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Not fit to be President: WSJ paints a grim portrait of old Joe

Way back in June 2022, I said on the podcast, “I think the single most predictable ‘bombshell’ of the coming years is that sometime in 2025, someone like Bob Woodward or Robert Costa will publish a book with a title like Perpetual Crisis: Inside the Biden White House, and we will ‘learn’ something like, ‘the president’s official health report said he was in fine shape for his age. But behind the scenes, Jill Biden, Ron Klain, and Susan Rice were deeply concerned the president’s health was rapidly declining, and that he would soon be unable to perform his duties.’”

This morning, the Wall Street Journal takes us another half-step toward that minimally shocking revelation, interviewing more than 45 sources and offering a grim portrait of President Biden behind the scenes: forgetful, mumbling, increasingly reliant on notes to remember basic facts, and seemingly oblivious to his own administration’s policies and decisions.

On a typical weekday, President Biden is in front of the cameras for an hour or two. 

Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for getting some sources to talk about what Biden is like the other 22 or 23 hours a day:

When President Biden met with congressional leaders in the West Wing in January to negotiate a Ukraine funding deal, he spoke so softly at times that some participants struggled to hear him, according to five people familiar with the meeting. He read from notes to make obvious points, paused for extended periods and sometimes closed his eyes for so long that some in the room wondered whether he had tuned out.

In a February one-on-one chat in the Oval Office with House Speaker Mike Johnson, the president said a recent policy change by his administration that jeopardizes some big energy projects was just a study, according to six people told at the time about what Johnson said had happened. Johnson worried the president’s memory had slipped about the details of his own policy.

Last year, when Biden was negotiating with House Republicans to lift the debt ceiling, his demeanor and command of the details seemed to shift from one day to the next, according to then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and two others familiar with the talks. On some days, he had loose and spontaneous exchanges with Republicans, and on others he mumbled and appeared to rely on notes.

“I used to meet with him when he was vice president. I’d go to his house,” McCarthy said in an interview. “He’s not the same person.”

I’m not that worried when Biden says, in his Time magazine interview, that Vladimir Putin “wasn’t just going into Moscow” when he meant “wasn’t just going into Ukraine.” We all flub our words here and there, and in that example, Biden quickly corrected himself.

I’m much more worried about when Biden insists that he wasn’t told something and military leaders or members of his cabinet maintain, under oath, that he was. Biden had insisted during his infamously short-tempered interview with George Stephanopoulos that no one had recommended keeping a small group of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to keep order at the airport or anywhere else, specifically stating, “No one said that to me that I can recall.” A few months later, under oath before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Central Command general Frank McKenzie and Joint Chiefs chairman general Mark Milley both said they had recommended President Biden maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

In Biden’s surprise evening press conference denouncing special counsel Robert Hur, the president fumed, “There’s even a reference that I don’t remember when my son died. How in the hell dare he raise that. Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business.”

But when the transcript was released, we found that the president himself raised the death of Beau Biden, and that Biden indeed had a moment where he had trouble remembering the date his son died, and which years Trump won the election and Biden left office:

MR. HUR: So, during this time when you were living at Chain Bridge Road and there were documents relating to the Penn Biden Center, or the Biden Institute, or the Cancer Moonshot, or your book, where did you keep papers that related to those things that you were actively working on?

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, um . . . I, I, I, I, I don’t know. This is, what, 2017, 2018, that area?

MR. HUR: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Remember, in this timeframe, my son is — either been deployed or is dying, and, and so it was — and by the way, there were still a lot of people at the time when I got out of the Senate that were encouraging me to run in this period, except the President. I’m not — and not a mean thing to say. He just thought that she had a better shot of winning the presidency than I did. And so I hadn’t, I hadn’t, at this point — even though I’m at Penn, I hadn’t walked away from the idea that I may run for office again. But if I ran again, I’d be running for President. And, and so what was happening, though – what month did Beau die? Oh, God, May 30th.

MS. COTTON: 2015.


