Shocked? I know I am. Who knew the White House still employed stenographers?
Oh, wait … does anyone really dispute the notion that Joe Biden has “lost a step” and that his “mental acuity” has declined since leaving the White House four years ago? Naah. But that’s not the question. The question is … does it matter?
The Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman interviewed Mike McCormick to air his concerns about the Democratic nominee:
“It is a complete difference from what he was in 2017,” Mike McCormick, who worked as a White House stenographer for 15 years and with Biden from 2011 to 2017, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “He’s lost a step and he doesn’t seem to have the same mental acuity as he did four years ago.”
“He doesn’t have the energy, he doesn’t have the pace of his speaking,” McCormick said. “He’s a different guy.” …
McCormick—who often traveled with Biden and transcribed his speeches, public conversations with foreign leaders, and off-the-record media briefings for the official White House record—said the vice president had a talent for connecting with audiences when he was in office and almost always veered off script from his pre-written speeches. Biden’s physical stamina and cognitive health have come under scrutiny during the 2020 election, due to a series of speaking appearances in which the 77-year-old has appeared to lose his train of thought, struggled to finish a sentence, or forgotten where he is.
“He’d just make a big joke out of it, and go straight from the hip. And notice, he’s not doing that anymore,” he said. “He read that [Democratic National Committee speech] verbatim … it’s not Joe Biden anymore.”
It’s a legit point, one made acute by Biden’s own performance on the campaign trail … or as much of the “trail” as he travels, anyway. Team Trump certainly likes to beat this particular drum, with Biden’s on-camera fades a particular favorite for meme clips. Two days ago, Biden’s direction to his handlers to “move it up here” so he could read a scripted answer off a teleprompter went viral as a means of harping on the mental-acuity question:
Joe Biden is relying on a teleprompter to answer questions: "move it up here," he tells his staff.
There are long pauses between his words as he waits for the prompter to scroll. pic.twitter.com/zYlMbfd2mA
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) September 7, 2020
But does this matter? Four years ago, mental health professionals began their long-distance diagnoses and prognoses of Donald Trump’s mental health too, claiming that he was a pathological narcissist and liar who might be damaged enough to be effectively non compos mentis. Remember all of the talk about the 25th Amendment options? The impact of all those attacks were essentially nil, because voters didn’t care about anything else other than the fact that Trump wasn’t Hillary Clinton or some other establishment stiff.
The same applies here, too; the only thing that matters in 2020 is that Biden’s not Trump. And vice-versa, for that matter — Trump’s pretty clearly warning voters that they may not like him, but that they should fear a Biden presidency. (And not for no good reason, too.) That’s mostly on policy and character issues in both cases, though, not for mental-health issues.
In a rational world, Biden’s mental acuity should matter, as should Trump’s character issues. In a rational world, the two major parties should have come up with better options in 2016 than Trump and Clinton, too. We aren’t living in that version of the Matrix, however, so we have to make do with what we have. Voters understand that too, and will go to the polls mainly to vote against the evil of two lessers, which makes Biden’s mental acuity nothing much more than a fun meme in 2020.