Get ready for lots of hand-wringing over the suggestion that a leading American political figure is impaired, along with lots of sudden-onset amnesia about how much of it we’ve heard over the past four years or so already. In this case, though, Donald Trump used it as a comic jab more than an argument against Joe Biden. Trump described for last night’s Fox News’ town hall his surprise at Biden’s remarkable comeback against Bernie Sanders, whom Trump had assumed would be his opponent in November.
“So mentally,” Trump explained, “I’m all set for Bernie. Communist — I had everything down. He’s a communist. I was all set. Then we have this crazy thing that happened, right, on Tuesday, which he thought was Thursday.”
“But he also said 150 million people were killed with guns and he was running for the United States Senate … There’s something going on there,” Trump warned.
The crowd laughed as Trump recalled some of Biden’s most recent gaffes, but there were several more the president could have mentioned.
Trump said, “in a certain way Bernie would be tougher because he’s got a base.” But, after Super Tuesday, the president concluded, “I think it’s going to be very hard for him to come back.”
That’s pretty mild, especially for Trump, who routinely goes after Biden’s gaffes on the campaign trail and refers to him as “Sleepy Joe” at other times. (Trump also calls Sanders “Crazy Bernie,” for that matter.) Bear in mind, however, that the media has endlessly speculated on Trump’s mental and psychiatric condition, right up to an embarrassing amount of time and effort reporting in 2017 on supposed efforts from within the government to get Mike Pence behind a 25th Amendment removal effort.
Although he was talking about this in another context, Trump explained that he has no intention of taking those kinds of attacks without returning them in kind. “I wouldn’t be sitting up here if I turned my cheek,” Trump observed:
Americans want their president to fight for them.@realDonaldTrump is that fighter.
Great Town Hall event tonight. pic.twitter.com/jZjQFkaxuL
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) March 6, 2020
Whether one likes that argument or not, and whether one likes Trump or not, it’s almost impossible to deny that he’s correct. Voters are not interested in cooperation and gentility; voters want a “he/she fights!” hero on their behalf. How we got here might be a worthy (and lengthy) discussion, but here we most certainly are, which is why Amy Klobuchar is barely getting mentioned in the Politics Are Misogynist hyperbole but Elizabeth Warren has become its poster child.
In this case, the jab at Biden’s faculties is just a joke. It probably won’t be for long, because Biden keeps providing examples of not being quite as sharp in mind that will escalate interest into his capabilities. Expect to see more of the same 2017 nonsense from partisan shrinks conducting long-distance diagnoses of Trump to counterbalance it — nonsense like this from Yahoo News, for instance.