Liberals Were Blinded To Biden’s Senility By Their Own Speech Codes

What’s the biggest difference between the liberal and conservative news media in the United States over the past five years? Conservatives have consistently described Joe Biden as senile and liberals have consistently derided this and demanded expert evidence.

Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write for Axios July 6, 2024:

It is a fair conservative critique that many reporters ignored obvious signs of cognitive decline… Rarely did other outlets follow our exclusive reporting on accommodations for Biden's aging — shorter hours for public appearances, fewer improvisational or late-night moments, and the rise in handlers and devices to help avoid tripping and falling. Some reporters enabled the White House by piling on reporters on social media who questioned Biden's lucidity…

There were so many early signs. Biden rarely did tough interviews — much, much fewer than his predecessors. It was almost always friendly questions on friendly terrain…

The denials — including the favorite line that Biden works so hard he exhausts the youngsters — strained credibility then, and look ludicrous in retrospect.

Conservatives spotted Joe Biden’s cognitive decline years before liberals because conservatives don’t accept ageism and ableism as real moral categories.

We all have concepts of the world and some are more useful than others. Israel, for example, had concepts about the enemy that left it unprepared for the enemy’s attacks of October 6, 1973 and October 7, 2023. The United States had concepts about the enemy that did not prepare it for attacks on December 7, 1941 and on September 11, 2001. Author Chimamanda Adichie gave a TED talk on “The Danger of a Single Story.” Summary: “The risk of the single story, the one perspective, is that it can lead us to default assumptions, conclusions and decisions that may be incomplete, and may lead to misunderstanding. Operating from the context of a single story can prevent us from a more complex, nuanced view of a situation.”

By July 2, it became clear to me that Joe Biden would go due to the desperation of the situation. At this point, most of the political elite believed that Biden would stay due to precedent. I don’t know as much about politics as they do, but if I am right, it is due to my having a superior conception – that the dire nature of the situation will prevail over precedent.

Similarly, most political elites believe that Kamala Harris will be the Democratic nominee for president if Joe Biden steps down. I do not. Due to the dire nature of the situation (that Kamala Harris has provided Democrats with no basis for believing that she can defeat Donald Trump), I believe the Democrats will select a different nominee.

Who’s the boss? Not the president, not the Senate majority leader, not the MSM. The situation is the boss. The situation determines the comparative power of all other factors including law and precedent.

Liberal elites had a concept regarding Joe Biden prior to the June 27, 2024 debate that ageism and ableism are so morally dangerous that we should require considerable evidence from experts before publicly raising the question of his competence.

How many of liberalism’s moral categories prevent people from seeing reality? Because of “racism,” we can’t discuss in polite company that different groups commit crimes at different rates. Common sense suggests profiling people according to crime statistics but liberals have made that, in many cases, illegal.

That which you are not allowed to say out loud is increasingly not thought. Once liberals speech codes are internalized, conservatives can’t even think like conservatives.

Liberals want to stigmatize frank and easy discussion of reality including the obvious fact that different ages, sexes, races, and religions have different gifts.

Jan. 6, 2022, Edward Luce wrote for the Financial Times:

On no topic is the bifurcation of America’s media more evident than that of the president’s age. To the conservative media world, Joe Biden’s imagined senility is a staple. Republican figures routinely call for him to take cognitive tests. The term “dementia” is bandied about. By contrast, the closest traditional outlets have come to addressing Biden’s age is a spate of reports into the low ratings of his vice-president, Kamala Harris. For them, it is as if openly acknowledging Biden’s advancing years would validate the conspiracy mongers…

There is no reason to think that Biden is suffering from anything more than traits that characterised him in younger decades, such as foot-in-mouth disease and a tendency to talk too much. Neither of these is degenerative… There are some grounds to suspect he is getting more forgetful — he implied twice last year that Taiwan was a formal ally of the US, a claim his staff had to correct. But there are none to suggest he is senile or suffering from dementia.

It turns out the conservatives were right and the liberal establishment was wrong.

Like most of the press corp, Edward Luce was checked out of reality with regard to Biden’s senility. And yet Luce is now making the rounds (including on the elite Morning Joe tv show) pronouncing on the story without admitting how wrong he was.

In a July 6, 2024 video, America’s best political reporter, Mark Halperin, says: “Republicans investigating Joe Biden during his presidency have been a clown show. They haven’t done it well and in part they haven’t done it well because like with the Hunter Biden investigations the press was against them. The press didn’t want to help them. Now the press is interested in these two stories too so the incompetent Republican party on Capitol Hill in terms of investigations is now going to have the wind at their back because they’ll be working with reporters. One is what did the president’s people know and when did they know it (his condition)… It’s been a conspiracy. The press has been in on it.”

Mark Halperin writes July 6, 2024:

Pretty binary options:

1. There was a massive coverup by the Biden White House to keep the president’s undiagnosed cognitive decline from being exposed.


2. There was a massive coverup by the Biden White House to keep the president’s diagnosed cognitive decline from being exposed.

If it is (1), which it is at a minimum, it is very politically damaging to Joe Biden, his administration, and his campaign.

If it is (2), it is right up there w/ WMD & Russia-gate in its historic implications.

Would the Biden family, seeing the decline, really leave him undiagnosed?

Does one have to be a doctor to diagnose Chris Christie as obese? Maybe those fatty-looking layers are really muscle?

Veteran media reporter Brian Stelter writes July 3, 2024: “Many Trump supporters treated it as a given that Biden was senile, and any report that didn’t outright agree was seen as part of the alleged media cover-up.”

Isn’t “senile” the word that rises most readily to the lips with regard to Joe Biden’s condition over the past six years? “Senile” is easier to say than “cognitive decline.” What’s a better word to describe Biden’s cognitive collapse over the past six years? Perhaps “frail.” That’s regarded as a scientific and medical term.

