On President Biden

President Biden
President Biden

In my political commentary, I focus on matters of law and policy. When I consider candidates for political office, I also consider their character. In either case, I avoid getting bogged-down with trivialities and distractions. I do not ridicule political figures when they make harmless gaffes, and I shy away from bringing things like age or medical condition into the discussion.

In my 2020 presidential election endorsement, I did not even mention that both then-President Donald Trump (R) and now-President Joe Biden (D) were quite elderly. I only briefly mentioned Trump’s “miscommunications, gaffes, flubs, and obnoxious Tweets,” and later described Biden as being “like America’s lovable, goofy uncle,” but I did not harp on their long histories of saying weird things in public.

Many Trump supporters attempted to paint Biden as a feeble, old man (even though he is only four years older than Trump). Some called him “Dementia Joe” and alleged that he was mentally unfit to serve as president. It was clear that Biden had slowed down with age—as most people do—but I saw no evidence of serious incapacity. This line of argument played no part in how I voted.

Throughout Biden’s presidency, his political opponents have shared clips of his gaffes far and wide. Some are the sorts of simple gaffes and misstatements that Biden has always been prone to make. Some showed him appearing to “zone out” or lose his train of thought. Some showed him reading teleprompter instructions verbatim (like “repeat the line”). I was inclined to ignore these—everybody has bad days, and public figures have the misfortune of having them on camera for all to see. But they became more and more common, and the White House’s only response was to eliminate most public appearances where Biden might have the chance to go “off-script.”

When it came time for me to make recommendations in Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary, I said:

Unfortunately, I must also raise the question of Biden’s fitness for office. He will be eighty-two years old before the beginning of the next presidential term. Age is not disqualifying in-and-of itself, but I am increasingly concerned about his mental and physical health. In public appearances, Biden often appears confused and lost. When making unscripted remarks, he speaks quietly, slowly, and sometimes incoherently. Biden has always been a gaffe-machine, but there has been a marked, noticeable deterioration in his condition over the last four years.

I did recommend that Virginia’s Democrats vote for Biden in the primary, but only because he was the “least offensive of the three” candidates on the party’s ballot.

On Thursday, June 27, Trump and Biden—who are facing one another in a depressing electoral rematch—participated in a televised debate hosted by CNN. This was the first major event in many months where Biden would have to speak in public for an extended period without a teleprompter . . . and he performed very poorly. He sounded unwell. He repeatedly lost his train of thought. He declared, “We finally beat Medicare,” which would have been one of those silly, harmless gaffes if it had stood on its own, but it was just one incoherent line among hundreds.

The Biden campaign claimed that he had a cold . . . but I have never had a cold that gave me a brain fog without also giving me a persistent cough, sneezing, and a runny nose. None of these symptoms were evident.

I am now deeply concerned about Biden’s physical and mental health. This is not a political concern; this is a human one. But because of the unique nature of the presidency, this personal concern for the man must be bound up with a greater concern for the country. It is not a question of whether Biden will make correct decisions when faced with a crisis . . . it is a question of whether he remains capable of making coherent decisions at all, and, if so, for how much longer?

If Biden’s stunningly poor performance in the debate had been an isolated incident, it would only have warranted some moderate concern. But when combined with countless other examples of his confusion and memory loss, and ever-more obvious attempts by White House officials to avoid unscripted moments over the preceding months and years, there is cause for real alarm.

To limit the damage to his reelection campaign, Biden sat for an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic Party operative who served as communications director for former President Bill Clinton (D), which aired on July 5. It was meant to give Biden a relatively friendly environment where he could explain what happened and prove he was still up to the job. Unfortunately, he was just as confused and meandering as he had been in the debate. When asked if he had watched video of the debate, he said, after an uncomfortable pause, “I don’t think I did, no.”

I must now conclude, reluctantly, that President Biden is no longer able to discharge the duties of the office . . . or, in the best case, is rapidly approaching such inability. I take no pleasure in this. I know that some will assume I am throwing stones at the president because I did not vote for him and tend to oppose his policies, but that is not the case. I respect the man, and I respect the office he holds. I wish him good health. And I have given him every benefit of the doubt as evidence of his deterioration mounted. I can no longer do so.

Many political commentators have called for Biden to drop out of the race, which would allow the party to choose another candidate—likely Vice President Kamala Harris (D). Biden should probably do so, but the Democratic Party is a private organization and it’s really none of my business who stands as their candidate. The voters can make their choices in the general election accordingly.

Biden is not my candidate, but he is my president. That is my area of concern. I’m not worried about whether he can run a successful campaign and win in November, I’m worried about whether he can do the job he currently holds, which happens to be one of the most important and consequential jobs in human history. Because I am no longer confident that he can, I must call on Joe Biden to resign the office of President of the United States, which would elevate Harris to the presidency, or voluntarily declare his inability under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would make Harris the acting president.

I make this request for the good of the American people. I make it for the safety of the nation and, indeed, the whole world. Believe it or not, I also make it for the good of President Biden, who I judge to be a good and honorable man despite my deep disagreements with him on almost every major political issue.

If Biden does not resign or declare his inability by July 18—three weeks after the debate—I call upon Vice President Harris and a cabinet majority to declare Biden’s inability under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which would make Harris the acting president.

Ed. Note, July 19, 2024: July 18 has passed, and Biden has not yet resigned or declared his inability. My concerns are unchanged.

There are unconfirmed (but credible) rumors that Biden and his advisors are considering ending his reelection campaign in the coming days. As described above, my concerns are about his ability to serve as president today, not the election. I am willing to hold my call for the Vice President and cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment for one more week in hopes that, if Biden does drop out, he will also resign or declare his inability to serve.

If Biden ends his campaign without resigning or declaring his inability, or if he remains in the race after July 25, I will renew the above-mentioned call for invoking the 25th Amendment.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.