It didn't take long for my reading of a story about the special counsel's report on Biden's retention of classified documents after he was no longer vice-president to turn from yay, good news to oh no, bad news.
The good news was that Robert Hur, the special counsel who was a holdover Trump appointee, determined that Biden shouldn't be charged with a crime.
That's a big contrast with Trump, who is facing "40 felony charges related to the documents case, including charges of obstruction of justice and violation of the Espionage Act for willfully retaining national defense information."
But then I read one reason why Hur isn't charging Biden. This was gigantic bad news to my Democratic political sensibilities.
That [special counsel] report concluded that no criminal charges were warranted but did so, in large part, by saying a jury would be sympathetic to Biden, who was described as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Ouch. That hurts.
Biden more than me, obviously. Yet since I want Biden to beat Trump this November, and Biden's age/mental acuity is a major issue for voters, the examples of Biden's poor memory in the special counsel report were really disturbing.
Investigators found insufficient evidence to charge Biden for mishandling classified documents during his time as vice president but wrote his memory “appeared to have significant limitations” and that “he did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died” in 2015. Biden could not remember when he was vice president or the details of a debate about sending additional troops to Afghanistan, they said.
Wow. Biden talks about the death of Beau a lot. It's a hugely emotional issue for him, even after nine years. I can understand how Biden could forget the date of other important things -- we all do occasionally -- but when his son died seemingly would be etched in his memory.
The Trump campaign undoubtedly already is busily engaged in creating ads that make use of the damning language about Biden's memory in the special counsel report.
Yes, Hur shouldn't have taken cheap shots at Biden, instead limiting his report to a "just the facts" description of why charges aren't being brought against Biden. What Hur did basically is what Comey did to Hillary Clinton in 2016 just before the presidential election: editorialize in a negative way publicly about the person being investigated, even though they did nothing criminal.
Biden was entirely justified in getting angry at the reference to Beau in the report. His anger came through loud and clear in a press conference Biden held this evening, much of which I was able to hear on the radio as I was driving to my Tai Chi class.
I liked the anger. I didn't like the sarcasm and irritation Biden demonstrated when reporters asked about his memory and fitness to be president. He sounded like an angry old man, which he is (and which I can be also, but I'm not president of the United States).
On the whole, I came away feeling that the press conference was a good idea, since Biden couldn't let Hur's statements go unchallenged. However, when I learned that in responding to a question about the Israel-Hamas war, Biden mixed up the leaders of Mexico and Egypt, the press conference seemed like a net negative for Biden.
Biden insisted “my memory is fine,” although he later mistakenly referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the leader of Mexico when he answered a reporter’s question about the Israel-Hamas war.
Since Biden was trying to convince Americans that his memory is fine, it wasn't a good look when, a few minutes after getting angry at Hur for saying that his memory was faulty, Biden said the Egyptian president was the leader of Mexico.
Trump also has serious memory problems. Recently he said that Nikki Haley was in charge of security in the House on January 6, 2021, while he should have said it was Nancy Pelosi. (Actually Pelosi wasn't in charge, either, but at least she was the House Speaker at the time.)
So like the majority of Americans, I deeply wish that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump weren't running for president again. It's utterly bizarre that in a nation of well over 300 million people, these old guys are competing for who will be in the White House for four more years.
And I say that as an old guy myself, albeit a bit younger than Biden and Trump. I'm unenthusiastic about both men, though obviously I consider Biden hugely more qualified and competent than Trump. I'll surely vote for Biden this November.
But I'd be much happier voting for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who strikes me as an excellent replacement for Biden should he come to his senses and decide to withdraw as a Democratic presidential candidate.
Hey, I can dream.
Hey, I can dream. dd
That scathing description came just as Biden’s aides were trying to explain away the president’s most recent verbal gaffes — in which he mixed up the heads of state and recalled recent conversations with world leaders who died long ago.