Since well before his inauguration, President Joe Biden has faced mounting speculation regarding apparent signs of cognitive decline and concerns that he was unfit to hold the office.
Those worries grew more pronounced this week after the president stumbled over an introduction of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“I keep calling him general”
As Fox News reported, the incident occurred on Monday as Biden announced his nomination of two female generals to lead combatant commands.
In reference to Austin, he said: “And I want to thank the sec — the, the, ah former general. I keep calling him general, but my, my — the guy who runs that outfit over there.”
Of course, Biden has been open about his lifelong struggle with stuttering, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) blamed the recent gaffe on the president’s speech impediment.
Fox News Channel host Neil Cavuto pressed Clyburn on the subject this week, asking if the incident was “something we should be worried about or much ado about nothing.”
“Doesn’t affect his brain at all”
The South Carolina Democrat, whose endorsement was widely seen as the move that secured the Democratic presidential nomination for Biden, brushed off the recent performance.
“I think you know as well as I do, I talked with the president about this, he has what we call stuttering,” Clyburn said. “It’s always been a problem with this president.”
Biden’s struggle with speech, he said, “doesn’t affect his brain at all,” adding that he does not “know why we keep trying to make something out of it.”
Still no solo press conferences
While it is true that the president has frequently discussed the issue that dates back to his childhood, critics say some of his recent comments cannot be explained by stuttering.
At various points during the presidential campaign, Biden told voters that he was running for the Senate, confused his wife with his sister, and spoke of returning to Vermont when he was in fact at a New Hampshire event.
Along with his reluctance to hold a solo press conference during his first 50 days in office, speculation regarding his cognitive abilities does not appear to be dying down anytime soon.