It almost feels unseemly to post about a candidate's mental or cognitive struggles, but this man wants to be president and is in a position to win a key primary in a few days. It's no secret that Joe Biden can be forgetful; he has repeatedly misidentified the state in which he's campaigning, including just last week. As I've written previously, he seems to have lost several steps when it comes to mental acuity and the ability to form full sentences. Brit Hume, a frequent guest on my radio program, has stated on several occasions that Biden is fighting off senility. This assessment always makes me wince, and stirs some sympathy for the man, but it's increasingly hard to argue with Hume's diagnosis. Here's the latest example (see update -- some people are arguing the clip has been taken out of context), from a South Carolina event:
He straight-up asks the audience for their support in his run for "the United States Senate." I'm sure he grew accustomed to repeating that sentence over the course of his career, having run for the Senate seven times. But he hasn't been a member of that body for more than a decade. If he weren't so prone to such mistakes, this could be chalked up as a simple slip, but his problem is that it's not an aberration. As for "the other Biden," I think he meant to say "the other guy, give me a look," but he said "buy" instead of "guy." But that might be a generous interpretation. Why harp on what could easily be dismissed as an insignificant blip?
There's a new burst of commentary about how Joe Biden is perhaps the only "moderate" lane candidate who has what it takes to stop or slow Bernie, all of Mike Bloomberg's money notwithstanding. If there's going to be a culling, it needs to happen soon, so why not clear that part of the field for the guy with the most name ID and strongest polling position against Trump? There are plenty of reasons why each rival campaign would push back hard on such suggestions, and none have indicated any interest in doing so (Amy Klobuchar is rolling out a strategy that seems designed to hang around as long as possible, without any clear plan for actually winning). But setting aside any of the other reasons, why would someone who sees himself or herself as a natural potential inheritor of Biden's support, should the former Vice President implode, get out of the race?
Biden's campaign has come close to collapsing already (a non-win in South Carolina would likely be a death knell), and he keeps having 'senior moments' that very much cast doubt on whether he's equipped for a grueling campaign, let alone the job that would possibly follow. The theory of Biden is compelling. The reality of Biden is something very different. So ahead they all march, to the delight of Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, Biden keeps doing things like this, further underscoring my point, but from a slightly different angle:
This looks like a false memory or a made-up story along the lines of Hillary Clinton's infamous 'Tusla Dash' whopper from the 2008 campaign. Biden is no stranger to exaggerations and dubious boasts, a predilection that pre-dates any issues related to his advanced age. In other words, advancing an evidence-free, "ridiculous" claim about this supposed Mandela-related arrest was, in some ways, 'Joe being Joe.' Add in the cognitive problems, and Biden -- despite being the strongest against Trump head-to-head -- very much looks like a risky proposition. I'll leave you with a glimpse at the latest polling out of South Carolina. Team Biden is hoping the PPP outlier ends up looking good on Saturday night:
UPDATE - Some people are arguing that this snippet is out of context, and that Biden regularly recites his old stump speech from his Senate days as an example of actively asking for people's support. I wanted to give you this perspective and information: