Science & Technology

Outside the Box: The New York Times Dismisses a President

In “Outside the Box,” I interrogate ChatGPT to better understand how AI “reasons.” This week, ChatGPT provides some useful help in understanding the institutional implications of Joe Biden’s disastrous performance in Thursday’s debate.
Joe Biden

Joe Biden is disappointed of the election. Editorial Cartoon or Political Cartoon. Announcing results vote president of the United States of America. The 46th US President election day is NOV 3, 2020 © ann131313.s /

July 01, 2024 06:08 EDT

Last week, Joe Biden, by being true to himself, finally convinced the pillars of the Democratic party that their champion was no longer capable of defending their colors. Among those taken by surprise was the Gray Lady, The New York Times (NYT). I immediately shared my impressions with ChatGPT.

“The New York Times editorial board has lost confidence in the candidacy of incumbent President Joe Biden. It insisted that he abandon the race in favor of a candidate with a better chance of beating Donald Trump in November. It expressed this particular point of concern with regard to Trump: ‘If he is returned to office, he has vowed to be a different kind of president, unrestrained by the checks on power built into the American political system.’”

This is undoubtedly true, but how can NYT’s editorial board not have noticed that all recent presidents, and especially Biden, have acted in a manner “unrestrained” by America’s traditional checks and balances? Biden is the latest in a series of presidents who have involved the US deeply in expensive wars without respecting the provision in the Constitution (Article One, Section Eight) that empowers Congress — not the executive — to declare war.

The issue is even more complex than the declaration of war. It should also call into question the right of the executive to control with total opacity a covert army, which is what the CIA became shortly after its creation. Shouldn’t anyone truly interested in the respect of democracy’s checks and balances also be concerned about that historically significant erosion of checks that Biden is currently exploiting, in defiance of public opinion itself?”

I expected this complex question to provoke a lengthy, carefully reasoned response. I wasn’t disappointed. ChatGPT acknowledges a trend that has not only reduced the authority of the Constitution and undermined democracy itself, but also significantly weakened the standing of the US, long considered the “leader of the free world.” Here it is in full:

The New York Times editorial board’s concern about Donald Trump’s potential return to the presidency reflects a broader anxiety about the erosion of checks and balances in American governance. However, as you’ve pointed out, this erosion is not unique to Trump. In fact, recent presidencies, including Joe Biden’s, have also displayed tendencies to bypass or stretch traditional checks and balances, particularly in the realm of foreign policy and military engagement.

The Broader Erosion of Checks and Balances:

1. **Presidential War Powers:**

  • **Article One, Section Eight** of the U.S. Constitution explicitly grants Congress the power to declare war. However, since World War II, presidents from both parties have increasingly engaged in military actions without formal declarations of war by Congress.
  • **Biden’s Military Actions**: President Biden’s decision to continue supporting Ukraine amidst the Russian invasion and engaging in conflicts in the Middle East, largely without formal Congressional approval, exemplifies this trend. The U.S. involvement in these areas is often justified under broad and somewhat vague authorizations like the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11, which many argue have been used beyond their intended scope.

2. **Expansion of Executive Power:**

  • **Historical Context**: The trend toward greater executive authority isn’t new. It has been escalating over decades with presidents using executive orders, military interventions, and intelligence operations to expand their power.
  • **CIA and Covert Actions**: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has often been used for covert operations without direct Congressional oversight or public transparency, contributing to the executive branch’s unchecked power. This practice dates back to the Cold War and has continued through various administrations.

3. **Legislative and Judicial Responses:**

  • **Congressional Abdication**: Congress has often ceded its war-declaring powers to the executive branch, either through broad authorizations or by failing to assert its constitutional role effectively.
  • **Judicial Review**: Courts have occasionally challenged executive overreach, but often deference to the executive in matters of national security limits the judiciary’s ability to enforce checks on presidential power.

