting for Biden. But anyone who says it’s only about appearances is just wrong. Biden is not just unfit to run for president. He is unfit to be president. 


Alon Preiss is a novelist. His acclaimed thirtover novels were recently put out of print by Chickadee Prince Books. His third novel in the thirtover series was under contract to Chickadee Prince Books for years, but the company has just canceled publication without explanation. 

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