The media has begun to admit what has been obvious for years: President Joe Biden is in mental decline.
On July 9, Peter Baker, the New York Times’ White House correspondent, broke the mainstream media taboo against mentioning Biden’s increasingly shaky mental state with an article headlined: “At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency.”
“Some aides quietly watch out for him,” Baker wrote. “He often shuffles when he walks, and aides worry he will trip on a wire. He stumbles over words during public events, and they hold their breath to see if he makes it to the end without a gaffe.”
Those concessions have come at a time when Biden’s presidency is severely weakened and some Democrats have begun to turn on him, frustrated by, among other things, 9.1 percent inflation year-over-year, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and his failure to pass the transformative legislation he promised.
There remains significant media resistance to the idea that Biden’s mental abilities are even a legitimate topic of discussion. For instance, a May Bloomberg article called the assertion that Biden is cognitively impaired a “smear.”
Nevertheless, the past month has been filled with media admissions that perhaps the former vice president and senator from Delaware is not the man he once was.
On June 16, the Atlantic published an article by staff writer Mark Leibovich that argued Biden is too old to run for a second term. He couched that assertion by labeling claims that Biden is mentally impaired as “smears.”
“It all feels impolite to point this out—disrespectful, ageist, and taboo,” Leibovich wrote, “especially given the gross Republican smears about Biden being a doddering and demented old puppet.”
CNN’s Van Jones also admitted in June, “You wonder, is it just his stutter? Is he tired? Or something else there?”
“Democrats and the media suddenly discover the President is old,” concluded the Wall Street Journal on June 19.
Tucker Carlson argued in his monologue last Friday that these admissions are not the result of a change in Biden’s mental abilities but rather of Biden’s decreased political utility for progressives. The broken taboo is an acknowledgment of what has long been obvious.
“The fact that Joe Biden is president is an indictment of the media and the Democratic Party because they have known,” Carlson said. “Contrary to what they’re telling you now, Joe Biden’s decline, his full–blown senility has been obvious for more than three years.”
Carlson’s argument is backed up by the fact that Biden appeared so mentally impaired during his campaign — with endless gaffes, rambling statements, and off-the-wall assertions — that it’s not even clear the president’s mental abilities have declined since he won the Democratic nomination. No, the situation has been this dire for years.
Once he won the nomination, Biden limited his campaign appearances to the minimal number he could possibly get away with, the majority of which were beamed out of his Delaware basement. Many of those appearances were prerecorded and used a teleprompter. It was the ultimate controlled environment.
Even still, Biden was noticeably in decline in many of these video appearances.
On July 8, 2020, candidate Joe Biden appeared from his home to give a live, teleprompted speech to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He spoke incoherently, skipping essential words and appearing completely unaware of what policy he was professing devoted adherence to.
“Lonnie knows,” he said, “I believe this every fiber of my being: we’re posed — what, what I propose is, is it can be done. I think we’re in a position to really make it happen.… Look — I guess I’m, I’m getting, I’m, I’m taking too much time, but you know … ”
Then there was the totally embarrassing virtual rally in Tampa, Florida, on May 7, 2020. The Biden campaign team pulled it off the web soon afterwards because it was so wracked by technical problems and Biden’s incoherence.
The Republican Party of Florida tweeted following the event: “Problem with @JoeBiden is you can’t tell if it’s a bad feed during his virtual Tampa ‘rally’ or if he just sounds that way.”
When Biden is introduced for the virtual rally, he is standing far back from the camera, seemingly confused. After a few seconds of standing there, he begins walking forward and says, “Are you gonna introduce me? Am I on?” The technical issues continue throughout his remarks, which seem jilted even apart from the glitches.
Biden’s handlers likely rejoiced that the pandemic afforded them an excuse to keep him in his basement away from voters. In early March 2020, before the pandemic triggered lockdowns across the nation, an incident at a Michigan factory illustrated what could have been had the pandemic not kept the former vice president inside for much of the campaign.
An auto worker at the factory challenged Biden’s announcement that former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke would lead his gun control efforts. Biden’s response was to yell at the worker that he was “full of sh[**]!”
One Biden handler desperately stepped in to put an end to the situation, but Biden shushed her and put his hand in front of her face.
“I support the Second Amendment,” said a visibly agitated Biden, “and it’s like right now if you yell, ‘Fire,’ that’s not free speech, and from the very beginning I have a shotgun, I have a 20 gauge, a 12 gauge, my sons hunt. Guess what? You’re not allowed to own any weapons? I’m not taking your gun away, at all.”
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,” he continued, aggressively wagging his finger in the man’s face. “We’ll take your AR-14s away.”
The factory worker informed Biden that he was not OK with Biden’s aggressive gesticulation, but Biden only responded, “Don’t try me, pal.”
There are hundreds of other such examples. Candidate Biden showed a diminished ability to speak coherently, was prone to lashing out, and often was unable to arrange his thoughts. The classic signs of mental decay were all present.
Before Biden became the Democratic nominee, progressive silence on his mental decline was not set in stone.
In early March 2020, Jacobin, which better fits the ideological camp of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, published an article headlined: “Joe Biden Is Not All There Mentally. Running Him for President Is Incredibly Dangerous.”
