Biden admits to seeing doctor after debate debacle

Ahead of the NATO summit next week in Washington, D.C. a defensive Biden White House tried to project an image of stability even as Biden himself confirmed in a meeting with Democratic governors that he sought the attention of a doctor following his degraded debate with ex-president Donald Trump.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden, June 2024. [AP Photo/Alex Brandon]

In a statement Thursday, White House spokesman Andrew Bates confirmed that Biden was seen by a doctor “to check on his cold.” During the debate—as it became immediately clear that something was clearly wrong with the confused, halting and hoarse president—multiple media outlets, citing anonymous sources close to the White House, began reporting that Biden was suffering from a “cold.”

Bates statement directly contradicted several answers given by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in the press briefings held immediately after the debate and this week. In response to questions from reporters last Friday and on Wednesday, Jean-Pierre denied that Biden had seen a doctor in the lead-up to or after the debate.

“We were able to talk to his doctor about that. And that is a no,” Jean-Pierre said Wednesday in response to a question from a reporter if Biden had undergone testing after the debate. Asked again later in the press conference if Biden had been seen by a doctor since he was allegedly suffering from a cold, an incredulous Jean-Pierre responded:

He did not. He did not get checked out by the doctor. It’s a cold, guys. It’s a cold. And I know that it affects everybody differently. We’ve all had colds, and so no, he was not checked by the doctor.

A crisis atmosphere hangs over the White House. Previously loyal Democratic Party donors, politicians and media outlets continue to defect from Biden’s re-election campaign and demand the president withdraw from the race.

The Economist became the latest elite publication to call on Biden to withdraw, once again citing the danger a befuddled Biden poses to US imperialism.

The Economist wrote:

Should someone who cannot finish a sentence about Medicare be trusted with the nuclear codes? … Representing America abroad, Mr. Biden will project decrepitude—to the delight of China and Russia and the dismay of America’s allies.

Rep. Seth Moulton (Massachusetts) became the third House Democrat to publicly request that Biden call off his campaign, joining Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva. While not yet calling on him to step aside, Democratic Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Washington) both declared this week that if Biden remains the nominee he will lose to Trump.

PBS political correspondent Lisa Desjardins reported Thursday after speaking with a dozen Democratic lawmakers that there were “two movements to write letters asking the president to step aside as the nominee.” Desjardins said the letters would be from more senior lawmakers as well as “frontline” politicians running in contested districts. While she was unable to say how many would support a letter, at the moment she claimed “scores” are hoping Biden steps down.

Damaging leaks focused on Biden’s frailty and mental deterioration flowed following the meeting with governors in the White House Wednesday. The major capitalist press outlets each reported on the meeting, which featured 22 Democratic governors appearing either in-person or online. In-person attendees included, but were not limited to, Gavin Newsom (California), Kathy Hochul (New York), Wes Moore (Maryland), Tim Walz (Minnesota) Josh Green (Hawaii) and Andy Beshear (Kentucky).

The New York Times reported that Green of Hawaii, himself a physician, asked Biden questions about his health, to which he reportedly replied that he was fine, adding, “It’s just my brain.” The Times reported that “some in the room took [this] as a joke but at least one governor did not and was puzzled by [the remark].”

In the same report, the Times wrote that Biden told the governors he “needs to get more sleep and work fewer hours, including curtailing events after 8 p.m.”

An unnamed governor told Politico after the meeting, “Trust me, the governors I know are not supportive and want a change.”

In addition to Democratic politicians, many worried that Biden’s decline will hamper their re-election prospects, the calls for Biden’s departure are also coming from Democratic-aligned billionaires. The financial oligarchy, while pleased with Biden’s Wall Street-friendly record, his unstinting support for the genocide in Gaza and the US-provoked war in Ukraine with Russia, which threatens humanity with a nuclear holocaust, is worried that his mental degradation cannot be hidden from the public any longer and he will lose to Trump.

Trump is seen by large sections of the ruling class as not only less reliable on prosecuting the war against Russia, but also incapable of containing the explosive class tensions within the United States. Sections of the ruling class fear that an empowered Trump, granted official immunity by his hand-picked Supreme Court, will provoke a massive response in the working class which will spiral out of his, and the Democratic Party’s, control.

To this end, a growing number of millionaires and billionaires, the core base of the Democratic Party, are publicly withdrawing financial support. On July 3, Deadline published an open letter from wealthy Hollywood showrunner Damon Lindelof, a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party. Lindeolf proposed a “DEMbargo. No checks written. NoActblue links clicked. For anyone” until the Democratic Party removes Biden from the top of the ticket.

Also on Wednesday, in an email sent to the New York Times, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings called on Biden to “step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous.” The paper noted that Reed and his wife Patty Quillin have given over $20 million to the party in the last few years, including over $1.5 million to Biden’s 2020 campaign.

In an article published July 4 by the Times, headlined “Major Democratic Donors Devise Plans to Pressure Biden to Step Aside,” the newspaper reported that “many wealthy Democratic donors are trying to take matters into their own hands.”

The Times continued, “Wielding their fortunes as both carrot and stick, donors have undertaken a number of initiatives to pressure Mr. Biden to step down from the top of the ticket…” It noted that Gideon Stein, “a donor and operative with deep connections in Democratic politics, said his family was withholding $3.5 million in planned donations... unless Biden stepped aside.”

Other plans outlined by the Times included the creation of a $100 million “Next Generation PAC” that will be used to support the replacement candidate or down-ballot Democratic races if Biden does not step aside.

CNBC reported on Thursday that Abigail Disney, an heiress to the Disney family fortune, would be pausing donations to the party until Biden is removed.

“I intend to stop any contributions to the party unless and until they replace Biden at the top of the ticket. This is realism, not disrespect. Biden is a good man and has served his country admirably, but the stakes are far too high,” she wrote in a statement to the organization.