I am no Biden partisan or admirer – I’ll admit that upfront.
I always have regarded him as a liar, a plagiarizer, and a dissembler – not to mention, an intellectual empty shirt. Yet, the way his family and Democratic handlers apparently are exploiting him and, in the course of which, humiliating him, is a travesty, not only for him but for the country, certainly in terms of the implications it raises for a Biden presidency.
The signs are so readily apparent, notably in the outright avoidance of questions from the media and in the deft – or, as the case may be, not so deft use – of teleprompters. We now encounter this phenomenon almost on a daily basis: fleeing images an occasionally befuddled, dottering setuagenarian man carefully cordoned off from the robust give and take that characterizes modern presidential campaigns.
The first time I really was struck by the former vice president’s seemingly palpable mental deterioration was shortly after completing heavily scripted speech. For a brief few seconds he seemed gripped by a sense of utter displacement and confusion until his wife quickly bounded onto the platform and embraced him. Everything about her behavior – the assiduous watchfulness and split-second intervention – implies to me a spouse who is attuned to her partner’s decline.
Sadly, there are historical precedents. Speaking as an avid reader of presidential history, I perceive some interesting parallels between Biden’s carefully choreographed candidacy and FDR’s final presidential campaign in 1944.
To allay persistent questions about the 32nd president’s fitness for an unprecedented fourth term, Roosevelt’s handlers arranged to have him paraded in an open limousine on the streets of New York for several hours in pouring down rain. They acquired space at three or four stops along the way where the ailing President was stripped of his soaked clothing, massaged thoroughly to restore his circulation, treated to a few sips of liquor, dressed in identical dry clothing and then carried miles down the street until the next recuperative stop.
Suffering from an a perilously enlarged heart and hypertension, FDR survived less than four months into his fourth term.
Granted, I am no medical expert. I base my views only on observation and conjecture. Even so, as one who has observed both parents undergo decline from the effects of dementia, I not only have been struck by how quickly these symptoms are expressed but also by the speed with which they erode one’s quality of life.
If the Biden family, the campaign, and the Democratic National Committee are enlisted in a conspiracy to hide the effects of a major party candidate’s mental deterioration even while subjecting him to the rigors of a national campaign, they deserve nothing from American voters other than sneering contempt.