Just call him Biden “two times.”
The President of the United States has declined to such a cognitive state where he apparently cannot even remember telling the same story minutes later.
At a gathering hosted by billionaire real estate heiress Amy Goldman Fowler, the 80-year-old president recalled his initial retirement after two terms as Barack Obama’s vice president, then shifted to recounting the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.
“You remember those folks walking out of the fields literally carrying torches, with Nazi swastikas, holding them forward, singing the same vicious, antisemitic bile — the same exact bile — bile that was sung in — in Germany in the early ‘30s. And a young woman was killed. A young woman was killed.”
According to an official White House transcript, Biden went on to say “the former guy [then-President Donald Trump] was asked, ‘What do you think would happen?’ He was the sitting president. And he said, ‘I thought there were some very fine people on both sides.’ And I mean this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, that’s when I decided I — I was going to run again.”
Following this, President Biden began telling the same story again, describing how his extended family encouraged him to challenge former President Trump.
“You know, you may remember that, you know, those folks from Charlottesville, as they came out of the fields and carrying those swastikas, and remember the ones with the torches and the Ku — accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan. And in addition to that, they had — there were white supremacists. Anyway, they were making the big case about how terrible this was. And a young woman was killed in the process.”
“And my predecessor, as I said, was asked what he thought. He said, ‘There are some very fine people on both sides.’ Well, that kept ringing in my head.”
“And so, I couldn’t, quite frankly, remain silent any longer,” Biden concluded. “So, I decided I would run. And it became — I ran because I thought everything this country stood for was up for grabs for the first time in my career.”
According to fact checks from left-leaning publications like Lead Stories, the accusation that Trump called white supremacists “very fine people” is a hoax:
Did President Donald Trump say during a news conference on August 15, 2017 that neo-Nazis and white nationalists at a protest in Charlottesville were “very fine people”? No, that’s not true: while the President did indeed use the words “very fine people” when describing some of the protesters “on both sides”, and drew criticism for declaring “I think there is blame on both sides” for the violence, the transcript of the news conference does not show he directly said “very fine people” when he was talking about the neo-Nazis and white supremacists that were present. Trump also clarified later during the news conference they were not who he was talking about when he used that phrase, and said they should be “condemned totally”.
Medical experts suggest that repeating sentences, phrases, or stories, while common in the elderly, may be an early sign of cognitive issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The president has faced scrutiny for occasional difficulties in his public statements, with some attributing these incidents to a chronic stutter. However, there have been instances that raised concerns about his cognitive fitness.
In July, for example, President Biden appeared to rely on notecards on his lap when welcoming Israeli President Isaac Herzog to the Oval Office instead of making direct eye contact.
In September of the previous year, he asked Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) to stand and be recognized during an event, seemingly forgetting that Walorski had passed away in a car crash the month before, despite issuing a statement marking her passing.
A recent book about President Biden’s White House by author Franklin Foer also mentioned his difficulty in quickly recalling people’s names and private admissions of feeling tired.
According to an Associated Press-NORC poll released in late August, 77% of Americans believe that President Biden is too old to govern effectively if he were to win a second term in office.