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JULY 6 2024

Biden's Performance... and Mine





"The Presidency is a performance." That was the last thing that Lawrence O'Donnell, the MSNBC host, said months ago when there started to be talk of finding another Democratic Presidential nominee. O'Donnell spent a whole program piling up evidence to convince his viewers that replacing Biden as the nominee would be a catastrophe. It seemed strange to me that he ended on that note, because President Biden has never been a consistently good performer.

The Presidency is a performance. This seems to me an important and profound statement. Any position of leadership has an aspect of performance to it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential performer. He'd give a rousing speech that filled the audience with optimism and strength at moments when all looked grim. Then he'd roll back into the White House drained, exhausted by his effort. FDR's upbeat cheerfulness was an important aspect of his leadership. He gave people hope.

Joe Biden has done good things. He has been a far better President than I expected. I'm grateful for the landmark environmental bill, for support for Ukraine. The economy is doing well. All the statistics say that, despite the inflation.

But Biden has not been able to CONVINCE the majority of people that the economy is doing well.

He convinced the leaders of Western Europe to support the Ukraine. But he has not convinced Americans that the economy has recovered.

Part of being President is convincing the people that you have done good things. Biden has not been able to do this.

The Presidency is a performance.

Early in the Democratic primaries in 2020, Biden repeatedly came in last. It wasn't that he didn't win. He was last. I never understood why the Democratic power structure continued to support the worst performer. The seeds of that disastrous "debate" with Trump, which we just witnessed, were planted then. There were many good candidates in the primaries. The Big Dems didn't have to switch their weight to Bernie, who was certainly the best performer. They could have switched to someone milder, more compliant. But no, the Big Dems remained committed to one of their own. I'm looking at you, Rep. Pelosi.

In the end of the 2020 primaries, the Big Dems succeeded in shoving Biden down our throats. That's how I felt about it. I did everything I could, from my bluest of blue states, to elect him. I have been surprisingly satisfied with him -- except of course for his shameful failure to stand up to Netanyahu and stop delivering Israel the means to slaughter innocent Gazans.

But even so, I was completely willing to throw myself into the Biden campaign, because Trump would be horrific on the issue of Gaza. No question he would happily give Israel the means to slaughter all Palestinians in Gaza AND the West Bank. Genocide of shithole people? That's Trump's kind of foreign policy!

But Biden's performance in the special debate that he himself requested was unforgivable. I cannot forgive him.

Biden gave 82 a bad name.

Hey, I'm 77. I'm only five years younger than Biden. I have friends who are 82. Even older! I have a friend who's 90 who's completely on the ball. Biden's performance was inexcusable.

It's not a matter of how good a President Biden has been.

It's not a matter of how much better even a senile Biden would be, compared to Trump.

It's a matter of his ability to get himself elected,

when his opponent is the quintessential performer.

And I don't believe that's a possibility.

Even if Biden never fails again,

video clips of this debate will be shown

incessantly by the Trump campaign.

So now all the Democrats are in despair. We all fear the certainty of losing to Trump. Some of us fear the certainty of losing if Biden is the candidate. Some of us fear the certainty of losing if Biden is NOT the candidate. But we all see the Doom of Trump barreling towards us and we are terrified.


I perform at 5pm on Sunday. I woke up Sunday in despair, as did many people. But I knew I could not perform from the place of despair. I had a job to do. I had to become Lorena Hickok at 5pm and tell her story, in the deepest, most vivid way possible, to whoever showed up to hear it.

I struggled to push away my despair. In the end, I performed the entire play in my living room, as a way to build my concentration. That helped a lot.

Once I got to the theater and was in the dressing room, I felt fine. Theaters and dressing rooms are rarely lovely places. By definition, they have no windows or sunlight. But if you are a theater person, you are always at home in this (usually black) space. You are happy to be doing your work.

The audience that night was... how can I describe it? Disjointed, scattered in its response. "Audience" is singular. And indeed the audience somehow forms a unit during the performance. Two weeks ago, it was a totally silent unit -- but still a unit. This audience was not a unit. There would be a laugh here, a laugh there, a rustling in the back. I think these people, like me, were trying to concentrate, to turn away from the despair they also felt during the day.

When the play ended, many stood to applaud me. I felt good that we had joined together to contemplate Hick's world, Hick's story for an hour and a half.

And then a bunch of audience members and my stage manager and I went across the street to Aslam Rasoi and ate delicious Indian food and had a damn good time. And I went home to bed, feeling the satisfaction of doing a good job and the warmth of companionship and told myself I would probably feel despair again but not now, not that night. That night I was happy and satiated and I went to sleep.

All for now, Bloggellinnis. Below is info on HICK: A Love Story. ONLY TWO MORE WEEKS! Terry


Terry Baum in


Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's 2336 Letters to Lorena Hickok




"Valiant, valuable & vivid." -- Baltimore Sun

"A solo performance full of love, pain and eloquence. Baum is mesmerizing."

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