If Donald Trump could be considered good at anything besides poorly crafted lies, it would be psychological projection – the assignation of his own issues, behaviors, and criminal failings to his political opponents as a distracting, defensive measure.
Nowhere is this most evident than in his statements about the mental fitness of his presumed Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Despite the fact that Trump himself is widely speculated to suffer from an early form of the Alzheimer’s disease that his father had in the last years of his life — as exhibited by his erratic behavior, frequent use of two hands to raise a glass of water to his lips, and his struggles walking down a ramp, among many other examples — the president has foolishly made Joe Biden’s cognitive fitness for the presidency a central component of his campaign attacks against the Democratic candidate.
While Joe Biden has kept a relatively low profile thus far during the weeks of pandemic lockdown — preferring, it seems, to let Trump dig his own metaphorical grave through his disastrous actions, shameful inactions, appalling tweets, and other multiple missteps — he clapped back at the president in a speech he gave today in Wilmington, Delaware that challenged Trump to a measuring contest of cognitive ability that the former VP was confident he would win.
Biden’s throwdown came at the end of his speech in response to a question from a reporter, after the Democratic candidate had thoroughly eviscerated Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis and his failure to coherently address the news that the Kremlin had paid the Taliban in Afghanistan a bounty for every American soldier that they killed.
Regarding the coronavirus outbreak and its devastating economic consequences, Biden said:
“We need a president,” not a “cheerleader,” lambasting Trump’s failiures to control the sprread of the virus. “Mr. President, this is not about you. It’s about the health and well-being of the American public.”
The Democratic leader reminded Americans of the sacrifices they had already made and lamented Trump’s attempts to “ignore the science and turn responsible steps like wearing masks into a political statement.”
Biden then proceeded to outline his own plan of attack on the pandemic, given “the current circumstances we face as a result of President Trump’s persistent failures.”
Noting that he would immediately ask Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to continue in his role as a leader in the efforts to fight the COVID-19 virus, Biden’s plan specifies that:
“Dr. Fauci will have full access to the Oval Office and an uncensored platform to speak directly to the American people — whether delivering good news or bad.”
While most of the plan consists of steps that have been loudly called for since the earliest days of the pandemic, the Trump administration’s failure to deliver on any of the logical steps to control the disease led Biden to call for the president to adopt his plan in its entirety immediately.
“Statewide lockdowns that so many Americans lived under for months were intended to buy us time to get our act together,” Mr. Biden said in his remarks. “Instead of using that time to prepare ourselves, Donald Trump squandered it.”
Biden on Trump's coronavirus response: "It seems like our wartime president surrendered, waved the white flag and left the battlefield." pic.twitter.com/6dXpdyI5CV
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 30, 2020
The controversy surrounding the Russian bounty and when — or whether — Donald Trump was briefed on the intelligence reports that revealed its existence gave Biden his first opportunity to throw accusations of cognitive decline back into Trump’s face.
.@JoeBiden on Trump's inaction in the face of Russia/Afghanistan bombshell news: "He doesn't seem to be cognitively aware of what's going on. He either reads and/or gets briefed on important issues and he forgets it or he doesn't think it's necessary that he need to know it." pic.twitter.com/bvgYGfDopO
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewBatesNC) June 30, 2020
Given that the White House has given conflicting reports about whether or not the president was verbally briefed on the situation, media reports indicate that the news was included in the written version of the president’s daily briefing, highlighting Trump’s dereliction of duty in failing to do his homework.
Biden gave his final challenge to Trump for a duel of cognitive abilities after a reporter asked him if he had been tested for a decline in his mental acuity.
Biden gets called out for cognitive decline. This is exactly how you answer that question. Spot on. pic.twitter.com/4x1ADpjNzF
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) June 30, 2020
While Biden looks to undermine what seems to be the primary talking point that the Trump campaign has in its electoral arsenal by confirming that the emperor has no brains, he will likely face difficulty convincing that core group of Fox News-brainwashed Trump devotees that the man whose intellect is at such similarly depleted levels as their own isn’t the “stable genius’ that he claims to be.
In the face of such delusional magical thinking, we’re lucky that the majority of Americans still believe their own eyes and ears and can witness Trump’s behavior for themselves and vote accordingly.
Original reporting by Matt Stevens and Thomas Kaplan at The New York Times.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.