Inquiring minds want to know…
As the political silly season approaches its climax, the media seem preoccupied with minutiae that have little to do with suitability to hold office or what is good for the nation. Conspicuously absent is concern about politicians’ intelligence and mental health.
It’s no sin not to be a polymath but most of us who have spent time in Washington have noted politicians’ abject failure to know what they don’t know. Psychiatrists call this lack of insight.
There are worse things for a politician than lack of insight – and the person selected by Barack Obama to be a heartbeat away from the presidency exhibits many of them. Joe Biden has problems with impulse control and reality testing; increasingly, his utterances suggest some sort of dementia.
Speculating about deregulatory policies that a Republican administration might adopt, Biden told a crowd in Danville, Virginia last week that Romney ‘s approach would “put y’all back in chains.” That ill-chosen, impulsive remark has led to widespread condemnation, even from Democrats.
A few days later the vice president concluded a campaign speech with a rousing, “With you we can win North Carolina again.” The only problem was, he was in Virginia.
Biden has previously done and said impulsive, bizarre things. In 1987, he plagiarized part of a campaign speech from one by Neil Kinnock, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, and even revised his own family history to conform to the speech.
Biden has demonstrated poor reality testing – or a pathological disregard for the truth – for decades. He claimed in 1987 that he ”went to law school on a full academic scholarship — the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,” and that he ”ended up in the top half” of his class. He also said that in college he was ”the outstanding student in the political science department” and ”graduated with three degrees.”
However, after inaccuracies in his statements were exposed, Biden made this admission on September 22, 1987: ”I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inaccurate.” He had actually graduated 76th in a class of 85 from the Syracuse College of Law. And Biden’s baccalaureate accomplishment was a single B.A. degree.
Age appears not to have improved Biden’s connection with reality. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he observed: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television” and explained it to the American people.
Are these aberrations stupidity, dementia or personality disorders? To find out, shouldn’t there be some vetting or testing of people in, or who aspire to, governmental positions as critical as the vice-presidency? After all, we require bus drivers and hairdressers to prove their competence before they are permitted to ply their trades, and applicants to most police forces undergo psychological testing.
Biden should submit to a thorough neurological and psychiatric examination, with special attention to whether he is experiencing “transient ischemic attacks” – marked by impaired blood flow to the brain – small strokes, seizures, or suffers from a brain tumor. After all, we often demand to know whether a candidate has recovered from open-heart surgery, cancer or a stroke, and many states require elderly drivers to be re-licensed.
Aren’t the vice-president’s highest-level security clearance and his influence on public policy as important as the ability to drive a car?
An exam by an expert offers an assessment of cognitive abilities, memory and quality of thought processes. It includes assessments of alertness; speech; behavior; awareness of environment; mood; affect; rationality of thought processes; appropriateness of thought content (presence of delusions, hallucinations, or phobias); memory; ability to perform simple calculations; judgement (“If you found a letter on the ground in front of a mailbox, what would you do with it?”); and abstract reasoning.
Don’t voters have a right to know whether Biden is ill or merely unlikeable, impulsive and prone to deceitfulness?
And let us not forget the impending questions about security leaks coming from the Obama White House. The “chains” and “North Carolina” gaffes are insulting, however, Biden has been known to flap his loose lips on more important things all too frequently. Recall in 2008 the MSM and the left/liberals all freaked at the thought of that stupid Sarah Palin being just a heartbeat away from the Oval Office (John McCain is still kicking pretty strong to date, by the way).