Since the moment Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States, he’s given us countless and escalating examples of what many people have speculated is dementia. At first, they were reminiscent of an aunt or uncle who was slightly forgetful or sometimes couldn’t remember the right word. Those of us on the conservative side of the aisle poked fun at his “word salad” speeches and answers, and especially his epic semi-racist memories of the old days — like when he faced down the fearsome Corn Pop.
This is BIZARRE!
Here's Joe Biden telling the story of his face-off with a gang of razor-wielding ne'er-do-wells led by a guy named 'Corn Pop.' pic.twitter.com/DddRtWgdza
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) September 15, 2019
And who can forget Super Tuesday 2020, when Biden introduced his wife as his sister?
Joe Biden was holding his wife’s hand while saying “this is my sister” and then corrected himself.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 4, 2020
After Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in late March, Biden had the nomination all but wrapped up. His public appearances sharply decreased, and Jill Biden was suddenly always at his side. It was around this time that, as my colleague Brandon Morse opined, it seemed that Joe Biden’s missteps were something more serious and he might be being pressured into this candidacy.
Over the summer Biden rarely appeared. After the Democratic National Convention, his team routinely called a lid before lunch, and I don’t recall a time where he spontaneously took questions from the press between the convention and the election.
Fast forward to January 20th. Miraculously (or through the power of the teleprompter), Biden got through his inaugural speech, and during the first few weeks in office, he spent very little time in front of the camera. When he invited reporters to the White House to announce his endless Executive Orders, the appearances were tightly scripted and staff attempted to keep reporters from asking any questions. The one time a reporter was able to shout one out, Biden snapped at him.
A friend of mine refers to Biden as a “dementia popsicle,” and I think that aptly describes how all of us who aren’t afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome view him — and TDS sufferers probably view him that way if they’re honest with themselves. Even middle-of-the-roaders will admit that Biden has a bit of “Old Timer’s.”
What if Biden isn’t as addled as he’s increasingly appeared? There’s no question he suffers some form of memory loss or cognitive decline, but what if it’s not as bad as it seems, and off camera Biden is more in control of his faculties? After all, how much can one expect of a dementia popsicle? If things go sideways, can he really be blamed? And, when he says the terrifying things out loud — for instance, that he gave Xi Jinping a green light to continue his genocidal campaign against the Uyghurs — many will write it off as the ramblings of an old man.
That answer — the entirety of it, not just that sentence — from Monday night’s town hall is what raised the question in my mind. Many of his answers in the town hall were inconsistent with his prior statements or inconsistent with fact. That’s indisputable. But, I had such low expectations of his performance that I was actually impressed that he got through the entire event without completely making a fool of himself.
I’m not arguing that Joe Biden has full use of his mental faculties in any way. But I believe that as we listen to his words and watch his actions we should do so while wondering if he is really as non compos mentis as we think.