Plenty of Questions. Far Fewer Answers.

I fully realize an awful lot of people are panicked after the events of Thursday night.  That hue and cry grew only louder when a far more robust and hale version of the man who stuttered and fumbled his way through 90 embarrassing minutes proudly and defiantly addressed a partisan crowd yesterday which HUFFPOST’s S.V. Date reported on:

Just hours after a disastrous debate performance that led to immediate calls to abandon his reelection campaign, President Joe Biden on Friday made clear that he had no intention of dropping out.  One Biden campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had a two-word answer to the calls that he step aside: “Absolutely not.” Biden did not address the issue directly at his rall ybut referenced it after conceding that Thursday night’s CNN debate with former President Donald Trump had not gone well. 

“I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” he said. “I don’t walk as easily as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know, I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”

I’m glad he thinks so.  But we know that millions of people vehemently disagree with his self-assessment, and we’ve yet to see what proportion of those who may have held similar views may have changed their opinion based upon what they saw.  What we do know is that at least of a few crucial members of that partisan crowd are at least wavering, as ROLLING STONE’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Andrew Perez  reported:

Nine sources across the Democratic elite — lawmakers and aides on Capitol Hill, longtime party operatives, moneymen, and even current Biden officials — watched the debate in horror, and relayed their candid assessments and visceral panic to Rolling Stone in real time. All feared Biden’s performance at the debate could help hand the federal government back to an increasingly authoritarian and openly corrupt Trump and his MAGA zealots. Each one conceded it might be best if the sitting president were not the 2024 nominee, and wondered if, as one Democratic lawmaker put it, an “intervention” should be staged as soon as possible to push the White House to get Biden to step aside.

To be fair, nine is hardly a statistically viable sample size; heck, it’s not even enough for a synogague prayer quorum.  But we at least know that number and the source.  The Biden campaign responded Thursday night with an even more ambiguous statement suggesting that “internal tracking had shown that independent voters reacted more favorable to what Biden said that Trump”.  It is certainly possible for real-time reactions to be captured and its data sliced and diced; I’ve personally done enough far less consequential research over a matter of hours that can provide projectable, reliable results.  One would think that given the degree of panic and doubt that most media outlets reported, some even grudgingly, this might have been a time to provide somewhat more detail than just that throwaway statement.

But what else could be expected from a campaign that, knowing full well the hornet’s nest they themselves demanded they be thrown into, didn’t demonstrate enough attention to detail to challenge the firehose of lies and hyperbole that spewed from their opponent’s scowling mouth?   And as VARIETY’s Todd Spengler reported, they knew full well that that responsibility lied with them:

The format for the debate, in which CNN moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash would act as facilitators and not step in as fact-checkers, was agreed to by both Trump and Biden camps…”CNN’s moderating decisions damage the credibility of our profession,” Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah wrote on X. “CNN’s format of no fact checking, no pushback, no follow-ups was a mistake. The Biden campaign agreeing to this was a mistake.

But Spengler also reported how CNN saw this and, honestly, I can’t argue with their viewpoint:

CNN, facing an avalanche of criticism for letting false claims by Donald Trump go unchecked during Thursday night’s debate with President Trump, defended its decision to not intervene to correct misstatements live on-air.

In a statement to Variety, a CNN spokesperson said, “The role of the moderators is to present the candidates with questions that are important to American voters and to facilitate a debate, enabling candidates to make their case and challenge their opponent. It is up to the candidates to challenge one another in a debate.”

Again, we don’t have the right to expect answers to legitimate questions.

And, frankly, given what I received in my inbox overnight, I now know this truth more clearly than ever.  This was the actual wording of what hit my inbox at 1:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time:

Hello Steven,

Thank you for your interest in joining the Target team! We know that every career decision is an important one, and really appreciate that you took the time to consider a career with us.

We wanted to let you know, however, that the hiring team has not selected you for further consideration for this role.

Though we’re unable to provide specific feedback regarding your candidacy, please know that we value you as a candidate and encourage you to keep an eye out for future opportunities at target.com/careers. We’ll also keep your resume on file and reach out if we notice that you may qualify for additional roles.

We wish you success in your career search and hope that we’ll have the opportunity to consider you for another role at Target in the future.

Replies to this message are undeliverable.  Please do not reply. 

I should give a little context.  I went down to my nearby store in person when I learned of an immediate availability.  A representative for the on-site HR person met me and directed me to the online portal which exclusively handles this process, a byproduct of the pivot away from in-person interviews during COVID.  When I expressed surprise this was still their way of doing business, the explanation I was offered was that in order to minimize potential interviewer bias, candidates are now processed via webcam recordings to six specific questions, asked robotically by what I can only assume is at least an actual Target HR representative.  I never actually met one, so I honestly can’t be sure.

Instead of having the chance to actually have someone get a feeling for who I am and my passion, or to respond to direct questions, this methodology reduces the selection process to little more than an audition tape, and absolutely no feedback, or even the chance for it.  And absolutely zero explanation where they felt my candidacy was deficient.

And so, for the 1307th time in the last 48 months (yes, I’m counting, primarily for legal reasons), I came up empty in my quest for a decent full-time job.

I, too, could defiantly and confidently assert that “I know what I do know, I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”  But you and I both know that won’t change the outcome of my ongoing predicament.

And if that’s the kind of world that we now live in, with so many of those that rabidly still support him in line with the concept of a dehumanizing two-dimensional experience, I guess they shouldn’t have expected Joe Biden to actually ask questions in real time when he effectively had his own version of an audition tape.

So I sure hope they won’t be surprised when despite all of their enabling and bravado, their assertion that “we’ve all had bad days”, things may ultimately not turn out the way they might otherwise expect them to.  Just like I learned yet again.

Well, Joe, if all else fails, maybe you’ll fare better when you apply to Target?

Until next time…

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