During the predictions portion of the final CNN State of the Union panel of the year, senior political commentator Scott Jennings delivered a short and brutal smackdown of President Joe Biden that left the panel simultaneously gasping, groaning, and laughing nervously.
Watch as the man from Kentucky describes the president in equine terms, as aired on CNN State of the Union on Sunday, December 31st, 2023:
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DANA BASH: It- it is New Year’s Eve. Thank you for getting up early on New Year’s Eve. Let’s have a little fun and look ahead. We know the obvious things to look for in 2024. One thing, Kate, that we thought was noteworthy was the president, your former boss, was on his way back from vacation this morning and was asked what his new year’s resolution was, and he said, “to be back next year”.
KATE BEDINGFIELD: Well, we love a New Year’s resolution we can keep, right? The best resolutions are the ones you can keep. Look. It is absolutely going to be a rocky and challenging and close campaign. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I certainly don’t think anyone on the Biden operation has any doubt about that- it’s going to be a challenging campaign. But, you know, I do think it is true that voters have really not dialed in in the way that they’re going to over the coming ten months, as we get into the summer and then, of course, into the fall. So there’s an enormous amount of opportunity for the president and his team to chart a course for this race that puts it on ground that is beneficial to him. And I think that’s what he’s going to do.
BASH: We only have a couple more seconds. 2024
SCOTT JENNINGS: I don’t bet on politicians, only horses. I’m from Kentucky. I have to say. I have to say- this went- the president is not looking too good in the barn. So I don’t know if I would bet on him or not.
(GROANS, LAUGHTER, MORE GROANS)
BASH: All right. Well, we’re going to have to leave it there. Um. That was- that was rough.
And with those nine words, Jennings undid the entire panel segment- which was litigated on Democrat ground. The panel segment opened with discussion of Nikki Haley’s handling of the Civil War question in New Hampshire, then shifted to Chris Christie’s electoral prospects. Bedingfield exulted in Christie’s pilfery of President Joe Biden’s “soul of the nation” language in justifying his continued candidacy, and the panel generally groused over poll data suggesting that Christie’s presence in the primary helps former President Donald Trump in New Hampshire, contrary to the stated purpose of his campaign which he says is to “stop Trump”.
All the more remarkable is that Jennings deadpanned that line in response to former White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, who upon exiting the Biden Administration took the revolving door straight to CNN, subsequent to her dutifully rosy assessment of the year ahead for Biden.
In truth, the reaction to Jennings’ smackdown was more devastating than the smackdown itself. There was no attempt to defend Biden, whether on policy or on personal grounds. The gasps, groans, and nervous laughter were a silent concession to Jennings, and an admission that Biden is not, in fact, “looking too good in the barn”.
In the words of Dana Bash: “that was rough”.