Joe Biden’s abysmal performance in last month’s debate with Donald Trump “was a crystallizing moment for some Biden backers, who said it caused them to reassess previous interactions” with the 81-year-old Biden, a July 8 Wall Street Journal analysis noted.

The debate “caused many people to piece together gnawing concerns about Biden’s mental acuity they had long harbored,” the report added.

Donald Trump said that Joe Biden looked ‘extremely pale’ on the debate stage. He was a very pale man, to put it nicely. I don’t know, maybe it was a good makeup job, maybe it wasn’t a good makeup job.”

But for those outside the dominant political-media culture, the most important question that still can’t be raised in polite society was underscored in bold: Who is in charge in what is still the most important and consequential nation on Earth?

Even as Biden’s deterioration became quite evident to anyone watching, his staff attempted to hide it by carefully scripting all of his public appearances while relying on a compliant legacy media to assure Americans that Biden was, as Joe Scarborough put it, a completely “cogent” individual who “is so sharp and he’s on top of everything.”

The June 24 debate completely shattered the facade, leaving even some on the Left to ask “who is really running the country.”

People close to Biden are blaming a handful of advisers “for putting in place a strategy that minimized” Biden’s age-related struggles,” the Journal wrote.

Those advisers include Anita Dunn, who is responsible for the White House’s communications strategy, along with Steve Ricchetti and Mike Donilon, decades-long political counselors.

Biden allies outside the White House also pointed to lesser-known aides who have served as gatekeepers for the 81-year-old, including Annie Tomasini and Anthony Bernal, close confidants of Biden and first lady Jill Biden, respectively. The White House didn’t make Tomasini, Bernal, Dunn, Ricchetti or Donilon available for comment.

Donald Trump has said that he doesn’t think Biden will quit the race.

“It’s hard to give it up that way, the way they’re trying to force him out,” Trump said, adding that Jill Biden as well as Hunter Biden are dedicated to making sure Joe continues to the DNC and on to November.

“It looks to me like [Biden] may very well stay in. He’s got an ego and doesn’t want to quit. I think Jill would like to see him stay, she’s having a good time.”

And then Trump came out with the most newsworthy comment: “I’m hearing Hunter is calling the shots,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a phone interview on Monday evening.

Reflect on that statement in light of what is now on the public record as documented in voluminous and graphic detail on the laptop of none other than Hunter Biden hinself.

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As for being on stage with Biden during the debate, Trump said, “Within minutes I could tell this was not going to be a good night for Joe Biden.” He added that Biden looked “extremely pale” on the debate stage. Later, Biden seemed to take on a more tintend glow. “He was a very pale man, to put it nicely,” Trump said. “I don’t know, maybe it was a good makeup job, maybe it wasn’t a good makeup job.”

Axios reported that Hunter Biden has indeed become his father’s “de facto gatekeeper for longtime friends.”

The news comes after NBC News reported last week that Hunter Biden was attending official White House meetings as the family seeks to grab the reins of power away from advisers who they feel have damaged Joe Biden and whom they suspect of leaking to the media.

Joe often refers to his son — who has a history of using prostitutes, belonging to sex clubs, and recording many of his alleged illicit activities on camera — as the “smartest guy I know.”

In its report, the Journal noted that those close to him say that Biden “has moments where he is sharp and detail-oriented. At other times, he is forgetful, stumbles over words and struggles to convey his thoughts. Those kinds of slip-ups have become more frequent.”

Some who have spent time with Biden after not seeing him for a while said they were surprised by how much he had slowed.

Many Democrats have said they are worried that the nation sees Biden as unfit for another four years and that his staying in the race is a drag on other Democrat candidates.

Obama White House adviser David Axelrod said that the governors of Michigan and New Mexico have sounded the alarm that Biden is losing these states and could even lose reliably blue strongholds.

“There are certain immutable facts of life,” Axelrod said in an interview with CNN while discussing Biden’s age and leadership. “Those were painfully obvious on that debate stage.”

Axelrod added that Biden “just hasn’t come to grips with it. He’s not winning this race.”

Jill Biden slammed reporters when they asked her about the number of calls from Democrats wanting Joe to withdraw. She was walking out of a coffee shop in Florida when she was approached by the press.

“What is your message for House Democrats who are calling for your husband to drop out of the race?” a reporter asked as she was leaving the shop. The reporter added, “How are you feeling about the state of the race?”

Jill Biden took pause and then scolded the reporter, “Why are you screaming at me? You know me. Don’t scream at me.” She did not stop to answer the questions from the reporters at the time before getting into a vehicle.

[H/T World Tribune]

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