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Dementia politics grips America

July 20, 2020

Good news! I aced the same cognitive test as Donald Trump. I know that an elephant is an elephant, and I can not only tell the time but draw a clock. That doesn’t qualify me to run a country, but at least the next time I play golf I’ll know the difference between a putter and a seven-iron.

No matter that occasionally my wife collapses in laughter when my face acquires a vacant expression for a few seconds as I struggle to summon up some bon mot that thirty years ago would have shot out of my mouth like a piece of chewing gum expelled during a Heimlich manoeuvre.

No matter that the name of some innocent piece of kitchen equipment doesn’t come to me immediately, whereas I can instantly recall the name of an actor in a movie from thirty years ago who hasn’t been seen much since (Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future, in case you’re curious).

Such senior moments are of no consequence, because I’m not the one who has to remember where North Korea is (north of South Korea), or that Finland isn’t part of Russia. Or has to tell the difference between a nuke and a cattle prod.

But it’s rather strange that voters in the largest country in the world are being wooed by leaders who are frantically trying to convince them that they have more marbles than the average care-home resident.

But if both candidates are indeed suffering from some degree of dementia, there would appear to be a marked difference in symptoms. Donald Trump seems to be suffering from the wild, dangerous version that eventually gets the person locked up in a place where they won’t be dangerous to themselves or others.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, has the demeanour of a kindly grandfather who would be happy to accept help when he loses his glasses, and is unlikely to rage against the dying of the light.

So the choice would appear to be between someone who insists on finding his own glasses, and smashes up his home in frustration when he can’t, and someone who knows his limitations and is happy to rely on the support of others.

Two thoughts on this.

Wouldn’t it be more sensible to go for the guy who’s self-aware enough to know that he needs to get help? And second, what if the guy who isn’t self-aware is no longer able to hold it together? Should he disappear, could he be replaced by others even more malignant than him?

So the issue facing American voters in November, if they incline towards the amiable granddad, is if he shuffles off before his term is done, who will be there to pick up the reins? Biden not only needs to nominate a strong vice-president, but it would also helpful if he gave some indication of his executive team. Trump’s team is a known quantity: yes-men, charlatans and opportunists. His opponent’s line-up is as yet unselected.

I’m not saying that Biden has anything but a full set of marbles, but such is the atmosphere of distrust in politicians in the United States, and Trump’s talent for malicious insinuation against his opponents, that the Democratic candidate will need an insurance policy that will reassure the voters. A strong team of willing helpers might make all the difference.

Belt and braces possibly, but Biden will need every tool in the bag to nail his opponent to the floor and prevent him from rising again.

Dementia has not been such an important issue in America since Ronald Reagan’s declining years.

From → Politics, USA

  1. “I’m not saying that Biden has anything but a full set of marbles…”
    I’m not sure I’d take a bet on it.
    The most hopeful statement I’ve heard from Biden (for whom I shall, perforce, vote) was that he was looking for a woman as vice presidential running mate who would ready and capable of taking over “on day one”.
    I would hope he would do just that. However, the fog outside the window has lifted and I do not now live in a dream world…

    • I know lots of people in their late seventies who have plenty of marbles. Hopefully Biden is one of them. Also one should always remember the tortoise and the hare.

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