PRESIDENT BIDEN: Was it 2015 he had died?



MR. BAUER: Or I’m not sure the month, sir, but I think that was the year.

MR. KRICKBAUM: That’s right, Mr. President. It–

PRESIDENT BIDEN: And what’s happened in the meantime is that as — and Trump gets elected in November of 2017?



PRESIDENT BIDEN: ’16, 2016. All right. So — why do I have 2017 here?

MR. SISKEL: That’s when you left office, January of 2017.

In other words, Biden was not accurately remembering an exchange during a public appearance when he insisted, “My memory is fine!” Biden invoked executive privilege to block the release of the audio recording of the interview with Hur.

Biden’s long record of shameless BS makes it tough to tell when he’s misremembering or simply lying. When the president keeps insisting that inflation was 9 percent when he took office, is that just spin trying to get voters to blame Trump for inflation? Or does Biden really not remember that inflation didn’t start increasing until he had been in office a few months and signed some massive spending bills? Does Biden not remember assuring Americans, in July 2021, that “there’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way”?

I can understand why Biden would want to forget certain inconvenient facts and regrettable guarantees. But it matters a lot if the guy making decisions as commander in chief and head of the executive branch actually can’t remember what he was told from day to day.

During the Watergate scandal, Senator Howard Baker famously asked, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”

With Biden, we’re forced to ask, “What did the president know, and how long did he remember it?”

The Wall Street Journal article is based on interviews with more than 45 people over several months, “with Republicans and Democrats who either participated in meetings with Biden or were briefed on them contemporaneously, including administration officials and other Democrats who found no fault in the president’s handling of the meetings.” It is far from surprising that Republicans who meet with Biden perceive a doddering, forgetful old man, and Democrats perceive a man so energetic and vigorous, that, as Karine Jean-Pierre put it, “I can’t even keep up with him.”

But the Journal offers some hard numbers reaffirming our suspicions that we don’t see the president as often as we used to, and neither do congressional leaders:

Americans have had minimal opportunities to see Biden in unscripted moments. By the end of April, he had given fewer interviews and press conferences than any of his recent predecessors, according to data collected by Martha Joynt Kumar, an emeritus professor at Towson University. His last wide-ranging town-hall-style meeting with an independent news outlet was in October 2021.

He has had fewer small meetings with lawmakers as his term has gone on, visitor logs show. During his first year in office, even with pandemic restrictions, he held more than three dozen meetings of fewer than 20 lawmakers in the West Wing. That number fell to roughly two dozen in his second year, and about a dozen in his third year.

Unsurprisingly, the White House was determined to throw cold water on any anecdotes indicating President Biden is too old to stay on the job until January 20, 2029:

The White House kept close tabs on some of The Wall Street Journal’s interviews with Democratic lawmakers. After the offices of several Democrats shared with the White House either a recording of an interview or details about what was asked, some of those lawmakers spoke to the Journal a second time and once again emphasized Biden’s strengths.

“They just, you know, said that I should give you a call back,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, referring to the White House.

Bates, the White House spokesman, said: “We thought it was important that all perspectives be represented” to correct what he said were “false and politically motivated claims.”

The one event that is listed on Biden’s schedule, every day, is the presidential daily briefing from the intelligence community — effectively like your morning newspaper, with much better sources. Some days, the PDB will focus heavily on one country or issue, but most days it will cover a wide variety of topics relevant to U.S. national security. (The most recent declassified and released PDB is from the last day of Gerald Ford’s presidency, January 20, 1977, discussing developments in Egypt, Cyprus, West Germany, the Soviet Union, Qatar, Yugoslavia, and Benin.) The PDB represents the end result of a far-reaching, Herculean effort — billions of dollars spent, thousands of U.S. intelligence community employees working all kinds of hours, spy satellites, human sources, signals intercepts, information that is often gathered at considerable risk — every day of the year.

What is the point of putting all that effort into gathering, analyzing, and providing the best information possible to a man who won’t remember it for long?

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