Last week, like the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen fable, Fox News Host Rachel Campos-Duffy had the gumption to say out loud that Emperor Joe was wearing no metaphorical clothes. In addressing the collapse of leadership in Washington, Campos-Duffy asked, “Who are the people responsible for putting someone this incompetent and frankly this, you know, mentally frail in this position?”
Having dared to ask the obvious question, Campos-Duffy gave the obvious answer. “No one knew better his state of mind than Dr. Jill Biden,” Campos continued. “And if you ask me, the most patriotic thing Jill Biden could have done was tell her husband — to love her husband — and not let him run in this mental state that he’s in.”
In the Andersen fable, the boy’s fearful father tries to shame the boy into silence. Campos-Duffy got a dose of that. The shaming started at the top. “This is disgusting,” tweeted Dr. Jill’s press secretary. Singling out Fox News and Campos-Duffy, he concluded, “They can do better and their viewers deserve better. I hope they’ll apologize to the First Lady and leave this kind of talk in the [trash] where it belongs.”
Big Media, however, responded much like the crowd in the Andersen fable. They reacted first in shock but then quickly began to doubt themselves. The media churned out scores of huffy articles along the lines of “White House Demands Apology,” but if a journalist of note defended Biden’s mental acuity, I was unable to find that article. Not even at MSNBC did anyone dare lay the blame for Afghanistan on Biden’s stuttering.
Indeed, when the first honest account of this era is written, the historian will surely dedicate a chapter to the most daring and, unfortunately, most successful political confidence game ever run on the American people — the “stuttering” gambit. For more than two years, Democrats and their many friends in the media mesmerized millions of Americans into thinking that Biden’s obvious dementia was a speech defect. To give credit where it’s due, that was one hell of a con.
As 2019 neared its end, the con artists knew they had a serious problem on their hands. Their most marketable candidate for president had been showing increasing signs of cognitive decline. Headlines like, “Joe Biden nibbled on his wife’s finger in a bizarre campaign stop moment,” had them understandably concerned.
The problem had been building. Indeed, it was in 2017 that Biden told the world of his heroic showdown with gang leader “Corn Pop.” On that same day, Biden told a bewildered group of young black kids that, years earlier, kids just like them loved to rub his blond leg hairs. “I learned about kids jumping on my lap,” said Biden improbably at the conclusion of the hairy leg tale. “And I’ve loved kids jumping on my lap.”
By 2020, try as they might to “hide the decline,” his handlers were losing control. This is where the media came to the rescue. Writing in the January 2020 edition of The Atlantic, former Esquire editor John Hendrickson offered would-be Biden voters a way to deny the obvious. Yes, Biden’s first Democratic debate in July 2019 was a “disaster.” Yes, some of his answers had been “meandering and difficult to parse.” Yes, he seemed “confused and out of touch.” Yes, “His verbal stumbles have voters worried about his mental fitness.”
Being in on the con, wittingly or not, Henderickson threw Biden a lifeline — “Maybe they’d be more understanding,” he said of tentative Biden supporters, “if they knew he’s still fighting a stutter.” Yes, that was it, a “stutter.” Henderickson spoke with authority. He was a stutter survivor himself. Who dared contradict him? Sort of like FDR, thought the credulous reader, Biden had fought valiantly throughout his political career to overcome a physical handicap.
Big Media played along. “Joe Biden: first president with a stammer,” shouted a BBC headline after the Atlantic article. “Biden opens up about stuttering and offers advice to young people who stutter,” said CNN. In an extended interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Biden shared what CNN called his “vulnerable story.”
Of course, the more serious people in the media knew better. Stuttering could not explain why Biden bit his wife’s fingers on stage or told stories about his leg hairs. Democratic Party leaders were aware as well. Still, they calculated that Biden, although mentally unfit, was more sellable than the other losers left in the race, the prematurely socialist Bernie Sanders chief among them.
In February 2020, just before COVID changed everything, party leaders put their thumbs on the scale in favor of Biden. Certainly Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina did. As the Washington Post noted, “His emotional endorsement of Biden as Democrats’ proper antidote for the era of President Trump had earned him the title ‘kingmaker.’”
Throughout the 2020 campaign, there were no headlines like this one from the Los Angeles Times in 1987, “UCI Study Calls Reagan Intellectually Impaired.” What triggered the study was Reagan’s weak performance in his first 1984 debate against Walter Mondale, a performance that had the major media openly speculating about his mental fitness. The speculation was not unfair. By the end of his second term, Reagan was slipping, but even at the end, he was more mentally alert than Biden was at the beginning. What Reagan lacked was a media establishment willing to cover for him. Some sample headlines:
“Boy with stutter delivers emotional DNC speech after help from Joe Biden” — Guardian, August 2020.
“Biden’s Stutter: How a Childhood Battle Shaped Him” — Frontline, PBS, September 2020.
“Joe Biden’s Stutter Is His Superpower” — New York Times, September 2020.
The Times op-ed is particularly revealing. It shows how the alchemists in the Democratic-media complex managed to transform Biden’s leaden brain into a golden opportunity. “Even if Biden freezes up and slow-chops his answers on Tuesday, or says something that gets labeled a gaffe, it won’t hurt him,” wrote Timothy Egan. “More likely, it’ll help him. In the choice between an authentic man grasping for words or a preening fraud, the first will usually win.”
Last Saturday, Kathy McCollum showed just what she thought of the Times’ “authentic man” shtick. In one riveting phone call, the mother of slain 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum unraveled the whole cynical stuttering con. To those who voted for Biden, said McCollum, “You just killed my son with a dementia-ridden piece of crap who doesn’t even know he’s in the White House.” This time, no one dared say otherwise.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now widely available. See www.cashill.com for more information.