February 12, 2024

Special Counsel Report

President Joe Biden will not face charges for knowingly taking classified documents when he left the vice presidency in 2017, a prosecutor said on Thursday… Special Counsel Robert Hur said in a report that he opted against bringing criminal charges following a 15-month investigation because Biden cooperated and would be difficult to convict, describing him as a ‘well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.’…

“Hur wrote that Biden's memory was ‘severely limited’ when he was interviewed by members of his prosecution team. Biden forgot what year his term began as vice president under President Barack Obama and when it ended, Hur wrote, and he forgot what year his son Beau died.” Reuters

“My memory is fine,’ [Biden] insisted in a surprise news briefing [hours after the report]. He gave an emotional response to a claim that he could not recollect when his son died, saying: ‘How the hell dare he raise that?’… Even as Mr Biden sought to rebut reporters' questions about his age and mental acuity, he inadvertently referred to Egyptian leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi as the ‘president of Mexico’.” BBC

See past issues

From the Left

The left defends Biden, arguing that he is far preferable to Donald Trump.

“Yes, it was jarring that he misidentified the president of Egypt as being president of Mexico, but Trump recently called the leader of Hungary the head of Turkey and mixed up Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi seven times in a false diatribe about Jan. 6…

“Too often it seems Biden is in a staff-spun cocoon, which allows critics and supporters to infer he’s being protected from making public gaffes. But what’s worse, Biden’s gaffes or Trump’s nonstop lies? Only Biden can demonstrate the mastery of foreign and domestic affairs that he has, thanks to his decades in public service. And show it he must.”

Jackie Calmes, Los Angeles Times

“[Biden] must acknowledge what everyone sees and is talking about, then succinctly pivot to his real strengths. He is a fundamentally decent man. He has restored America’s reputation as a reliable ally. He pulled the American economy out of a ditch. The Biden economy has seen higher wages and lower unemployment. The Biden economy added 353,000 jobs last month. Millions of students no longer have burdensome student loan payments…

Yes, Biden gets names wrong. But he has gotten the big issues right. Biden might forget that he met with a certain world leader, but it’s because he has met with hundreds over his 40 years in public service. He might forget a date, but he remembers the people and the values he is fighting for… His genteel, pastoral and grandfatherly manner is an asset in a fractured and angry country. His campaign must look for ways to highlight this strength.”

Nia-Malika Henderson, Bloomberg

“[Biden] looks very old, but he has obviously managed to handle the job — there’s no aspect of the presidency other than communications that he’s been inhibited from doing. So I think his answer has to be to turn the conversation to his actual results. Is he too old to cut deals with Congress? No. Is he too old to organize allies to respond to foreign events? No…

“[An] issue that helps Trump, and hurts Biden, is that Biden takes care when he’s talking not to say something crazy. That fear can slow you down a lot when your brain isn’t at its peak capacity. Trump just blasts through because making sense has never mattered to him. If Biden rambled like Trump did, people would be concerned. But Trump is, wrongly, held to a lower standard of cogency.”

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

Biden should emphasize that age alone is not what counts; it’s the wisdom of his ideas. And contrast his forward-looking views on climate change, abortion rights and reasonable gun control with Mr. Trump’s backward views on these issues.”

Doug Sosnik, New York Times

From the Right

The right argues that Biden is clearly unfit to be president.

The right argues that Biden is clearly unfit to be president.

“Such decline is part of the human condition, and it’s not Mr. Biden’s fault. But what is his fault is telling the American people that he can capably serve another four years as President… Voters can see [the decline], which is why even most Democrats tell pollsters they doubt Mr. Biden is up to another term. A majority of Americans in the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll say a vote for Mr. Biden this year is really a vote for President Kamala Harris because Mr. Biden won’t make it through another four years…

“This is dangerous politically for Democrats, but it’s also a grave risk for the country. The world is as dangerous as it’s been since the 1930s, with U.S. adversaries on the march. This would be challenging for a young, vigorous leader. It’s perilous for a President who will be 82 years old before a second inauguration and who is already showing visible signs of failing memory and lapsed concentration.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Under oath before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Central Command general Frank McKenzie and Joint Chiefs chairman general Mark Milley both said they had recommended President Biden maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. Biden had insisted during [a] Stephanopoulos interview that no one had made that recommendation — or, more specifically, ‘No one said that to me that I can recall.’…

“Biden has not sat down for a formal television interview with any news outlet since October… Biden didn’t make any televised address to the nation when the U.S. launched airstrikes against the Houthis in January, nor when he ordered airstrikes against other Iranian proxy groups in Iraq and Syria earlier this month… And Biden is skipping the traditional Super Bowl Sunday interview for the second straight year…

“The White House is insisting that Hur is a partisan hack making unfounded accusations and allegations against the president. No doubt, the president’s questioning and testimony was recorded. If Hur’s description is such an unfair characterization of Biden’s testimony, let’s see the transcript and recording.”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

“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?”

David Harsanyi, The Federalist

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