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Tags: joe biden | age | white house | mental acuity

WSJ: Biden 'Slipping'

By    |   Wednesday, 05 June 2024 11:19 AM EDT

President Joe Biden's age and mental fitness are increasingly taking their toll on his effectiveness, according to a new report that focuses on his behavior behind closed doors.

The Wall Street Journal, citing information from 45 sources, on Wednesday described Biden as a commander-in-chief whose command of issues, history, and policy insights is declining.

Lawmakers who have met with him for negotiations, including on Ukraine funding and policy changes, told the Journal that Biden, who once had a reputation as a master at negotiating legislative deals is slipping as the months and years go by.

Sources in the White House dismissed the report as partisan.

“Congressional Republicans, foreign leaders and nonpartisan national-security experts have made clear in their own words that President Biden is a savvy and effective leader who has a deep record of legislative accomplishment," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. "Now, in 2024, House Republicans are making false claims as a political tactic that flatly contradict previous statements made by themselves and their colleagues."

The questions about Biden, 81, come as voters are deciding whether his age should preclude him from serving for another four years.

He and former President Donald Trump, who is more than 3 years Biden's junior,  will square off publicly for the first presidential debate of 2024 this month, putting on stage a side-by-side for comparison. 

The Journal detailed reactions from politicians who were involved in negotiations for Ukraine funding in January; a conversation with House Speaker Mike Johnson in February about his energy policy; and debt ceiling negotiations in May 2023 with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

In the Ukraine meeting, people recalled that Biden took about 10 minutes while walking slowly around the Cabinet Room to greet about two dozen leaders from Congress. 

When the meeting started, Biden used notes to outline points about needing to give Ukraine money, which participants found odd, as the lawmakers had agreed the money was needed. 

The president also deferred often to lawmakers and staffers when he was questioned directly, which some in the meeting said they found uncomfortable.

Others in the meeting said Biden spoke so softly that participants had trouble hearing him, and that he paused often for extended periods, closing his eyes for long enough that some in the room were concerned that was no longer listening. 

Those close to Biden dismissed the claims. Gene Sperling, a top Biden aide who worked in the past for former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said presidents often use note cards during serious policy meetings.

Casey Redmon, a National Security Council official, said Biden only deferred questions twice: to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Biden was "incredibly strong, forceful and decisive," and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who was also at the meeting, said on X on Wednesday that "everyone attacking" Biden in the Wall Street Journal accounting "is a Republican with an agenda."

"I made clear to the @WSJ regarding the January meeting on Ukraine that the President was absolutely engaged & ran that meeting in a way that brought everyone together," she said. "I'm not quoted — I wonder why."

But Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said that while people call Biden a "dynamo" behind closed doors, "they need to get him out from behind closed doors, because I didn’t see it."

Meanwhile, in February's conversation with Johnson in the Oval Office, Biden commented that a policy change affecting several major energy projects was just a study, according to six sources Johnson told about their talk. The speaker also said he was worried about Biden's memory slipping about the policy. 

Bates claimed those who heard Johnson's version were just repeating a "false account" and that Biden was trying to tell Johnson, R-La., that the policy would not cause the harm that he thought. 

Johnson declined to be interviewed for the Wall Street Journal report, but his spokesman, Taylor Haulsee, said the speaker stands by his account. 

McCarthy, who was ousted as speaker last year, commented to the Wall Street Journal about the negotiations over increasing the debt ceiling, saying that the president "would ramble" and always had cards because "he couldn't negotiate another way."

However, McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters in May 2023 that he enjoyed talking to Biden and praised his staff as "very professional, very smart, very tough."

McCarthy also said that he spoke with Biden on May 21, 11 days before a potential default, when the president called him from Air Force One while returning from Japan. 

"On that phone call, he was more with it than any other time," McCarthy said, but added that the next day, Biden lacked the spontaneity from the phone call and was "going back to all the old stuff that had been done for a long time."

McCarthy further described the president as being "shocked" when he told him that they had talked on some topics "meetings ago."

But when the negotiators came out of the meeting, McCarthy said the tone of the talks were "better than any other time we've had discussions."

Still, when the Republicans drove away, they called to talk with a colleague to discuss the talks, and the topic of the president and his acuity came up, said a person familiar with the call.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

President Joe Biden's age and mental fitness are increasingly taking their toll on his effectiveness, according to a new report that focuses on his behavior behind closed doors.
joe biden, age, white house, mental acuity
Wednesday, 05 June 2024 11:19 AM
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