President Joe Biden has long faced speculation that he is suffering from cognitive decline — and a recent incident is only fueling such concerns.
During remarks about an executive order he signed this week, Biden stumbled through his introduction of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
“You’ve been really good”
“Xavier … uh, Mr. Secretary,” Biden began before shifting gears to offer Becerra a compliment.
“Mr. Secretary, I’ve been watching you on television,” the president added. “You’ve been really good.”
Although the tight leash his handlers keep him on when interacting with the media might make it difficult to determine the extent of any cognitive difficulties, this was not the first time Biden has stumbled over the name of someone in his inner circle.
In March, he appeared to forget the name of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, declaring: “I want to thank you both, and I want to thank the sec … the former general, I keep calling him general, but my … my, uh … the guy who runs that outfit over there.”
“Not up to the task”
His gaffes and apparent forgetfulness are fostering the impression among many critics that he is weak and not truly in charge of his own administration.
As far back as at least February, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity has voiced his concerns, asserting: “If Joe Biden is not up to the task, well, we know that he rarely appears in public, we know that he takes very few questions.”
For his part, U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who previously served as the White House physician, is calling for Biden to undergo the same type of cognitive test former President Donald Trump took while in office.
The president himself has made multiple references to his instruction to keep interactions with the press limited. Last month, he told one reporter he would “get in trouble” with his staff for answering a question, going on to tell the individual to “pretend” he did not provide a response.
It is not entirely clear why Biden apparently feels the need to defer to his aides in determining whether he should answer questions from reporters. In any case, embarrassing moments like these are sure to further diminish the nation’s status in the eyes of other nations around the world.