Trump Wasn't the First to Wonder About Biden's Mental Acuity
As "Joe Biden" and "senility" become twins in voters' minds, like macaroni and cheese, Biden got into a verbal brawl with a Michigan autoworker, telling the younger man he was "full of s---" and threatening to "go outside" and settle their differences on the Second Amendment.
Just like that, #BidensCognitiveDecline was trending on Twitter, and it became a disaster, with Biden defenders in hysterics, blaming it all on the work of Russian bots and/or President Donald Trump.
I figure that many Democrats and liberal pundits -- from Sen. Cory Booker to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell and Joe Scarborough -- were trying to forget that in the past several months, they've wondered aloud if Biden, 77, frail, rambling and in obvious decline, is fit for the presidency.
"I just wonder," Scarborough asked after a particularly disastrous Biden debate performance months ago. "Are we afraid to say that a lot of his sentences don't make sense, that he's having trouble completing his thoughts?"
If Democrats weren't afraid then, they're afraid now.
That autoworker didn't want Biden, if elected president, to take his guns away. Biden said he wouldn't take anyone's "AR-14" (there is no such weapon), but Joe must have forgotten he'd recently embraced Beto O'Rourke in Texas, saying Beto would handle the "gun problem" for him. In September, Beto said loudly, in a presidential debate, that he'd happily take Americans guns by force.
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," said O'Rourke.
That kind of talk is music to the ears of the anti-Second Amendment left and to much of the media, which leans left. But it's trouble with working-class union voters in key electoral-rich states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio. Biden's confrontation with the autoworker, babbling about "AR-14s," will become a recurring theme in Trump political commercials in the fall.
As Joe lost it with the autoworker, you could see a Biden campaign aide panicking behind him, but by then it was too late and #BidensCognitiveDecline was a thing. If only she had a blanket or a bushel basket to put over his head. But she didn't.
The Democratic Party establishment will limit Biden's exposure to journalists and protect him from Bernie Sanders, 78, who does not show any signs of faltering. Over Sanders' objections, the March 15 CNN debate format had been shaped to favor Biden. The candidates will sit down rather than stand toe-to-toe. Due to the coronavirus, there will be no live audience, and they will take questions, whether from the public or from journalists had not yet been established.
Given Biden's victories in Michigan and Missouri on Tuesday night, I would be surprised if he will debate anyone.
But never fear, my liberal friends, if you're looking for talking points to defend Biden, they were set forth in the left-leaning Politico, just before Joe went off on the autoworker.
Naturally, it's all Trump's fault.
"Trump and GOP mount coordinated campaign to paint Biden as senile," went the headline.
The subhead was pure pro-Joe: "The president settles on a schoolyard strategy to take out his likely general election opponent."
It is true that Trump has pushed the theme of Biden's mental fitness relentlessly. But it is also true that Democrats and media, stunned by Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, pushed the theme of Trump's mental fitness relentlessly, publicly discussed whether Trump was insane, and openly advocated using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from the presidency. That failed.
Trump finds a weakness and picks at it. In this he's no different from Barack Obama or the Clintons. You may not like it. But you may have heard of it. It's called politics, and it ain't beanbag.
Yet now, predictably, Democrats and media allies are blaming Trump for daring to bring up Joe's apparent lack of sharpness.
Is that a fact? Or is it the truth? "We choose truth over facts," Biden said in Iowa.
But what is the truth?
The truth is that Trump isn't the first to pick at the Biden weakness. Democratic candidates and pundits could see Biden slipping. Booker, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Scarborough, Mitchell, and on and on, all at one time questioned whether Biden had the mental acuity. But now the party and pundits fall in line, to protect their access to power. This, too, is politics.
Not everyone agrees with me. For balance I called on Michael Golden, a center-left Democrat and the author of "Unlock Congress."
He's run tough campaigns. And he thinks there was a time when Biden's gaffes mattered, when swing voters mattered. But he doesn't think swing voters matter as much as they once did. It's all about tribes now.
"Voters' passionate support for Biden or Trump won't be the reason one of them wins," Golden said. "Negative partisanship and the turnout it drives on each side will decide this election. If Democrats' recent wins in the midterms and in state elections in Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Pennsylvania are any indication, then negative partisanship and demographics were always going to matter far more for them in 2020 than any missteps by Joe Biden."
I respect the analysis, but I think swing voters still matter. And that they care about the mental state of their president.
I'm not mocking Biden. Those of us who have parents of his age and older know what we're looking at. It happens slowly. But it happens. Not to everyone. It doesn't happen to the lucky ones. But it happens.
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