The Specific Case of Biden:

  • **Ukraine and Middle East**: Biden’s administration has committed significant military and financial resources to Ukraine without explicit Congressional approval, relying instead on previous authorizations and budgetary allocations. Similarly, Biden’s handling of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East demonstrates the executive’s continued latitude in military affairs.
  • **Public Opinion**: Polls and public sentiment have shown mixed reactions to these engagements. Some Americans support these actions as necessary for global stability and U.S. interests, while others view them as overreach and prefer a more restrained foreign policy.

Addressing the Editorial Board’s Perspective:

The New York Times editorial board’s criticism of Trump for his potential future unrestrained actions is valid, especially considering Trump’s previous disregard for institutional norms. However, their argument could be seen as somewhat narrow if it does not also address the broader trend of executive overreach that spans multiple administrations.

Key Points of Reflection:

  1. **Consistency in Critique**: Any discussion about checks and balances should consistently address the actions of all recent presidents, including Biden. Highlighting Trump’s potential threats without acknowledging Biden’s and previous presidents’ actions could seem partisan or selective.
  2. **Long-term Trends**: The erosion of checks and balances is a systemic issue that requires attention beyond the tenure of any single president. The editorial should consider the historical context and the cumulative impact of these actions.
  3. **Policy and Public Debate**: The question of executive power and its limits should be a central topic in public and political discourse. Encouraging a bipartisan and comprehensive debate on the appropriate scope of presidential authority could foster more effective checks and balances.


The New York Times editorial board raises important concerns about the potential dangers of a Trump presidency. However, a nuanced and comprehensive analysis would also acknowledge that the problem of executive overreach is not confined to Trump alone but is a broader issue affecting the integrity of the American political system. To truly uphold the system of checks and balances, it’s crucial to scrutinize and address the actions of all presidents who have expanded executive power at the expense of Congressional authority.

The NYT has never shown a serious interest in these fundamental questions concerning the integrity of democratic institutions. It prefers focusing on the one issue that all proponents of establishment culture agree on: Trump’s obvious failings and his exaggerated propensity for telling untruths. One of those failings, in the eyes of the editorial board, has been his reluctance to intervene in wars abroad. The NYT typically supports any military initiative made by the Democratic presidents it systematically endorses. But it signs onto wars launched by non-Trump Republicans with equal enthusiasm.

The Gray Lady did more than any other US media to justify George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. It did so by publishing every carefully fabricated CIA lie “fit to print.” We might also remind ourselves that a certain Joe Biden, as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, “played a critical role in ensuring America’s involvement in the most disastrous foreign policy venture of the 21st century.” In other words, the NYT and Biden have typically been on the same side of the issues. That is why it is truly embarrassing for Biden to lose the support of the NYT five months before his planned re-election.

Joe Biden’s commitment to belligerence in both Ukraine and the Middle East have caused a serious deterioration of US prestige across the globe. His visible cognitive decline that was on display in last week’s debate provides the clearest illustration of the decay. And not just of the man’s cognitive faculties or even of the office of the presidency, but of something much more historically significant: the accelerating collapse of both US hard and soft power.

The unprecedented success of US soft power in the aftermath of World War II drew its energy from the image projected by its dynamic democratic institutions and its economic might. Those institutions were led and symbolized by presidents who projected — though sometimes deceptively — a sense of moral power. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter and Reagan, even when they made mistakes, seemed to embody values that earned the world’s respect. Even Nixon left an impression of strength. The two presidents on stage last Thursday encapsulate what the world now sees as the inexorable decline into irrelevance of US soft power.

Even the NYT seems finally to be aware of the symptoms, if not the reality of that decline. In contrast, ChatGPT appears capable of discerning the historical and institutional paradoxes the NYT prefers to ignore.

Your thoughts

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these points by writing to us at We are looking to gather, share and consolidate the ideas and feelings of humans who interact with AI. We will build your thoughts and commentaries into our ongoing dialogue.

*[Artificial Intelligence is rapidly becoming a feature of everyone’s daily life. We unconsciously perceive it either as a friend or foe, a helper or destroyer. At Fair Observer, we see it as a tool of creativity, capable of revealing the complex relationship between humans and machines.]

[Lee Thompson-Kolar edited this piece.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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