Star Tribune opinion editor's note: Following President Joe Biden's recent debate performance, many newspaper editorial boards have expressed opinions about his capacity both for beating Donald Trump in the November election and for serving an additional four years. Some, like us, urged Biden and his allies to make an honest appraisal of a continued candidacy. Others, like the Editorial Board of the New York Times, called straightaway for Biden to step aside. On Wednesday, ahead of a long holiday weekend in which further developments seemed possible, a Times news article reported that Biden was considering doing so. The White House denied that. You'll know as you read this what, if anything, has happened since. The production of this article was completed ahead of the weekend.

Most of the editorials alluded to Trump's continuing unsuitability for the presidency. We on the Star Tribune Editorial Board took our first crack at asking him to step aside during his first presidential campaign, in 2016, following the revelations of the Access Hollywood tape. (Republicans seemed to share the concern then, ever so briefly, before falling into a rarely remitting lockstep.) We've registered many objections to his leadership since.

Amid the recent reactions to Biden's performance, the Editorial Board of the Philadelphia Inquirer thought the broad point about Trump's unsuitability was worth stating more prominently. We republish that response below.


President Joe Biden's debate performance was a disaster. His disjointed responses and dazed look sparked calls for him to drop out of the presidential race.

But lost in the hand-wringing was Donald Trump's usual bombastic litany of lies, hyperbole, bigotry, ignorance and fearmongering. His performance demonstrated once again that he is a danger to democracy and unfit for office.

In fact, the debate about the debate is misplaced. The only person who should withdraw from the race is Trump.

Trump, 78, has been on the political stage for eight years marked by chaos, corruption and incivility. Why go back to that?

To build himself up, Trump constantly tears the country down. There is no shining city on the hill. It's just mourning in America.

Throughout the debate, Trump repeatedly said we are a "failing" country. He called the United States a "third-world nation." He said, "we're living in hell" and "very close to World War III."

"People are dying all over the place," Trump said, later adding "we're literally an uncivilized country now."

Trump told more than 30 lies during the debate to go with the more than 30,000 mistruths told during his four years as president. He dodged the CNN moderators' questions, took no responsibility for his actions and blamed others, mainly Biden, for everything that is wrong in the world.

Trump's response to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection he fueled was farcical. He said a "relatively small number of people" went to the Capitol and many were "ushered in by the police."

After scheming to overturn the 2020 election, Trump refused to say if he would accept the results of the 2024 election. Unless, of course, he wins.

The debate served as a reminder of what another four years of Trump would look like. More lies, grievance, narcissism and hate. Supporters say they like Trump because he says whatever he thinks. But he mainly spews raw sewage.

Trump attacks the military. He denigrates the Justice Department and judges. He belittles the FBI and the CIA. He picks fights with allies and cozies up to dictators.

Trump is an unserious carnival barker running for the most serious job in the world. During his last term, Trump served himself and not the American people.

Trump spent chunks of time watching TV, tweeting and hanging out at his country clubs. Over his four-year term, Trump played roughly 261 rounds of golf.

As president, Trump didn't read the daily intelligence briefs. He continued to use his personal cellphone, allowing Chinese spies to listen to his calls. During one Oval Office meeting, Trump shared highly classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.

Trump's term did plenty of damage and had few accomplishments. The much-hyped wall didn't get built. Infrastructure week was a recurring joke. Giant tax cuts made the rich richer, while fueling massive deficits for others to pay for years. His support for coal, oil drilling and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement worsened the growing impact of climate change.

Trump stacked the judiciary with extreme judges consisting mainly of white males, including a number whom the American Bar Association rated as not qualified. A record number of Cabinet officials were fired or left the office. The West Wing was in constant chaos and infighting.

Many Trump appointees exited under a cloud of corruption, grifting and ethical scandals. Trump's children made millions off the White House. His dilettante son-in-law got $2 billion from the Saudi government for his fledgling investment firm even though he never managed money before.

Trump's mismanagement of the pandemic resulted in tens of thousands of needless deaths. He boasts about stacking the Supreme Court with extreme right-wingers who are stripping away individual rights, upending legal precedents, and making the country less safe. If elected, Trump may add to the court's conservative majority.

Of course, there were the unprecedented two impeachments. Now, Trump is a convicted felon who is staring at three more criminal indictments. He is running for president to stay out of prison.

Trump allegedly stole classified information and tried to overturn an election. His plans for a second term are worse than the last one. We cannot be serious about letting such a crooked clown back in the White House.

If anything, Trump doesn't deserve to be on the presidential debate stage. Why even give him a platform?

Yes, Biden had a horrible night. He's 81 and not as sharp as he used to be. But Biden on his worst day remains light-years better than Trump on his best.

Biden must show that he is up to the job. This much is clear: He has a substantive record of real accomplishments, fighting the pandemic, combating climate change, investing in infrastructure and supporting working families and the most vulnerable.

Biden has surrounded himself with experienced people who take public service seriously. He has passed major bipartisan legislation despite a dysfunctional Republican House majority.

Biden believes in the best of America. He has rebuilt relationships with allies around the world and stood up to foes like Russia and China.

There was only one person at the debate who does not deserve to be running for president. The sooner Trump exits the stage, the better off the country will be.


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