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the election

Increasing Incidents Expose Trump’s Cognitive Decline

That 81-year-old Joe Biden shows intermittent signs of cognitive decline is not in dispute. There's no denying that he has worrying lapses. Leftwing media has touched on such incidents gingerly; rightwing cable channel hosts engage in the topic virtually every night.

For them it takes the form of gleeful mockery. Sean Hannity of Fox News tells us "about your president who doesn't know today is Thursday" and "it's not even clear that Biden knows he's alive." Laura Ingraham on that same channel ridicules Biden's occasional malaprops. Both often fabricate. "Today he looked totally, completely, utterly confused, confounded, unsure of his surroundings", says Hannity, the worst of the two, while the video on the split screen shows nothing of the sort.

But now, it has become increasingly apparent that 77-year-old Donald Trump is showing signs of

wear. Incidents of confusion and rambling dissociation are occurring at increasing frequency. His confusing Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi got wide attention. He has several times spoken of Barack Obama in place of Biden and Hilary Clinton. Forbes magazine in a November article chronicled at least seven times he confused Biden and Obama.

Speaking at the D.C. Pray Vote Stand Summit in Washington in mid-September, his accusation of…

"crooked Joe Biden and the radical left thugs who have weaponized law enforcement to arrest their leading political opponent, and leading by a lot, including Obama"

…said that he thinks he is running against Barack Obama for the Republican nomination. He continued with the belief that it was Obama he had beaten in 2016:

"The country was very divided and we did with Obama, we won an election that everyone said couldn't be won."

He went on to call Biden…

"totally corrupt and the worst president in the history of our country, who is cognitively impaired, in no condition to lead, and is now in charge of dealing with Russia and possible nuclear war. Just think of it. We would be in World War Two, very quickly."

Yes, "Two". At a campaign rally in South Carolina, he again showed confusion about the 2016 presidential race, thinking he had run in the primaries against George W. Bush and not his brother Jeb:

"You know the beauty was when I came here everyone thought Bush was going to win...They thought Bush because Bush was supposedly a military person. You know he was a, he got us into the Middle East. How did that work out?"

Campaigning in New Hampshire, Mr. Trump told of watching an interview of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in which Trump says Orbán was asked “what would you advise President Obama?". He pronounces it 'hungry'. Minor? Yes. But it's the sort of quirk that would have them guffawing at Fox if Biden had said 'hungry'.

Trump has said that "Hungary fronts on both Ukraine and Russia”. It doesn't, yet he has said it more than once, and that's not the first time he has doubled down on an error as if repetition would make it true. How many times has he claimed, for example, that "China has paid us billions of dollars, many, many billions of dollars in tariffs" when it is America's importers who pay the tariffs.

Besotted with Orbán, whom he brings up whenever he is before an audience, Trump always asks:

"Viktor Orban, did anyone ever hear of him? He's probably like one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world. He's the leader of, right? He's the leader of Turkey."

No, not Turkey. He also admires North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who "leads 1.4 billion people and there's no doubt about who the boss is", he told his followers, except it is China that has 1.4 billion. North Korea has 26 million people.

Geography befuddled Trump again when he greeted the crowd at a rally in Iowa in late October with,

"Well thank you very much and a very big hello to a place where we've done very well, Sioux Falls. Thank you very much Sioux Falls".

He didn't know what state he was in. Sioux Falls is in South Dakota. When an aide corrected him he unaccountably asked the folks of Sioux City, "How many people come from Sioux City?".

Joe Biden uttered a worse gaffe when abroad a year ago he forgot what country he was in and thanked the "prime minister of Columbia," rather than Cambodia, for chairing a major summit meeting. Our point, remember, is not to paint over Biden's stumbles – conservative media has done a bang up job hyperbolizing that — but to show, to our nation's anguish, that the other presumptive candidate for the presidency is showing decline, too.

The Haley incident before a crowd of supporters in Concord, N.H., was more pronounced owing to Trump's saying her name several times in the course of a jumble of falsehoods about offering Nancy Pelosi troops to defend the Capitol on Jan. 6:

You know, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley … you know they … do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it? All of it! Because of lots of things. Like Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people. Soldiers, National Guard—whatever they want. They turned it down.” For the record, then-Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, testifying under oath to the House Select Committee, directly refuted Trump's claim of ordering up any troops. There were none to offer.

He tries lamely to paper over the Haley-Pelosi, Obama-Biden mix-ups as sarcasm. At a rally he said,

“A lot of times I’ll say that President Obama is doing a lousy job, meaning that Obama is running the show. They’ll say, Donald Trump doesn’t know who our president is."