How would you explain the MSM’s reluctance to point out Biden’s obvious senility?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, senile means “showing poor mental ability because of old age, especially being unable to think clearly and make decisions.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “Due to its negative connotations, use of senile relating to cognitive decline is now typically avoided in medical contexts and may be considered offensive in general contexts.” notes:

Today, “senile” is generally considered an insult and is not used except as part of archaic medical condition names.

The more accurate way to refer to natural changes of aging, especially those related to mental and intellectual functioning, is “cognitive changes.”

Yes, and the homeless are just people going through a lack of housing phase and illegal aliens are just people without proper papers.

Liberals don’t like insensitive terms such as “senile” and “illegal alien” and “homeless” while conservatives embrace them. This verbal freedom enables conservatives to see and describe some parts of reality more easily than do liberals.

Every group has its blind spots. “Ties bind and blind,” notes Jonathan Haidt. Conservatives have their share of blind spots. For example, conservative distrust of expertise and big government placed them at a disadvantage with regard to minimizing Covid. Conservative veneration of certain first-hand experiences over expertise creates its share of problems. Conservatives who dismiss evolution are blind to much of reality.

June 28, 2024, the day after Joe Biden’s disastrous debate, lefty Ezra Klein said: “That isn’t to say he’s senile or any of the things that the more wild right-wing accusations say about him…”

Why is it wild to describe Joe Biden as senile? He’s clinging to power in a delusional way.

July 1, 2020, Axios noted: “Senility is becoming an overt line of attack for the first time in a modern U.S. presidential campaign.”

Red State publishes July 4, 2024:

One journalist who has not been hesitant to assess Joe Biden is Brit Hume. He said in a Fox Interview in September 2020, “I don’t think there’s any doubt Biden’s senile.”

Politifact did a “fact check” back then declaring Hume’s assessment “false,” while noting the term “senile” is an imprecise term.

PolitiFact contacted experts in the health care of older people for their take on Hume’s use of the word senile and its application to Biden. They said Hume’s characterization is wrong.

It’s “a shameful display of ageism and ignorance,” said Donald Jurivich, Eva Gilbertson Distinguished Professor of Geriatrics and Chairman of Geriatrics at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

The word “senile” may create a mental picture of someone who has stooped posture, is slow moving and cognitively impaired, Jurivich said. “I don’t think any of these descriptors match Joe Biden’s demeanor and vigor,” he said.

From a geriatrician’s perspective, Jurivich said, “the use of ‘senile’ is a pejorative descriptor and reflects unmitigated ageism.”

Anyone talking about ageism and ableism sounds like a retard to red America. Liberal fidelity to the virtues of avoiding ageism and ableism blinded them to Joe Biden’s obvious decline.

“Fit for office” is a common media trope. It is not a way that I naturally think because it neutralizes the political and expands the power of experts to make the important decisions.

The office of President of the United States is just one expression of the human urge for power, and it is not inherently greater or lesser than other forms of human striving such as preacher. I don’t want any moral or physiological requirement for political office because I don’t believe the electorate needs minders. Every candidate will likely be fit for certain situations and unfit for others.

This frenzy shows the elite catching up to the majority of grass roots Democrats who did not want Biden to run for a second term (and had minimal enthusiasm for him in 2020).

Oct. 23, 2020, Jonathan Chait wrote for New York magazine:

Trump’s Plan to Make Biden Look Senile Disappeared Without a Trace

“They are going to put him in a home and other people are going to be running the country,” charged Trump last March. The anti-anti-Trump left gleefully embraced the narrative, conspiratorially asserting that Democratic insiders secretly knew Biden was a drooling invalid, but refused to say so. “Democratic insiders know Biden has cognitive-decline issues,” claimed left-wing activist Matt Stoller. “They joke about it. They don’t care.” Frequent Tucker Carlson guest Glenn Greenwald asserted “it is visible to the naked eye that the 77-year-old six-term senator and two-term vice-president is in serious cognitive decline.”

…Trump invested almost the entire campaign driving a singular theme against Biden. Now the results of that work have just sunk below the surface without a trace.

I put “insensitive words list” into Google July 6, 2024 and saw such perfectly useful terms as “long time no see,” “hard,” “unfeeling,” “soulless,” “unresponsive,” “callous,” “peanut gallery,” “grandfather clause,” “tactless,” “uppity, “moron,” and “unconcerned.”

The Society for Editing published Sep. 17, 2020 about insensitive language:


Where you might see it: Lifestyle stories, perhaps an interview with an important person. It tends to be used as a shorthand for “free spirit.”
Why it’s insensitive: It’s a racial slur.


Why it’s insensitive: Little people exist and using a term that reduces them to their bodies is incredibly insensitive.

“Grandfathered in”

Where you might see it: Often this is used as a shorthand for “exempted.” Sometimes you’ll see it in a policy story or in an education story.
Why it’s insensitive: This was a voter suppression tactic against Black people that Southern states used after the Civil War.


Where you might see it: Often it’s used to explain that a policy is weak or to criticize a lawmaker’s performance.
Why it’s insensitive: Anemia is a disease. Not only is it wrong to reduce a person to an illness, but to criticize them for being sick is strange and in bad taste.
In general, avoid using medical terms as a value judgment.
Try instead: “weak,” “pathetic,” “lackluster.”


Where you might see it: economic stories, of all the things. Writers tend to use this as a shorthand for “devastated” or “shattered.” I see “crippled” paired with stories about sanctions too.
Why it’s insensitive: It’s an outdated term for people who can’t walk or have limited mobility. A lot of ableist terms are outrageously insensitive.

“Turn a blind eye to”/ “fell on deaf ears”

Why it’s insensitive: It tells people who can’t hear or can’t see that they’re lesser because their senses are limited.

