Let me make one thing very clear up front. I am a doctor. I do not play one on TV. But I have not examined Joe Biden. That means that everything I am about to say is a process of connecting the dots to arrive at, not a diagnosis, but an evaluation of probabilities. If anything, what does the public record suggest is going on with Joe Biden’s brain?
Democrat commentators will rapidly brush off Biden’s difficulties as “gaffes” or “stuttering.” Republican pundits instantly jump on every faux pas as a sign that he’s about to assume room temperature. The one thing both sides can agree on is that a mentally impaired President is a bad thing. Democrats paint President Trump as if he has had a major stroke, and passionate Republicans describe Biden as unable to find the bathroom. The truth is almost certainly somewhere else. If we are able to make a careful assessment, we will have information that contributes to a useful assessment
Make no mistake about it. Something is wrong upstairs with Sleepy Joe. There are too many “odd” things in how he speaks, how he acts, and with his memory to simply pass them off as “That’s just Joe.” Even his ability to read a teleprompter is questionable. In short, his elevator isn’t going to the top floor anymore. Let’s start with a summary of what we see in public.
Dr. Fred Heggen, medical director at the Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital’s psychiatric clinic in Oslo, says that Biden’s behavior at campaign events and debates over the past few months, characterized by “forgetfulness, mischief, confusions, gaffes, and aggression,” is indicative of someone who is beginning to struggle to perform basic mental functions. Biden’s former physician, Dr. David Scheiner, notes that Biden has a lot of medical issues and “looks frail.” His verbal fumbles are legion. A library of them would fill volumes.
The next problem is inappropriate behavior. Biden is well known for sniffing the hair of women of all ages. He touches them inappropriately. One Secret Service agent nearly got in a fistfight with Joe because he was cupping the agent’s girlfriend’s breast during a photo opp. Senator Jeff Sessions had to swat Joe’s hand away from Jeff’s granddaughter. We should note that Joe doesn’t do this with males. It is clearly sexual in character.
Another problem is impulsive or rash behavior. Biden angrily challenged an attendee at a town hall, calling him a “damn liar” and then said, “You wanna check my shape on it, let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test.” Another town hall led to him calling a young lady a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier”. (Also “full of shit” video, “damn liar” video, coal mine video, teacher/professor video, arrested trying to visit Nelson Mandela video, claim that the Parkland School shooting happened during his time as VP, He couldn’t remember when he was last elected) One would think that Biden would have the judgment to carefully consider whether he wants his lies remembered by the internet, but as Newsweek reporter Mickey Kaus notes, “The clip…reflects a view of Biden’s character widely shared in the community. Reporters and political consultants long ago concluded that Biden’s chief character flaw was his tendency to wing it. He seems to lack a crucial synapse between brain and tongue, the one that makes the do-I-really-want-to-say-this decision.” He appears “hyper, glib, and intellectually insecure.” And, of course, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
His memory is not immune. We all remember him confusing his wife and his sister. But perhaps the most dramatic is his statement that he went to law school on a full academic scholarship, graduated in the top of his class, earned three degrees, and was the “outstanding student in the political science department.” While this might be disregarded as political hyperbole, he should be able to keep his own record straight. Certainly if he participated in civil rights sit-ins or was arrested in South Africa, he would know, but all witnesses say he’s lying. The more difficult situations come with recent on-camera word salads and confusion. He loses track of where he is. He called the President “President Hump.” He can’t remember the date of his last election. And he couldn’t even remember that Kamala Harris was black.
Our problem is not identifying that Joe Biden is in decline. The reason for his decline is worth understanding. One medical fact is not disputed. Biden has chronic atrial fibrillation for 17 years and is taking anticoagulants. Those blood thinners are associated with a 3% chance of stroke per year. That means he has a 40% chance of suffering a stroke to date. Often the strokes are small, and can’t be identified without proper studies. Small strokes may cause subtle changes. They can affect any part of the brain.
The rest of Joe’s signs may point us to one process that’s likely affecting him. Memory loss is, unfortunately, very nonspecific. It does point us away from the Parkinson’s complex, since those diseases are not generally associated with memory loss. They tend to affect reasoning. And we don’t see any of the characteristic movement disorders from this group.
What should we do with all those fabulist (exaggerated, made-up) stories? The benign answer is that it’s just a politician talking. After all, we know that a politician is lying because his lips are moving. But let’s consider some real whoppers. On September 9, he claimed that the US armed forces had 118,984 COVID infections, with 6,114 deaths. The actual numbers are 40,000 infected with 7 deaths. The number he quoted was close to the Michigan data, but that excuse won’t wash. In June he said that 120 million Americans had died from the disease. This is similar to his claim in July that 150 million people in the US were killed by “gun violence.”
It’s clear that Joe is having memory problems. No person who knows that the US population is a bit north of 300 million would make such a mistake. It would mean that every third house would be empty, all over the country. Since most of us only know a handful of people who’ve even had the disease, such a picture is impossible. But if your memory is bad, and your ability to make facts match up is faulty, it’s not so hard to understand.
