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From Consortium News
I didn't watch the last Democratic presidential primary debates because I figured that without Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in there shaking things up it would be a boring, vapid parade of insubstantial verbal foam, and I love myself too much to go through such a horrible ordeal. By all accounts my prediction was correct, but I did miss one thing that's been making the rounds in video clips for the last couple of days which I find absolutely bizarre.
Most of you have probably heard about Biden's infamous "record player" comment by now, but for those of you who missed it, Biden was asked by debate moderator Linsey Davis to defend some comments he made about America's problems with racism in the 1970s, and he responded by essentially saying that black people don't know how to raise their kids so they need to be taught how by social workers. Biden has been receiving mainstream criticism for his racist and paternalistic position, along with plenty of mockery for saying that parents need to be told to "make sure you have the record player on at night" so that kids hear enough words in early childhood.
It is pretty clear that Biden was trying to communicate an idea that is premised on a deeply racist and condescending worldview, so it's to be expected that people would want to talk about that. It's also to be expected that people would be making jokes about how the cute old man said "record player" like a grandpa. But what isn't being discussed nearly enough is the fact that what Biden said was also a barely coherent, garbled word salad stumbling out of a brain that is clearly being eaten alive by a very serious neurological disease.
I've typed out a transcript of what Biden actually said, verbatim. There are no typos. I've also noted where Biden closes his eyes, probably to concentrate, which he does whenever he seems to be struggling especially hard to string words together. Try to read through it slowly, word-for-word, resisting the instinct to mentally re-frame it into something more coherent:
"Well they have to deal with the Look, there is institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved I started dealing with that. Redlining. Banks. Making sure that we're in a position where... Look, talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title 1 schools, triple the amount of money we spend from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise that equal [closes eyes] raise to getting out the 60-thousand dollar level.
"Number two: make sure that we bring into the help the [closes eyes] the student, the, the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home. We need... We have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It's crazy. The teachers are reca Now, I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. [Closes eyes briefly] We have make sure that every single child does in fact have 3-, 4- and 5- year-olds go to school school, not daycare. School. We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they don't wanna help, they don't want they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television, [closes eyes tightly] the 'scuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the-the-the-the phone, make sure the kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school, [closes eyes] a very poor background, will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there."
Notice how it gets more garbled the longer he speaks. The response I transcribed was about 80 seconds in length. That was just one small part of a debate in which the former vice president performed no better and forgot three of his fellow candidates' names.
Compare this befuddled, incoherent mess with footage of a younger Biden, like his famous quip about how Rudy Giuliani only ever mentions "a noun and a verb and 9/11" in a sentence, or this clip where he said if Israel didn't exist America would have to invent it to protect its interests in the Middle East. Biden has always been notoriously gaffe-prone, but he was also sharp, alert and articulate enough to deliver a punchline. As journalist Michael Tracey has been pointing out, what we're consistently seeing over and over again from the former vice president now are not "gaffes," but clear signs of cognitive decline. Contrast the difference between Biden's younger footage and what was seen at the last debate with footage of Bernie Sanders throughout the decades, who has remained virtually identical save for appearance and hoarseness. Age does not account for this difference. Biden's brain is dying.
It is certainly understandable that people are concerned about the presidential frontrunner having a racist worldview. But what's really weird and creepy is how few people are discussing the obvious fact that the presidential forerunner is also clearly suffering from the early stages of some kind of dementia. The brain that spouted the gibberish transcribed above would probably score poorly on a basic test for the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, yet discussion of his inability to complete a coherent sentence is relegated to the margins of political discourse. This is someone who is campaigning to have access to the nuclear codes, yet we're only talking about how he's kind of racist and not about the fact that his brain is turning into Swiss cheese right before our eyes. It's freaky.
It's freaky, but it kind of makes sense. One common difficulty in getting early treatment for people with Alzheimer's disease is that those suffering from it often go to great lengths to hide their impairments, and another difficulty is that their families are often deeply in denial about their loved one's mental decline. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Some people hide their symptoms, or family members cover for them. That's easy to understand, because Alzheimer's dementia is associated with loss, such as loss of independence, loss of driving privileges and loss of self."
I think we're seeing precisely this happening, both with Biden, and with his supporters. Biden himself is clearly doing everything he can to feign mental competency, and as a powerful politician aiming to accomplish a lifelong ambition to become the U.S. president he'd certainly have a lot of ego invested in doing so. His supporters seem to be doing all kinds of denial mental gymnastics around his cognitive decline as well; just check out the responses to this Washington Post tweet for its article about Biden's "record player" response.
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