It said, “Joe Biden’s boosters want to sell him as the safe bet against Donald Trump. But running a man in clear cognitive decline against a mean-spirited bully who relishes the exploitation of weakness is anything but safe — it would all but hand the election to Trump.”
In addition, during a September 2019 Democratic debate, then-candidate Julián Castro asked Biden, “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” In an interview with CNN after the debate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker went further, saying: “I think that we are at a tough point right now because there’s a lot of people who are concerned about Joe Biden’s ability to carry the ball all the way across the end line without fumbling…. There are definitely moments where you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder.”
Even Daily Show host Trevor Noah observed Biden’s decline in March 2020.
“This is not good,” Noah said. “Just in the past 24 hours, Joe has gaffed everything from the name of a TV anchor he was talking to, to the [D]eclaration of [I]ndependence.”
And yet, once it became clear that Biden would be the nominee, the media began to deflect any assertion of Biden’s decline, refusing even to engage the question. When GOP assertions of Biden’s cognitive decline grew, the strategy evolved into loud insistence that claims of Biden’s decline were part of a right-wing, ageist, ableist Russian conspiracy.
A May 2022 Bloomberg article by Jonathan Bernstein makes a prescient assessment of what it would mean if Biden is truly severely mentally impaired. The article asserts that it would have taken “a massive conspiracy” to shield Biden’s decline from the public for so long.
“Biden is also constantly in meetings with members of Congress (including Republicans), military leaders and independent civil servants, interest group and party leaders, governors and mayors, and foreign leaders of friendly and unfriendly nations,” Bernstein wrote. “To believe that he is impaired requires a belief in a massive conspiracy, in many cases against interest, by thousands of people.”
He’s right. Joe Biden is the president of the United States. If he’s severely mentally impaired, many people at the upper echelon of power know it. To cover up such a decline, a collective of people would have had to conceal it.
While his handlers, closest advisers, and family members are responsible for hiding away the president of the United States’ mental decline, the media is just as responsible for willfully refusing to entertain the possibility and smearing anyone who asserted Biden had cognitive issues.
From Biden’s nomination as the Democratic nominee to the recent breaking of the taboo against acknowledging the president’s mental decline, the media has been running interference for Biden to shield his impairment from the public for years.
In September 2020, Democratic strategist Michael Gordon wrote for Business Insider that the GOP’s strategy to focus on Biden’s alleged mental decline was a “huge mistake” because Biden could “easily refute” the theory.
Meanwhile, ABC News reported that same month that Russia was spreading “disinformation” that Biden’s mental health was in decline. The outlet reported that a Department of Homeland Security bulletin said: “Proxy websites have claimed that the candidates gaffes are symptoms of dementia, that he is mentally unfit for the presidency, and that he is unlikely to serve his full term due to his age.”
In October 2020, CNN host Jake Tapper blasted back at Lara Trump’s assertion that Biden was in decline, accusing her of “mocking his stutter.”
In November 2020, Forbes spun Biden’s incoherence as a disability with an article headlined: “What Joe Biden’s Speech Disorder Means For Young Americans With Disabilities.”
In February 2021, MLive’s Hannah Brock wrote an article titled: “Stuttering isn’t shameful; advocates wrestle with how President Biden’s speech impediment is portrayed.”
After Biden tripped on the steps of Air Force One in March 2021, the New York Times titled its article covering the incident: “Biden is ‘doing 100 percent fine’ after tripping while boarding Air Force One.” Conservatives pointed out the discrepancy between that headline and the one the Times gave Trump after he walked slowly down a ramp in June 2020: “Trump’s Halting Walk Down Ramp Raises New Health Questions.”
In April 2021, TIME magazine declared such attacks on Biden as “ageist” and said they “reinforce outdated stereotypes.” It added, “Experts say age-based attacks against Biden and others demonstrate how common ageist stereotypes are in American culture—to everyone’s detriment.”
In May 2021, Steve Chapman wrote for the Chicago Tribune: “The portrayal of Biden as pitifully clueless is particularly creative coming from people who shrugged off Trump’s fantastical claims, nonstop lies, strange mispronunciations and unhinged rants.”
In July 2021, the previously conservative Dallas Morning News published an article that pushed the line that Biden’s supposed mental decline was Russian propaganda. “Donald Trump needled Biden as senile throughout the 2020 campaign — tracking a line of propaganda peddled also by the Kremlin, according to U.S. spy agencies,” Todd J. Gillman wrote.
By August 2021, CNN’s Chris Cillizza declared that asserting Biden is in mental decline “is the sort of gross, lowest-common-denominator politics that drive people away from public life.” Cillizza continued: “If Republicans have some sort of proof that Biden is declining, they should bring it forward. If they don’t, they should stop doing what they’re doing. Immediately.”
The evidence is clear: The media looked the other way for the sake of electing and helping a Democratic president.
Now that the media is finally ending its enforcement of the now politically inexpedient fantasy that Biden is bright, energetic, and young for his age, we’ll have to wait and see if Biden can maintain enough of an appearance of mental acuity to make it to the 2024 election before Democrats invoke the 25th Amendment.