“Dark history of (racism)”

Why it’s insensitive: “Dark history of” tends to frame the issue as people of color existing in a predominantly white space, instead of emphasizing the racism.

“black and white issue”

Why it’s insensitive: This framing puts “black” as “bad” and “white” as “good.”

There’s no such sensitivity displayed by the media elite towards Christians, Orthodox Jews, and members of MAGA.

Devon Delfino writes for

“Using inclusive language helps build trust and credibility, particularly with groups that have felt historically underrepresented or misrepresented,” says Rachele Kanigel, editor of The Diversity Style Guide.

Here are ten outdated words to cut:

1. Addict → person with a substance abuse disorder

The desire for inclusion does not extent to traditional Christians, Jews and nationalists.

2. Non-white → person of color

3. Elderly → senior

4. Homeless → people experiencing homelessness

5. Sex change → transition

6. Exotic → just don’t, especially if it refers to a woman

7. Whitelist → allow list, permit list

8. Insane → just don’t

9. Man hours → person hours, engineering hours

10. Alcoholic → person with a substance abuse disorder

So what inclusive language do these elites want to use for those of us who consider their language policing absurd?

July 23, 2020, Jacqueline Howard writes for CNN:

Biden and Trump: Why doctors say attacks on age can be ‘dangerous’

But physicians with expertise on the aging brain urge voters not to be overly focused on age alone.

“It’s very important to focus on experience, on who the person is and policy issues rather than age,” said Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and the Parlow-Solomon professor on aging at University of California, Los Angeles’ David Geffen School of Medicine.

“A lot of people assume that an older brain is not as good a brain, but that is not necessarily true. We know that as people age, they actually become wiser. They have more experience to solve problems. They have less anxiety. When we’re younger, we tend to be more concerned about peer pressure. We’re about managing for the future. When you get older, you solve a lot of problems in your life, and there’s a sense of having been there and done that,” Small said. “You develop mental resilience, which is an important asset of an older person.”

…Age should not be thought of as a single discriminating factor, according to Dr. Richard Isaacson, trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

“I don’t really think of age as a discriminating factor in terms of when to choose someone that’s going to be in a leadership position, even if it’s in the most powerful position in the land,” Isaacson said. “What I would say is you have to pick the best person for the job.”

…Small called it “dangerous” to refer to stumbling over words on the campaign trail as signs of mental decline.

“I think it’s very dangerous to over interpret mental slips, when you see it in an older person, and I think when we do that, it strikes me that it’s a form of age discrimination – what we call ageism,” Small said. “We know that there are many factors that affect our mental acuity, people under stress, even giving speeches will increase mental slips of people who are distracted.”

So having a senile president is not the danger, the danger is when we point out that the blokes running for president might be senile.

Sep. 25, 2020, Timothy Egan writes for the New York Times:

Trump wants you to think Biden is senile, out of it, “dead as a rock.”

…The stutter is the source of Biden’s empathy. From his stutter, Biden has said, he developed “an insight I don’t think I ever would have had into other people’s pain,” and a life-motivating chip on his shoulder against men like Trump. In this fight, it’s Biden’s superpower.

Sep. 30, 2020, the New York Times reported:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. cast the first presidential debate as a leadership test for President Trump; Mr. Trump framed it as cognitive test for a supposedly senile Mr. Biden.

One [Biden] of them passed.

While Mr. Biden did not deliver a stellar performance on Tuesday — and the mud-spattered spectacle in Cleveland left neither participant unsullied — he easily surpassed the low expectations set for him by a Trump campaign that had portrayed him as a doddering weakling incapable of facing an alpha president.

April 5, 2022, publishes:

Misinformers target US President Joe Biden, 79, as ‘senile’

Misinformers…target [Biden’s] ‘cognitive decline’ and ability to govern through manipulated videos.

Philosopher Rony Guldmann writes in his work in progress, Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression:

* [L]iberalism must no less than the racism, sexism, and homophobia it denounces define itself in opposition to an Other, a role now assumed by conservatives

* The anointed reject the common sense of the benighted because its very commonness is an affront to their identity, which requires them to systematically invert every inherited norm and understanding. Their identity presupposes a world that resists their prescriptions, a world too benighted to recognize their superior wisdom and morality—and thus all the more in need of these. Whether the issue is the rights of criminals or the merits of avant-garde art, there is, writes Sowell, always a “pattern of seeking differentiation at virtually all costs.” Amorphous abstractions like the “politics of kindness,” “community spirit,” and “love of learning” permit just this, because they can always be reconfigured so as to generate a new chasm between the anointed and the benighted. Liberals are always “moving the goal post,” say conservatives, and this is because their political vision is also a vision of themselves. Since the vision of the anointed can at most enjoy the passive acquiescence, and never the lucid assent, of the great majority, it must be promoted and defended by an unaccountable intellectual class. Having captured America’s most influential institutions, including the media, Hollywood, the universities, public education, foundations, government bureaucracies, and, perhaps most importantly, the courts, the liberal elites employ their privileged position to foist their parochial values upon a silent and largely powerless majority of ordinary Americans. Even where democracy has not been legally disabled by the courts and the administrative state, this residue of freedom comes too late when informal coercion can achieve unofficially whatever cannot be achieved officially.

* Sowell charges that the anointed employ “preemptive rhetoric” to prevent fair, reasoned, and non-coercive debate with their political opponents. And this rhetoric may take the form of a seemingly innocent refrain. When a progressive tells a conservative “You can’t possibly mean that,” the point, charges Kahane,“is to stop the argument in its tracks,” to assert the progressive’s “higher reality.” “Everyone knows that” is likewise“[a]nother all-purpose put-down,” intended to broadcast that the conservative is a “complete idiot,” just as “You’re not really…” is meant to suggest that the conservative interlocutor “is little better than a cave-dweller, a superstitious moron whose walnut-size brain is probably stuffed with religious ‘dogma.’”68Here is the censorship of fashion in all its insidiousness.

