The Lede

O.J. Simpson, who ran to fame on the football field, made fortunes as an all-American in movies, television and advertising, and was acquitted of killing his former wife and her friend in a 1995 trial in Los Angeles that mesmerized the nation, died on Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas.

~New York Times/April 11, 2024

Ernest Hemingway was found dead of a shotgun wound in the home in Ketchum, Idaho.

~New York Times/July 3, 1961

James Dean, 24, one of Hollywood’s brightest new motion picture stars, was killed early last night in a head-on-collision at the rural town of Cholame, 19 miles east of Paso Robles, the California Highway Patrol reported.

~Los Angeles Times/October 1, 1955

Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, who built a global reputation on anti-Communist investigations, died tonight of a liver ailment at the age of 47.

~New York Times/May 3, 1957

For those unfamiliar with newspaper lingo, a “lede” is defined as “the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article, summarizing the most important aspects of the story.”  The lede in the above obituaries would be much different if Simpson had not been tried for murder, Hemingway had not killed himself, Dean was a more careful driver and McCarthy had a few less drinks with Roy Cohn. I first started thinking about the lede in Joe Biden’s obituary during the following exchange during his interview with George Stephanopoulos.

And if you stay in, and Trump is elected, and everything you’re warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?

I’ll feel, as long as I gave it my all, and I did the — good as job as I know I can do — that’s what this is about.

Imagine if Stephanopoulos had reframed the question.  “If you stay in, and Trump is elected, and everything  you’re warning about comes to pass, what do you think the first sentence in your obituary would say.”  It might read something like this, assuming the New York Times and Washington Post survive a second Trump administration.

Joe Biden, 46th president of United States, after successfully ending Donald Trump’s chaotic and controversial first term, insisted on running again at the age of 81, opening the door to an even more turbulent era in which American democracy. as we once imagined it, is forever changed.

A potentially accurate, but sad commentary on the life of a man who dedicated 52 years of his life to service of his country and its citizens.  Joe Biden deserves better.

I am not foolish enough to predict what the outcome of a Biden/Trump contest will be.  But I think I have finally made my choice whether Biden should stay in or hang it up.  If Trump is going to win, which of course I hope he does not, Biden should not be the person to give the concession speech. Or have to apologize to his supporters even if, as he said, “…gave it my all.”

Biden  has nothing to apologize for and it has nothing to do with returning civility to the presidency.  Or his leading the nation out of the worst pandemic in a century.  Or his record of bipartisan, consequential legislation.  I believe his most significant accomplishment was defeating Donald Trump at the ballot box, and by doing so, exposed Trump as the most dishonest, narcissistic and un-patriotic person to ever hold public office in this country.  The folks who need to apologize are all the members of the U.S. Senate, and especially Mitch McConnell, who had a chance to convict Trump and ban him from any role in the nation’s political future.  Instead, in light of everything they saw and knew, they chose to ignore the obvious.


Joe, if I may, let me speak to you directly.  You said it yourself.  On December 7, 2023, as you left the podium following remarks urging Congress to support the security aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, you were asked about your candidacy in 2024.  You replied, “No, I’m not the only one who can defeat [Trump], but I will defeat him.”  As you walked out the door, you turned and added there were “probably 50 Democrats” who could beat him. 

One of those 50 Democrats, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared on today’s edition of “Morning Joe.”  Mika asked her to complete the sentence, “If Donald Trump wins…”  She did not hesitate.  “If Donald Trump wins, America has failed.”  The only way Trump returns to the White House is if a majority of voters in battleground states do not know or appreciate what the American experiment was all about.  Thomas Jefferson’s admonition, “The government you elect is the government you deserve,” will be more prescient than ever. Joe, do not let those voters off the hook.  Do not be their scapegoat.

And if a Democrat wins, you will be lauded for making the right decision, putting party and country before your personal interests.  In that situation, I would be honored to write the lede for your obituary (sometime far in the future).

Joe Biden, 46th president of the United States, twice at the end of his political career guaranteed the United States envisioned by the Founding Father survived the attempt by a demagogue to transform our democracy into a dictatorship.  First, by defeating Donald Trump for president in 2020 and then by wisely making room for others to carry that torch.

But just in case you’re wondering, if you are at the top of the ticket, I will enthusiastically vote for you.

For what it’s worth.

3 thoughts on “The Lede

  1. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. The likelihood of a split part at the Convention will be national suicide.

    1. My thoughts, too, Bob.
      As much as I wish it wasn’t so!
      Right now, I think it’s all magical
      thinking by the Democrats and never-Trumpers that this is an opportunity to undo the results of the primaries where, way back then, everyone wished for a more “energetic” candidate to build up momentum.
      The fears about Biden’s weak points (nobody is perfect, after all) are the same as they were the day before the debate! If he had performed better in that one face-off, I dare say there would be virtually the same amount of hand wringing going on. Because, fundamentally, we are in the same place!
      It’s a waste of precious energy to continue to focus on that singular event and only distracts undecided voters from seriously reviewing their options based on the records and personalities of these two candidates!
      I keep thinking about historical precedence and my magical thinking that perhaps “what we don’t know, can’t hurt us”.
      For example, I read that when Woodrow Wilson had a stroke, its severity was kept from the public and that to a large degree, his wife was the de facto president.
      Extreme measures were taken to underplay and hide FDR’s disabilities from polio! (If television had already become the standard medium, he may well have never been elected). It’s frightening to me to imagine the outcome of WWII with a different Commander-in-Chief!
      It’s also quite possible that Reagan was already exhibiting the signs of Alzheimer’s while still in office tat were judiciously kept out of public view!
      While I am all for transparency, what I am arguing is that allowing the “hive mentality”, whose consensus is likely to be based more on form and appearance than substance and track record, to be the ultimate arbiter of fitness to even run, can lead to terrible unintended consequences!
      With the bulk of the electorate seemingly more interested in watching an exciting mud-wrestling match than judicious consideration of the choice of leader, at least until
      election day, I believe greater risk is to change the lineup this late in the game. (Apologies for my mixed sports metaphor!😉)
      P.S. On a more specific point, to vent about one of my pet peeves, I think it borders on cruel to continuously focus on Biden’s verbal gaffes and speaking style. I believe that his status as a stutterer plays a much greater role in his speaking style than is recognized! (Most of us wouldn’t have the guts to even enter the arena. Yet, it seems so easy to take cheap shots at those who do.).

  2. Dr, pls send your blogs on this topic. to Biden’s advisers. They could benefit greatly by your brilliance!

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