Multiple Democrats and mainstream media figures spent the hours after Special Counsel Robert Hur released his report calling out President Biden’s “poor memory” insisting that the world leader is “on his game.”
Democrats like Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and prominent journalists like former CNN reporter John Harwood insisted that Biden is one of the “sharpest” people they’ve dealt with and is more than capable of handling his job as president.
He’s “on his game,” Dingell insisted in a recent cable news interview.
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They pushed this idea even though a major portion of American voters believe the president’s age and mental acuity are in question.
The talking points in defense of Biden’s mental competence started up after Hur released a report, Thursday, on his investigation into Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents while he was a private citizen.
Hur noted that there was evidence that Biden did illegally handle documents, but declined to recommend criminal charges against the leader, in part due to the special counsel team’s belief that a future jury would see Biden’s “poor memory” as compromising his ability to willfully commit the crime.
Biden’s press conference on Thursday – his attempt to assuage concerns about his acuity that spiked after Hur’s report – spun the chatter about the findings into a frenzy. The president appeared defensive and combative towards reporters, he disputed Hur’s findings, and even confused the presidents of Mexico and Egypt in an already viral gaffe.
The press conference prompted even pro-Biden talking heads to admit that his age and mental fitness are a liability and that both Hur’s characterization and Biden’s rejection of it were “terrible” for the Democratic Party, especially as the 2024 election begins heating up.
However, others doubled down, defending Biden’s intelligence. In response to CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s questions about several of Biden’s recent gaffes in context of the Hur report, Goldman went to bat for Biden.
He said, “I was in Israel on Oct. 7, as you know, and President Biden was nice enough to call me. And I can tell you, this was the day before that interview, I can tell you he was sharper than anyone I’ve spoken to about a very complex geopolitical urgent issue with the Hamas terrorist attack. And it indicated to me that he had spoken to all of the relevant leaders in all of these different countries.”
“His mastery and command of a complicated geopolitical situation was just impeccable and so, I don’t know what happened in there,” Goldman added, mentioning his confusion over Hur’s investigation.
Rep. Dingell blasted the hits to Biden’s mental sharpness in a CNN segment on Friday afternoon. The lawmaker told anchor Brianna Keilar, “But I know what I’m talking about. I know Joe Biden. I was in Michigan with him last week and we were talking issues, all kinds of issues. Issues that matter.”
Dingell gesticulated forcefully as she continued, saying, “And I’ll tell you, we were talking about the Mid-East and my Arab Americans, and we had some of the bluntest – and I mean blunt – conversations.”
“This is a man that’s on his game,” she concluded.
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Harwood, a former White House correspondent, refused to admit that Biden’s mental acuity was declining as Hur suggested. After the report dropped, Harwood reposted an interview he did with Biden nearly two weeks ago to X to prove the president is fine.
Referencing the former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, Harwood wrote, “Hur did his version of Comey’s ‘I have no case but need to slap ’em around a little” routine. As for Biden’s mental fitness, I talked to him one-on-one at the White House 10 days before Hur did. Here’s the video; judge for yourself.”
After seeing Biden’s Egypt/Mexico flub, Harwood also insisted to his more than half-a-million followers on X that Biden “can do the job.”
In a subsequent tweet, he wrote, “Biden’s press conference showed the same thing his performance in office has shown for 3 years: he can do the job,” he wrote, adding, “Mexico for Egypt meant nothing, but the GOP political apparatus is a bad-faith enterprise and mainstream press has been knocked silly by financial/political pressure.”
Bloomberg columnist and podcast host Matthew Yglesias defended Biden on X as well. He shared a clip from Biden’s press conference in response to the Hur report and wrote, “He seems totally fine and I think needs to do more press.”
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday morning, former Biden 2020 campaign official Adrienne Elrod responded to Hur, saying that Biden is “perfectly capable” and “perfectly competent.”
She continued: “You don’t put 14.2 million jobs on the card – which he’s done as president – if you don’t have the strong mental acuity to do it. You don’t pass four major economic bills – two of those bipartisan – you don’t put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. The list goes on and on in terms of President Biden’s accomplishments. You don’t manage a complex situation in the Middle East if you don’t have your strong mental acuity.”
American environmentalist and journalist Bill McKibben published a column in the L.A. Times early Friday morning – just hours after Biden’s presser – in which he flipped the script on the narrative regarding Biden’s age.
The piece, titled, “Age matters. Which is why Biden’s age is his superpower,” argued that Biden’s age denotes the wisdom and experience that has made him such a successful president.
McKibben wrote, “Joe Biden is old. Like each of us, he comes from a particular place in history, in his case the LBJ years. And that’s one big reason why his first term has been so full of accomplishments: His age, often cited as the greatest obstacle to his reelection, is actually his superpower.”
He added, “Age matters. My cohort agrees. Why did Biden believe he could do what he did in his first term? Because he’d seen it done. Let’s hope the politicians of the future are watching his successes closely.”
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