* Imagining themselves uniquely objective, inclusive, thoughtful, and so on, liberals have cultivated an automatic social reflex that dismisses conservative opinions as mental or emotional immaturity, mindless reptilian instinct, unthinking fear and hatred that are easily recognized as such by more evolved souls. With this social reflex having become integral to the liberal identity and with this identity now woven into the fabric of American life, conservatives find themselves suffocated by an insidious and pervasive conservaphobia, the last socially acceptable bigotry.

* universities’ solicitude for diverse group identities does not extend to those who reject the dominant dispensation. Campus speech codes protect the sensibilities of left-wing students, but they allow these same students to label conservative blacks “Uncle Toms” and label anti-feminist women “mall chicks.” Studentswho believe homosexuality is sinful can be charged with harassing their gay and lesbian cohorts. But pro-choice students who surround a silent pro-life vigil and chant “Racist, sexist, antigay born-again bigots go away” are seen as engaged in protected speech.88Liberals ask us to put ourselves in the shoes of the less fortunate, so [Alan Charles] Kors proposes the following thought-experiment:

“Imagine secular, skeptical, or leftist faculty and students confronted by a religious harassment code that prohibited “denigration” of evangelical or Catholic beliefs, or that made the classroom or campus a space where evangelical or Catholic students must be protected against feeling “intimidated,” offended,” or, by their own subjective experience, victims of a “hostile environment. Imagine a university of patriotic “loyalty oaths” where leftists were deemed responsible for the tens of millions of victims of communism, and where free minds were prohibited from creating a hostile environment for patriots, or from offending that “minority” of individuals who are descended from Korean or Vietnam War veterans. Imagine, as well, that for every “case” that became public, there were scores or hundreds of cases in which the “offender” or “victimizer,” desperate to preserve a job or gain a degree, accepted a confidential plea bargain that included a semester’s or a year’s reeducation in “religious sensitivity” or “patriotic sensitivity” seminars run by the university’s “Evangelical Center, “Patriotic Center,” or “Office of Religious and Patriotic Compliance.”

* [Alvin W. Gouldner wrote in 1979:] “The culture of the New Class exacts still other costs: since its discourse emphasizes the importance of carefully edited speech, this has the vices of its virtues: in its virtuous aspect, self-editing implies a commendable circumspection, carefulness, self-discipline and “seriousness.” In its negative modality, however, self-editing also disposes toward an unhealthy self-consciousness, toward stilted convoluted speech, an inhibition of play, imagination and passion, and continual pressure for expressive discipline. The new rationality thus becomes the source of a new alienation.

Calling for watchfulness and self-discipline, CCD [culture of critical discourse] is productive of intellectual reflexivity and the loss of warmth and spontaneity. Moreover, that very reflexivity stresses the importance of adjusting action to some pattern of propriety. There is, therefore, a structured inflexibility when facing changing situations; there is a certain disregard of the differences in situations, and an insistence on hewing to the required rule.”

* The problem is not simply that political correctness has deprived conservatives of their right to express their beliefs—through media bias or campus speech codes—but that it has moreover and more insidiously obstructed their ability to even form beliefs, to translate their true sentiments into clear statements of position which they can then defend without embarrassment.

* The Ruling Class, writes Codevilla, “has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference.” And conservatives’ anti-intellectualism is before anything else an attempt to reverse these habits, to erode the social prestige that attaches to the “rhetoric and airs of the intellectual.”

* Alan Kors reports that Northwestern University hired “Self-Evaluation Consultants” to facilitate its New Student Week in 1989. There, the consultants admonished incoming freshmen that while they were not to blame for the “customs and habits of thought” they inherited from their parents and communities, they must now remake their lives, ridding themselves of “the ugliness, the meanness…[the] narrowness and [the] tribalism.”169Similarlyat Montclair State University, residential advisors attending sensitivity training were issue da “permission slip” granting them permission to be “imperfect with regards to homophobia and heterosexism.” Given the homophobic/heterosexist culture in which they were raised, their ignorance and bias were excusable so long as they were “struggling to change my false/inaccurate beliefs or oppressive attitudes [and] learning what I can do to make a difference.”

* [Kevin Williamson:] “The Left’s organizing principle is control, and the possibility that children might commonly be raised outside of its control matrix is an existential threat from the progressive point of view. Institutions such as free markets and free speech terrify progressives, because they are the result of arrangements in which nobody is in control…Home-schooling isn’t for everybody, but every home-school student, like every firearm in private hands, is a quiet little declaration of independence. It’s no accident that the people who want to seize your guns are also the ones who want to seize your children.”

Using a word like “senile” renders you a bad person from a liberal perspective. You’re engaged in othering, ableism and ageism.

March 12, 2020, conservative Marc A. Thiessen writes for the Washington Post:

It’s fair to speculate whether Biden is mentally fit to be president

His socialist rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is 78 — almost a year older than Biden — yet no one is questioning his mental fitness. On Monday night, Sanders spent an hour at a Fox News town hall where he was challenged to defend his policies and answered in great detail and without any gaffes or senior moments. Could Biden do the same?

April 7, 2021, Tara Law writes for Time:

Ageist Attacks Against President Biden Reinforce Outdated Stereotypes—and Hurt Younger People, Too

When President Joe Biden tripped on the stairs up to Air Force One on March 19, the incident immediately touched off a flurry of mockery. Fox News host Sean Hannity declared the President to be “frail.” “He didn’t know where the hell he was,” former President Donald Trump said in an interview with Lara Trump. Saturday Night Live, no stranger to easy jokes about aging Presidents, poked fun both at the fall and at a March 25 press conference when a reporter asked Biden if he planned to run for a second term—a question, quipped SNL’s Michael Che, which was “probably the nicest way to ask him if he plans on being alive in three years.”

