Well, that was a complete disaster

President Joe Biden conducted a press conference on Thursday evening with the express intent of proving wrong the accusations that his mental faculties are in severe decline. While questions about his grasp on reality have long plagued the chief executive, it was the release of special counsel Robert Hur’s report on Biden’s mishandling of classified information that drove the president to the podium — a rare appearance that not even the deaths of three U.S. servicemembers could prompt. Hur ultimately found it inadvisable to press charges against Biden because “Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Hur went on to itemize examples of Biden’s poor memory:

In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse. He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (“if it was 2013 – when did I stop being Vice President?”), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (“in 2009, am I still Vice President?”). He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died. And his memory appeared hazy when describing the Afghanistan debate that was once so important to him. Among other things, he mistakenly said he “had a real difference” of opinion with General Karl Eikenberry, when, in fact, Eikenberry was an ally whom Mr. Biden cited approvingly in his Thanksgiving memo to President Obama.

Biden could have used the disturbing findings in Hur’s report on the president’s mishandling of classified documents and his demeanor during interviews with the special counsel to his advantage. He and his allies could have only emphasized the material distinctions between his conduct and Donald Trump’s, which framed the president as less evasive and obstructive than his likely Republican opponent. He might have brushed off the observations about his mental decline and used the low expectations for his performance they set to vault off them during his forthcoming State of the Union address. Given Hur’s apparently low estimation of Biden’s faculties, it wouldn’t have been difficult to surpass them. But Biden didn’t do any of this.

Rather, the report set off a flurry of presidential activity that is highly unusual for the president. He delivered not one but two public addresses in its wake, even going so far as to take reporters’ questions well past the point at which Biden prefers to retire. The goal was clearly to communicate Biden’s vivacity, but the effect was the opposite. In a primetime address to the nation, Biden chose to present his most cantankerous face — all while doing little to dispel the notion that his cognitive acuity is in decline.

He confused Mexico and Egypt. He barked at the reporters who questioned his abilities (“That’s your judgment! That is not the judgment of the press!” he exclaimed to a member of the press). It appears that Biden, or his handlers, seem to believe that having him show anger — yelling, lashing out at reporters, his staff, and the special counsel — would prove him to be energetic and mentally fit. But his tantrum accomplished the exact opposite. He came off like an elderly relative who isn’t ready to acknowledge that he can’t live independently anymore.

Then, in a bizarre and unnecessary digression, Biden issued gratuitous condemnations of Israel’s conduct in its defensive war in Gaza and inadvisably revealed his desire to seek an indefinite cease-fire in the region by convincing Israel to consent to a short-term cessation of hostilities he would attempt to extend — an admission that all but forecloses on that outcome.

Biden’s conduct since the Hur report has done little more than convey in no uncertain terms how devastating its conclusions are to the president’s political fortunes. If this impartial assessment of Biden’s decline from his own Justice Department could have been rebutted, it cannot be now. Biden might have set out to convince the nation that Hur’s conclusions regarding the president’s affable decrepitude were wrong. In the process, he only managed to refute the affable part.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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