DANIEL VAUGHAN: Biden's Incapacity To Perform Returns To The Front Page

 June 5, 2024

The news is abuzz with Donald Trump's conviction and its impact on the race. That's understandable, given what has just happened. But just as the White House believed it had shifted the focus of the race onto Trump, the news cycle has thrown it back on them. Biden's mental acuity has returned to the forefront.

It's still too early to know whether or not Donald Trump's conviction will appreciably impact the polling of the Presidential race. It's easy to assume that Trump will take a hit, but that's not a given. And the latest polls have shown very little movement. However, the greatest unknown in this race is how people handle Biden's age and mental competency.

The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell report on Biden's mental capacity. They interviewed 45 people over several months, Republicans and Democrats, and looked into reports on Biden's physical and mental capacity. Notably, the White House tracked the Journal's reporting closely.

The Journal said, "The White House kept close tabs on some of The Wall Street Journal's interviews with Democratic lawmakers. After the offices of several Democrats shared with the White House either a recording of an interview or details about what was asked, some of those lawmakers spoke to the Journal a second time and once again emphasized Biden's strengths."

If you've read any story about Biden's physical or mental capacity in the last few years, the broad contours of this account are well-known. Biden forgets basic facts, can't talk without easy notes in his hand, walks slowly and feebly, defers to staff, and can barely be heard at times. To those dealing with him, it's unclear if he's fully lucid at times. It's the story of a shrinking man in the face of failing health facing time.

For every instance of Biden's frailty that the Journal raises, the White House runs out and provides a fig leaf of an excuse for why that event happened. Nearly all the major news outlets have run stories corroborating the negative stories about Biden's mental and physical health. He's slipping, and there's nothing the White House can do.

The White House's push to move the debates as far away as possible from Election Day adds to this reality. Biden's staff doesn't trust him to handle the debates, and they don't want anyone to have the debates in mind when they enter the voting booth.

This is not an administration working from a place of strength. They have a weak hand, candidate, and position. Everything is about trying to maximize what they can while hiding mistakes.

It's not just voters, though. The Journal notes that the White House is hiding Biden from lawmakers.

He has had fewer small meetings with lawmakers as his term has gone on, visitor logs show. During his first year in office, even with pandemic restrictions, he held more than three dozen meetings of fewer than 20 lawmakers in the West Wing. That number fell to roughly two dozen in his second year, and about a dozen in his third year.

The White House staff blames Republican control of Congress for Biden's fewer meetings. But that doesn't fit Biden's persona of a back-slapping master of Congress who works with everyone.

Most notable in the Journal's reporting is that all Republicans had a negative view of Biden's abilities. In contrast, Democrats were told to return to the Journal to repeat anything good they had to say.

Depending on your partisan tilt, you'll interpret that differently. Democrats can claim the Wall Street Journal is a conservative-leaning outlet. However, the Journal's reporting is one of many. The New York Times has run several reports casting doubts on Biden's health. PoliticoAxios, and nearly every poll of Americans cast doubt on Biden's physical and mental capacity to do the job.

If the news cycle has taught us anything, this won't be the last story run by a major outlet questioning Biden's capacity to perform. The Wall Street Journal is only the latest story, and each report has a similar theme: there's smoke to this story coming from the White House.

Trump's conviction is a big story, no doubt. But until we have proof that it hurts Trump, Biden's health continues to be a top concern for the average voter. This concern isn't limited to Republicans and Independents; sizable chunks of Democrats don't believe Biden can do this, either.

We're in the fourth year of Biden's term. The White House hasn't provided a single strategy or plan to counter these issues. Given Biden's age, they likely don't have a solution. If that's the case, it's hard to blame anyone for having deep concerns as we enter November.

Trump's conviction is big news, but it won't save the White House from having to make a positive case for Biden's ability to perform. The growing problem for the White House is that, with all the leaks and negative stories coming out, it doesn't sound like they believe their own lines on this.

If the White House won't act to show that it believes Biden is capable of performing up to par, why should we believe their assurances?

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