Opinion: “You don’t have to do this, Joe…”

ew Albany MS Joe Biden
Former VP and 2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden
March 8th, 2020     Featured Opinion

“You don’t have to do this, Joe…”

By: Elizabeth Shiverdecker


“You don’t have to do this, Joe. You really don’t…” is what Barack Obama is reported to have said when his friend and former VP told him he was contemplating a 2020 run. And from Biden’s earliest appearances on the campaign trail last year, it quickly became apparent why. The always gaffe-prone Biden seemed determined to outdo himself.

However, it was clear these weren’t Biden’s usual amusing and often endearing verbal blunders, but instead seemed to indicate that Joe had lost his mental edge. To catalog Biden’s various lapses would be an exhausting exercise (and so would reading them). The clips provided below speak for themselves. By far the most heartbreaking examples, for the masochists among us who’ve actually watched some of the full debates, are the numerous instances in which Biden descends into word salad or simply trails off mid-sentence, before abruptly cutting himself off.

Anyone who has ever seen a loved one in the early stages of dementia knows what that means. It is clear that the Joe Biden running for President is no longer the Joe Biden who crushed Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan in his 2008 and 2012 VP debates.

Voters perceived early on that Biden’s mental acuity had slipped, which may account for his poor showings in the first three primaries. Prior to Super Tuesday, the mainstream press was also raising concerns. As far back as August, reports surfaced of Biden’s staff scaling back his events in an effort to limit these public blunders. They noted that his mental acuity dropped off sharply late in the day. News outlets seized upon this as a perfect description of “sundowning,” an early sign of dementia.

Following Biden’s Super Tuesday victories, right-wing outlets have revived this talking point to great effect. Trump took notice, saying Biden “will be in a home” if he wins the presidency, and that there was definitely “something going on with him.” On the other hand, establishment-left outlets have fallen silent on the issue, downplaying the legitimate concerns of voters.

Biden staffers’ “limited visibility” strategy seems to be paying off, as evidenced by his victories in states in which he hasn’t set foot this cycle. This is likely, in part, because the average voter hasn’t yet been inundated with clips like the ones below. However, you can be assured they will have been come November. If, by some miracle, the DNC machine prevails or the sympathy vote succeeds in carrying Biden to a marginal victory over Trump, you can look forward to four years of “25th Amendment” talk from Republicans. After all, these clips do not paint a picture of the man you want answering that 3am call to the White House.

Still, pundits on establishment TV news outlets like MSNBC or CNN, and even Biden’s rival, Bernie Sanders, are either too kind or too cowed to state the obvious: Joe Biden is in mental decline. Putting him on the debate stage with Donald Trump would be tantamount to elder abuse. It would be the most shameful display ever televised and would assure another four years of Trump.

One would hope there is someone in Biden’s circle who is clear-eyed enough to say to him, “Hey Joe, Super Tuesday was the greatest electoral victory of your entire political career. Now’s the time to go out on a high note. Thank the public, tell them you had a great time, but now you wanna spend your golden years with your grandkids. Ride off into the sunset, then hang up your spurs. If you stay in, it’s all downhill from here.”

Biden’s departure would certainly throw a temporary wrench in the DNC’s machinations. They would have to scramble to reanimate the currently “suspended” campaigns of either Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar.  Either could readily be persuaded to take up the DNC’s “Stop-Bernie” mantle; both are still on the ballot in the upcoming primary states.

Klobuchar would probably make the stronger case electorally, as many disappointed with Warren’s departure from the race would be eager for another opportunity to put a woman in the White House, thus stealing some of Bernie’s thunder. With Pete’s wine cave money and Bloomberg’s billions behind her, Biden’s departure would soon be no more than a temporary hiccup for the Never-Bernie wing. Whether the nomination ultimately went to Klobuchar or Sanders, either would stand a better chance in what’s sure to be a tight race against Trump.

You don’t have to do this, Joe.


Clips: (All links open in new tabs)

Biden endorses Trump?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BI0khVcFRE

A brief compilation comparing Biden’s stellar debate performance against Paul Ryan in 2012 with his recent lapses, notably: forgetting Obama’s name; confusing Angela Merkel with Margaret Thatcher (having previously confused Theresa May with Thatcher, twice); “Poor kids are just as smart as white kids”; Biden’s answer to institutional racism (“Leave the record player on at night. Make sure the kids hear words.”); Biden claims to have negotiated the Paris Climate accords with Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping (dead since 1997): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXvwumYE7_s

Biden fumbles the Declaration of Independence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUxCTgyZ5PM

A May interview with the Bidens begins at 27 seconds. Note at 35 seconds that Biden’s wife Jill prompts Joe with the word “dignity” as he struggles to answer a question. Biden then launches into “the dignity of our country, the dignity of our people, treating our people with dignity.” Jill continues running interference during the interview: https://youtu.be/Q99QNk7gvIU?t=27

Biden challenges a portly voter to a push-up contest after being challenged over Hunter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrL4Pcz-DiQ

Biden’s now infamous “Corn Pop” story and other disturbing and confusing anecdotes (from 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oihV9yrZRHg

Biden mistakes his wife for his sister “This is my little sister, Valerie, and I’m Joe’s husband”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wacY29iMuUs

Biden says he’s running for Senate “Look me over and if you don’t like what you see, vote for the other Biden”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqS4m-8B4IQ

“My time’s up, I’m sorry” (it wasn’t): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7GPwaGonBs 


Further reading (source material):

Obama: “You don’t have to do this, Joe.”: https://www.thedailybeast.com/obama-reportedly-warned-biden-about-2020-you-dont-have-to-do-this-joe

Biden staffers scale back events: https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/457486-biden-allies-float-scaling-back-events-to-limit-gaffes

Biden’s “sundowning” guarantees four more years of Trump: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/01/a-biden-nomination-means-a-second-trump-term

Biden’s “senior moments”: https://nypost.com/2020/03/04/democrats-should-be-wary-of-backing-joe-biden-and-his-senior-moments-devine/

Trump says “something going on” with Biden’s mental health: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/05/donald-trump-joe-biden-health-attack

Biden says Margaret Thatcher phoned him to complain about Trump: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/mix-up-biden-confuses-theresa-may-with-margaret-thatcher-for-second-time


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