(NYPost) Once, toward the end of her life, when she was not in good health, I woke my mother up from a nap, and, unusually for her, she snapped fully awake immediately. Over the next several minutes, she talked at length about the strict Catholic schools she had attended as a girl, remembering how mean the nuns had been and how afraid she had been of them. Her memories were vivid, and I was surprised that she had never shared them with me before.
The reason she hadn’t shared them with me, of course, is because none of it had ever happened. She was raised in a Methodist family in a company town in the Texas Panhandle and had never set foot in a Catholic school a day in her life — she probably would have had to drive two hours just to find one. I’d be surprised if she’d even known any Catholics back then. Her mind had, for whatever reason, played a trick on her. She didn’t suffer from dementia in any obvious way, and she never had another episode like that, as far as I am aware, for the rest of her life. When we get old, we break down, and strange things sometimes happen.
A thing about my mother, though: She did not possess a single nuclear weapon.
President Biden is having a series of worrisome episodes that seem to be a mix of his trademark plagiarism (adopting episodes from other public figures’ lives as his own in addition to appropriating their words) and what we sometimes euphemistically call a “senior moment.”
Recently, President Biden told a truck driver: “I used to drive a tractor-trailer.” This wasn’t the first time he had made the claim. But the White House has since conceded that it is a fabrication; asked for proof of Biden’s truck-driving career, aides pointed to a newspaper article showing Biden riding in a truck — once — as part of a publicity stunt. He keeps telling this story, and it keeps being untrue.
But that’s par for the course for Biden, who infamously slandered an innocent man in the matter of the death of his first wife and daughter, claiming that the man had been a drunken driver. He wasn’t, there was no suggestion that he was, and police reports at the time suggested that it was probably Mrs. Biden who had been at fault in the accident. Yet Biden spent years alleging that the man “drank his lunch” before causing the accident.
Biden also has a rich fantasy life, which is not limited to his mythical truck-driving days. There is cloak-and-dagger stuff, too. On Wednesday, he told an audience that during the Six-Day War, he had acted as a liaison between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the Egyptian government. The Six-Day War occurred in 1967, when Levi Eshkol was the prime minister of Israel and Biden was plagiarizing his way toward finishing No. 76 of 85 in law school. Nobody had ever heard of such a thing as a Joe Biden back then. (And nobody was asking for one.) He was years away from beginning his Senate career. This is another fantasy, one that Biden keeps repeating. Is it an ordinary lie, or is it a delusion?
(Biden did later meet Golda Meir. The Israelis were not impressed with the young senator, and certainly were not asking him to be their back channel to Egypt.)
A certain kind of Republican takes a lurid and celebratory view of Biden’s mental fugues. But you do not have to be a bitter partisan to be concerned about the fact that the president of the United States of America has become a sort of Walter Mitty, so deep into his fantasies that he muses in public about events that — let’s go ahead and emphasize this once more — never happened.
To broach the subject of the president’s competence in a formal way is a serious thing, one that Republicans probably cannot do effectively on their own. (Imagine the hilarious spectacle of Marjorie Taylor Greene arguing that somebody else is mentally unfit for office.) But it is difficult to imagine a single Democrat, much less a meaningful group of them, stepping up on this.
So we must rely either on Republican credibility or on Democratic political courage — i.e., we are hosed.
Because of Biden’s long history of habitual dishonesty, it is difficult to tell how much of this is Biden being Biden and how much of it is Biden no longer quite being Biden — how much is his longstanding and familiar moral disability and how much is, as it may be, late-life mental disability.
We need an independent medical assessment of the president’s mental health. That is a sobering fact to face, but face it we must. And right now, we need a Democrat who will say so in public.