Democrats will be OK if they want to

Bad debates happen, as Joe Biden’s supporters say. But that wasn’t a debate. Biden stood there in an apparent cloud of fatigue, while Donald Trump lied his way throughout, ignoring the uncomfortable questions, of which there were several.

Biden says he’s staying in the race, and for Democrats, that should be that. Here’s what his campaign should do:

Let the ads do the talking. Biden has the money to run a marathon of ads touting his achievements and highlighting Trump’s lack of same.

Compare Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill to Trump’s plodding parade of infrastructure weeks that the former president couldn’t get into first gear. Let’s see the bridges under repair, lead pipes being replaced, high-speed internet being expanded and airports getting dragged into this century.

We don’t just elect a president; we elect an administration. For example, Biden’s super competent Commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, is overseeing the CHIPS Act, putting America on track to excel in the semiconductor race with China.

On a related topic, Biden has presided over the creation of 15 million jobs. The U.S. added 272,000 jobs in May alone, according to J.P. Morgan, “sharply beating expectations.”

Stock prices under Biden are hitting records never seen in Trump’s term. The numbers don’t lie.

As for national security, Trump ran through five secretaries of Defense. One of them, Gen. James Mattis, said “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

Flatter veterans as he tries, Trump can’t hide his contempt for Americans who serve in the military. Asked in the debate about the crude things he’s said on this subject, Trump lied about not having said them.

It’s true that Trump didn’t want to visit the graves of American soldiers buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France, saying, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” And it’s true that he referred to the 1,800 U.S. Marines killed in World War I’s Battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” and “losers.”

The source of that quote? A retired four-star general.

Trump went to Arlington Cemetery with his secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, to see the gravesite of Kelly’s son, Robert, who was killed in Afghanistan. Trump surveyed the field of buried U.S. servicemen and told Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

As president, Trump called former President George H.W. Bush a “loser” for being shot down as a Navy pilot in World War II. And his denigration of war hero John McCain, mocking the sacrifices he made was, simply put, disgusting.

Kelly, himself a retired four-star Marine Corps general, said this about Trump: “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”

Biden’s ads could write themselves.

On the subject of aging, Democrats should fight fire with a firestorm. Trump is already running ads of Biden looking feeble. Run ads of Trump not only sounding utterly incoherent, but also old. There are lots of videos showing Trump barely able to walk on stage without help.

There’s no sugar-coating Biden’s dismal debate performance. And there’s no denying that he has slowed down with age. But there’s also no doubt that his accomplishments put Trump’s in the shade. The Democrats should both fight and explain.

Americans love stories of defeat turned into victory. Bill Clinton did fine as “The Comeback Kid.” Right? Let’s call Biden “The Comeback Elder.”

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at [email protected].