Morning Joe Furiously Attacks Wall St. Journal Article on Biden’s ‘Slipping’ Mental Acuity

News & Politics

Excerpt from WSJ article on Biden slipping acuity MSNBC Morning Joe 6-5-24 With Joe Scarborough leading the charge, today’s Morning Joe mounted a furious attack against yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article, “Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs of Slipping.”

The article really was nothing much more than a recapitulation of what is obvious to anyone who has observed Biden in recent times. Although he has his relatively cogent moments—notably during this year’s State of the Union—Biden suffers “senior moments” with such regularity that the Free Beacon has been cataloging them every week — now at Week 96 and counting.

Joe Scarborough, soccer fan that he is, committed an horrendous own goal in his attempt to defend Biden’s mental powers. He began by boasting that he had met — privately no less! — with presidents, Speakers of the House going back 30 years, and foreign leaders. Impressive, Joe!

Scarborough then said:

“And Joe Biden, it’s just not close! If you want to talk about international affairs, if you want to talk about how to get bipartisan legislation, Joe Biden is light years ahead of all of them.”

Well, in a sense, Scarborough was right. Biden is so far ahead of all those other dignitaries, that he literally defies the space-time continuum. As the Journal article noted [emphasis added]:

“During a February fundraiser in New York, he recounted speaking to German Chancellor Helmut DeLorean time machine Back to the FutureKohl—who died in 2017—at the 2021 Group of Seven meeting. That same month, at a different fundraiser, he said that during the 2021 G-7 summit he had spoken to former French President François Mitterrand, who died in 1996.”

Fire up the DeLorean time machine, and go Back to the Future with Biden!

Even so, it’s a little less ridiculous than Joe’s March tirade with “F— you if you can’t handle the truth. This version of Biden intellectually, analytically, is the best Biden ever.”

Notes:

  • Morning Joe sidekick Willie Geist traditionally provided some more temperate balance to Scarborough’s ravings. But in recent months, Willie has become more partisan. Making his own defense of Biden, Geist, among other things, suggested that the Journal devote an article to examining Trump’s mental acuity, claiming it’s clear that Trump doesn’t “have it all together.”
  • The only moment of levity in a decidedly angry segment came when Willie asked Mike Barnicle what the White House’s reaction has been to the Journal article. Responded a chuckling Barnicle: “I can’t say it on the air. You just can’t say it on the air what the reaction is, actually.”

Here’s the transcript.

MSNBC
Morning Joe
6/5/24
6:04 am EDT

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Let’s go to our top story this morning. The Wall Street Journal is out with a new piece entitled “Behind closed doors, Biden shows signs of slipping.” The Journal says it spoke with both Republicans and Democrats who either participated in meetings with Biden or were briefed on them contemporaneously, but essentially only on the record, Republican critics in the article. The one is former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

The Journal writes, quote:

“Last year, when Biden was negotiating with House Republicans to lift the debt ceiling, his demeanor and command of the details seemed to shift from one day to the next, according to then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and two others familiar with the talks. On some days, he had loose and spontaneous exchanges with Republicans, and on others he mumbled and appeared to rely on notes.

“I used to meet with him when he was Vice President. I’d go to his house,” McCarthy said in an interview. “He’s not the same person.”

JOE SCARBOROUGH: By the way, they also quoted Mike Johnson. People around Mike Johnson, and admit that this is basically House Republicans whacking —

MIKA: Why didn’t they ask Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert?

SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. It’s, it’s really shocking.  

. . . 

I could go on and on with things that Kevin McCarthy and others have said about negotiating with Joe Biden. I could also talk about what the French delegation said when they were negotiating with him, and what they told me. And friends that I have in that French delegation that were a part of those negotiations, who said that Macron came out like, wow! Okay. He’s a lot tougher than what we expected. And actually, I think Macron sort of got his back up because Biden was pressing so hard. 

I can tell you the same thing about Middle Eastern leaders that I talked to. Nobody is saying that he’s not cogent. And some people are suggesting that he, you know, a bit too tough in negotiations, that the United States throws their weight around a little bit too much. 

. . . 

I’ve talked to you about my meetings with the President over the past year, Willie, and I talked to Mike [Barnicle] and Mika about it. And I said in real time, the guy, the guy — you see both those guys right there [image of Biden and McCarthy is displayed]? I’ve spent time with both of those guys privately. I’ve spent time with Biden and Trump privately. I’ve spent time with every House Speaker over the past 30 years. 

And Joe Biden — I’m not just — it’s just not close! If you want to talk about international affairs, if you want to talk about how to get bipartisan legislation, Joe Biden is light years ahead of all of them. 

. . . 

WILLIE GEIST: Let’s begin with the fact that Joe Biden is 81 years old, and Donald Trump, by the way, will be 78 next week. So he’s not much younger. So, yes, does he move a little slower and speak a little softer than he did 15 years ago when he was Vice President?

SCARBOROUGH: Yup.

MIKA: Sure does.

GEIST: As former Speaker McCarthy said in the piece, sure does. I think most 81-year-olds do or most people are different than they were 15 years ago. This does have the feeling of Trump laundering their attacks through a reputable, prestigious news organization, the Wall Street Journal.

Also, the point about notes, as Richard Haass would tell you, presidents uses notes in meetings. That’s not unusual. They might have a sheet, they might have a card in front of them with some points they want to make. 

I would also point out, Donald Trump has a person who follows him with a printer to print things out for him so he can have hard copies so he can read his notes and facts, and lies often, that he rattles off. 

And then the other point to make is, will the Wall Street Journal have a piece about Donald Trump and his mental acuity? All you have to do is watch the 90 minutes of that Fox News interview over the weekend —

MIKA: Wow.

GEIST: — and you could go through and do an entire series of articles on someone who doesn’t seem to have it all together.

Mike Barnicle, you’re very plugged into the White House. What’s the early reaction to this piece?

MIKE BARNICLE: [Chuckles] I can’t say it on the air. You just can’t say it on the air what the reaction is, actually.

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