Despite the floundering of his campaign earlier this year, former Vice President Joe Biden has made an impressive comeback, defeating Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in key primaries so thoroughly that it’s unlikely the Sanders campaign can recover. But Biden’s chances seemed bleak for a reason. Until it was clear that the socialist senator was the alternative, many Democrats seemed eager to distance themselves from the inconsistent frontrunner.
Despite all efforts, the former vice president’s campaign, thus far, has not given the impression he is capable of running the country for four years – let alone eight. Could it be that Joe Biden’s mind is failing him?
During a speech on Super Tuesday in Los Angeles, a protester leaped onto the stage. Mrs. Biden instinctively stepped between her husband and the lunging woman, grabbing her wrists and shoving her away. She did the right thing, of course, but it revealed Joe’s strange passivity: He just stood there, not reacting, as his wife moved to protect him. When the situation resolved, he put his arm around her – but it was as if he didn’t understand what had just occurred.
The truth is, it’s hard to watch Joe Biden speak and not wonder about his mental health. He often appears bewildered. He can’t always recall what state he’s in, or what office he’s running for, for that matter. He even once called Super Tuesday “Super Thursday.” Outside of a presidential campaign, it’s the sort of behavior that could land a person in a nursing home.
To Biden’s credit, he had remained on script for his Super Tuesday speech before the odd interruption. But lately that has been the exception, not the rule. The day before, Biden got confused while trying to quote the Declaration of Independence, finally substituting “the thing” for God.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” he began. “All men and women created by the …”He paused, then, waving his hands in obvious consternation, continued, “go, you know, you know, the thing.”
It is sad to see the fear and disorientation on his face when he suffers these “senior moments.”
Biden himself expressed some insight, a couple of weeks ago, when he promised not to seek a second term “if anything changed in my health, making it incapable for me to fully exert all the energy and mental acuity that was needed.” Who votes for a president who knows that he might not have the energy or cognitive strength for two terms? More importantly, if there is worry about his ability to carry out a second term, what about the first?
The former vice president is being promoted as a healthy, vigorous 77-year-old, but simply saying it doesn’t make it so. In light of all the obvious moments, isn’t it time for a cognitive function test? Is it cruel to allow a candidate demonstrating cognitive decline to pursue the highest station and arguable the most demanding role in the world? Furthermore, the American people deserve a candidate oriented to time, place, and person. In Joe’s own words, “These truths we hold self-evident …” If it were not so cruel to make light of his behavior, given the likely health reasons to blame, it would be pure comedy.
Read more from Loraine Silvetz, MSW.