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The Debate Over President Biden’s Cognitive Ability

Tomos Millward

President Biden’s cognitive ability has been the subject of attack from Republicans since before he was elected President.

One of the earliest examples of this came during the Democratic Primary debate where, on the 29th of July 2019, he closed the debate saying: If you agree with me, go to Joe 30330 and help me in this fight.


Biden later corrected himself, saying he wanted viewers to text Joe to 30330 to support him. Whilst this isolated incident could be put down to an understandable error, the number of gaffes from President Biden has increased during his presidency.

This has manifested itself in verbal mistakes, such as recently confusing President Macron with the deceased Francois Mitterand and forgetting the name of Hamas, as well as increasingly dangerous physical accidents such as repeatedly tripping on the stairs of Air Force One, falling off a stationary bicycle, and falling during a graduation ceremony he attended.

Whilst these issues have clearly been problematic for some time, an investigation into Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents, his refusal to take a cognitive test, and the upcoming Presidential election have thrown the President into the spotlight.

The report from Special Counsel Hur regarding Biden’s handling of classified documents concluded that “no criminal charges were warranted in this matter”.

“A sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” [Special Counsel Hur]

However, a primary reason for this was that Hur concluded that a jury would have difficulty convicting President Biden as he “would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Hur also noted that Biden’s memory was poor during interviews in both 2017 and 2023, once again corroborating the view that his cognitive issues have been present for some time.

Alongside this report, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that, for the second year running, President Biden will not be subjected to a cognitive test from his physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor. Dr. O’Connor has also refused to take any questions from the press which, whilst not illegal, does represent a break with tradition.

Decreased support for the incumbent

Biden’s public blunders, the conclusions from the Hur report, and his refusal to take a cognitive test has led to decreased support for the incumbent, at least according to new polling.

Business Insider polling suggests that only a third of Americans are confident in President Biden’s physical and mental health. NBC News polling has three quarters of Americans concerned over the President’s mental and physical health, with this including half of Democrats.

This polling suggests that, whilst Republicans have voiced concerned and targeted Biden’s cognitive ability before, even Democratic voters are growing critical of the leader they elected four years ago.

Tomos Millward

Featured image courtesy of Kevin Luke via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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