On Monday, John Fetterman’s campaign desperately sought to lower expectations for their candidate when he faced off against Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz—even going so far as to suggest that they expected Fetterman to lose.

I can assure you they didn’t lower expectations nearly enough.

I watched the entire debate, and  I have to admit that I sometimes felt bad for Fetterman. I’m sure he expected to have bounced back from the stroke quicker and stronger than he has, but Tuesday night’s debate performance merely demonstrated just how far he has to go in his recovery. Without a doubt, Pennsylvania voters, and indeed the nation, saw firsthand that he is not capable of being a U.S. senator.

A condition of the debate was the allowance of a closed-captioning system to accommodate Fetterman’s cognitive impairments. The moderators were transparent about the system, but the system couldn’t help Fetterman articulate his positions clearly—at all.

From the beginning, it was clear that this was going to be a rough night for Fetterman, who opened up the debate by announcing, “Hi, goodnight, everybody.”

It got worse from there. “Hi, goodnight, everybody. I’m running to serve Pennsylvania. He’s running to use Pennsylvania. Here’s a man that spent more than $20 million of his own money to try to buy that seat. I’m also having to talk about something called ‘The Oz Rule,’ that if he’s on TV, he’s lying. He did that during his career on his TV show. He’s done that during his campaign about lying about… our record here,” Fetterman said, struggling to find the right words. “And he’s also lying probably during this debate. And let’s also talk about the elephant in the room. I had a stroke. He’s never let me forget that. And I might miss some words during this debate, mush two words together, but it knocked me down, but I’m going to keep coming back up. And this campaign is all about, to me, is about fighting for everyone in Pennsylvania that ever got knocked down, that needs to get back up, and fighting for all forgotten communities all across Pennsylvania that also got knocked down that needs to keep get back up.”

But answering questions was where he really struggled.

“We all have to make sure that everyone that works is able to,” he said. “That’s—that’s the most American bargain, that if you work full time, you should be able to live in dignity as well true.”

Are you following? It gets worse.

“And I believe they haven’t have any businusses being being. You can’t have businesses being subsidized by not paying… individuals that just simply can’t have avave [sic] to pay their own way.”

Other times, he seemingly blanked when asked to clarify his positions, such as his past opposition to fracking in 2018 versus his alleged support of it now.

Fetterman ought to have been prepared for a question about his refusal to release his medical records, and he botched that response as well.

When Dr. Oz brought up the incident where Fetterman chased down an unarmed black man, Fetterman also failed to respond in a meaningful way.

It was cringeworthy to see Fetterman unable to articulate a simple position, like what he would do about the rising cost of tuition. When asked, he replied, “I just believe. I just, making it that much. It-it-it costs too much. And I believe providing the resources to reduce the tuition allow families to be able to afford it.”

What does that even mean? Not much.

In the end, this was unlike any other debate I’ve ever seen. It was abundantly clear that John Fetterman’s cognitive impairment was an obstacle he couldn’t overcome. Despite the accommodations made for him, it was questionable whether he could comprehend speech, and he clearly couldn’t even speak coherently most of the time. In contrast, Dr. Oz was polished, no doubt benefiting from his years of experience as a television personality, but he was articulate when it came to discussing the issues. I can’t imagine that even Democrat voters who watched that debate felt confident that Fetterman can do the job.

I hadn’t seen Dr. Oz in action before Tuesday night, and I honestly didn’t think much of him before. After seeing his performance and his knowledge of the issues, I feel significantly better about his candidacy now.

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