Report on How Joe Biden's Handlers Coddle and Protect Him Raises Even More Concerns

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Joe Biden is really old. That reality was punctuated on Thursday when the president took a painful-looking fall while trying to exit the stage at the US Air Force Academy’s commencement. Multiple videos showed Biden trying to skip past the podium (something he often does to try to show onlookers that he’s healthy and capable) only to immediately trip, leaving Secret Service agents rushing to his aid.

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(See: Joe Biden Takes a Massive Fall at Air Force Commencement, Concerns Over Health Rage)

Unfortunately, that was hardly the first time that Biden unintentionally left his feet during his term. Earlier in his presidency, he infamously fell (multiple times) while trying to go up the airstairs of Air Force One. Then there was the time he fell off his bike while the press looked on. Even after Biden’s most recent spill at the Air Force Academy, he managed to then crack his head on the doorframe of Marine One on the way home.

Elderly people are clumsy and susceptible to injury, and Biden is 80 years old. If he were to be re-elected, he’d be 86 by the time he leaves office. That’s a problem, and even his own handlers can’t ignore it anymore. A new report from The New York Times is shedding light on the lengths the president’s staff have to go to in order to coddle and protect him.

In private, some officials acknowledge that they make what they consider reasonable accommodations not to physically tax an aging president. His staff schedules most of his public appearances between noon and 4 p.m. and leaves him alone on weekends as much as possible. Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s deputy White House chief of staff, though, insisted his age has not forced changes to his schedule. “Nothing beyond what is done for any president regardless of their age,” she said.

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That paragraph is a contradiction, and it shows the issue of dealing with a president who is clearly in steep decline. In one breath, Biden officials admit that they schedule his public appearances during a short, four-hour span that ends at 4:00 PM. Most people are not even off work at that point. Dinner is rarely served before 6:00 PM in most households, but by that point, Biden is almost always nowhere to be found.

Yet, in another breath, the deputy White House chief of staff insists that the president’s age has not forced any scheduling changes. That’s clearly false, as I’m not aware of any other president in modern history who had to have their public events largely relegated to a time period when most people have barely gotten back from their lunch break.

The Times also notes how Biden’s handlers have prevented him from doing any serious interviews since taking office.

Aides limit exposing the president to news media interviews when he could make a politically damaging mistake. He has given just a fourth of the interviews Donald J. Trump did in the same time period and a fifth of Mr. Obama’s interviews — and none at all to reporters from a major newspaper. Mr. Biden has not given an interview to the news department of The Times, unlike every president since at least Franklin D. Roosevelt other than Dwight D. Eisenhower. And in the past 100 years, only Ronald Reagan and Richard M. Nixon have subjected themselves to as few news conferences.

White House officials have not made Mr. Biden’s doctor available for questioning, as previous presidents have. In February, Kevin C. O’Connor, the White House physician, issued a five-page letter stating that Mr. Biden is “fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations.”

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It’s one thing to avoid the press because the press is mostly terrible, but that’s not why Biden doesn’t do interviews outside of extremely friendly confines. He doesn’t do them because his handlers know he can’t be trusted to answer questions without being guided by an ideological ally, especially one that is willing to edit and cut out any embarrassing moments. Thus, he’ll do the occasional interview on MSNBC, but that’s pretty much the extent of it.

In the face of all this, Biden’s aides are left gaslighting the public, insisting that the president is “sharp as a tack” and as capable as ever.

Yet aides said that while he can momentarily forget a name or fact, he retains a formidable memory for detail. Preparing to travel to Shanksville, Pa., on the 20th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he became frustrated that officials had given him the wrong plan for his movements. He had been to the memorial before and knew the plan made no sense because he remembered the layout of the grounds.

Am I supposed to be impressed that he remembered going to a 9/11 memorial, something you’d expect anyone to remember? Besides, anyone that knows someone suffering from increasing senility (or even dementia) knows that long-term memories are usually the last to go. It’s the more current stuff that is the toughest, and Biden consistently finds himself forgetting names and basic details.

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That’s not normal, and his handlers know it’s not normal. That’s why they have settled on such a light schedule. They are hoping to keep Biden upright long enough to secure a 2024 election victory. The question remains, though. Who really thinks Biden can make it through a second term?

 

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