Two days ago, Joe Biden did an interview on ABC’s “This Week…” that produced an indecipherable utterance that makes “Blazing Saddles'” Gabby Johnson seem like Winston Churchill. Tanned and rested, which no travel during the week to exhaust him and having not appeared on TV for several days, Joe offered America this bit of wisdom:
“We cannot let this, we’ve never allowed any crisis from the Civil War straight through to the pandemic of 17, all the way around, 16, we have never, never let our democracy sakes second fiddle, way they, we can both have a democracy and … correct the public health.”
You know, his words reminded me of an episode when I was the editorial page editor of my high school’s weekly newspaper. The submissions from my “staff” were particularly terrible one week, and no amount of re-writing by me could produce enough quality opinion to fill the page. I decided to take one particularly incomprehensible screed, cut out each line of text, pull them randomly out of a hat, paste them in their new sequence, then punctuate the mess and capitalize letters so it appeared to be an article. I published the result under the headline, “Discrimination in Portugal” without a byline.
Nobody noticed. One student told me that she found the editorial “Thought-provoking.” This has bothered me ever since.
The issue with Joe’s latest “Discrimination in Portugal” impression isn’t that he’s not all there and vanishing before our eyes, for that’s been pre-ordained and obvious for months. A while back I designated Biden’s diminished mental capacity and examples thereof as a Julie Principle phenomenon: it wasn’t going to go away, and either you accept this while choosing to concentrate on Joe’s virtues, or you reject it and Joe as unacceptable in a Presidential candidate, much less in a President. In either case, you stop reacting to each new example as if you’ve seen a ghost. This is Joe 2020,The Julie Principle says. Stop bitching about it.
The Julie Principle, however, requires that the known flaw doesn’t turn into something worse and materially different. In the example I’ve used before, my father’s closest childhood friend was a sociopath, and my Dad remained his loyal friend for 60 years nonetheless. However, his friend’s sociopathy was consistent and predictable the whole time. (My father opined that Bud’s widow didn’t seem all that shocked when a second, contemporaneous wife and family from Australia showed up at his funeral.) If his old friend had suddenly taken a turn to treason or serial killing, my father would have had to act. That would be a material change, and the Julie Principle would no longer apply.
Thus the issue now is whether the Democratic Party, the mainstream news media, the Biden family, and even the members of the public who are determined to vote for whomever or whatever is the candidate opposing President Trump in November will acknowledge that Biden’s latest deterioration moves him out of the “periodic brain cramp” category and into “get a bed ready at the home” territory. No mainstream media that I could find mentioned Biden’s commentary on Portugese discrimination yesterday: Is this really something the public, most of which doesn’t watch George Stephanopoulos ( What? WordPress wants me to change his name to “Souphanouvong”?), doesn’t have a right to know? Isn’t democracy at risk of “dying in darkness” if a babbling basket case is elected President of the United States?