…But experts say age-based attacks against Biden and others demonstrate how common ageist stereotypes are in American culture—to everyone’s detriment.

“Experts say” is a favorite phrase for liberals, the rough equivalent of “common sense” for conservatives. Conservatives believe that most individuals have common sense and can usually trust what their eyes tell them while liberals believe that common sense resides with expert consensus.

July 15, 2022, conservative Newsweek columnist Joshua Hammer writes:

There is something very, very clearly wrong with the president of the United States. Even The New York Times, which for former Biden boss Barack Obama functioned as Democratic Party Pravda, ran a recent piece entitled, “At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency.” A mere three days later, Michelle Goldberg, a reliably progressive columnist for The Gray Lady, entitled her own column, “Joe Biden Is Too Old to Be President Again.”

Nov. 2, 2022, George Will concluded that Biden was senile: “Biden is not just past his prime; even adequacy is in his past.”

Nov. 19, 2022, the New York Times publishes: “[E]xperts…who have reviewed the available White House medical records said that so far, [Biden] appears to be aging in a healthy way.”

Former New York Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan wrote Feb. 13, 2023:

The conservative Washington Post columnist George Will (81 years old himself) wrote recently that – based on a factual error in Biden’s description of his loan-forgiveness policy – the president must either be senile or a pathological liar. The Maga Republican crowd would have you believe Biden can hardly move a muscle, including his lips, without his handlers.

Even in the wake of the president’s much-praised State of the Union address, the calls mounted for him to step aside for 2024.

…I wish Biden were 20 years younger; I wish he didn’t stumble over his words and sometimes make inexplicable mistakes. I worry about his cognitive decline and physical frailty. But right now, he looks like the best bet to stave off a likely-disastrous Republican presidency and his record, while not flawless, is impressive.

Feb. 16, 2023, Julianna Goldman writes for Bloomberg: “By calling for cognitive testing of any politician older than 75, Nikki Haley is engaging in age discrimination.”

Feb. 28, 2023, Jacob Hess writes for

I listened to President Joe Biden’s recent speech in Warsaw, a few days before the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. You should check it out, too. I’m often surprised when I listen to the president speak, maybe because of how many times I’ve heard friends say disparaging things like so many others, including:

  • Politicos: Former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller said that Biden should be in “assisted living” and “is not cognitively present.”
  • Podcasters: “He’s so gone. He’s got dementia. There’s no if and or buts about it.” (Joe Rogan)
  • Cable news: “President Biden is plagued by his own cognitive decline. … Does he really fully comprehend and understand what is exactly going on?” (Sean Hannity)
  • Even billboards insist: “He is not fit.”

In my view, the 20-plus minute speech in Warsaw strongly disconfirmed these blanket condemnations.

June 11, 2023, The Guardian reported:

The notion that Biden is suffering from cognitive decline or lacks the mental acuity to be president has been a fixture of conservative media for years, but questions about his abilities appear to have increasingly become a mainstream concern…

Biden’s physician released a five-page summary of his current health status in February, detailing some issues such as arthritis and a need to take blood thinners, but describing him as “healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency”.

July 29, 2023, Zachary B. Wolf writes for CNN:

When is it not ageist to ask questions?

There’s an awkward gray area between legitimate questions about a person’s health and ageism.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley got some early attention for her presidential campaign when she suggested a mental competency test for politicians over 75.

It was ageist…

By not answering his own question – when is it not ageist to ask questions? — Zachary Wolf implicitly argues you should never question a politician over his age. He did his bit to protect Joe Biden from healthy scrutiny by ruling such questioning unethical.

Sep. 8, 2023, Mary Mitchell writes for the Chicago Sun Times:

Joe Biden’s age isn’t the problem. We are.

…Unsurprisingly, a NewsNation poll released last week found that 80% of those responding said they’re “very concerned or “somewhat concerned” about Biden’s age.

But what’s the big deal?

Let Biden speak from a comfortable chair and use a walker when he has to go a distance.

The shame isn’t that Biden is showing his age. The problem is that the Democrats couldn’t find a promising candidate to challenge the Republicans and let Biden go home and get some rest.

Americans should be concerned if the medical professionals caring for Biden determine he can’t carry out his duties.

Otherwise, our concern is just ageism.

Ageism is one of the last acceptable prejudices, “so ingrained in our culture that we often don’t even notice,” according to the American Psychological Association.

Time magazine publishes Sep. 27, 2023:

By Mauro Guillén — the author of The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society and Vice Dean at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

As the 2024 Presidential Election picks up steam, voters—particularly those from the Democratic party—seem to be overly concerned about age, and the cognitive and physical decline that come with it. Perhaps it is inevitable given how rampant ageism is in America. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 1 in 4 American workers aged 45 and above have experienced negative comments related to their age, and 76% of older workers have been forced to leave their jobs.

At the end of the day, however, the current debate over the impact of age on the presidential race has descended into ageism, which is a serious conscious and unconscious bias we all fall for ever so frequently. The American Psychological Association has determined that it is one of the “last socially acceptable prejudices.” My research on demographics and the economy indicates that we are wasting the talents of many people above the age of 60, 70, or 80 because we unjustifiably deem them not capable of performing a job or any job. It is simply not true that younger workers are always preferable. As human beings, we start to decline from a cognitive point of view when we are in our late twenties. But, typically, experience more than compensates for cognitive decline. It is fair to argue that Biden’s legislative and presidential records speak to the importance of experience in American politics…

Instead of endlessly debating whether Biden is fit for a second term on age grounds, we should be celebrating the fact that a second term would reflect the increasing diversity of American society in terms of age…

Like in so many other respects, the political debate over aging politicians has become polarized and is not contributing to making the nation stronger.

