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Opinion | Joe Biden’s Blind Spot


King Lear gave up power too early. President Biden will give it up too late.

And that is Joe’s tragedy.

Unlike Biden, Lear had a loyal lord who was willing to tell him the truth. When the old king disinherits his good daughter and divides the kingdom between his maleficent daughters, the Earl of Kent tries to tell Lear he’s bollixing everything up:

“What wouldst thou do, old man? Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak, When power to flattery bows?” Lear, swayed by his bad daughters’ sycophancy, screams at Kent, “Out of my sight!”

Kent urges the king to “see better.”

Some eyes get plucked out in “Lear,” but the play is really a lesson about inner blindness, the way power can occlude the ability to see yourself, and the world. A lack of self-knowledge in a leader can lead to ruination.

And that is where we are with President Biden. His raison d’être for running, at 81, is stopping Donald Trump, a mendacious scofflaw who will become even more incorrigible with the egregious decisions of his radical Supreme Court and his own age spiral.

But Biden’s contention that he alone can beat Trump was never true. And now he has lost some moral high ground because he hid the evidence of cognitive deterioration.

Trump is the master con man, but Biden is giving him a run for his money.

He, his wife, his vice president and his longtime aides worked hard to conjure a mirage where everything is fine in Bidenworld.

That mirage vanished with the debate.

We don’t know now who is running the country. We only know who shouldn’t be — the president and the former president.

Republican lawmakers cravenly failed to stop Trump after Jan. 6. In the days after the debate, most Democratic lawmakers have shied away from being honest with Biden.

We now know that Biden aides have painted over every scene with a Panglossian brush, creating a picture at odds with what the rest of the world was seeing.

They burbled with praise for the president’s back-to-back-to-back performances in Normandy, the splashy L.A. fund-raiser and the Group of 7 summit in Italy. Odd moments of vagueness with the president, when people grabbed his arm to orient him, were dismissed as misinterpretations.

But I was in Paris that week of the Normandy anniversary, and some Macron advisers and European officials were alarmed at Biden’s foggy mien, at his moments of not seeming to know where he was.

I feel like a hostage to Joe’s ego — and the chip on his shoulder. I can have a president fighting for women to control their own bodies as long as I don’t care that Biden isn’t sharp enough to serve until he is 86.

He can handle an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot. But he has to stall for two weeks before having a live White House news conference to reassure those freaked out by his brain freezes at the debate — and his acknowledgment afterward to donors that he “almost fell asleep” at the lectern.

As Reid Epstein and Maggie Haberman reported in The Times, the president told the Democratic governors on Wednesday night that he needs to sleep more and work less.

Alex Thompson of Axios, who has been breaking news of top aides’ stage-managing minutiae — Biden’s sleep schedule, his orthopedic shoes, his shift to a lower door with a shorter staircase to board Air Force One — revealed that the president is “dependably engaged” only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Yet, on Friday, the Biden campaign outlined an “aggressive travel schedule,” trying to prove he can still handle the job.

Biden is in denial and few are willing to tell him, with his every syllable being parsed, that he is sliding to even more humiliation.

The Democrats should give the public what it wants. Voters have said they’d like fresh, exciting voices and a broader choice than Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Senator Mark Warner is trying to corral other Democratic senators to tell Biden to be the bridge he promised to be.

Let’s open the convention and check out all the Democratic stars.

As for those who say the nomination should be Harris’s by right, James Carville thinks competition would give her a chance to gain the cred that has eluded her as vice president. Even her booster, Representative James Clyburn, said that if Biden passes the baton, there should be a mini-primary before the convention.

And in this election, many think that it would help to have a candidate who can’t be cast as part of the coastal elite.

For decades, Biden was loquacious. But his voice has receded. His staff told him to curb his logorrhea. Later, the inner circle let him do very few interviews and no challenging ones. Biden began sometimes falling into a soft mumble in meetings, or trailing off. The crimped word count is a sign that it’s time to stop charging forward.

Biden told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News on Friday that he would get out only if the Lord Almighty told him to. When asked how he would feel if his defiance threw the race to Trump, Biden said: “As long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about.”

But it’s not, not when Biden says that Trump is “a one-man crime wave” and “the biggest threat to our democracy in American history.” It’s time for the president to “see better.”



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