One particular piece of confusion is particularly damning. On November 21, in a Democrat debate, Sleepy Joe tried to extricate himself from forgetting that Kamala Harris, who shared the stage with him, was a Black Senator. Three months later he told South Carolina voters that he looked forward to “appointing the first African-American woman to the United States Senate.” This flub contains multiple cognitive flaws. Senators are only appointed when a vacancy appears remote from an election. Then the appointments are done by Governors, and Biden is running for President. These are not excusable errors. They are repeated organic failures. That is, they are failures of brain function. They begin with inability to remember basic facts. Those memory holes get filled in with whatever the brain can find. The pressure of the campaign makes these flubs worse.
Of course we can’t move on without Biden’s most famous fumble. While speaking in Texas, his speech was a bit slurred as he tried to quote the best known line from the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women created by the – you know, you know, the thing.” This is not a slip of the tongue. It is a slip of the entire mind. Every politician of Joe’s era memorized this line. It is the source of all the “equal rights” discussions since even before the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Joe’s “dysarthric speech” is more prominent in other places, but it again points out that the wires in his brain aren’t fully connected. On some days he’s better than others. It’s like that light bulb that doesn’t always come on, but if you wiggle the wires just right, you can make it light up. All of us have our favorite Biden Word Salad episode. These are common if memories have holes, and in a struggle to not appear flawed, memories and words from other places get stuffed in.
At this point, I will mention that there are rumors, originating in an anonymous post on an obscure bulletin board, that Biden is now on medication for Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t have any confirmation, so I won’t comment any further on this.
The agitation and paranoia we mentioned up front are other markers of what may be happening. So are the sexually inappropriate actions that continue in spite of efforts by his handlers to stop them. This leaves us in an interesting quandary. Is there a single process that explains what’s happening? After all, Occam’s Razor suggests that a single explanation that covers all the bases is more likely to be true than a more complicated answer. Unfortunately Biden’s history seems to blur the picture.
Certain things are clear. Joe’s sexually inappropriate behavior has gone along for a long time before his apparent decline, even discounting Tara Reade’s accusations. He appears to have had a habit, born of privilege, that was never punished. If his brain function is failing, that habit will continue, and perhaps become exaggerated unless actively restrained.
Another feature is the continuing sequence of malapropisms, often called “gaffes.” Once again, these have gone on so long that it’s difficult to separate the chronic from the acute. But one thing is very clear. These verbal difficulties are accelerating. Joe’s gaffes never extended to forgetting the Declaration of Independence, or confusing which office he was running for. And his frequent forgetfulness about who was President during his tenure as Vice President is evidence of something particularly worrisome.
Finally, we must consider his emotional outbursts when he’s challenged. This is a newer phenomenon, not generally seen in the past. And we see him operating a bit slowly. His speech isn’t as fast or clear as before, and his gait is a bit more toward shuffling. Joe’s not aging well, and it’s clear, as I said before, that something is getting out of order below his toupee’.
Joe’s problems are obviously getting worse. He’s lost a step just during the course of the campaign. But what’s causing it? The three most likely candidates are Alzheimer’s Dementia, Vascular Dementia, and FrontoTemporal Dementia. Yes, the dreaded “D” word. America cannot have a President with dementia. The job calls for vigor and clarity, not torpor and turbidity.
Sorting out the various possible forms of dementia are waaaay beyond the material in the public record. There’s just too much overlap between the forms. Some can be diagnosed by various types of brain scans. CT, MRI, and PET scans may be needed. I can’t do those on YouTube or C-SPAN.
This means that we are left trying to sort out which of a batch of possibilities best match Bumbling Biden. And to make it easy, we just don’t have enough information. One choice is very attractive, since it includes all of Joe’s signs. Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia demonstrates, as listed by the Calgary Alzheimer Society:
- lose their inhibitions – behave in socially inappropriate ways and act in an impulsive or rash manner; this could include making tactless or inappropriate comments about someone’s appearance
- lose interest in people and things – lose motivation but (unlike someone with depression) they are not sad
- lose sympathy or empathy – become less responsive to the needs of others and show less social interest or personal warmth; this can make the person appear selfish and unfeeling
- show repetitive, compulsive or ritualised behaviours – this can include repeated use of phrases or gestures
This isn’t all, but we can all recognize them in Joe. Is this what he has? I don’t know, but it’s the best fit of what we see. It’s pretty clear that whatever his actual diagnosis, Joe Biden is in mental difficulty. It should not be necessary to go farther than that. The country cannot afford a President who is “struggl(ing) to perform basic mental functions.” That takes us to the Edith Wilson story.
President Woodrow Wilson suffered a severe stroke in October of 1919. Without the 25th Amendment, which was ratified in 1967, the First Lady, Edith Wilson, became de facto President. While she took some items to him, in general, she handled everything. One has to wonder if Jill Biden has this model in mind. Any ordinary wife, on seeing her husband decline as Joe has, would pull him aside and push for a quiet retirement with family. But instead she has vigorously pushed his candidacy. She knows that Joe has to listen to others for guidance with most things, and because she is closest, he’ll listen to her. Is she looking to be a second Edith Wilson, President in every way but name?
Dr Noel is on social media as DoctorTed and @vidzette
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