Oh, and our own well-being.
For much of the right, President Biden’s obvious mental and physical decline are a matter of humor and the subject of jokes. Lord knows, I’ve done some of it myself.
But his deterioration is much more than a laugh. It must be taken seriously. Believe me. I’m a few months older than Biden, and I recognize the warning signs–in myself and in my contemporary friends.
Watch him walk. I’m familiar with that hesitant gait. Slow, uncertain, careful to avoid a fall. Remember when he tripped and fell while climbing up the stairs to his airplane? (See video below for that and other symptoms.)
He squints at the teleprompter, larger than the typical one, misreading the words in front of him. He looks exhausted. He needs a nap.
And those are only the physical symptoms. The cognitive and mental possibilities are more frightening. At the podium, he heads off in divergent, irrelevant directions. He forgets the names of his own associates and mistakes the number of his own granddaughters.
Believe me, at my age, I know these are symptomatic of a descent, perhaps even an enfeeblement. Is he listening closely to his advisors during their briefings? Or is his mind wandering off somewhere? Is he awake? Can he carefully weigh the consequences of life or death decisions that must be made in the oval office? Will he get worse? What happens if he does?
Here I’m not talking about his misinformation or wrong decisions. Such as his assuring Americans that Afghanistan will not fall to the Taliban because the country has 300,000 of the best-equipped troops in the world, against a mere 75,000 Taliban troops. Nor his policy decision to ignore the catastrophe on the Southern border. The threat of a “minor” Russian incursion in Ukraine. The downplaying of inflation. And much, much more.
Those are policy decisions that are subject to debate. But how many of those policy decisions are the result of a mind that doesn’t focus, that is easily distracted by irrelevancies?
We’ve already encountered enough national leaders who scare us: The war criminal running Russia and targeting civilians in his war against Ukraine. The plotting dictator who is conducting ethnic genocide in China. Nor do I leave out our own dear former leader, Donald Trump, whose superego and paranoia were always present, hovering over us.
I’m no gerontologist; I’m just old, having turned 80 a few months ago. I see these symptoms in myself and my friends. To borrow a phrase, old age ain’t beanbag. Some who have worked through it advise the young (tongue in cheek), “Don’t get old.”
Every elder enters and experiences old age differently. Some 80-years old are, as they say, spry, active, nimble. Some aren’t. Old age is not an automatic disqualification. But we need to think seriously about Old Joe’s condition.
Invoke the 25th Amendment–the process for legally removing a, err, challenged president? Face the reality of Kamal Harris becoming president? Who would be running the government–a question that we already face as it appears that unelected “advisors” like Susan Rice are the shadow manipulators.
In my age group, I’ve often heard it said, “Shame on Jill Biden for allowing her husband to run for president. If my husband did, I’d divorce him.” Indeed.
Whatever our age, it is difficult to recognize and acknowledge our own failings. Admitting that you no longer are the person you used to be is even more difficult. Is Biden too far gone to even understand that?To subscribe to The Barbershop, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.