Each Friday, PBS NewsHour pits a conservative pundit vs. a liberal for a high-toned debate about the week’s politics. This week, talking about the 2024 election, one of those panelists gave a full-throated salute to President Joe Biden, touting his “incredibly strong economic recovery,” his “pretty good international peacekeeping efforts,” and who “sends off all the right cultural messages.”
“Democrats are not grateful enough for what they have,” this panelist exclaimed.
If you’re a regular NewsBusters reader, you’ve probably already guessed those weren’t the words of liberal columnist Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post (filling in for the Post’s Jonathan Capehart), but rather “conservative” columnist David Brooks of the New York Times. “The Democrats are lucky, frankly, to have a candidate in Biden,” Brooks insisted in dismissing those who think Democrats could do better with another presidential candidate next year.
Of course, liberal panelist Marcus had basically the same point of view (just without the fawning over Biden’s “incredibly strong” record). “If somebody were to emerge and challenge Joe Biden at this stage in the campaign....that would create some divisions within the demographics of the party. I think the Democrats are going to war with what their — what they view as their strongest candidate, and with good reason. That’s Joe Biden,” Marcus opined.
So that was this week’s “debate” over whether Democrats would do best with Biden next year. The groupthink would have been excruciatingly familiar to those who watch PBS’s Brooks & Capehart segment each week.
Here’s a video clip of Brook touting Joe Biden’s record, followed by the transcript of the entire August 18, 2023 discussion of whether another candidate should represent the Democrats next year (click expand):
PBS NewsHour, August 18, 2023
Co-anchor GEOFF BENNETT: Meantime, on the Democratic side, you have got Congressman Dean Phillips, who is on a media tour of late. He was on this program last night begging for a prominent fellow Democrat to mount a primary challenge to Joe Biden. He says that Democrats are saying they want not a coronation, but a competition. Is that a widely held view, Ruth, or is Phillips here on a solo mission?
Washington Post columnist RUTH MARCUS: I don’t know if it’s a solo mission, but it’s not — I’m not going to say kamikaze mission, but it’s not a mission that’s going to end with what he wants. There are problems with Joe Biden’s candidacy. There are many Democrats behind the scenes and a few publicly who talk about his age, who talk about other problems with his candidacy. But let’s be serious. I’m old enough to remember — I’m sorry to say, I’m old enough to remember 1980 and what happened in the Democratic Party when it was riven by division.
And if somebody were to emerge and challenge Joe Biden at this stage in the campaign, him having decided to run, his vice president, who, if he didn’t — if he somehow chose not to run, if she were not the nominee, that would create some divisions within the demographics of the party. I think the Democrats are going to war with what their — what they view as their strongest candidate, and with good reason. That’s Joe Biden. And I think, no matter what Dean Phillips says, that’s the way it’s going to be.
GEOFF BENNETT: David, what’s your view? And how might the Biden campaign turn his age into an asset?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, have him run a marathon. (laughter) That would do it. I agree with Ruth that Phillips’ idea that there’s some mystery moderate governor the Democrats can turn to — there’s a lot of problems with Joe Biden running for reelection, his age primarily. His approval ratings are low. But any time you look at some alternative, whether it’s the mystery moderate from the Midwest or Gavin Newsom or anybody else, things start unraveling really fast.
And so the Democrats are lucky, frankly, to have a candidate in Biden who has presided over an incredibly strong economic recovery, who has presided over pretty good international peacemaking efforts, both in Asia this week and also in Europe, and who I believe whose numbers will go up as inflation recedes, as it is. And the strong job numbers are there. And they’re extremely lucky to have a candidate, frankly, who’s not a member of what you would call the coastal elite. And Joe Biden has — sends off all the right cultural messages for moderate independent voters who don’t have college degrees. And Democrats are not grateful enough for what they have, in my view.
GEOFF BENNETT: David Brooks and Ruth Marcus, big thanks to you both. Have a great weekend.