The US President becomes the second one in so many years to have his mental faculties doubted. Does Biden have the stamina of Trump to battle the growing perception?
An increasing number of Americans are saying President Joe Biden is not “mentally sharp”, according to a new poll by the US-based Pew Research Centre.
The survey also found Biden’s poll ratings plummeting, showing that 56 percent of respondents said that President Biden’s mental faculties are “not at all well” or “not too well.”
In contrast, just 43 percent of respondents believed that the phrase “mentally sharp” described him either “very well” or “fairly well.”
Only last week, Biden seemed to forget the name of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on primetime TV as he was announcing a trilateral security partnership with Britain and Australia, called Aukus.
Instead, the president simply referred to the Australian prime minister as “that fella down under.”
A cottage industry has emerged, drawing attention to blunders made by the 78-year-old US president. Most recently, Biden seemed to confuse the United States with the United Nations in his address to the international body.
Clips of him mistaking former President Barack Obama with Donald Trump have also done the rounds on social media.
In another press conference, Biden, who is also one of the oldest presidents in US history, seemed to forget altogether what he was trying to say.
Some of his harshest critics in the Republican Party recently asked to much amusement whether “somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off his sound and stop him from speaking. Who is that person?”
Biden’s slow pace and doddering speeches have proved fertile ground for his opponents. But increasingly, Americans are also noticing that something doesn’t quite fit.
This isn’t the first time that the mental faculty of a US president has been questioned. Thousands of columns were written about Trump’s mental stability throughout his four years.
The recent focus on Biden and the subsequent fall in poll ratings, while impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, lacklustre economic numbers, and the Afghanistan withdrawal for many Americans, has also laid bare the age of their president.
Since the end of August, Biden’s approval ratings have declined dramatically, with almost 50 percent of Americans now disapproving of the job he’s doing.
Some US press outlets like The New York Post recently ran a headline “White House live stream cuts Biden mid-sentence as he goes off-script.”
Whereas the right-wing Fox News opined, “I don’t know, is somebody telling him that he can’t continue and now are they to the point where they are controlling when he has to end his speaking?”
The drip-drip in gaffes and the forgetfulness of Biden at a time the country contends with domestic and international political polarisation is for many laying bare some of the frailties of their president. What that will do to US prestige abroad and its tense political order at home is anyone’s guess.