Nov. 1, 2023, the AP reported:

WASHINGTON (AP) — To hear Donald Trump tell it, President Joe Biden is so senile that he doesn’t know where he’s speaking and feeble enough that others are making decisions for him…

“Looking at videos of Biden and really reading into it, I just — he mentally just can’t handle, I think, an election at all,” said Skylar Swan, 23, who attended a recent Trump rally in Summerville, South Carolina. As for Trump, she said, “When you look at him, yeah, he says things that are crazy, and he’s a little hardcore. But it’s also like, that’s the type of guy I wouldn’t want to mess with.”

Stephen Collinson wrote for CNN Feb. 9, 2024:

Age and the question of diminished capacities as a person heads into their twilight years is a deeply painful and sensitive one. It’s something that many families have to wrestle with and so understand intuitively, a factor that may be reflected in public opinion on the matter as it relates to the election.

Many of the attacks on Biden by Republicans certainly reek of ageism and come across as cruel.

Graeme Wood wrote Feb. 12, 2024 for The Atlantic:

On Fear Of A Senile President

The Presidency Is Not a Math Test

Neither of the old men running on a major ticket shows any sign of catastrophic senescence.

Many people already think Biden is senile, and now they think they have a legal document certifying their judgment. The document does not quite say what many believe it does. It doesn’t say that Biden is unfit to stand trial, just that he’s forgetful enough to evade conviction on the basis of a particular utterance.

Jeet Heer wrote for the Nation Feb. 12, 2024:

In New York magazine, centrist pundit Jonathan Chait, who styles himself a liberal, boldly argued that senility should not prevent someone from having control of enough nuclear weapons to extinguish all life on earth. In a transcribed conversation with his colleague Benjamin Hart, Chait responded to concerns about a cognitively impaired president by saying,

“Well, if [Biden is] controlled by advisers, is that unacceptable? If the advisers are making good decisions? Reagan was pretty senile and controlled by advisers. Everybody’s forgotten this, but the accounts of his mental state are harrowing. Nobody cared because the results were fine.”

Another centrist pundit, Michael Cohen, made a slightly more restrained version of this argument by tweeting that “memory loss is not necessarily a factor in being able to do the job of president.

Chait went to say, “Biden seems more feeble than Reagan.” Trying to put the best possible spin on his own account of Biden’s incapacity, Chait argued that “there’s no aspect of the presidency other than communications that [Biden has] been inhibited from doing.”

The media, by and large, did not want to engage with the most cogent critique of Joe Biden – that he’s too old to serve as president — because it was too sensitive for their hero system.

The New York Times reported Feb. 13, 2024:

Mr. Biden’s voice has grown softer and raspier, his hair thinner and whiter. He is tall and trim but moves more tentatively than he did as a candidate in 2019 and 2020, often holding his upper body stiff, adding to an impression of frailty. And he has had spills in the public eye: falling off a bicycle, tripping over a sandbag.

Mr. Trump, by contrast, does not appear to be suffering the effects of time in such visible ways. Mr. Trump often dyes his hair and appears unnaturally tan. He is heavyset and tall, and he uses his physicality to project strength in front of crowds. When he takes the stage at rallies, he basks in adulation for several minutes, dancing to an opening song, and then holds forth in speeches replete with macho rhetoric and bombast that typically last well over an hour, a display of stamina.

“It is the perception of how you communicate,” said Carol Kinsey Goman, a speaker and coach on leadership presence. “When Trump makes those kinds of faux pas, he just brushes it off, and people don’t say, ‘Oh, he’s aging.’ He makes at least as many mistakes as Joe Biden, but because he does it with this bravado, it doesn’t seem like senility. It seems like passion.”

With Mr. Biden, Ms. Goman said, “it looks like weakness.”

…“Trump is big,” Ms. Goman said. “He simply takes over. He has that kind of full-charge-ahead persona that does correlate with being younger, healthier, more active. Biden doesn’t. He is a different kind of person. And, unfortunately, in this situation, it doesn’t work out well.”

Leah Donnella writes for NPR Feb. 16, 2024:

How ageism against Biden and Trump puts older folks at risk

What would you do if I told you there’s a whole demographic group that can’t be trusted to work because they’re unreliable, bad with technology, slow learners, and most likely not a good “culture fit”? What if I said that group probably shouldn’t even be incorporated into the rest of society – that they should live in their own, separate communities where the rest of us don’t have to see or interact with them unless we choose to?

Would your hackles be raised? Would that language have you dialing up the ACLU?

It probably should. It’s called stereotyping. (Heard of it?) And while many of us — OK, some of us — have trained ourselves to notice how stereotypes work when it comes to things like ethnicity or gender, there are other categories where the practice goes painfully unnoticed — like age.

As it becomes increasingly inevitable that our next presidential election will be a contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, everyone from comedians to competitors to journalists to doctors to the candidates themselves has had something to say about how old these two men are, and (in some cases,) why that proves that they’re unfit for office. Recently, those conversations have gotten to a fever pitch.

That’s a big problem. Tracey Gendron is a gerontologist and the author of the book Ageism Unmasked. She says that like many other giant identity categories, “age in and of itself does not tell you what somebody’s experiences are, what somebody’s values are, what somebody’s health status is, what somebody’s cognitive status is.”

…fixating on someone’s age can actually put them at higher risk for exhibiting negative behaviors associated with that age. It’s called stereotype threat. For instance, when people are told that members of their age group are likely to struggle with things like memory and word recall, they perform worse on memory tests than people who are primed with information about the vast cognitive capabilities of people their age. Similar studies have been done with gender, race, and many other categories, and guess what? Being told you’re going to be bad at something is a remarkably consistent self-fulfilling prophecy.

