The Most Uncomfortable Debate You May Ever See
Fetterman vs. Oz was painfully cringe
At The Spectator, my reaction to the John Fetterman debate with Dr. Oz:
This was a travesty. Fetterman is a fairly typical Bernie Sanders-adjacent Democrat, known more for his populist-left tendencies on the economy and policing than for joining in the aggressive culture war that inhabits the left at the moment. As such, he could have been a senator with some interesting policy proclivities. But now, he is a shadow not just of his past self but of anyone at all, more fit to greet the incoming purchasers at the Pittsburgh Walmart in a halting fashion than decide any policy matters at the heights of government.
Why would any campaign with any respect for their candidate participate in this farcical display that undermines trust in democracy? Why would any spouse go along with this in a way that could do real damage to the future psyche of her husband? Was this some desperate attempt to rope-a-dope Dr. Oz into seeming too aggressive against a sympathetic figure?
If so, it failed. Time and again in the debate, it seemed as if Dr. Oz pulled his punches out of sympathy, cutting his critiques short lest he seem overly aggressive against a man who, despite having been offered everything the campaign demanded in terms of computers and closed captioning, could barely string words together in a coherent fashion.
What is stunning about all of this is that it could have been avoided. Fetterman’s stroke came before his Senate primary election was decided, and given the weak performance of the rather nutty GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano (the primarily Skype-based candidate trails his opponent Josh Shapiro in fundraising by a mere $45 million), there is an absolute possibility that someone like Democratic representative Conor Lamb could be winning at this moment. But Fetterman held on, with assurances from those around him to Democratic voters that he would be capable of performing come the fall.
This has been backed up more recently by the complicit leftist media, which dogpiled NBC News reporter Dasha Burns for daring to suggest that Fetterman had difficulty with questions and struggled to understand small talk in her recent interview. Rebecca Traister of New York magazine, Kara Swisher of a million podcasts, Molly Jong-Fast of someone-who’s-wasting-their-money: they all claimed that Fetterman was fine, just fine, and maybe it was Burns who had problems with small talk. They all now look like useful idiots — and there’s no defense for this level of partisan spin. The man can barely function, and everyone with eyes can see it.
For Republicans and Dr. Oz, the race had been trending in their direction even prior to this debate — but rather than right the ship, the choice by Fetterman’s team to force their candidate out on stage is political malpractice that will in all likelihood doom their effort.
There are limits to what voters will do when they are choosing the right person for the job. The lust for power is a dangerous thing, but it is particularly dangerous when it requires you to break faith with the ones you are supposed to love and cherish — and whose health should, by all rights, come first. Some things are worth more than Senate seats.
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Josh Kraushaar on Democrat reactions.
Multiple sources wondered why Fetterman agreed to debate when he clearly wasn’t ready. Fetterman struggled at times to respond to the moderators' questions, even with the assistance of a closed captioning device.
"Why the hell did Fetterman agree to this?" one Democratic lawmaker and Fetterman backer told Axios. "This will obviously raise more questions than answers about John's health." …
Another Pennsylvania Democratic official worried: "Everyone is nervous. I've traveled everywhere. Fetterman is a deep concern. And this debate will only increase it."
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), on CNN: "It's sad to see John Fetterman struggling so much. He should take more time to allow himself to fully recover. "
Other stalwart Fetterman defenders argued that, despite the debate stumble, they gave him credit for at least showing up.
A senior Democratic official in Pennsylvania told Axios: “I wished Fetterman was in a better place to clap back. Overall, I argue it wasn’t great for us but still a draw. Remember in these next few weeks that Oz’s campaign is spending tens of millions of dollars against a man with a major medical condition.”
A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted before the debate found that 46% of respondents believed it's important for candidates to address Fetterman's health.
It's hard to see how Fetterman's debate performance alleviated the concerns of the skeptics.
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