Is Joe Biden v Donald Trump really the best the United States, the so-called leader of the free world, can do? - The Irish News view

Voters face a miserable choice between the forgetful and the best-forgotten

Joe Biden tried repeatedly to confront Donald Trump (Ross D. Franklin/AP)
Joe Biden's performance in the televised US presidential debate with Donald Trump has caused alarm in Democratic Party circles (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

IT is little wonder that senior Democrats are in open panic after President Joe Biden’s faltering performance in yesterday’s televised debate.

The painful clash with his rival, the convicted felon and former president Donald Trump, confirmed that the invidious choice being put before the American people is between the forgetful and the best-forgotten.

Both of the establishment parties in the US have let down their nation in not only throwing their weight behind candidates who are unsuitable for the job but by also recklessly turning blind eyes to their manifest shortcomings.

This matters most deeply to those living in the United States. But it matters everywhere else too; as the ‘leader of the free world’, the office of US President is of global significance.

It’s one of the reasons why the Biden administration’s kid gloves approach to Israel and its genocidal campaign in Gaza has been so profoundly dismaying. Although uniquely placed to bring some moral leadership into that spiralling catastrophe, US intervention has so far had negligible positive impact.

For us in Ireland, there is an emotional link to the US that goes far beyond the political and economic. Generations of migration and kinship mean that our DNA is woven through the fabric of America. The Irish literally helped build the United States, and we want to ensure it stays standing.

President Biden did get it right when he said that Trump has the morals of an alley cat, a jibe that is, if anything, likely to lead to complaints from disgruntled alley cats

That’s why we can only regret that the defining question in this presidential race is not about policies but personalities, and specifically whether Mr Biden should even be on the ticket.

The incumbent did get it right when he said that Trump has the morals of an alley cat - a jibe that is, if anything, likely to lead to complaints from disgruntled alley cats - but, sadly, Mr Biden’s contributions were distinguished by rambling, unfinished sentences and awkward moments when he seemed to freeze. He was most dynamic during a bizarre exchange about golf handicaps, during which he challenged Trump to a driving contest. It was hard to watch.

Trump, for his part, lied almost every time he spoke. But he didn’t speak as often as we have come to expect; he realised that it was to his advantage when he stayed quiet and Mr Biden did the talking. “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence, and I don’t think he knows what he said either,” said Trump after a meandering answer from Mr Biden.

Less consequential was a debate hosted by BBC NI ahead of our own general election. We learned little new from this, though it gave the publicly-funded broadcaster an opportunity to show it can still host a current affairs programme in front of a live studio audience.