Claire Thurstans writes for the Sydney Morning Herald Feb. 20, 2024:

Biden has consistently been described by his political rivals and their supporters as “senile” and “mentally unfit” over the years, despite having a clean bill of health. This has escalated recently with a Department of Justice report into Biden’s retention of classified documents describing Biden as likely to come across as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.

…So when we are critiquing presidential candidates, and other people in positions of power, should their age come into it?

…we shouldn’t be…attributing every mistake to someone’s older age, seeing everything through a negative lens about ageing, or levelling casual ageist remarks against Biden and Trump, like calling them “bumbling” or “grumpy”, or describing them as “well-meaning” – a condescending description for one of the most successful people in the world.

June 18, 2024, AP noted:

CLAIM: Biden froze onstage during his fundraiser in Los Angeles on Saturday night and had to be led away by Obama.

THE FACTS: Biden paused amid cheers and applause as he exited the stage with his predecessor following an interview moderated by late-night host Kimmel.

June 19, 2024, Snopes reported:

In June 2024, online users and some news publishers shared videos claiming to show U.S. President Joe Biden “freeze up” for seven seconds at the conclusion of a campaign fundraiser with former President Barack Obama…

The apparent implication of the claims presented alongside these videos was simply the latest chapter in the unproven rumor the president, who is 81, experiences symptoms of an undisclosed medical diagnosis or other type of mental issue related to his age. For the record, Biden has not been diagnosed with any cognitive issues related to his age. Further, in a situation like this one where users imply Biden experienced a symptoms of a larger mental issue causing him to “freeze up,” the people who started the rumor own the responsibility of providing worthy evidence to lend credibility to their implied claim. They have presented no such evidence.

Biden’s disastrous debate occurred on June 27, 2024 and media coverage of Biden’s age exploded. It was now clear that Biden was not likely to defeat Donald Trump so the MSM wanted Biden out of the race. In the course of the first five minutes of the debate, the MSM went from covering for Biden to dispatching Biden. He was now an embarrassment for their agenda.

Conservative columnist Mark Hemingway writes for The Federalist July 1, 2024:

The only reason anyone ever believed Biden was up to the job is that they were lied to, even though most Americans have always understood Biden has been exhibiting signs of dementia before he ever became president. At this point, it’s impossible to deny that Democrats and their media allies have betrayed and endangered America by spending the last few years lying to us about Biden’s age-related mental competency.

…It’s not just that the debate made it impossible to deny Biden’s cognitive decline, it’s that the media’s desperation to defend him is also laying bare the total moral and ethical collapse of journalism.

Sheila Callahan writes for Forbes July 5, 2024:

Regardless of President Biden’s performance in last week’s debate, saying, “He’s too old to run again” is wrong.


Competency is not tied to chronological age because everyone ages differently.

So headlines that read “Too Old to Run for President” perpetuate the ageist myth that competency is directly tied to age, which is inaccurate and misleading.

In the first article I wrote about Biden announcing his 2020 Presidential run, I argued the irrelevance of age when evaluating where to cast one’s vote and how the topic of age took away from the real questions…

As Maggie Koerth-Baker wrotes in her article, Even Brain Function Tests Can’t Tell Us How Old Is Too Old To Be President, “The knowledge, political savvy and wisdom of a lifetime in office could be a decent tradeoff for a president who needs a little more help from aides to take notes.”

The public has judged Mr. Biden too harshly…

Hadas Gold writes for CNN July 2, 2024:

Biden’s age was also a right-wing talking point for years, something the White House was quick to point out to reporters, which may have inadvertently turned off any serious investigation.

For example, deceptively edited clips of Biden from the G7 spread widely by right-wing media figures were made to seem as though he was aimlessly “wandering off” from fellow world leaders when really, he was speaking to parachutists who had just landed during a demonstration.

“The right-wing media was calling him senile from day one, and that wasn’t true,” the reporter said. “Then whenever you report on the age you were in some ways solidifying, giving credence to some people that were actually of bad faith.”

Alex Thompson, a White House reporter for Axios, said on CNN the day after the debate that “the White House’s response every single time it has come up for three-and-a-half years has been to deflect, to gaslight, to not tell the truth – not just to reporters, not just to other Democrats, but even at times to themselves about the president’s limitations at his age.”

Liberal Fintan O’Toole writes for July 2, 2024:

Political campaigns are embodied narratives—the medium for the message is the candidate’s physical and linguistic presence. Like it or not, Trump’s looming, swaggering, domineering mien personifies his insistence that America needs a giant to stand between it and the forces that are about to destroy it. He must surely be the first presidential candidate to draw specific attention to his own body in a formal debate: “I think I’m in very good shape. I feel that I’m in as good a shape as I was twenty-five, thirty years ago.” The corporeal Trump, in his telling, is almost ageless. He has arrested the ravages of time on his own body—just as he will stop the decline and decay of the American body politic.

Biden can’t do this. His political story is not one of time arrested but of time renewed. He wants (and needs) to evoke a sense of future possibility, a rebirth of social and racial justice and a bold adaptation of the economy to meet the climate crisis. Yet his body is not in sync with this message. Unable to exemplify an idea of progress, he is forced to play Trump’s game by pretending to have stopped his own physical decline. The little running motions, the aviator sunglasses, the protesting-too-much displays of youthful energy are failed efforts to do what Trump is so good at: appearing ageless. But time will not play along. It is all too easy to look at a photograph of Biden in 2020 and compare it to his present, more withered self.

Thus, even in this most obvious physical sense, it is Trump who has set the terms and Biden who has allowed himself to be sucked into accepting them. In 2020 the pandemic saved Biden from the consequences of this mistake. It wiped out Trump’s advantage in physical presence.

