As Joe Biden sits in his basement watching daytime TV, enjoying his ice cream or pudding, his political handlers have two important tasks:

No. 1. At all costs, avoid debates with President Donald Trump, so Joe won’t reveal to the entire nation what many Americans with eyes can already see. The old Joe was a fabulist, a teller of wild stories in which he was always the hero. But he’s not even the old Joe Biden anymore, is he? And putting him in a debate would be disastrous for the Democrats.

And No. 2. Select a vice presidential candidate, someone who very well may become president soon after inauguration — presuming Biden is elected.

Which is why there are so many vice presidential trial balloons being floated with former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice’s name on them, since no one in their right mind would want Biden’s unsure, shaky hands on the levers of foreign policy.

And it’s all being done “by the book,” isn’t it?

“By the book” is the curious, or rather, damning phrase used by Rice in that now infamous White House email she wrote to herself on Jan. 20, 2017, some 15 to 20 minutes after Trump was inaugurated. She was no longer national security adviser.

Hers was a classic CYA email about the origins of the now-discredited Russia collusion fable that helped tear the country apart.

In that email she memorializes a Jan. 5 Obama White House meeting — with President Barack Obama, Biden, bosses of the CIA and FBI and others — that Republicans say unleashed the intelligence agencies to spy on an Obama political opponent.

The investigation was expertly leaked, allowing the Washington Beltway media to discredit Trump as some secret spy of Vladimir Putin’s.

My friend Charles Lipson, the political scientist, called it all a “Put-Up Job” in a recent column.

I call it a Chicago Way takedown.

But it was done, Rice wrote in her email, “by the book.”

The spine of that book is being unraveled now.

And as it unravels, the Washington media doesn’t seem all that interested in tugging at the embarrassing threads.

Conservative commentators are not alone in seeing things this way. Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi explained last year why the saga is so awkward for Beltway journalists.

What we do know is that in March 2017, Rice was asked whether the Trump campaign, including Trump, may have been investigated.

“I know nothing about this,” she told “PBS NewsHour.”

You knew nothing? Really? What about that CYA email?

Glenn Greenwald, who is by no means a conservative, has noted in the liberal-left news site “The Intercept” that “The powers of the security state agencies — particularly the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the DOJ — were systematically abused as part of the 2016 election and then afterward for political rather than legal ends.”

By the book, Susan Rice?

If Biden is elected, if the American people reward a Chicago Way takedown of a president — even one that half the country doesn’t like — it will all be papered over by the Biden administration and the next attorney general.

But before the election, America might want questions answered about Rice’s CYA email:

Whose A was she covering? President Obama’s, Vice President Biden’s? Her own?

There are many things about Rice that deserve close consideration if she is to be Biden’s choice as his running mate. The email is one of them. What she knew about Biden’s son Hunter’s lucrative dealings with China is another.

And I haven’t even mentioned Benghazi. The mere mention of Benghazi — where four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack on a U.S. government compound — drives the left into hysterics.

But hysterics notwithstanding, Rice was trotted out on the Sunday talk shows, to tell the nation another fib, that the attack in Libya had been triggered by a homemade video critical of Islam. The video wasn’t the reason.

Rice was playing politics by the book then too.

That’s another reason why Biden is being encouraged to skip the debates. Does Biden really want to answer questions about Rice, China, his son Hunter and the rest?

The worst thing that could happen in a debate is Biden staring into the camera with those dimming eyes and starting to stammer.

To avoid that possibility and give Biden cover, Democratic pundits now argue that presidential debates are unnecessary.

Wouldn’t Americans want to see his eyes, his face, as he answers tough questions? That goes for Trump too.

The latest voice in the cancel culture for Biden in debate is liberal Washington journalist Elizabeth Drew, who tells us in The New York Times that debates don’t make sense as a test of leadership, because too much attention is focused on snappy comebacks.

She doesn’t like party conventions, either. “There’s no reason not to throw the presidential debates on the trash heap of useless (at best) rituals that are no help in our making such a fateful decision.”

Is it best to let Joe hide in the basement with his pudding?

Move along. Nothing to see here. Toss the debates in the garbage. Forget bothersome questions about Susan Rice. Protect Joe.

Let’s just forget the whole thing.

And if Biden is elected, the scandal of the Obama administration using the powers of the intelligence agencies to spy on political opponents will be buried. And Joe will enjoy his ice cream or pudding as Susan Rice and the Obama crowd run the country.

At least Biden could do one decent thing:

Tell America that he’s found a delicious new flavor — Banana Republic.

Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin — at

[email protected]

Twitter @John_Kass


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