We need to talk about Joe Biden

Leaving aside those procedural questions, already there is another effort underway to impose a taboo against saying the following: Joe Biden is clearly not well. The comeback front-runner for the Democratic nomination hasn’t lost a step; he’s lost the plot. You’re not supposed to diagnose or psychoanalyze people from afar, I know. It is rude. Having any conversation about the frailty of an elderly public figure always feels rude. Such conversations are difficult to have even about elderly family members, behind closed doors.

But this subject needs to be broached right now. Accusations that Hillary Clinton was unwell were treated as a conspiracy theory up until the moment she seemed to collapse at a 9/11 memorial and was pushed into the side of a van like a sack of meat. Though that viral clip surely hurt Clinton, it was a one-day story and she performed reasonably well on the campaign trail afterward. Biden is amassing a series of viral clips that are much worse. He’ll forget the name of former president Barack Obama, or the state he’s in, or stock phrases of American oratory: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women created by . . . you know . . . you know the thing.” He’ll announce to a baffled crowd that “I’m Joe Biden’s husband and I work for Cedric Richmond” (Richmond is a congressman, in case you were wondering.)