What’s the plan for Biden? That’s a stupid way to say it, sorry. Number one. What was I talking about?
If you still have any doubt about Joe Biden’s mental decline, I would encourage you to watch any recording of Biden from before 2016. You can watch him lucidly express skepticism of what would later be called the Gulf War in the Senate here. Or you can watch him coherently connect distinct events into a single narrative, at several points, during the 2012 Vice-Presidential debate here.
It is true that Biden occasionally has moments when his synapses momentarily re-connect. Maybe we only really notice him when he falters. Maybe he has only lost a little, but is otherwise ok.
But Biden won’t be President from tomorrow through the month of April. He will have to start his general election campaign (at some point) and run it into November. If he wins, he is then President beginning the following January, until the January four years after, and will suffer all the accelerated aging that entails. Our sensitivity to possible mental lapses should be heightened because Biden is in the best shape he will ever be in, and there is nowhere to go but down, and there is a far way to go down.
This observation of course applies to Trump as well, and probably goes a long way in explaining his stress-free lifestyle of golf and rallies.
Though nearly every politico feels something is off, it still doesn’t have the status of “accepted fact”. Biden hasn’t been explicitly challenged, as far as I can tell, on his mental health and memory. The only suggestion of his failing health was when he was asked if he would promise not to run for a second-term.
Surely his campaign workers know something is wrong. When he told an autoworker in Michigan that he was full of shit, a campaign employee of his tried to pull him away, as if she had been afraid this moment might happen on her shift. (The most disturbing moment from this clip though is when he favorably alludes to the Schenck free speech case).
Pro-Bernie pundits regret that Biden’s health was not a larger part of his campaign. Few can do anything but speculate why Bernie chose not to ask Biden to take a verbal memory test. We can probably say confidently though, that Sanders believed it would be a bad idea.
Some Sanders supporters are still sore that he was accused of hurting Clinton’s campaign in 2016. Bernie’s decision not to attack Biden as fiercely as his supporters would have hoped, or highlight his mental health, may reflect that he himself believes he hurt Hillary’s campaign, and knowing he would lose, did not want to damage his party’s ticket again. Perversely, not targeting Biden’s mental health may have hurt Democrats even more (it will always be Bernie’s fault).
Or maybe he doesn’t want to throw rocks from a glasshouse.
How did Sanders manage to lose to Biden though? The simplest answer is often the best one: Biden was more popular.
“If Bernie’s opponents had split the vote between themselves, then Bernie would have won!” is said with the confidence of someone who can speak English but not understand it. If your take at this point is that Bernie was robbed of the nomination due to a an illegitimate conspiracy, (Smooth-brained YouTuber and Sanders shill, Kyle Kulinski, calls it a “coup”), then I would invite you to consider the following points:
1. You don’t know that.
2. It wasn’t that close.
3. There is nothing shady about uncompetitive candidates leaving the race and endorsing their preferred candidate (yes, even a day before an election).
4. Bernie could have sought endorsements or other alliances himself but was unable or unwilling.
5. The map after Super Tuesday, as has been shown, was also unfavorable to Sanders.
6. Bloomberg, who had less of a reason to continue running than Warren, probably took more votes from Biden than Warren did Sanders.
7. Get a grip.
In fact, to the extent that we can predict what-would-have-happened-had-the-“establishment”-not-ganged-up-on-Bernie, it looks as if Sanders still would have lost Super Tuesday. Biden won 90 more delegates on Super Tuesday then did Sanders, “progressive” Warren won 73, and “establishment” Bloomberg won 55.
Fair, the delegate awards aren’t strictly proportional.
When Warren’s supporters were asked who their second choice was on March 4th and 5th, they answered Biden and Sanders in near equal numbers: 47% Sanders, 46% Biden. Was Warren really just a female Sanders? Or a female Biden? I guess she was her own candidate the whole time. There was never any reason to infer that mass politics would follow the neat categories constructed by hyper-online armchair political scientists. (It occurs to me now that actual political scientists actually do work in armchairs).
48% of Bloomberg supporters told pollsters in early March that Biden was their second choice, compared to 25% for Sanders, and 15% for Warren. If there was a conspiracy to destroy Sanders, then the only true Democratic Party outsider was not in on it. (Also, who are these “I’ll settle for Sanders if Bloomberg drops out” people?)
By my calculation, if we assume that Warren dropped out before Super Tuesday, but Bloomberg stayed in, and that 100% of Warren supporters still showed up and voted for either Biden or Sanders, then about 65.9% of them would have needed to vote for Sanders in order for him to have won the Super Tuesday aggregate popular vote. From my armchair in New Jersey, I assure you this would not have happened.
Deep down, Sanders progressives are probably resentful that they are seen as a liability, rather than a legitimate partner to be wooed or rewarded. Progressives are to be controlled, not negotiated with. (Some of the noise targeted at black and “uneducated” voters simply screams of petty status resentment).
Biden was a legitimate winner, and is the presumptive nominee.
Biden’s clear victory means whatever his actual mental condition is, it will be exceedingly difficult for the Democrats to suddenly pick another candidate if they need to. Biden was the most popular candidate among primary voters. Unless he steps down or dies, the nomination is his.
But there is little basis with which to predict anything in American politics. I certainly can’t argue that Cuomo won’t be the nominee on the basis that it’s too stupid to be possible.
Though Biden is in the best mental shape he will be in for the rest of his life, I cannot see even an inkling of a counter-narrative. Will the Party now say that Biden sounds better with half his brain then Trump does at 100%? That would at least have the merit of being true. Or that Trump’s mental health is also waning, and this issue is a wash?
In any case, to the extent that Biden’s health is actually a concern, his team won’t be able to ignore it for much longer. Biden decisively defeated a field of candidates that did not highlight his age, but that luxury is already coming to an end.