Biden’s Senility Obscures Trump’s Senility

           Why, frustrated Democrats are asking, is the news media ignoring signs that former President Donald Trump is (also) suffering cognitive impairment? Why are they focusing on President Joe Biden’s debate performance and calling on him, but not Trump, following his conviction on 34 felony counts, to drop out of the campaign?

            You have reasonable questions, I have answers:

            Biden is the incumbent, not Trump. As much as Democrats would prefer otherwise, elections are a referendum on the incumbent.

            Voters have long been worried about Biden’s age. The debate confirmed their concerns about the 81-year-old leader and added a new one: Democrats and their media allies have been gaslighting them about Biden’s physical and mental condition.

            Trump’s felony convictions, though politically problematic are not inherently disqualifying. A felon can perform the duties of president. A senile person cannot.

            Trump has been out in public, unscripted, a lot more than Biden. His performance was no worse than usual; if anything, he came off as calmer. Biden has hardly held any unscripted events, even in private. His deterioration came as a surprise.

            Biden asked for this debate (“make my day, pal,” he told Trump), wanted a high-profile moment and then fell flat on his face when voters obligingly paid attention—this even though the Trump campaign agreed to all of the White House’s terms and conditions for the event. All eyes were on Trump—and rightfully so.

            Focus on Trump’s debate responses, however, and it becomes clear that Democrats have a point. Biden isn’t the only presidential candidate Americans ought to be concerned about when it comes to age and cognitive acuity.

One comment alone provides sufficient reason to question whether Donald Trump should get the launch codes back: “I want absolutely immaculate clean water and I want absolutely immaculate clean air. And we had it. We had H2O,” he said. “We had the best numbers ever and we were using all forms of energy, all forms, everything.”

We had H2O. Unlike a lot of what Trump says, it’s true. The U.S. had water. (The rest is lies.) But who says that? Who talks like that? Who says something that weird and doesn’t have the self-awareness to walk it back, tweak it or laugh at himself? Only someone who has something wrong with their brain.

Now here’s Trump on abortion:
“Now the states are working it out. If you look at Ohio, it was a decision that was – that was an end result that was a little bit more liberal than you would have thought. Kansas I would say the same thing. Texas is different. Florida is different. But they’re all making their own decisions right now. And right now, the states control it. That’s the vote of the people. Like Ronald Reagan, I believe in the exceptions. I am a person that believes. And frankly, I think it’s important to believe in the exceptions. Some people – you have to follow your heart. Some people don’t believe in that. But I believe in the exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. I think it’s very important. Some people don’t. Follow your heart. But you have to get elected also and – because that has to do with other things. You got to get elected. The problem they have is they’re radical, because they will take the life of a child in the eighth month, the ninth month, and even after birth – after birth. If you look at the former governor of Virginia, he was willing to do this. He said, we’ll put the baby aside and we’ll determine what we do with the baby. Meaning, we’ll kill the baby.”

What the hell?

Here he is on migrants:

“They’re killing our citizens at a level that we’ve never seen before. And you’re reading it like these three incredible young girls over the last few days. One of them, I just spoke to the mother, and we just had the funeral for this girl, 12 years old. This is horrible what’s taken place. What’s taken place in our country, we’re literally an uncivilized country now. He doesn’t want it to be. He just doesn’t know. He opened the borders nobody’s ever seen anything like. And we have to get a lot of these people out and we have to get them out fast, because they’re going to destroy our country.”

Asked about Palestinian statehood, Trump replied:

“But before we do that, the problem we have is that we spend all the money. So they kill us on trade. I made great trade deals with the European nations, because if you add them up, they’re about the same size economically. Their economy is about the same size as the United States. And they were – no cars. No – they don’t want anything that we have. But we’re supposed to take their cars, their food, their everything, their agriculture. I changed that. But the big thing I changed is they don’t want to pay. And the only reason that he can play games with NATO is because I got them to put up hundreds of billions of dollars. I said – and he’s right about this, I said, no, I’m not going to support NATO if you don’t pay. They asked me that question: Would you guard us against Russia? – at a very secret meeting of the 28 states at that time, nations at that time. And they (sic) said, no, if you don’t pay, I won’t do that. And you know what happened? Billions and billions of dollars came flowing in the next day and the next months.”

