NICOLE RUSSELL: It shouldn't have taken the Hur report for people to see Biden is unfit

The White House announced Tuesday that President Joe Biden will not be taking a cognitive test as part of his upcoming physical exam. This comes on the heels of the Special Counsel’s Robert Hur report that was as damning for Biden’s reputation as it was revelatory of his cognitive health.

The report has spurred commentary that perhaps Democrats may want to look for an alternative candidate to replace Biden, who seems to be declining in health. The question is important but so is the timing: Democrats and much of the media have likely known about Biden’s declining mental faculties for awhile. Why has it taken this revelation for them to put their country —- rather than their top candidate, if he is such —- first?

When asked about Biden’s upcoming physical check up, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters she’d echo what his physician, Dr. O’Connor, said a year ago. “The president proves every day how he operates, how he thinks,” she said. “By dealing with world leaders, by making really difficult decisions on behalf of the American people whether it’s domestic, whether it’s national security.”

This is a nice sound bite, but it’s intentionally obscure: The public doesn’t get to see private conversations Biden has with world leaders, so we have no idea what those are like, although we can hazard a guess that they don’t go as well as she’s suggesting. Most of Biden’s public remarks are prepared ahead of time or shown on a teleprompter. Those moments are not exactly an accurate representation of his health, especially because those are often garbled or incorrect.

When Biden decided to hold an impromptu press conference after the report was revealed, probably in an effort to dissuade reporters that he was struggling, he had the opposite effect. Instead of offering assurances, Biden alarmed reporters more by getting upset and confusing Egypt with Mexico while answering a question about Gaza.

Special Counsel interviewed Biden about his handling of classified information and characterized his mental fitness rather poorly in the report, saying his memory was “significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017, and in his interview with our office in 2023.”

During the interviews, Biden didn’t recall, within several years, when his son Beau died. Some tried to chalk this up to trauma — and while this was undoubtedly a horrifying memory for Biden, this wasn’t the only thing he couldn’t recall. He also wasn’t sure when he was vice president, when his term began, and couldn’t remember other key events or people in his life.

Now that this report has been made public, and the rest of America sees what Democrat operatives, White House staff, and White House reporters have likely seen for years or more, folks are whispering about an alternative candidate. This is fine, but it shouldn’t have taken such a damning report to prod Democrats to do the right thing all along.

It has been clear for months, if not years, that Biden has been struggling mentally with articulation and recall and also with physical stamina and balance, as elderly people often do. Why have Democrats waited until their house is on fire and burning down to call the Fire Department or even install a smoke alarm?

Biden is obviously senile and possibly struggling with dementia. This is through no fault of his own and is more common as adults age. As the Hur report suggested, any empathetic person would presumably hear his recollections and take pity on the man for his faulty memories, they’re that bad. Except for one thing: Biden isn’t your grandfather or any random elderly person struggling with recalling key events, people, and places. He’s the president of the United States.

This sets him apart. Anyone who cares about America —- its safety, reputation, and the residents living here — knows the health and well-being of our president is vital to well-being and health of this country. It’s time for Democrats to do the right thing: Let Biden retire and nominate someone more fit.

 

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