Take the best cognitive test, Joe. Ace it—then fortify support, win nomination, then slam/shame Trump

Are we all not flying blind with two geriatrics on display (though the right-wing cares not at all).


If senility rears its head, isn’t a decent, honorable guy duty-bound to come clean to avert mayhem?

Against the worst menace ever to our functional governance, shouldn’t Dems field the nominee most likely to banish the explicit threat—plus the nasty ideology of Trumpism? Shouldn’t what we all know about Biden in excruciating detail have some input as to the party’s nomination? Or should allegiance to a good and decent president trump, so to speak, widespread dread over a worst-case scenario? 

High-risk, abnormal jeopardy calls for abnormal proposals, even turning away from an untested primary winner. When conditions and skill-sets change—and a hurricane looms, isn’t it prudent, if not rational to exit comfort levels and seize the best shot at success? I defy entrenched passivity or true believers in the face of calamity.

My beef isn’t about the president’s ability to finish his term and retire untainted, proud of many breakthrough successes. “It’s the future,” echoing Chinatown, that matters—and the tectonic disruptions, were Biden to lose, set up four, unspeakable years of crisis management on steroids. Plus, where’s the persuasive, bold new Biden plan now manifestly needed to dispatch Trump for ever (though not Trumpism). My strongest criticism of Biden isn’t that he won’t promptly withdraw, despite a flurry of evidence he could not be the strongest Dem pick. It’s the evidence he appears closed to the logic that he might be an election liability right here, right now. Denial is denial, whatever the political aisle. 

I understand stubborn resistance against leaving the field during the battle, but not the defiant shut-out of well-meaning backers, that even asking questions, or expressing anxiety, is not legitimate. A comeback kid must first now overcome his own party panic before he can amass a winning electorate again. What we are learning over two weeks, that I find most chilling, is that for years an even-tempered, balanced, unruffled personality is more insular to new input and data than we reckon. Many, many now express the serious concern Biden does not see the ominous turn of events, thus oddly making himself part of the problem. Sure, Biden the savvy pol may still be right that, if he rights the ship, he could end up the strongest antidote to the outrageous criminal opponent. But right now the flow of polls and opinions and pundits, along with elected officials, openly or not, say we should reshuffle the deck

Why not two cognitive assessments?

The big battle seems now to be between two party versions of personal ego and the national good—not a good place to be. To resurrect Biden’s strength, he must clear the air, especially the bad air (as in mal’aria)—and that doesn’t happen until an independent, cognitive assessment offers as much assurance as possible. The bottom line is for an independent confirmation Biden will be coherent and fully functional in one year, two years or more. If that is not forthcoming, even a bloodied, rightwing narcissist will remain a threatening marauder.

All votes are bets on the future and right now there’s unnecessary confusion, even contradictory testimony, about how long Biden (or Trump!) can sustain current cognitive status. Are we all not flying blind with two geriatrics on display (though the right-wing cares not at all). That’s the simple problem – and the only solution (however controversial) is a scientific assessment (with a second expert opinion) that judges the quality of candidate brain power for the next term. 

Biden should also now publicize his overall health status because there is an old body connected to an old mind. Such Biden transparency would squeeze Trump (more intellectually compromised IMO) with a political conundrum. If he refuses a comparable test, HE then becomes the unreliable, fearful, senile oldster. If he covers up suspicious results (bank on it, even if forced), that confirms the worst case—that he is mentally unfit, adding insult to injury. Now, would two assessments level the playing field or what? 

What if the dementia tests show considerable falloff in one or both? Certainly Biden, a rational, far less egocentric contestant, will feel obliged to present such findings (forget Trump). Would a compromised good guy (and his family) not want to know his real-world state of mind, as it were. Cognitive decline is not rocket science and millions of examples provide doctors with more than passing anecdotes. Would a decent person want to inflict his maladies, physical or mental, on the White House, the government, the country and the world? We already know what an indecent person is doing—and will never admit: imperfection

Informing voters is core to democracy

On the other hand, let’s say that doctors confirm Biden’s unshakeable confidence, that he is cognitively reliable for another four years. Or perhaps the assessment would identify mild problems treatable by simple life-style changes (more sleep, fewer hours at work, even medication). Anything is better than not knowing basics, whatever the reluctance to seek out what could be bad news. I hope a positive assessment would free Biden to convincingly declare the debate was a weird, irrelevant anomaly. If so, and if he is able to recoup his standing, even provide a more dynamic vision and messaging, all to the better. 

At least millions of non-MAGA voters will feel more informed, better equipped to deal with the anxiety that the Democrat appears the underdog. Right now, those who can’t stand Trump are left in a kind of no man’s land conundrum where pressure says something should be done without direction or sufficient knowledge. Finally, I must admit that I expected a more dramatic difference in both transparency and how the parties treat their voters than is now apparent from Dems. 

Though replacing Biden may be a long shot, I still welcome more give and take on whether the incumbent is the strongest Democrat to win in November. This is really a hill to die on for I would hate to see the election decided on the superficial evidence of who has “more vinegar,” the language of one NC Democratic voter now leaning to Trump. That tragedy is avoidable if cognitive assessments are routine events for anyone, say, over 75. Dream on, you say, but such a procedure is a Biden booster if it turns out clean. 


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.