Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 18 February 2024

Should a senile old man be the leader of the free world?

NO ONE outside the White House and a handful of top Democratic and Republican leaders knows the full extent of Joe Biden’s control of his own presidency.

Ordinary mortals (aka voters) must rely for evidence of his senility on what they see on television during Biden’s unavoidable public appearances. Even then, the loyal media cover him with excuses that sometimes unblushingly stretch credulity.

There’s been a strong suspicion from the start that Biden has been the puppet of his praetorian guard led by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and perhaps, behind the scenes, Barack Obama. Biden has been an executive president in name only.

It’s been like this throughout his presidency but it became an inescapable issue when special counsel Robert Hur declined to prosecute him for illegally retaining classified documents because he was ‘a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory’ whom a jury would decline to convict. Hur is a Trump appointee but the killer phrase was left in his report by Biden’s own Department of Justice despite White House pleas for its removal.

Senility is irreversible and progressive whether it goes rapidly or slowly. Biden is not going to improve during the election campaign or in the next four years if he is returned to office.

The US has been in this plight once before. In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke that left him unable to function. His wife and doctor hid the extent of his disablement and in effect ran the country privately for the remaining 18 months of his term. They weren’t alone in the concealment and no one suggested that Wilson might seek re-election.

In 1984, Americans ridiculed the Soviet Union for making Konstantin Tchernenko head of the ruling Politburo when it was obvious to everyone that his brain had reverted to neutral.

The question is: to what extent does Biden’s incapacity matter? Can a president who is the de facto leader of the free world be merely a figurehead? Has the buck which President Truman said stopped at his desk credibly transitioned into collective responsibility where blame for mishaps gets conveniently lost?

A majority of Democrat voters, speaking through opinion polls, say they already doubt Biden’s fitness for power although this will not stop them voting for him in November. Controlling the White House is more important to them than the lack of accountability of appointed officials.

There’s a big difference between an incompetent president and an incapacitated president. The former gets things wrong and the mistakes he makes can have international repercussions. How do you hold accountable someone you elected knowing that he suffered from disqualifying issues such as advanced age and a crumbling mind?

Because he’d been a mediocrity throughout a half-century career in Washington, the only expectation of Biden was that he wouldn’t be Bad Orange Man. But that didn’t mean people were willing to settle for less than good government.

The only decision that Biden has personally taken responsibility for was the sudden abandonment of Afghanistan in 2021, and he boasted that was a success although even many Democrats thought it was a humiliating blunder that recalled the flight from Saigon. His popularity has declined since to historic lows amidst a steady stream of embarrassing gaffes that contradicted his own foreign policy. No country, ally or foe, takes a Biden pronouncement at face value.

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