On Truth Social he wrote,

"No, I know both names very well, never mix them up, and know that they are destroying our Country. Also, and as reported, I just took a cognitive test as part of my Physical Exam, and ACED it. Also ACED (a perfect score!) one taken while in the White House."

We submit that if he had truly taken (and aced) a cognitive test recently, we would have heard all about it instantly.

Other odd bits of his preoccupation pop up and deserve mention:

  "All I know about magnets IS THIS. Gimme a glass of water, let me drop it on the magnet. That's the end of the magnet."

  He would prevent California's wildfires by "dampening" forest floors. The forest floors span millions of acres.

  Earlier he had suggested that forests be raked to remove flammable brush.

  In childlike awe of Israel's U.S.-supplied "iron dome" anti-missile system, he went to sound-effect mode ("Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! …pssshng, poom!") a few days ago to make clear that "we don’t have it here!”, and pledged to build "the greatest dome ever" to protect the entire United States.

  And all that we cite here is in addition to the fundamental lunacy of his perhaps actually believing that he won the 2020 election.

the echo chamber

Not wanting previously to draw attention to age, the Biden campaign has only just begun to point out Trump's mental failings. It may not make a smidgeon of difference in the election, but it matters to even the record against a claim someday that Trump won because only Biden was cognitively impaired, especially after the likes of Ingraham and Hannity having spent months poisoning viewers' minds. Hannity builds up nothings, such as recently exulting, "It gets even worse, you're gonna love this": The screen spelled out what Biden had said: "over a billion three hundred million trillion three hundred million dollars". Biden had so instantly corrected "billion" with "trillion" that the two numbers ran together in his rapid speaking, but that was the president's "trouble with numbers", said Hannity. "Let's just say it got the best of Joe".

On Fox it's a loop. As Michael Tomasky, editor of The New Republic confirms,

"There just is no liberal or progressive echo chamber that's nearly as insistent and relentless as the conservative, rightwing echo chamber. They stay on talking points more faithfully and they just pound messages home in a way Democrats don't."

You can drop in on Hannity most any night to hear his elder abuse, this excerpted from 200 words one night a week ago:

"Joe got dazed and confused, as usual…Joe is often mixed up…Let's just be dead honest, here. This man is not well…The president of the United States of America clearly does not have the cognitive bandwidth to do any job. I don't think he could be a Walmart greeter".

His audience doesn't go any further to find out for themselves and buys into gross distortions.

Fox News must have wanted to cut the mic when irrepressible New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu let loose on Harris Faulkner's show with an overly frank Trump brain scan:

"This is not the Donald Trump of 2016, guys. If he's off the teleprompter, he can barely keep a cogent thought… I've worked with him very closely. He's not the same guy. This is not 2016 anymore. He's not on his fastball."

Compared to the venomous Hannity, we have several times heard voices at rival MSNBC make allowances for Trump's slipups. Here's co-host Mika Brzezinski, far from a Trump fan, of the "Morning Joe" program, about Trump's diminished mental acuity:

"Yeah, and you have to think, at this age? It could be. But it also could just be the mountain of legal actions against this man, just crushing him and making him so stressed that he's literally confused."

She went on from there and has said the same since about "every single day he's dealing with lawyers. Every single day he's dealing with challenges and threats to his freedom."

rambling man

Joe Biden will wander off script to tell favorite stories repeatedly. Evidence of Trump's instability is of a different order. Trump's disorderly mind has an inability to focus attention, as was heavily chronicled during his four years in office, and it is our failing that we have became inured to his ramblings, now accepting them as normal. They are not. His tweets, with their all caps outbursts, have the look of insanity. Three nights ago he posted 37 tweets against E. Jean Carroll, in her second suit against Trump for defamation.

He has rambled to audiences about "liquid gold", former GOP speaker Paul Ryan "driving grannies off cliffs", his mother-in-law dying. He drifts off unintelligibly:

" We have become a drug-infested, crime-ridden nation which is incapable of solvin' even the straws, smallest problem. The simplest of problems we can no longer solve. We can't do anything. We are an institute and a powerful death penalty we will put this on."

Difficulty making sense of that? That's our point.

Apart from the other horrors he would bring, we should worry about the scattered mind of the man who could well become president again. The long meanders of his rallies have no structure; he can be endlessly repetitive, and leave the listener wondering what has gone mentally wrong. If an example were inserted here, this article would drown in words, but examples are needed to prove the point, so to close out we'll offer a transcript of one — an excerpt of Megyn Kelly's September interview of Trump when the subject turned to the documents at Mar a Lago. If interested, you can read that here. We'll leave you with that.

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