The Democrats are already dividing into two camps over Joe Biden’s mental fitness to hold office. One camp is clearly circling the wagons against attacks on Biden and his policies. The other, just as clearly, wants him to get out of the way before he drags down the ticket. That division also affects the Cabinet, still the only body that can judge Presidential ability – other than the President himself. But it could set a trap for Republicans, who must campaign as much against Biden’s policies as against the man.
Cause of the division: the Hur Report
Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report, as CNAV noted yesterday, has put President Biden’s physical and mental condition into stark relief. Mr. Hur didn’t even try to justify Biden’s wrongful appropriation, possession, and (mis)handling of classified information. All he could do was excuse the man from punishment, and even then he could not excuse what Biden did. His excuse amounted to: mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Tellingly, the White House continued to keep a full transcript of the report under wraps. But this much has leaked out:
We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory. Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him – by then a former president well into his eighties – of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.
Biden has seen fit to contest the report. At least his handlers have, but he clearly needed no persuasion to try to contest it. But his performance Thursday evening (February 8) was a disaster on several levels. Eerily paralleling Bill Clinton’s denial of improper conduct, he railed at reporters suggesting he shared classified information.
Plenty of evidence, including his ghostwriter caught deleting audio files – and the later recovery of said files showing Biden did share classified information – proves that Biden flat-out lied. Biden would have done better to shout,
I don’t know what I’m doing here! Won’t these people leave me alone?
Then one might in good conscious excuse him from punishment – so long as he told the world who has been handling him and why. But he’s totally down with The Program, so that will never happen.
Democrats circling the wagons
Naturally several Democrats want Biden to stay in office. Start with his wife, who doesn’t want to give up her First Lady trappings. Christina Laila at The Gateway Pundit covered a statement she posted to X. In it she tried to deflect from her husband’s misdeeds – and lack of capacity even to understand them. To do that, she mentioned their son Beau. She also flat-out lied about his capacity, trying to represent it as greater than it possibly could be.
Ms. Laila released further evidence the next day that this is not true. Biden spent the weekend in Delaware – and photographers caught his shuffling gait as he left a clothing store.
SecHomeSec Alejandro Mayorkas and Biden campaign co-chair Mitch Landrieu (no doubt part of the Landrieu Dynasty of Louisiana Democrats) actually called Biden “mentally sharp,” “tough,” “smart,” and “on his game.” They said that to a sympathetic outlet, Meet the (de)Press(ed). Landrieu also said the Hur Report contained “gratuitous, unnecessary and inaccurate personal remarks.” Furthermore he dismissed any sense that Biden was unfit for his job as a steaming, noisome quicksand field. That is to paraphrase him politely.
Mayorkas, of course, has his own conduct as SecHomeSec to defend. In Nuremberg defendant fashion, he disclaimed all responsibility for the spectacle of an open U.S. border. He also expressed no regret at Biden’s termination of Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.
For what it’s worth, Lanny Davis accused Robert Hur of speaking out of school – like James Comey.
Other Democrats not so sure
But other Democrats are not so sure. Hillary Clinton, for one, shared with MSNBC’s Alex Wagner her concern about his age. She went further – by revealing that it is a current whisper topic in the White House.
Of course, she called Trump’s age “a legitimate issue” as well. But not only is Trump four years younger than Biden, but he is not showing his age. Biden is. The problem with a doddering old fool is never that he’s old, but that he’s doddering. So it is with Biden.
Already at least some ideological fellow travelers – who are roughly the same age as he – begin to know it. Hanna Panreck of Fox News quotedThe New York Times, one of whose reporters spoke to some of them over the weekend. It pained them to say it – with one saying this election would be between “grandpa and crazy.” A few of them tried to deny it – saying no one who can still ride a bicycle can be that bad. (They neglected to mention that Biden fell off his bicycle – after stopping.) They also raised a repeated issue of society shoving old people aside merely because they are old.
But others did not deny it, and mentioned that the spectacle of Biden struggling, struck fear in their hearts.
He scares me. Watch how he walks — he walks like a guy who doesn’t have it anymore.
Dean Phillips, the one remaining primary challenger
And then there’s Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), the only primary challenger with whom Biden still must deal. A week ago he told The Guardian that he’s staying in the race as “a mission of principle.” When the Hur Report came out, he told Fox News Digital that, in essence, this was “it.” “Another sad day for America and particularly for President Biden and his family,” he said. Then he said something a good deal less charitable:
The Report simply affirms what most Americans already know, that the President cannot continue to serve as our Commander-in-Chief beyond his term ending January 20, 2025. Already facing the lowest approval numbers in modern history and losing in each of the key battleground states, this Report has all but handed the 2024 election to Donald Trump if Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee — and I invite fellow Democrats to face the truth.
The next day, he was back on Fox to say more:
Anybody who has their eyes open can see what’s going on. I think it’s a shame. I think it’s embarrassing. And I think it’s sad. And I think it’s a shame for a president who could cement a legacy, pass the torch and do what’s best for the country. It’s not just about him.
At least one other liberal, Bill Maher, has been sounding alarms about Biden for two years. The release of the Hur report allows him to claim vindication, according to Fox. Most recently, Maher compared Biden to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Just as her death paved the way for Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Biden’s obvious lack of capacity will pave the way for Trump to come back. In fact, Maher said flatly the Democrats should “switch him out at the convention.”
Those Democrats, in and out of office, trying to excuse Biden’s signs of incapacity, are largely self-serving. One other such Democrat bears mention: Ana Navarro of The View. Yesterday she posted a meme to Instagram showing a Margaret Atwood-style handmaid telling others that she voted against Biden because he was too old.
In a comment elaborating on the post, she said this:
There are two older men running for President. (If you think R’s will nominate Haley or that Dems will replace Biden, you are smoking some good [hallucinogen]).
Biden & Trump are 4 years apart. Biden mis-speaks. Trump says stupid, crazy, inaccurate and mean stuff DAILY.
Only one of those men – Biden – is actively working to give Americans more rights – to vote, to love who they want, to make their own reproductive choices, to live free of institutionalized racism and bigotry, to read books, to learn history, to represent American diversity…
I’ll say it again. Those are your two choices. That’s it. Anyone basing their choice on an age difference of 4 years needs their head examined.
Even she couldn’t defend Biden as a good performer – but only, apparently, as her ideological champion. Lay aside for a moment the horror of those ideologies. The abortion regime alone recalls radio personality Arch Oboler’s “Laughing Man” sketch ending with a chem-bio warfare attack against children.
Again, the Democrats don’t want to abandon that ideology. But a significant number of them want to abandon the man before he drags them down. (Is Dean Phillips self-serving? Or, from a Democrat’s point of view, is he in the race to save the cause? You decide.)
Republicans have a problem of their own, as Susan Crabtree hinted at. If Biden goes, all the old stumble-bum jokes go with him. They must, therefore, campaign on ideology. In that sense, with friends like Alejandro Mayorkas, the Democrats need no enemies. (Or else they are their own worst enemies.) That’s why Republicans must campaign as much on ideology as on the diminished capacity of the enemy’s (for now) chosen champion.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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