As Trump continues his self-destruction and slide in the polls (even his base doesn’t like to be lied to in a crisis), it’s interesting to see how his reelection machine intends to attack Joe Biden. Right now, it seems that he only has two paths. One is Biden’s past relationship with China (which is really no different than Trump’s – some appeasement/some antagonism) and Biden’s cognitive abilities. Trump likes to call Biden “Sleepy Joe,” because of his soft rhetoric and occasional gaffes like the most recent “blacks who back Trump ‘ain’t black” which he admitted was a little too “cavalier.”
But that’s, Joe. If you listen carefully to how he talks he transitions back and forth between scripted talking points and “kitchen table” rhetoric which the “ain’t black” remark was. It’s obvious he favors the kitchen table talks. In doing some research for this article I came across one of the best ethnographies ever written about Joe Biden. It’s an article written by Jeanne Marie Laskas in 2013 for GQ, “Joe Biden Presidential Campaign 2016.” It’s so insightful of the vice president that you just want to hug him. And yes, regardless of what some less-empathetic have said, that’s a good thing.
Joe Biden is a remarkable individual. After reading Laskas article and coming from a large Irish catholic family I felt like Joe could be my brother. Also being prone to put my foot in my mouth, or as Nancy Pelosi would say “step in it,” I long ago realized that if you are honorable and don’t lie you don’t have to remember what you said because you will always have the moral high-ground. But with Joe he never has to worry about what he says because as John McCain said, “Joe Biden doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.” It doesn’t matter if what he says is gaffed, his heart is always in the right place.
Laskas wrote, “He will say foolish things he doesn’t quite mean, and he will say bluntly brilliant things that others long to say. It’s his charm. It’s his gift. It’s his political liability, and it’s part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it’s hilarious and we love it. But Biden also can be fantastic when he’s on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton’s or Obama’s. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama’s miserable first performance against Romney.”
The reason Joe speaks slowly and softly when he talks (as opposed to his oratory) is that he was a stutterer. Like Annie Glenn, John Glenn’s wife who recently died at 100, Joe has had to battle the affliction his whole like. He worked hard at fixing it and, like the Demosthenes, put pebbles in his mouth and practiced talking to the outside back wall of his boyhood home. There are about three million stutters in the U.S. and Joe was teased and bullied throughout his youth. Because of it, Joe hates bullies and will always stand up for the downtrodden. It was that instinct that inspired him to want to take Trump “out behind the barn.” Good thing for Trump he didn’t because Biden was an accomplish halfback and it wouldn’t have been a fair fight against, again, as Pelosi put it, “a morbidly obese” Trump.
As far as Biden’s cognitive capacity is concerned, although I’m not a neuroscientist I have been trained in academic research and I have been working on a meta-analysis to bring the science and care of Alzheimer’s dementia closer together. As Dr. Thad Polk Ph.D. said in his lecture series “The Aging Brain” (2016), Alzheimer’s is NOT a normal part of aging. Aging is associated with subtle declines in some cognitive abilities, but not others and no two brains mature the same way. As a person ages they become a little more forgetful (“why did I walk into this room?” or “where did I put my car keys?”), get distracted more easily, and can’t process information quite as quickly as they once did. At the same time, however, knowledge, memory of cognitive skills, emotional processing, and many other aspects of mental life tend to remain stable or even improve with age.
Regarding Joe’s touching, all mammals, at an early age, need to be touched and to touch in order to develop the attachment needed for normal brain development. This is why hugging is such a strong impulse. Joe’s touching and hugging of people is a natural human response and most people not only respond positively to touching but also long for it. Some people and families are more huggers than others because of their genetic makeup. I’ll bet you a dollar to a hole in a donut that Joe comes from a family of huggers and as McCain said, “he can even hug Republicans.” And thank God he is, because when he becomes president, he will have to hug a whole nation as we go through the healing processes of this pandemic. Trump is absolutely incapable of hugging anyone but himself.
McCain continued that, “as vice president Biden wasn’t prepping to be president. He put his political capital on helping Obama succeed. He wanted projects. Beginning, middle, and end projects (when he’s elected, he’ll have the mother of all projects). He’s unique in that he’s had some role in every major national-security crisis that his nation has faced in the last thirty-five years. I don’t know anyone like him in the U.S. Senate. Look at the number of times he’s been able to conclude agreements. I would say he’s been the most impactful vice president that I’ve known – certainly in modern times.
And then there is his roster of palace pals around the world. It would take a lifetime for someone to build an infrastructure of so much trust, so many avenues, in so many corners of the world. When an old man dies, the saying goes, a library burns to the ground. For Biden, it would be an entire global network.” And we are going to need these skills from him more than ever as we rebuild our country’s economy, the global economy and repair our world relationships so we can work together to combat climate change.
So, no, there is nothing wrong with Joe and so much that is right. He will use his four decades of political and governmental administrative experience to surround himself with bright and talent people as he leads us through the rebuilding of our economy, public healthcare system and public institutions. His decency and old fashion love of our country will help wash away the dark stain we now have on America’s soul. He’s the right man for our times and we are lucky that we have him now more than ever.Read More