Let’s Be Honest About the Biden Candidacy

Photo by Gage Skidmore (Flickr, (CC BY-SA 2.0))

For better or worse, the Democratic Party has effectively coalesced around Joe Biden as its 2020 presidential nominee. While one can legitimately debate whether he was the best of the large pool of Democratic aspirants—and while his nomination is technically not a done deal until the party’s nominating convention makes it official—nevertheless, if the 2020 presidential election does indeed pit Joe Biden against Donald Trump, three truths should be acknowledged and considered.

The first truth: Joe Biden is the better choice, by far. Not because his political career has produced an unblemished record of consistency and good judgment—it hasn’t. Not because he can credibly point to plentiful instances of sustained, bold, and competent leadership in times of crisis—he can’t. And not because he’s demonstrated a rhetorical capacity to calm or inspire a populace desperately in need of calming and inspiration—he hasn’t. No. Joe Biden is the better choice because he’s fiercely loyal to the norms, values, and ideals of our constitutional form of government, because he has substantial experience working within virtually every level of that form of government, because he’s unafraid of surrounding himself with smart, competent people—and because he’s not Donald Trump.

The second truth: Joe Biden is obviously in the midst of appreciable cognitive decline. One needn’t be a gerontologist to reach this conclusion—just listen to him at a town hall, replay one of his recent debate performances, watch him interviewed on TV. The halting sentences, the word-finding difficulties, the meandering responses, the perseverating, the sometimes-glassy look in his eyes. His concentration level, his speech, even his body language—all are just so obviously off, the synapses just not firing as consistently as one would expect of someone not so cognitively impaired. He’ll be 78 years old in November. His mental faculties are in decline. They won’t be getting better.

The third truth: If Joe Biden wins the election, there’s a far-greater-than-usual possibility his running mate will succeed him before his term expires. And because this is true—because Biden’s cognitive degeneration substantially increases the likelihood that he’ll be leaving office prior to the expiration of his term—his selection of a running mate will be of enormous consequence. In the modern era, every presidential candidate has expressed confidence that his or her running mate had the qualifications to serve as president should the unlikely occasion require, but in most instances, the selection process favored considerations that were more political than administrative—can this person help me in the South, can this person help me with a particular voting bloc, that sort of thing. And while certainly, in the present cycle, political factors will and should come into play (Biden does, after all, want to win), nevertheless, this time around, with an out-of-control president destroying decades of global alliances, generations of social progress, and centuries of constitutional norms; with an out-of-control pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide; and with Biden’s age and obvious infirmities posing a risk to his capacity to serve a full term, the paramount, overriding consideration in the selection of a running mate must be the person’s real, actual, unquestionable qualification to serve as this country’s president—since there’s a good chance she will.

~~Kenn Shapiro

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