President Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Opinion writer

I was busy scribbling up my piece on what I learned about the Democrats at my family barbecue in North Carolina when all hell was breaking loose on the latest “gaffes” from former vice president Joe Biden. I’m not even going to recount what they are. The Post’s Paul Waldman at The Plum Line did an excellent job reading everyone the riot act for focusing on this nonsense. He asks and answers his own question when he wrote, “What is the latest Biden gaffe supposed to tell us about what sort of president he’d be? Nothing.”

The whir of the “Biden gaffe machine” ginning back up is unmistakable. First, it starts with weak-willed Democrats audibly fretting about the health and mental state of the 76-year-old former vice president and senator from Delaware. And then they gin themselves up from zero to 60 by saying the party is doomed if Biden becomes the nominee.

I wrote a piece last week lauding Biden’s speech about President Trump and his role in giving safe harbor to white supremacy. Coming after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, I said, Biden reminded us of what a presidential president would sound like. A Twitter follower with “liberal” in her handle wrote, “He’s also claiming he was VP when Parkland happened. There are snippets in time where he sounds good, but the whole picture leaves much to be desired.” Then, Republicans, sensing Democratic discord, gleefully stir the pot.

Trump got in the act by questioning Biden’s capacity to lead. “Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president? We are ‘playing’ in a very big and complicated world,” tweeted Trump. “Joe doesn’t have a clue!” Meanwhile, in response to that same post about Biden, someone on Twitter who doesn’t even follow me responded, “Literally just this week from Biden,” before listing all of Biden’s vocal transgressions.

My response to both was the same, as it was when I was asked about the Biden issue on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” There is a racist sitting in the Oval Office implementing a white supremacist policy agenda. So, you focus on Biden’s mouth marbles, and I’ll keep my eyes on the prize. The prize being the eviction of Trump from the White House.

As Waldman also wrote, Trump “is waging a reelection campaign based on racism and fear,” not to mention being “the most prolific liar in American political history (he just passed 12,000 false or misleading claims).” And what makes the focus on Biden’s mouth extra aggravating is how it wipes our memories of the moronic things said by this president, as my follower @absolut_irish was so kind to remind Biden’s critics.

Some of these are funny. Some are worthy of a cocked eyebrow. But they are not nearly as consequential as the racist and white supremacist beliefs parroted by Trump and the right-wing echo chamber that found their way into the manifesto of the suspect in the El Paso mass shooting, who told police his target was "Mexicans.” The atmosphere of menace and danger is now indisputable. Your time would be better spent worrying about the shredding of our values, ideals and the rule of law than the flubs of a particular candidate who would put an end to this shameful chapter.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj. Subscribe to Cape Up, Jonathan Capehart’s weekly podcast.

Read more:

Paul Waldman: Lay off Joe Biden’s gaffes

Jonathan Capehart: Joe Biden reminded all of us of what a presidential president would sound like

Marc A. Thiessen: Biden is a gaffe machine. His segregationists comments are just one example.

Helaine Olen: Biden’s remarks to donors accidentally highlighted an important truth

Jennifer Rubin: This is Joe Biden’s real problem

Richard Cohen: Joe Biden reeks of insincerity