Ross Douthat writes July 6, 2024:

Democrats generally see themselves as the party that trusts the mainstream press and academic expertise and respectable opinion, whereas Republicans generally assume that those forces are biased or blinkered or somehow out to get them.

Christian Lorentzen writes for the July 18, 2024 London Review of Books about the three books that have come out on the Biden administration:

The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future by Franklin Foer.
The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House by Chris Whipple.
The Internationalists: The Fight to Restore American Foreign Policy after Trump by Alexander Ward.

It’s difficult to divine from the histories of the Biden administration written so far just how active a role the president has played in governing the country…

Whereas accounts of the Trump White House varied from clown show to cesspool, with backstabbing among hacks, mercenaries and scumbags, the histories of the Biden administration present a succession of earnest and credentialled professionals lining up to help the president better the country and the world.

…The issue​ of Biden’s age is not much discussed in these books. Whipple, whose previous books include a study of the job of White House chief of staff, recounts a Zoom meeting between Klain and some of his predecessors during the transition in 2020. Jim Jones, the 82-year-old former chief of staff to LBJ, asked: ‘Could a soon to be 82-year-old man, battered by four years of stress and crisis, serve effectively for another full term as president?’ The question became pertinent in April 2022 when at a ceremony at the White House to unveil a proposed expansion of Obamacare, the former president was mobbed by admirers while Biden, in Whipple’s phrase, ‘looked a little lost’. Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida said: ‘Let’s be honest here. Joe Biden is unwell. He’s unfit for office. He’s incoherent, incapacitated and confused. He doesn’t know where he is half the time.’ ‘This was, of course, false,’ Whipple insists. ‘Biden was mentally sharp, even if he appeared physically frail.’ Bruce Reed, the deputy chief of staff, told Whipple of a long flight home from Geneva in 2021 during which Biden regaled his jetlagged entourage with old stories, including the one about the time he visited the Kremlin and told Putin he had no soul, until everyone except the president passed out. But Foer writes that Senate Republicans ‘doubted Joe Biden was running his own show. Because of his advanced age, they whispered that he was a marionette, wiggling his arms as Klain manipulated him from above. Aides to Mitch McConnell were blunt in their analysis. They dubbed Klain “prime minister”.’ Tucker Carlson has made Biden’s age one of the central themes of his twerpy routine. Defenders of the president have written off such claims as ‘right-wing talking points’, but like left-wing and centrist talking points, right-wing talking points occasionally have some basis in fact.

July 11, 2024, Ian Ward writes for Politico:

Conservatives See a Conspiracy Around Joe Biden’s Stumbles

Since before the 2020 election, Republicans and their conservative allies have loudly proclaimed that Joe Biden’s lack of mental fitness disqualifies him from America’s highest office. Now, in the wake of the president’s disastrous performance in the presidential debate, many of those same voices are taking up a different rallying cry: We told you so. And the media covered it up.

July 14, 2024, veteran journalist David Samuels writes: “the press…functions as the propaganda arm of the [Democratic] Party…”

In a podcast released July 15, 2024, New Yorker politics correspondent Susan Glasser says: “Seeing what we’re seeing here, the real issue that’s hardly aired at all: is Biden fit to govern for four more years? I suspect that the voting public has a strong conclusion that the answer is no. Far from elites being the ones hounding poor Joe Biden, the man of the people, it is the elites who have refused to look at the evidence in front of their eyes because it didn’t suit the Democratic party to have this big fight beforehand or they were worried about Kamala Harris. Can you really look at Joe Biden and looking at his trajectory the last few years, you think he’s going to be a good president at age 85? I don’t think anyone can honestly say yes to that.”

“Biden’s problem is that his single biggest liability is his age. That is a chronically worsening condition. That’s part of the unreality of the political conversations Democrats are having in public — their squeamishness at addressing this. It’s not like other political handicaps. It would not have become so salient if it hadn’t manifested the way it has manifested – that the president of the United States is taken off the board as an effective communicator. He can’t answer in a compelling way why he’s running against Donald Trump. He couldn’t answer that in a compelling way more than a year ago when he announced his re-election campaign. It didn’t get the attention it should have at the time. I went back and watched the press conference he gave the week he announced his re-election bid, and he was asked a softball question by ABC’s Mary Bruce — why are you running again? He gave a nearly 700-word answer that was a word salad. ‘I feel good. I want to finish the job.’ What job, sir, he was asked this week and he started rambling about trickle down economics and how when he was a senator, he really cared about this. That is not prosecuting an effective case.”

“Part of the [reason] that Democrats are so furious over the past few weeks is his perceived choice of himself at the potential expense of not just the party but the country. That’s been reinforced by the insular nature of his decision making, the small inner circle, listening to Hunter Biden’s counsel, bringing him into formal White House meeting. I have talked to people who are incandescent with rage that Hunter Biden is involved in making this decision rather than people who have a long record of service to this country. Biden’s failed methods of damage control were revealing. He spoke about himself. I’ll give it my all, rather than thinking about winning and losing in the existential terms he framed for the country.”

A July 12, 2024 search of Google Scholar reveals not one academic publication about Joe Biden’s dramatic cognitive decline over the past six years but many publications about how there are no signs that Joe Biden’s is in a serious decline while there is abundant evidence that Donald Trump is not fit for office.

July 15, 2024, an academic philosopher responds to my question about why liberals were years behind conservatives in recognizing Joe Biden’s cognitive decline: “They went crazy over [special prosecutor Robert] Hur, denying what he said in a legal report, and there were other doctors talking about it. They didn’t have problems citing those kinds of people about Bush and Trump. It is just bias. There is no principle here. Even if there was an expert diagnosis, they would only accept the one they wanted to hear.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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