The Trump camp claims Biden is senile 007

Damon Linker
·2 min read

The day of the first debate of the 2020 presidential election began with Rudy Giuliani's appearance on Fox & Friends to drive home and amplify the months-long message of the Trump campaign: 77-year-old Democratic nominee Joe Biden is demented. He flubs the Pledge of Allegiance. He forgets the prologue to the U.S. Constitution. "He can't do numbers!" He displays eight out of the 10 symptoms of dementia listed in the DSM-5, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

It was quite a performance, lowering expectations for the former vice president below the sub-basement. Perhaps out of fear of overkill, Republicans shifted tactics by early afternoon. Now, they insisted, Biden was refusing to allow "third-party inspectors" to examine his ears for a hidden device that might allow campaign staffers to feed him questions and answers in real time on the debate stage.

Desperation on the part of the Trump campaign? Or just a willingness to say anything and everything and see what sticks? Either way, the president's surrogates should perhaps have thought through the implications of their clashing insinuations. Is Biden a senile old codger who's incapable of remembering basic facts or putting a coherent thought together without performance-enhancing drugs? Or is he the political equivalent of a world-class secret agent using technological cheats to gain a marginal advantage over his adversary?

I don't know if Biden is a doddering old man or a candidate capable of seamlessly parroting attack lines whispered in his ear during a high-pressure, high-stakes gambit in a live broadcast before the nation and the world. But it's hard to see how he could be both.

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