Some conservative pundits and strategists have opined that it may not be prudent for President Trump and the Republicans to make too big a deal about Joe Biden’s cognitive challenges. If pro-Trump opposition goes all in on terms like dementia, senility, or, as President Trump defines Biden’s mental condition, “not all there,” they risk setting the expectation bar so low that all Biden has to do is stay afloat during the presidential debates and at whatever politically organic (not wholly-orchestrated) campaign appearances he might make.
The case was made that if Trump and his surrogates condition voters to expect a doddering, rambling, and often incoherent candidate, Biden can beat the expectation game by simply mouthing pre-approved answers to most conceivable questions and sticking to the script.
On the eve of his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, it is generally understood on both sides of the aisle that the “Biden’s okay, he’s just being Joe” narrative is kaput. Everybody knows that, sadly, the former VP is not quite hitting on all cylinders. What we have here is a rickety old Trojan Horse the left hopes to wheel back through the gates of governance.
What to do with that?
Biden was not even able to successfully get through wife Jill’s remarks on night two of the convention. What should have been a poignant moment for the Dem ticket served only as another reminder about Mr. Biden’s seeming inability to deliver off-the-cuff the most patent campaign fluff.
Let’s look at some narrative themes that define the 2020 election. Attuned conservatives fully understand the Democrat “chaos campaign,” and the Biden campaign’s “basement strategy.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Republican “Biden as a cognitive shell of his former self” narrative has been anything but subtle. Sean Hannity has a Biden gaffe/impairment reel that provokes both laughter and the pull-back reserve that comes with knowing a person is cognitively impaired.
Laughing at cognitive decline is uncomfortable. Even pointing out such decline in the context of unrelenting partisan politics is something nobody really wants to have to do. One wishes the opposition candidate was still in possession of all mental faculties. Under normal circumstances, policy differences could be vigorously debated, and contrasts made, without having to resort to highlighting the fact that the other party’s standard-bearer is certifiably suffering from loss of synaptic function.
And for that reason, would be a disaster if elected to the highest office in the land.
Nobody wants to have to witheringly attack a person in the throes of illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of Americans have loved ones or know people who suffer from impaired cognition and memory loss. Just like such diseases present symptoms ranging from mild disruption to complete loss of brain function, the emotional reaction to such diagnoses in people close to those afflicted, depending on the severity of the illness, runs the gamut from manageable grief to life-altering crisis.
Conservatives recall with sadness President Ronald Reagan’s descent in to full-blown Alzheimer’s, and first lady Nancy’s heroic last stand in support of her husband. Reagan was long out of office before experiencing the debilitating phase of the disease.
But if he wins, Joe Biden won’t be.
All the more reason, however disagreeable the task, to focus attention on Biden’s cognitive challenges, and the apparent impairment in his ability to maintain smooth transitions of thought and render them in complete sentences. We’re talking here about diminishment evident even to staunch Dem operatives like James Carville and Terry McAuliffe.
Democrats hope to obfuscate and divert from the issue of their candidate’s mental condition; Republicans and the Trump campaign must continue raising questions about the cognition of the man to whom the national electorate might hand the keys to the kingdom.
Which brings us to this election year’s other big narrative: Biden as Trojan Horse for a swarm of America-haters. A timeworn, once-was “moderate” on the precipice of collapse, being pushed onstage by forces whose aim is to change the nation forever.
On this point, it bears mentioning that even if Joe Biden was not in cognitive decline, even if he was still as sharp a tack as he ever was, he would remain a menacing electoral threat to the American way of life.
Biden’s mental state won’t matter once the DNC, the ingrate Squad, Pelosi, Schumer, Feinstein, Schiff, the detestable Maxine Waters, and the rest of the extremist Democrats get their hands on the levers of power. Even at the peak of his powers, Old Joe could not stave off what these people have in store for America. The fact, incontrovertible now, that Biden is beset by cognitive decline, only makes it easier for them if they can get this rickety warhorse over the finish line. Once wheeled back into the internals of governance, he will become a functionary figure whose presidency sets the stage for an army of Marxist transformers.
And don’t think for a minute that Senator Chameleon Harris will suddenly get in touch with her inner moderate once she’s one tremulous heartbeat away from the presidency. She will reach full flower as the Democratic Socialist enabler-in-chief.
There’s a big difference between a propensity for committing gaffes and neurological impairment.
The former occurs when a person ostensibly in full possession of mental acuity makes mistakes, says wrong things, or tellingly misspeaks, like when Biden said “Poor kids are just as smart as white kids.” Such gaffe-making can be amusing.
The latter is a sad thing to behold, nothing to laugh about. But in order to derail this unprecedentedly awful Democratic ticket, Trump and the Republicans will have to highlight both.