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Column: George Clooney drops a truth bomb about Biden. Now what?

Hello everyone. It's not exactly a happy Thursday, but it's Thursday. We're 116 days away from the election. Today I'm going to talk about an unexpected truth bomb and its consequences.

First it was George Clooney and now, believe it or not, it's Donald Trump.

Perhaps you have already read Clooney's surprising New York Times op-ed He called on Joe Biden to withdraw from the presidential race.

Clooney recently got to spend some one-on-one time with Biden while co-hosting a major fundraiser in Los Angeles, and here's what the experience was like.

“It's sad to say this, but Joe Biden, who I was with at a fundraiser three weeks ago, “It's no big deal.” Biden in 2010. It wasn't even Joe Biden in 2020. It was the same guy we all saw in the debates.”

Fourteen days after the debate, Clooney is the only person brave enough to articulate what we've all been anxiously wondering since missing the president: Was it just a bad night, or something worse? I've argued for slowing down until we know more.

Now we know a lot more.

It is doubtful whether this was a lawless act undertaken without pressure from Democratic Party establishment members, but the fact that a Hollywood actor stepped out of his movie-hero role to confront the sad reality of a struggling democracy highlights the president's fitness to be president.

Thank you, Mr. Clooney, for demonstrating your willingness to speak truth in a time of crisis.

President Biden, unlike Clooney, appears to be protected by Democratic Party officials who do not want to discuss their recent interactions with him.

(Molly Gash/The Associated Press)

Really, Democrats?

After all, almost no woman or man across the government was willing to stand up and tell their truth about Biden, even though dozens of state and national leaders, including our own Governor Gavin Newsom, should have had the same knowledge as Clooney.

From a political perspective, it's understandable why our political leaders have remained largely silent, hinting, hesitating and backtracking every time they've strayed too close to a Clooney-style expose.

Democrats (or Republicans) don't stick together and don't speak out when the consequences (ostracism, loss of money, loss of race) are greater than the rewards, so they leave it to Clooney. But that's the political view.

Not in terms of morality, democracy, or common sense. So my first takeaway is that the Democratic Party's apparent dishonesty and complicity is just as disturbing as Biden's confirmed decline, especially at this critical moment for our country.

I'm perfectly happy for Biden to go forward and prove Clooney wrong, but at this point Clooney's views are shining the party in the same nasty light that Republicans have cast for years, and it's destroying voters' faith in the Democratic Party.

I believed that if the president was as corrupt as Clooney now describes, someone in his inner circle would have spoken out. But I was wrong.

The Party has hurt itself at the moment when it cannot tolerate damage.

Trump is telling the truth for the first time

Which leads to the second truth bomb (surprisingly coming from Trump) and where I disagree with Clooney's position.

At a rally in Florida this week, Trump said this about Biden's choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate. (As an aside, part of this comment was directed at Republican VP candidate Marco Rubio, who was in attendance. It's kind of funny that Trump is implying he wants a non-threatening second choice. Sorry, J.D. Vance.)

“It's like an insurance policy, and it's great. Probably the best insurance policy I've ever seen,” Trump said of the choice. “If Joe had picked somebody half-qualified, they would have thrown him out of office years ago. But they can't do that, because she has to be their No. 2 choice.”

Don't get me wrong: I don't think that's why Biden picked Harris, and I don't think she's incompetent.

But the Democratic Party and America at large have treated her that way for a long time, and still do. Clooney, along with many others, proposes some kind of open race in which any Democrat who wants to run would have a chance. Call it “Survivor: Oval Office.”

We all know the list of people who want to run for president: Newsom (who said Wednesday he won't seek the nomination, which didn't sit well with me), Gretchen Whitmer, Josh Shapiro, JB Pritzker, Pete Buttigieg, etc.

We don't know much about any of them, good or bad. They may have supporters in their states, but that's it. No candidate is doing better in the polls than Harris. In fact, Harris is ahead of Biden in some indicators.

The reality is that if Trump remains the replacement candidate, rank-and-file Democrats will vote with Fish at the top of their list of candidates. All that matters is what independents and undecided voters in battleground states do. And I have no idea how these candidates are going to rally those voters. And frankly, even after this latest news, I still don't know if those voters want Joe out.

And here's the thing: There is actually a constitutionally mandated plan for what to do if the president is unable to perform his duties now or after November. It's called the vice presidency. Democrats are simply going to ignore it, just like they ignored Biden's withdrawal because it's inconvenient.

Two more truths to consider: Anti-black backlash against President Barack Obama is still raging, and the country still doesn't believe a woman can or should be president. Just ask Hillary.

There's a reason Biden, a safe white male, won the nomination in 2020. Let's call it what it is: racism and sexism.

No, not supporting Harris doesn't mean I subscribe to either cause. Like many, I have doubts about her for reasons of her policies, her record, and her overall awkwardness. And I'm a mixed-race South Asian woman. But there's another ugly truth that's widely believed, if only whispered: Democrats don't want to risk putting a Black South Asian woman at the top of their field.

Unless it's Michelle Obama or Oprah. The Obama-Winfrey combo is awesome.

But if you can't see and instinctively feel that there is bias against Harris, even within her own party, because of the color of her skin and her gender, then you are missing something fundamental.

To win and to serve

I have said before and I will continue to say: If we believe Biden is unfit to run for president, does that mean he is unfit to serve in the presidency?

Biden is not going to walk away from this campaign easily. The Biden family is built under pressure and knows how to withstand it: the deaths of his first wife and daughter in a car accident, his son Beau's death from cancer, his son Hunter's addiction. I remember this most recently when Jill Biden was leaving a high-profile state visit. A 72-hour trip to France in June Returning to Delaware to stand trial in Hunter's gun case, the Biden family stands united and will never give up.

Whatever Joe thinks he should do, it's clear in every sense that this is a race against time — and for once, time is on Biden's side.

The Democratic National Convention is just 39 days away, kicking off in Chicago on August 19th, and just a few weeks before delegates formally nominate him (or not), and once the nomination is in place, there's no going back.

If Democrats want to regain the trust of the American people, it won't be through a fierce last-minute battle for the nomination.

That will come through telling the truth, and for Biden, that means meaningfully proving he is the right man for the job.

For the rest of the party, that means letting the American people know what they have to do with the president, and moving forward in the line of succession (if necessary) without the horror that has brought the election and the country to the brink of chaos.

Must read: George Clooney: “I love Joe Biden, but we need a new candidate.”
The dam destroyers: Former Obama aide responds to George Clooney's op-ed about President Biden
LA Times Feature: Newsom has repeatedly said he supports Biden and will not run against Harris.

Stay golden,
Anita Chhabria

P.S.: We all need a break, so here's an animal story. A mountain lion jumped out of a tree and attacked a man while he was mountain biking on the Central Coast. The man survived without serious injury and reported the incident. However, DNA testing on the man's clothing revealed that it was not a mountain lion, but a regular house cat. Embarrassing story.

You can read the story here.

The author's cat stops on a walk to sniff some dried flowers

This cat is not the one that attacked the biker, he's just a nice looking cat.

(Emmanuel Roth)


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