These are insane rants. Are they Biden-level nuts? Maybe, maybe not. But they are too nuts for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Set aside Trump’s grandiosity, politics and the question of truth versus falsity. Read Trump’s debate passages for comprehension, linearity and clarity, allowing for the fact that conversational speech differs from the written word, and there are few through lines and little continuous thought to be found. The expression is manic, spasmodic and scattershot. The grammar is dead wrong, the ideas internally contradictory.

Trump’s word salad, psychologists say, is a sign of dementia and schizophrenia. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, “common behaviors [of a dementia patient] can include mixing up words (word salad) and creating false memories without motivation (confabulation).” We’ve seen both with Trump. He also exhibits logorrhea, i.e. excessive talking. Why say something once when 14 times will do?

What is wrong with Biden? He probably has Parkinson’s disease.

What is wrong with Trump? I don’t know exactly. Maybe that’s just his personality. More likely, something is wrong. To put it another way, it doesn’t matter if Trump is sane if he’s unable or unwilling to communicate clearly. Whatever is going on with Trump, or isn’t, should be the subject of serious consideration during this political year. Trump, 78, should submit to a cognitive test administered by an independent expert.

Biden’s evident senility and his unwillingness to step aside for the good of the Democratic Party are obscuring the equally important issue of whether Trump is also mentally fit to serve as president.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. His latest book, brand-new right now, is the graphic novel 2024: Revisited.)

2 Comments. Leave new

  • re Biden and Parkinson’s

    As Ted has pointed out, Biden at least doesn’t have a textbook case of Alzheimer’s – since in that case his visible deterioration would have progressed much faster. While he may show several symptoms of Parkinson’s, it’s questionable if that would be enough to warrant a diagnosis – especially in the absence of tremor in involuntary movements which is the clearest indication.

    I think this discussion is beside the point since it is quite possible to be a successful politician with Parkinson’s for a number of years. Acuity of thought is not affected by Parkinson’s and we have medication for decades now to ameliorate the symptoms. In the case of Alzheimer’s we only very recently have developed drugs that show potential.

    While Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are very different, both conditions are characterized by “premature” signs of nervous system damage. Effectively the number of neurons in our brains is greatest early in life and slowly goes down over our lifespans. If we could extend life to, say, 150 years, everyone at that age would suffer similar symptoms.

    It is a spectrum: some people are lucky and age more gracefully than others. Biden is clearly one of the unlucky ones in that regard, though he probably does not (yet) fulfill the medical criteria for a Alzheimer’s diagnosis (although those are quite elastic). I’m not sure how easy it would be to hide if he did get medication – an actual diagnosis would seal the case for his detractors.

    The weak “arguments” aimed at explaining away his dismal performances actually may do the most the expose the problem:

    He still has a slight stutter which he addresses by using work-arounds such as switching to a synonym that is easier to pronounce at the beginning of a sentence. This is taxing and exhausting work, and he cannot do it as well as even a decade ago. Similarly, working late is impossible, recovering from a cold is taking all his resources etc.

    Clearly presidential material. 4 more years!

  • Trump is easier. He developed his persona by reading how-is-babby-formed as a how-to-manual:

    Of course, the act tends to take over the actor and the mask may fuse to his person like his hairdo.

    So one candidate can coherently argue the case for more cruelty – but only in the morning, only if the next sentence does not begin with a hard consonant, and nobody sneezed in his direction recently.

    The other candidate deliberately chose to exclusively rely on emotional appeals for more cruelty.

    Candidates like Cornel West who interweaves reasoned argument and spiritual insight to advocate for compassion clearly cannot be allowed on the ballot.

    Good thing I am not allowed to vote in your election, but may instead freely choose which candidate shall govern by following the orders of your government.

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