Late last week, we showed you well-known Bernie Sanders supporter and 'The Young Turks' founder Cenk Uygur going nuclear on Joe Biden, suggesting that the former Vice President may be senile. "Watch any of the tapes," he exclaimed, adding that Biden's "mental faculties are under question." Whether Team Bernie is simply getting desperate -- and who could blame them at this point? -- or they're genuinely worried about Trump capitalizing on Biden's allegedly diminished cognitive capacity, hammering on this issue clearly is not taboo anymore. It's out in the open:
Democratic insiders know Biden has cognitive decline issues. They joke about it. They don’t care.— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) March 6, 2020
It's a tricky topic because discussing it feels unseemly and unkind, but it's also a real and sometimes glaring concern about the likely Democratic nominee. Here's mega-star podcaster Joe Rogan, a Sanders endorser, playing audio of Biden failing to recite part of the Declaration of Independence, calling it a very serious problem:
Brutal pic.twitter.com/KxdiuhCaQ3— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 8, 2020
"He can't be president...listen, we can't play any games here, folks. This is a really old man who can't talk. Like, this is not a joke...this should get you into a mental hospital. They should be like, 'hey Joe, are you alright?' He had three strokes while he was saying that. He shouldn't be doing this anymore."
I'll point out that Bernie is actually older than Biden and recently suffered a heart attack, but Rogan is mostly talking about Biden's mental acuity. And that was before this clip went viral:
okay—this is not good pic.twitter.com/9hPfMBLAhV— James Poulos (@jamespoulos) March 8, 2020
I watched this video over the weekend, and it looked to me like someone stumbling into a teleprompter tangle, rather than being unable to understand the words he's saying. The longer clip is more forgiving, but I'm not sure it's the full exoneration that Josh Jordan suggests in this tweet:
If you watch this video in full, you notice that both Trump and Sanders people have spread it around with that last sentence chopped off to make Biden say something he didn't say.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 8, 2020
Almost as if Donald Trump is engaging in fake news, amirite? pic.twitter.com/IDJ5Xn2DUg
Yes, it was a teleprompter misfire, and the additional context shows that Biden wasn't saying that Trump needs to be re-elected, which should have been obvious. And as someone who occasionally reads from a teleprompter on television, I can confirm that it's harder than it looks, and once you've blundered into an error, it can be tricky to correct it and move on cleanly. That's what appears to have happened to Biden here. But the trouble for the Democratic frontrunner is that these incidents aren't stand-alone or isolated. They're part of a larger pattern, and it's not insane or conspiratorial to notice that pattern. Beyond typical Bidenesque gaffes and residual effects from his stammer (which he admirably overcame), Biden's speeches and events are peppered with mangled sentences, slurred and non-enunciated words, and lost trains of thought.
But this is what Democratic voters have chosen. Two men in their late 70's -- one of whom suffers from the aforementioned struggles, and the other whose radicalism appears to be a bridge too far even for a leftward-lurching party. Meanwhile, here's Bernie whining on ABC News that "the establishment" somehow "forced" Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg out of the race to help prop up Biden, ahead of a crucial slate of primaries:
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday results: "One of the things I was kind of not surprised by was the power of the establishment to force Amy Klobuchar, who had worked so hard, Pete Buttigieg who had really worked extremely hard as well out of the race." https://t.co/FMsEFyFDY3 pic.twitter.com/9C5lLFJCR5— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 8, 2020
This whinging smacks of sore loserdom, but it also robs agency from Klobuchar and Buttigieg (so does entitled belly-aching like this from embittered Warren alumni). The former mayor's campaign guru quickly clapped back at Bernie, tweeting that her boss's "decision to get out of the race was his and his alone." It's not a good look for Sanders, who's once again staring at the prospect of sniffing the nomination then losing. Is it also a conspiracy that Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have gotten behind Biden? Whether "the establishment" truly conspired against Bernie is almost immaterial if a critical mass of his supporters believe that it happened. Perhaps Biden will so thoroughly clean the Vermont socialist's clock over the next few weeks that the Bernie Bros will accept their fate, and Milwaukee won't get ugly. But if millions of hard left voters think that the powers that be got together to screw their guy, that could end up being a liability for the party heading into the fall. And on that note, I'll leave you with this -- no further comment necessary:
she's going to hell btw ???? pic.twitter.com/z1VL42ZPCd— salaryman (@bobby) March 7, 2020