Fading Biden

For release: 02/13/24

The unmaking of a president

By Cal Thomas

Tribune Content Agency        

            Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and through the re-election of Richard Nixon in 1972, political journalist and biographer Theodore H. White wrote books called “The Making of a President.” Were he alive today he might title one about Joe Biden “The Unmaking of a President.”

The deplorable state of the president is obvious to all but those who are desperately hoping they can drag him across the finish line in November.

The administration appears desperate, if not devastated, following the release of a report by Special Counsel Robert Hur that included Hur’s observation that Biden could not be indicted for “willfully” keeping and sharing classified papers because he is an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

            At a hastily called news conference that seemed to underscore rather than refute Hur’s observations, Biden called the president of Egypt the president of Mexico. He also kept fumbling at what appeared to be pages in a notebook. These pages usually contain anticipated answers to reporters’ questions. He never got to the right pages.

            As if this wasn’t enough self-inflicted damage, the administration rolled out the equally inarticulate vice president to defend Biden. Kamala Harris, whose remarks have been called “word salads” by critics, tried to convince us that what we are seeing and hearing is not the Biden she knows. In this, she followed the example of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has repeatedly claimed the southern border is “secure.” They want us to believe them instead of what our “lying eyes” are telling us.

            The major media, until recently enablers of the president, are starting to show cracks in their alliance. Writing in the largely pro-Biden New York Times, columnist Bret Stephens emphatically states, “Democrats can no longer stay silent about Biden.”

The equally fawning Washington Post: “‘Hair on fire’: Democratic worries grow over claims about Biden’s memory lapses.”

Politico reported on remarks by longtime Democratic Party strategist Paul Begala: “I’m a Biden supporter. And I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every two hours and wet the bed. (The Hur report) is terrible for Democrats. And anybody with a functioning brain knows that.” Speaking of the president’s press conference, Begala said, “I think Biden made it worse, no question about it.”

Ian Sams, the spokesman for the White House Counsel’s office, called passages in the Hur report about Biden’s mental state “gratuitous” and “inappropriate.” Except they weren’t. After spending five hours in two interviews with the president, Hur’s statements are at the heart of why he thinks a D.C. jury would be sympathetic to Biden and never convict him. It reminds me of then-FBI Director James Comey’s rationale for not recommending Hillary Clinton be indicted for mishandling classified documents: “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

The next time you’re stopped for speeding, try telling the officer you didn’t intend to go 75 in a 30-mile-per-hour zone.

No such absolution is granted to Donald Trump, because as Hur claimed, Trump’s case is different. That is unlikely to go down well with Trump supporters. No wonder so many believe there are two-tiers in our justice system.

Reporters are starting to interview doctors to get them to speculate about Biden’s mental state. While acknowledging they have not examined the president, some say he should be given a cognitive test. If he does take a test, the full results should be released. If he doesn’t, the media should keep asking why not?

 Questions are being raised whether the president is fit for a second term. I’m wondering if he can make it to the end of this term and whether America’s enemies may see an opportunity to do things they would probably not do if a fully functioning president were in charge.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at [email protected]. Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “A Watchman in the Night: What I’ve Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America” (HumanixBooks).


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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated newspaper columnist. He has worked for NBCV News, KPRC-TV in Houston and Fox News. 2024 marks his 40th year as a columnist.