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Biden’s Norm-Shattering Response to the Post-Debate Crisis

by California Digital News

The Democratic Party’s presidential nomination crisis began as a visceral reaction to President Joe Biden’s public discombobulation. And elements of his judgment continue to correctly play an important role in Democrats’ belief that Biden is no longer up to the job of saving the party and the country from Donald Trump.

But even aside from Biden’s polling (which is bad) and his performative affect (which is worse), Biden’s behavior during this episode has violated clear black-letter lines. That behavior, above and beyond his efficacy as a candidate, is itself disqualifying.

Biden has not broken any laws, but he has violated two important norms. First, he brought his son Hunter in to serve as an adviser in White House meetings. “Longtime aides to the president,” reports Politico, “are now raising concerns about Hunter Biden’s new presence alongside the president in meetings.” Or, as NBC News puts it less delicately, “Another person familiar with the matter said the reaction from some senior White House staff members has been, ‘What the hell is happening?’”

It’s hardly novel for presidents to turn to family members for comfort or guidance. But Hunter Biden, a recovering drug addict and convicted felon, is totally unqualified to advise the president on the matter of his own fitness to serve in office and run for a second term. He lacks any relevant expertise, and his only relevant credential is an abiding love and admiration for his father that renders him totally unable to divorce the family’s interests from those of the country.

Indeed, Hunter’s looming prison sentence creates a massive conflict of interest. President Biden has said he won’t pardon his son, but that is a promise he could violate with little penalty after the election. And if Joe Biden steps down as a presidential candidate, he may also have to relinquish the presidency, thus forfeiting any chance to pardon his son.

Hunter is reportedly surpassing Joe’s longtime advisers, a troubling dynamic that calls into question whether the president is even attempting to distinguish between what’s good for himself and what’s good for the Democratic party and the United States, let alone whether he’ll succeed.

Donald Trump did something similar throughout his term in office, using family members to give advice despite a lack of qualifications and enormous conflicts of interest. Democrats bitterly and correctly denounced this arrangement. To accept it now would be to forfeit their standing to attack Trump’s norm-shattering mix of family and business.

The second and worse violation is that Biden is reportedly ignoring the need to examine his cognitive health. “Since winning the White House, Biden has continued to dismiss the need for a cognitive exam, and aides have said he has never taken one as president — not in three annual physical exams, and not in the week since a halting debate performance raised more urgent questions about the now-81-year-old’s mental acuity,” reports the Washington Post.

Three former colleagues of Biden’s doctor tell the Post that his behavior at the debate suggest that he needs cognitive screening. Paul Campos spoke with medical experts who share this opinion, as does Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

This does not mean that Biden has a neurological impairment. But there is an apparent consensus that his behavior calls for testing, which he has declined to undertake.

Following medical advice and ascertaining his cognitive health is the absolute minimum threshold for allowing Biden to run for president this year and win another four-year term. The idea that Democrats would nominate a man displaying traits consistent with cognitive impairment, and who refuses or otherwise fails to even test for those conditions, is absurd and irresponsible. That Biden would ask them to do so displays profound narcissism or denial.

This matter began with Democrats squinting at the television and wondering if the candidate was up to the job of selling his record and critiquing his opponent. But this is not a theater-criticism issue any more. There are standards of behavior a president needs to follow to maintain the public trust. Biden is not living up to them.

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