Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was more than a half hour late to his Friday address on the economy. He apologized, explaining that he was watching an interview of former defense secretary William Cohen and retired general Barry McCaffrey on the explosive Atlantic magazine report that President Trump had made horrific comments regarding our military. Biden was pugnacious — even angry — as he excoriated the idea that those who fought for their country were “suckers” and those who lost their lives “losers,” as Trump reportedly said.

“Let me be real clear: When my son was an assistant U.S. attorney and he volunteered to go to Kosovo while the war was going on as a civilian, he wasn’t a sucker,” Biden said. “When my son volunteered and joined the United States military as the attorney general and went to Iraq for a year ... he wasn’t a sucker.”

This was a righteously indignant appearance. Biden’s scorn for an unfit president poured forth: “If the statements are true, the president should humbly apologize to every Gold Star mother and father and every Blue Star family that he’s denigrated and insulted," he declared. "Who the heck does he think he is?”

Pivoting to the economy, Biden acknowledged that while many Americans had found work in the past month, the country still only recovered half the jobs lost. He described a “K-shaped” recovery in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That’s in keeping with “everything that’s wrong with the Trump presidency,” he said. He laid into Trump for “botching” the coronavirus response, pointing out that we are worse off than other wealthy countries because of Trump’s mismanagement. “You are not safer in Donald Trump’s America,” he said defiantly. He argued that Trump cares only about what is good for him and his rich friends: “We have a president who doesn’t see it. He doesn’t feel it. He doesn’t understand it. He just doesn’t care.”

Any job recovery is a good thing, Biden later said, but the anxiety and suffering of those who have lost jobs are overwhelming. “The measure of our economic success is the quality of life of the American people," Biden said. "And if our stocks soar as families teeter on the brink of hunger and homelessness — and our president calls that ‘success’ — what does that say about what he values?” He added a plea to the president: “Do your job. Get off your golf course and out of the sand bunker, call the leaders together in the Oval Office.”

In answers to questions from reporters, Biden also taunted Trump by asking whether the media had found “that plane” — referring to the bizarre story that Trump told this week in which he claimed a plane was filled with ninja-like figures traveling to the Republican National Convention. Asked about QAnon conspiracy theories, Biden suggested people who follow them should avail themselves of mental health care. (“I’ve been a big supporter of mental health. I’d recommend people who believe it should take advantage of it while it still exists under the Affordable Care Act.”) Turning back to Trump, who has declined to reject the conspiracy-mongering, Biden said, “It is absolutely damnable, and it’s a disgrace.”

Asked about Trump’s mocking his mask-wearing, he acknowledged, “It is hard to comment on something so idiotic.” He then explained he wears a mask because it is a matter of ”life and death" and because he listens to scientists.

He rejected Attorney General William P. Barr’s assertion that China is the greatest threat to the United States. Instead, he pointed to Russia, which intelligence officials reported last month is continuing efforts to try to manipulate U.S. elections. “Any attack on our elections is a direct attack on our sovereignty," he said. "And as president, we will respond.”

In response to Trump’s suggestion to vote twice even though it is illegal, Biden exclaimed incredulously: “It is! It is a felony. Look, how many times does this president have to suggest things and say things, where you all don’t just write, ‘He’s a fraud'?”

Biden reiterated that Trump’s comments were “sick,” "deplorable,” “un-American” and “unpatriotic” and scoffed at Trump’s insistence he had not dishonored the late John McCain. “It’s almost pathological,” he said.

It was a remarkable performance. If we saw the quiet, empathetic and nurturing Biden this week in Kenosha, Wis., this was the defiant, indignant and disgusted Biden who expressed the anger so many Americans feel toward Trump. The latter might be more impactful if only because we have rarely if ever seen Biden this angry.

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