Can the US really elect ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden, a 77-year-old barely trusted to appear in public?

Can the US really elect ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden, a 77-year-old barely trusted to appear in public?

August 21, 2020

JUST six months ago, Joe Biden’s bid to become the next US President suffered a crippling blow.

The veteran Democrat and former Vice-President almost crashed out just after the long race for the White House had officially begun.

In the Iowa caucuses, the first electoral contest of the campaign to become his party’s candidate, the 77-year old finished in a humiliating fifth place.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch,” Biden declared after the disastrous result. One commentator on the news outlet CNBC was even more scathing: “His presidential hopes are finished.”

Yet today, Biden stands on the threshold of the Oval Office.

Victory is in his grasp. Having clawed his way back into the primaries and won the Democratic nomination to challenge Donald Trump, he could soon be the most powerful man on Earth.

It is certainly his fight to lose. Some nationwide opinion polls put him no less than 10 points ahead of Trump, whose popularity has taken a battering because of the coronavirus crisis and the consequent economic recession.

This week’s Democratic convention, including his own powerful, well-crafted speech last night, will have done nothing to undermine his lead.

But with some worrying signs of mental decline, Biden's coronation could mean the reigns of power are actually handed to the hardline leftists around him – rather than to the ageing politician himself.

History of failures

What makes Biden’s comeback all the more remarkable is that his two previous attempts to reach the White House failed so miserably.

In 1988 his campaign fell apart after he was exposed plagiarising one of the speeches made by Neil Kinnock during the British General Election the previous year.

Some of the passages were lifted almost word for word. “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to go to university?” asked the Labour Leader.

“Why is Joe Biden the first in his family ever to go to university?” asked the Democratic Senator.

It does not say much for either Biden’s creativity or his judgement that he had to seek secret inspiration from a socialist mediocrity widely known at Westminster as the Welsh Windbag.

In 2008 Biden did even worse, dropping out after a woeful performance in the Iowa Caucuses, where he gained just one per cent of the total vote.

During the campaign, he regularly put his foot in his mouth, most notoriously when he described his rival Barack Obama as “the first African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy”.

Best of a bad bunch

This year, after Iowa, his chances seemed to be heading in the same sorry direction.

But then, in the following months, he gradually emerged as the front-runner.

This was mainly because the other leading candidates were seen as either too extreme or too unlikeable.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was a hard advocate of toxic identity politics who unconvincingly claimed to have Native American blood.

Bernie Sanders was North America’s answer to Jeremy Corbyn, complete with revolutionary economics and brutish tax plans.

Peter Buttigieg was a sanctimonious mayor of a small city in Indiana, without any experience of the national stage.

In contrast, Biden had not only been a Delaware senator for 35 years, but had also served as Vice-President throughout Obama’s time in the White House.

Through these roles, he had built up a reputation as a moderate, helped by his image as an ordinary, down-to-earth guy rather than a member of the Washington elite.

Worrying signs of decline

The son of a used car salesman, he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the place where the US version of Ricky Gervais’s comedy The Office was set.

His popular appeal was further enhanced by his personal story of having to cope with agonising grief, which he spelt out in raw, emotive terms last night.

The catalogue of anguish includes the loss of his first wife and daughter, killed in a car accident in 1972 and the death of his son Beau from brain cancer in 2015.

Yet none of this can hide a disturbing reality about Biden, one that makes him profoundly unsuited to be the leader of the free world or the commander-in-chief of the US military.

It is something that the Democrats have desperately tried to downplay, along with much of the media.

From the viewpoint of political operators on the left, his decline actually makes him an ideal candidate.

But, the fact is that Joe Biden is in steep mental decline. Already by far the oldest Presidential candidate in history, he shows all the signs of advancing senility.

He might be able to read effective from an autocue, as he showed last night, but in other settings, away from the podium, he regularly stumbles over his words, confuses facts, loses his train of thought, and lapses into coherence.

His supporters say that he has always been “gaffe-prone” and that is true, but the problem goes much deeper.

In the past, Biden could be sharp, even witty, as he showed in his triumphant 2012 Vice-Presidential debate against the Republican Paul Ryan.

Today, when speaking off the cuff, he struggles to string basic sentences together.

Hidden by his own team

Without the help of a teleprompter, this is a man who mixes up his wife and sister, gets the names of countries wrong, and keeps repeating the same phrases.

In one bizarre outburst in Iowa, he called a female reporter “a lying, dog-faced pony soldier”.

In another contribution, he declared that he will “choose truth over facts”.

With a delusional grasp of arithmetic, he has said that 720million women will be put back to work by his tax credit plan, that 150million Americans have been killed by guns since 2007, and that 120million have died from Covid-19.

That is why, throughout the campaign, his minders have tried to keep him in his Delaware home, almost like a hostage.

Major interviews have been banned, public appearances strictly rationed.

It is a strategy that his team cynically justify by claiming that they want to protect the 77-year-old candidate from Covid-19.

But the determination to shield the potential next President from any accountability makes a mockery of democracy.

Perfect puppet for extreme agenda

It might seem bizarre that the Democratic party should march under the tattered standard of such a weakened general.

But from the viewpoint of political operators on the left, his decline actually makes him an ideal candidate.

His senility might have to be concealed from the public, but it can be ruthlessly exploited in private. Broken and bewildered, Biden is a puppet whose strings can easily be pulled by his hidden masters.

Behind the thin veneer of his supposed moderation, the radicals can seize power and enact their hardline policies, like defunding the police, imposing financial reparations for slavery, rewriting American history, confiscating wealth, promoting transgender ideology, extending public ownership, and widening the scope of affirmative action.

Precisely because he is now an empty vessel, a Biden Presidency would mean the ruthless enforcement of woke dogma.

In fact, it's unlikely that he will last a full four-year term.

Therefore his Vice President Kamala Harris, an ambitious operator can start preparing for her reign.

But perhaps she should not be too hasty. The Democrats’ opportunism could backfire badly if voters become alienated by the idea of an enfeebled President.

After all, the American political structure – in contrast to our Parliamentary system – is built on the concept of a strong executive headed by a powerful, elected head of state.

Trump could pull a Nixon

Already Trump, never one to pull his punches, is running adverts that highlight concerns about the “cognitive decline” of “Sleepy Joe”.

The commercials seem to be having an impact. Almost 60 per cent of Americans do not think that Biden will serve a full term, while other polls show the race narrowing.

Trump could also be boosted by revulsion at the radical Democrats’ agenda, especially the collusion with urban violence.

In 1968 widespread unrest fuelled by the civil rights movement enabled the Republican Richard Nixon to defeat the Democrats under Hubert Humphrey.

Famously, Nixon said that the “silent majority”, ignored by the media, had spoken.

Today the same public mood could give Trump a second term.

It would be no more than the Democrats deserve for their eagerness to hide the real Joe Biden.

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