As both a baseball fan and an observer of politics, I often hark back to Yogi Berra’s memorable quip, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” However, I think I nailed it in this concluding paragraph of an April article:
One thing is for certain; we can expect to see continuing validation from President (Joe) Biden of the old quip, ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.’ But in the same way that you can’t take your eyes off a train wreck in progress, it will be fascinating to see whether the salient feature of Biden’s presidency will be his mendacity or his dementia — or some incendiary admixture of the two.
It seems clear that we’re seeing the effects of both.
First, some recent examples of Biden’s ongoing unfamiliarity with the truth. His insistence that there was “unanimity” among his civilian and military advisers about the disastrous plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and about the “success” of his border and immigration policies is patently absurd. Military leaders understand how to conduct strategic withdrawals, and our southern border leaks like a sieve. The president’s Sept. 24 comments about the costs of the massive “infrastructure” legislation favored by the administration were both ludicrous and barely coherent, both of which are current Biden trademarks:
“We talk about price tags. The – it is zero price tag on the debt. We’re paying – we’re going to pay for everything we spend. So they say it’s not – you know, people, understandably – ‘Well, you know, it started off at $6 trillion, now it’s $3.5 trillion. Now it’s – is it going to be $2.9? Is it …’
“It’s going to be zero – zero. Because in the – in that plan that I put forward – and I said from the outset – I said, ‘I’m running to change the dynamic of how the economy grows.’”
A zero price tag? As Gerard Baker observed in a Wall Street Journal column, “The Biden bill is paid for by the largest tax increase in history. You are entitled to argue that is a cost worth paying, but you can’t argue it costs nothing.” The Babylon Bee offered this amusing take on the Biden claim:
Wife Claims $3.5 Trillion Spending Spree At Target Actually Cost $0
None of this should be unexpected. Biden’s pronouncements on Georgia’s new voting rights law earlier this year are yet another example. At a news conference on March 25, the president remarked, “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick … deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work.” The next day, the White House issued a statement on his behalf regarding “the Attack on the Right to Vote in Georgia.” “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over,” it read.
Although Georgia’s new law did make some changes to early voting, experts consulted by the Washington Post (a paragon of the left-wing mainstream media, remember) said that “the net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.” The Post awarded Biden its highest mendacity rating: Four Pinocchios.
The same disdain for the truth also pertains to the president’s pronouncements about his proposed policies – especially the promise to “Build Back Better” for American workers. Contrary to his claims, according to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, the proposed tax increases on corporations “would reduce the after-tax return on investment and make U.S. companies less competitive globally with the highest combined state-federal corporate tax rate in the developed world.” The Journal concluded that “lower profits mean slower wage increases for workers and higher prices for consumers to make up for higher costs,” which gives the lie to Biden’s repeated claims that he’s the champion of the middle class.
Dissatisfaction with the Biden administration’s style and substance is being reflected in the polls. As recently as June, 56% approved of the president’s performance, while only 40% disapproved. By August, the approve/disapprove numbers were essentially equal: 49%/48%. And as of the week of Sept. 19, according to new Gallup numbers, Biden’s job approval was at just 43% while a majority – 53% – disapproved.
To anyone who has followed Biden’s political career, this is part of a pattern. Over several decades, he has become infamous for gaffes, blunders … and lies. And eventually, the habit of lying began to overlap with clear evidence of cognitive decline.
In 1987, during the first of his multiple bids for the presidency, then-Sen. Biden famously plagiarized part of a campaign speech from one by Neil Kinnock, who was then the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, even revising his own family history to conform to the speech. Biden, who once faced disciplinary action for plagiarizing part of a law school paper, claimed that same year that he “went to law school on a full academic scholarship – the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship” and that he “ended up in the top half” of his class. At one point, he had boasted that, in college, he was “the outstanding student in the political science department” and “graduated with three degrees.”
After the flagrant inaccuracies in his statements were exposed, Biden made this admission on Sept. 22, 1987: “I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school, and my recollection of this was inaccurate.” He actually graduated 76th out of a class of 85 from the Syracuse College of Law, and in college, received a single bachelor’s degree.
Understandably, his presidential campaign hopes were dashed – for the 1988 bid – but as a prevaricator, he was just warming up.
While he served in the Senate, Biden’s untruthfulness was so renowned that congressional staffers began passing around a spoof Biden resumé claiming that he was the “inventor of polyurethane and the weedeater” and “Member, Rockettes (1968).” Eventually, the habit of lying began to overlap with clear evidence of cognitive decline, which is hardly surprising for someone who has had two neurosurgical operations for leaking cerebral aneurysms. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he observed: “When the stock market crashed [in 1929], Franklin Roosevelt got on television” and explained it to the public. In fact, Roosevelt did not become president until 1933, and his first appearance on TV was six years later.
Since that gaffe, Biden, who is now 78, has increasingly fumbled and bumbled in his public remarks. His then-boss, President Barack Obama, reportedly was none too happy about it. According to the authors of “Game Change,” Obama asked angrily, “How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?” Obama administration national security official Ben Rhodes wrote in his memoir that “in the Situation Room, Biden could be something of an unguided missile.” And, of course, Biden’s performance during the 2020 presidential campaign was generally lackluster, lethargic, and replete with gaffes and misstatements.
Biden’s cognitive decline is worsening. He frequently mumbles and slurs his speech, and in March, the leader of the Free World forgot not only the name of his own defense secretary, but also the name of the building (the Pentagon) in which the headquarters of the Department of Defense is located. And during his first press conference as president, Biden had to have on the podium cheat sheets with detailed answers to questions he would likely be asked. It’s no surprise that aides provide him a list of which White House reporters to call on during press conferences and truncate his unscripted appearances.
As a physician, I strongly suspect a connection between Biden’s cognitive decline and the acceleration of his dissembling and bumbling. People who are suffering from dementia often make up things to fill gaps in their memory and ability to reason. Then again, it could just be that a long and illustrious career of lying is hard to shake off.
Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, was a research associate at the National Institutes of Health and the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. You can find him online (henrymillermd.org) or on Twitter at @henryimiller.