Republican critics of President Joe Biden have long questioned his cognitive abilities, pointing to frequent gaffes and unintelligible public statements as evidence of an apparent mental decline.
A new proposal signals that even some members of his party are raising similar questions of their own, including a group of House Democrats who do not trust him to have unilateral control over the nation’s nuclear codes.
“Concern about the president’s judgment”
In a recent letter, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) explained his position. Nearly three dozen other congressional Democrats signed on to the idea, according to the Daily Caller.
Specifically, Panetta’s statement proposed creating a new rule that Biden must receive approval of either the vice president or House speaker before launching a nuclear strike.
The letter went on to note that neither of those officials “can be removed by the president if they disagree” on whether to initiate a launch.
“Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” Panetta’s letter claims. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.”
As the Democrats argued, a commander in chief “would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack,” but such a consultation should be required.
“The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war,” the letter concluded. “Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”
“Got them to agree to stand down”
Of course, fear of a rogue president launching a nuclear strike is nothing new. In 2017, Business Insider published a report alleging that an inebriated President Richard Nixon once threatened to attack North Korea.
It was national security adviser Henry Kissinger, the article claimed, who “got on the phone to the Joint Chiefs and got them to agree to stand down on that order until Nixon woke up sober the next morning.”
Although Biden is known to abstain from alcohol, other behaviors have led to speculation that he is not mentally fit for the responsibilities 0f the White House.
At various points throughout the presidential campaign, Biden managed to forget which state he was in, confuse his wife for his sister, and tell voters that he was running for the U.S. Senate, among various other gaffes.