Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a primary election night campaign rally Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
As Joe Biden has retaken a dominant lead in the Democratic primary, we’ve seen a distinct shift in the coverage of him. When it looked like he was going to fully collapse, there was more of a willingness to point out his obvious issues, whether it was questioning him on his son’s corruption or dealing with his obvious mental decline.
On the second issue, the shift has been dramatic. A few months ago, former candidates like Cory Booker were openly talking about Biden’s inability to stay coherent. Now, he’s endorsing him to be President. For the media’s part, they are attempting to label all criticism off-limits.
Joe Biden's opponents on the left and right are spreading a disgusting and baseless smear that he is in "cognitive decline," based on verbal slip-ups he makes when trying to suppress his childhood stutter.
It's ageist and ableist AF. Stop doing it. https://t.co/QMQ28VIKEN
— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) March 6, 2020
That’s just ludicrous. Stuttering does not make one forget where they are, what they are saying, what the President they served under’s name is, who their wife is, what day it is, forget their own name, ask people to re-elect their opponent, etc. all things Biden has struggled with on the campaign trail in just the last month. You can compare his public speaking to just a few years ago and the difference is stunning. It’s not a “stutter” that’s causing this.
Here are some recent examples of Biden committing “gaffes” while speaking.
This is really sad. Joe’s family needs to tell him to pull out of the race. He’s clearly suffering from dementia (although I’m not a doctor but have witnessed this terrible disease). It’d be horrible to watch a loved one do this in the public eye. pic.twitter.com/HaYoPHHZYz
— Beth Baumann (@eb454) March 2, 2020
This is so sad.
Here @JoeBiden says to the crowd in South Carolina that he is "running for the United States Senate" and that if they don't like him they can "vote for the other Biden."
I honestly wish he would've retired & not subjected himself to the rigors of this campaign. pic.twitter.com/mygFnsrdjC
— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 25, 2020
Joe Biden sums up his campaign:
"We cannot win this re-election. We can only re-elect Donald Trump." pic.twitter.com/TrO7pCUCUT
— Trump War Room – Text EMPOWER to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 8, 2020
On that topic, Peter Hasson at The Daily Caller wrote about his own experiences with stuttering and compared them to the current coverage of Biden.
Stuttering has nothing to do with Biden pledging to appoint the first African-American woman to the United States Senate. (The Senate has already had black women, and presidents don’t appoint senators anyway.)
Stuttering has nothing to do with Biden making bizarre references to record players, it has nothing to do with Biden forgetting in which state he’s campaigning, and it has nothing to do with him confusing people and events from decades apart. It simply doesn’t.
What’s really behind Biden’s mental misfires is up for debate but the vast majority of the time, it ain’t a childhood stutter, and anybody saying otherwise is either dishonest or uninformed.
This is correct, and while it may be uncomfortable to talk about (I stopped reporting on Biden’s miscues for a period of time), a presidential candidate doesn’t get to handwave away observations of his declining mental state as a “stutter” when it’s obviously not.
None of this is going away and with Biden continuing to campaign, the “gaffes” are going to continue to pile up. Questions about why they keep happening are going to grow among the public and those questions are legitimate. Biden can keep ignoring it if he likes, but the media don’t get to set a new double standard on this. Especially not after spending three years accusing President Trump of having a mental illness based on TV appearances.
This happened after I wrote this piece. This isn’t a stutter, folks.
9-10 second mark is Joe Biden talking about slapping this guy in the face? pic.twitter.com/FSICU6CaQe
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) March 10, 2020