President Joe Biden has a propensity for making verbal gaffes. He knows it, too.
“Every once in a while I make a mistake,” Biden said in 2022. “Like, well, once a speech.”
Consistently, Biden makes headlines for his verbal slip-ups. A few days ago, Biden seemed to confuse current French president Emmanuel Macron with France’s former leader, Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996.
“It was in south of England and I sat down and I said: ‘America’s back,’” Biden said on Monday. “And Mitterrand from Germany, I mean from France, looked at me and said: “You know, how long you back for?””
Unfortunately, the Mitterrand slip-up is par for the course for Joe Biden – which has raised nagging questions about the president’s mental fitness and ability to serve another term if reelected.
The question: Is Joe Biden fit for office?
Verbal gaffes, in and of themselves, are not indicative of mental sundowning or mental inadequacy. Plenty of smart and capable people are generally inarticulate. And many more smart and capable people struggle to speak smoothly when under the public spotlight.
So, even though articulation is one of the most commonly used and often reliable methods of measuring intelligence in another person, verbal missteps should not be viewed as conclusive proof of someone’s intelligence or ability.
The problem with Joe Biden, however, is that he was, for decades, a reliably articulate speaker. The transition from articulate to inarticulate has corresponded with Biden’s age and, understandably, has cast doubt upon his mental fitness.
The thing with Biden is that he has been an elected official since the 1970s, when he came to Washington as a senator, barely 30 years old. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Biden was completely articulate.
When Biden ran for president for the first time in 1988, he was articulate.
A plagiarist, perhaps. But articulate.
And when Biden ran for president for the second time in 2008, he was still articulate. Biden was still articulate 2012 when pitted against the much younger budget wonk Paul Ryan in the vice presidential candidate debate. Watch that debate above, and you can see Biden's decline clearly.
Yet, Biden is not articulate now. Something changed. And that something, to the assumptions of most Americans, is the mental softening associated with advanced age. At 81 years old, Biden is already the oldest person ever to serve as president – and he sounds it. Often grasping for words that seem just out of reach. Often failing to complete sentences.
Or name someone properly. Or speak clearly or concisely. Biden does not sound good. He doesn’t sound sharp. Which in and of itself might have been okay – had Biden not sounded good and relatively sharp for the better part of four decades.
The simple takeaway, in my eyes, is that Biden is too old to serve another term as president. Remember: Biden is never going to be younger than he is now – and he doesn’t seem quite well right now – and he’s only going to get older.
Presumably, Biden’s sundowning will continue or even accelerate.
Does Joe Biden have another five dependable years in him? Can Biden serve through his 86th birthday, nearly a full decade beyond when the second oldest president ever concluded his service?
My instinctual answer is no.
And increasingly, the American public feels the same way.
About the Author: Harrison Kass
Harrison Kass is a defense and national security writer with over 1,000 total pieces on issues involving global affairs. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
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