Former White House stenographer Mike McCormick spent six years (2011-2017) at then-Vice President Joe Biden’s side as he met with world leaders, delivered speeches and interacted with members of the news media.
On Tuesday, McCormick, the author of “Joe Biden Unauthorized,” appeared on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast to discuss what he estimates to be a 50 percent decline in his former employer’s cognitive abilities over the past few years.
While 50 percent might be an exaggeration, it is clear that President Biden’s mental sharpness has deteriorated since he left the White House in January 2017.
McCormick and Bannon began by watching a clip from a 12-minute speech Biden had delivered earlier in the day in which he outlined his administration’s racial equity agenda. It is unmistakable that he was reading the words from a teleprompter. Afterward, he sat at a desk where four executive orders awaited his signature.
“What’s going on with him? How does he work a suit?” McCormick said as he watched the 78-year-old president try to take a pen out of his pocket, fumble awkwardly with it and finally put it back into a different pocket.
What in the name of sundowning is going on here?
The man can’t handle a pen. pic.twitter.com/ZRCIhPnjnB
— Media Kane (@MediaKane) January 26, 2021
Finally, after he signed the documents, he rose and walked out of the room as several reporters shouted questions at him. Don’t they understand by now that impromptu speaking is not allowed?
McCormick said, “It’s almost like he’s a Stepford President. He’s this robotic guy. He’s going through the motions.”
He said he thought the speech sounded as if it had been written by former President Barack Obama’s people for Obama. “And Biden was just reading it. And basically, he’s like the ventriloquist’s dummy of the administration,” McCormick said.
“You said earlier, if he has any of the personal flourishes, if he has any of the personal stories, if he goes off script and starts talking and it’ll take 45 minutes, then you know he’s all there,” Bannon said. “If it’s just on the glass, that shows you that he’s tightly controlled by the puppet masters beforehand. So you’re doubling down on that?”
“Yeah, absolutely. And you know, the thing is, he did have kind of a quip as he was leaving with the reporter. That’s kind of the Joe Biden that I remember,” McCormick replied. “But it was off mic and it was from a distance. You couldn’t really hear the reporter’s question clearly.”
“So to me, they’re really trying to restrict access of the press,” he added. “They’re trying to make it seem like he’s not vulnerable. He’s extremely vulnerable.”
McCormick appeared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” in September to discuss Biden’s cognitive condition.
In the video below, host Laura Ingraham played a clip of Biden delivering a speech in March 2017. He was speaking without a teleprompter and came across as strong, vigorous and in command.
Next, she played several clips from his recent presidential campaign in which Biden appeared weak. He lost his train of thought and forgot words (“you know, the thing”), and at times his speech was slurred.
Also in September, McCormick was interviewed by The Washington Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman and said Biden was completely different four years ago. He explained that Biden had “lost a step and he doesn’t seem to have the same mental acuity as he did four years ago. He doesn’t have the energy, he doesn’t have the pace of his speaking. He’s a different guy.”
“Back then,” McCormick told Goodman, Biden had a knack for “connecting with audiences” and “almost always veered off script” during his speeches.
“He’d just make a big joke out of it, and go straight from the hip. And notice, he’s not doing that anymore … it’s not Joe Biden anymore,” McCormick said. He added that the president “looks lost in interviews now.”
I’ve often wondered how his family and associates could allow the world to watch his decline, but I suspect the answer is that Jill Biden really, really wanted to be first lady and the Democrats needed to prevent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination.
Even in his prime, Biden was never considered a formidable or even a particularly strong leader. McCormick recounted an incident in March 2011 during Biden’s first visit with the Russian leader.
McCormick said that during a joint news conference, Biden “launched into a soliloquy about his visits to Russia during the Cold War.” Suddenly, the vice president’s microphone was cut off. Then “the press lighting was switched off, and Putin’s aides ushered the media out of the room.”
Putin had “publicly humiliated” him.
“He basically got body-slammed by Putin, really. I mean, I don’t know how else to describe it,” McCormick told Goodman. “To me it was like, here’s our great foreign policy expert and he just got punk’d. And Vladimir Putin just had no fear or respect for him.”
Unsurprisingly, news of this very public, very deliberate indignity “never made it into media coverage of the trip.”
McCormick offered some background. Ahead of the meeting, Biden’s staffers had “made a big deal about how Putin really dominated the conversation [with] Obama” during his visit to Russia. They were sure that Biden, because of his “decades of Senate foreign policy experience,” would never allow that to happen.
Describing this moment in his book, McCormick wrote: “[Putin’s] message was unmistakable: I’m in charge of the room, I’m in charge of my country, and I’m in charge of the reset. As you might imagine, the vice president’s staffers were furious with the Russians. I was instructed to have the transcript reflect how the vice president had been cut off in mid sentence.”
The official White House transcript reads: “VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: There’s a reason, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister, I’ve been around a long time. The first time I was here — the second time I was here, I was meeting with President Brezhnev. We were trying to pass SALT II — END”
Biden was at the top of his game in 2011. Ten years later, he appears to be much diminished.
As much as his handlers try to control situations, there are certain presidential duties and occasions that can’t be scripted or micromanaged ahead of time. Many of these events take place on the national and even the international stage.
The president’s handlers can write his speeches and put them on a teleprompter, and they can keep the news media away to a certain extent. But there will be times when Biden will be forced to speak on his own.
Is he still capable of that?
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