As expected, the panel on “Morning Joe” spent today attacking the devastating special counsel report into Joe Biden’s decades-long hoarding of classified documents. One of the arguments made by John Heilemann and others was that the special counsel could have written the report without referring to Biden as an “elderly man with poor memory.”
But he couldn’t have, right? Because then Hur would have been compelled to recommend charges against the president. There is no third choice. Biden can only skate, according to the special counsel, because he’s too feeble-minded to be convicted.
As if to punctuate Hur’s conclusion, Biden inexplicably decided to have a press conference last night. It was easily the most disastrous of his presidency. The normally cocooned Biden angrily responded to journalists who were giving him a chance to dispel the findings of a DOJ report. Then, Biden referred to Egyptian President El-Sisi with a Mexican, which wouldn’t have been as big a deal (he does this sort of thing all the time) if the presser hadn’t been orchestrated to demonstrate his alleged mental acuity.
It shouldn’t be overlooked, either, that Biden was cognizant enough to blatantly lie, first about not sharing classified material with a ghostwriter and then about not having “high classified” documents in his possession. According to the Hur report, Biden showed classified documents to the writer of “Promise Me, Dad” and stored “top secret” documents regarding Afghanistan in boxes in his Delaware garage. You remember those leaked pictures of folders marked classified splayed across the floor at Mar-a-Lago?
This is the same. And, surely, the same people who spend inordinate amounts of time cheering on the prosecutions of Donald Trump understand that no one is above the law.
Still, Biden’s minions immediately began spinning conspiracy theories about the DOJ’s clandestine plans to hurt the president. Some White House defenders claimed that the report mischaracterized the exchanges Biden had with investigators. Others claimed that the interview had taken place right after the Oct. 7th attacks in Israel, and consequently, the president, in this time of stress, was unable to concentrate or remember basic facts about his own life.
Does the White House know it was making arguments for enacting the 25th Amendment?
Others contended that Biden had been “exonerated,” which is also highly misleading. Hur notes that Biden committed a “serious felony,” but based on the prosecutors’ “interactions and conversations,” it was clear that Biden would create reasonable doubt with a jury who might never believe he was capable of a “mental state of willfulness.”
As many people have pointed out, dementia is typically used as a consideration for leniency during the sentencing phase, not an excuse to avoid prosecution. But if Biden’s age is his “superpower,” as Bill McKibben argues, then the DOJ has a responsibility to bring charges against the president after he leaves office.
Biden defenders also flooded social media and political shows to remind us that we’ve all lost our keys or forgotten names and dates. Indeed, we have. Not many, though, would forget the years they served as vice president of the United States or the timeframe in which a child died, as Biden did.
The media reports that Biden was “privately livid” over the contention he forgot when Beau died and “angrily cursed about the language in the report” last night.
This makes sense. Those in cognitive decline — and sooner or later, it comes for us all — often get agitated and aggressive when confronted with their memory loss. A lifelong fabulist, Biden has cynically lied about Beau’s death so often that it’s possible he’s now convinced himself of an alternative history. People with dementia often time-shift experiences and conflate memories.
What makes this especially difficult for Democrats is that Donald Trump is being prosecuted for the same exact crime. Double standards no longer matter, but this is a bit on the nose.
Lots of Democrats argue that it’s different because Biden cooperated with authorities. First off, getting a lawyer and challenging charges leveled at you is well within the rights of any American. Second, Biden didn’t cooperate. A lawyer happened upon the classified information. After that, Biden was impelled to open his home to investigators because otherwise, they would simply have gotten a search warrant.
And, as Hur notes, Biden had documents from the 1970s and knew he was in possession of them since 2017, at least. There were 300 of these documents, not six as the White House initially claimed. All this points to a pattern of mishandling documents over many years, not a single filing mistake, as so many of his apologists had claimed when the story first broke.
Which leaves us with two questions: If Biden is too old to be charged, isn’t he too old to hold the most powerful position in the world? And if he’s not too old to hold the most powerful position in the world, why is he too old to be charged?