CSotD: Everything that’s hip, we print!

A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.

If you click on that link, you’ll find that Mark Twain didn’t say it, but a lot of people have and for good reason. We’re in the middle of a particularly apt example.

As noted the other day, self-appointed experts leapt to explain what the Hur Report sort of halfway said about Biden, and it quickly turned into yet another “Al Gore Lies” and Swift Boating and “But her emails” set of dubious attacks.

Yes: Here I go again. But I’ll shut up when everyone else does. Or if they at least read the report and some of the in-depth analysis of the report.

Otherwise, we seem to be setting up yet another election built on things that never happened and words that were never said.

To be fair, I’ll start with an unsurprising attack by Dana Summers (Creators), because conservatives have been accusing Biden of mental decline since he ran against Trump in 2020. It’s hardly surprising that they would seize upon Hur’s amateur diagnosis as proof of what they’ve been saying all along.

Even though he didn’t say it. He certainly never said Biden couldn’t stand trial. What he said was that a nice old fellow who doesn’t always remember dates would make a sympathetic witness that a jury might hesitate to convict.

What else he said was that he didn’t have sufficient proof of intent, so any prosecution would depend heavily on showing that Biden deliberately broke the law and that the dates he possessed the documents lined up with dates when he was not permitted to have them.

Here’s a chart summarizing Politifact’s findings:

As a number of columnists and bloggers have noted (and do click on the links in that wrap-up!), media seems to have not read the part where Hur declined to prosecute for lack of evidence — which was the point of the investigation — and focused on his side comments about the president’s memory.

Which gets us into Swift Boat territory, because now, instead of discussing the report, we’re talking about whether the president is suffering from dementia.

And it’s not just the MAGAts who are picking up on it.

Kevin Kallaugher

Tim Campbell — Counterpoint

Jimmy Margulies — KFS

Matt Wuerker — Politico

It should be noted that Wuerker still holds out hope that Biden might drop out and that the Democrats would still have time to put a credible candidate in his place before November, despite having missed all the primary deadlines. But Jonathan Martin explains how extremely unlikely that scenario is.

Of course, something could happen to Biden between now and November, but his most recent White House physical doesn’t make that seem likely, even though he’s only 6 feet tall and weighs 178, not 6’3″ and 215 pounds like Donald Trump, John Elway, Lamar Jackson and other top athletic heroes.

Kal is right, in perhaps an indirect way, because the faster Biden’s team puts this behind them, the sooner they can get back to real issues, assuming the Swift Boaters don’t succeed in making their message the main theme of the campaign.

As for Campbell’s gibe, he’s got the memory thing precisely ass-backwards, according to neurologists interviewed by NBC and another group interviewed by ABC, and this piece from the Washington Post, written by a professor of psychology and neuroscience and the director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California, Davis. Margulies also conflates normal recall failure with the type that diminishes capacity. That’s not how it works.

Side Note: If I’m adamant about this sort of thing, it’s because one of my favorite parts of being a reporter was finding national experts to interview in a crisis while everyone else was speculating, cogitating and bloviating.

As it happens, we’re starting to see some blowback from all the Swift Boating:

Joe Heller takes a sort of neutral stance, albeit one of “They’re both guilty!” which isn’t particularly helpful in terms of November but does demonstrate how these states of mind function in daily life. There is, indeed, a big difference between normal “senior moments” and a tendency towards hostile outbursts.

If you clicked on any of those links to neurological opinions, you’ll recognize exactly what Jack Ohman (Tribune) lays out here: It’s perfectly normal to reach for names or lose track of your car keys.

As the experts said, it’s not surprising or concerning that Biden might not come up with a particular date off the cuff, even for something as monumental as his son’s death, which happened over a long period of illness. The memory problem to be concerned with would be if he forgot that Beau ever existed, and, as we all know, he certainly hasn’t.

While, as Ohman says, perhaps Trump wishes we’d all forget his first whack at the job.

Though he sure seems determined to make sure we remember what a firm bastion of well-balanced mental health he represents.

While, as Mike Luckovich points out, the GOP is hoping we’ll focus on the amateur diagnosis by a former Trump aide and forget what we’ve seen happen over the past three-and-a-half years.

And Jack Ohman lays out the contrast in terms that are a little closer to the decision voters will face in November, whether the brouhaha over Hur’s diagnosis settles down or not.

As Kevin Necessary suggests, that will depend on whether Trump’s crew manages to keep it top of consciousness long enough to sink in, the way the fabrications of Gore as a liar or Kerry as a faker did.

Much as I loved finding an earthquake/tectonics expert to discuss that tsunami in the Indian Ocean, I despised being assigned to track down fads that were in Newsweek but not in our town. I was ordered to somehow find them anyway, because we were by-gawd gonna localize whatever was hot, hip and happenin’.

Will Biden’s alleged mental decline stay hot, hip and happening, or will it fade away with the Taylor Swift cartoons as some new Flavor of the Month takes its place?

I note that Trump’s invitation for Russia to invade NATO countries is beginning to pop up amongst the editorial comics, but let’s not get too complacent.

His campaign is clearly in the hands of geniuses!

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Everything that’s hip, we print!

  1. I am concerned that one of the most important points of the ‘hur report’ is being overlooked:
    ‘Merrick Garland needs to demand that Robert Hur issue a statement, making very clear, that he had neither the expertise required, or the authority to include comments in his report about anything other than whether the President should be charged’ – Jack Hopkins, social scientist
    I agree with his statement. I think Biden is far from the sharpest pencil in the holder, but the ‘hur report’ reads like a stealth repugnantcant hit job to me.
    It’s the same as tRUMP publishing a report on how to be an honest, caring person, WTF

  2. Biden should drop out of the presidential race. He was in rough shape before he forced all Americans to be complicit with Israel’s monstrous, GENOCIDE of millions of Palestinians. Now Biden is permanently damaged goods. Polls show he can’t beat Trump. But polls also show even a GENERIC Democrat would beat Trump. i.e. ANY Democrat but Biden would beat Trump.

    Biden MUST drop out of the race to save our democracy!

  3. Right, John, I’m certain Donald Trump would handle the Palestinian situation in a much more measured and compassionate manner than Biden has. (And monkeys might fly out of my rear, as they used to say.)

    For that matter, which generic Democrat *would* handle it perfectly? Not some imaginary Johnny Unbeatable, but a real one that is serving right now? Surely you have some names in mind.

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