Politics Notebook | Who is more senile, Joe or Donald?


Politics Notebook | Who is more senile, Joe or Donald?

What does it say about the mighty USA when both sides of the political divide want to elect a half-senile old-timer as president, wonders MAX DU PREEZ (himself no longer a spring chicken). He also writes about Alan taking the Winde out of the ANC's sails.


JOE Biden and Donald Trump are competing over who can make the most blunders in public speeches and has the worst memory.

Biden is 81, Trump 77. And unless something drastic happens, one of them will be America's new president.

Yes, the “leader of the free world" with the most powerful military and about 6,000 nuclear weapons that can turn the globe into a fireball.

If you believe the Republicans, Biden has advanced senility. Trump may not have the same old-man shuffle but he makes far more faux pas than the sitting president.

According to an Ipsos poll, almost two-thirds of Americans think  Biden and Trump are both too old for another term: 86% think Biden is too old, 62% think Trump is too old. They were both already the oldest presidential candidates in American history in 2020.

And yet, Trump is close to 100% sure he will be the Republican Party's presidential candidate, and no one on the horizon looks like they could beat Biden as the Democratic Party's candidate.

If Biden is elected, he will be 86 at the end of his second term, and Trump will be 82. That's if they don't clock out before that. So, Americans should also carefully consider the vice-presidential candidates, as any of the two might become president before 2028.

The brilliant comedian Jon Stewart mocked “electile dysfunction", “demockracy" and “Indecision 2024 — Antiques Roadshow" on The Daily Show, desperately asking his audience: “What the fuck are we doing, people?"

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

Yes, it's a good question. What the hell are you doing, America? Where are the adults in the room? Are you just making sure the rest of us on earth no longer doubt that you are a declining civilisation?

It's not so much the age itself that matters. I watched interviews with the philosopher Noam Chomsky (95) and the medical/scientific expert Anthony Fauci (83) last week — both still sharp as a razor. I talked on the phone with the struggle icon and business leader Mavuso Msimang (82) and listened to Thabo Mbeki (81) and Mamphela Ramphele (76) — absolutely nothing wrong with their cognitive functions.

The same cannot be said for Trump. And now we're not even talking about his lies or madness, like claiming he actually won the election against Biden, that windmills cause cancer, or that Russia can invade Nato countries that don't spend enough on defence.

He confused his opponent and former appointee, Nikki Haley, with the former speaker, Nancy Pelosi. He made the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, the president of Turkey. He boasted that he dusted off Barack Obama in the 2016 election. He blamed Jeb Bush, rather than his brother George, for the Iraq war. All just in the last week or so.

Biden, on the other hand, called the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the president of Mexico, confused the German former chancellors Angela Merkel and Helmut Kohl, and mixed up French president Emmanuel Macron with one of his predecessors, François Mitterrand. (Kohl and Mitterrand are long deceased.)

Columnist Bill Press wrote this week in The Hill: “This election should be about policy differences and the future of democracy. But if it's going to be decided, instead, by gaffes — and which candidate makes fewer of them — Joe Biden will win in a landslide."

Objectively speaking, Biden has been a relatively successful president. He is a moderate, balanced and reconciling person, the opposite of his predecessor. He has restored his country's reputation in the international arena, and despite claims by his opponents, his economic performance looks good.

But while Trump's base doesn't care about his blunders, Biden's cognitive functioning is now a serious election issue. The special counsel investigating his handling of classified documents, Robert Hur, just stated in his report that Biden is a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory". He apparently couldn't even remember in an interview with Hur when his term as vice president ended or when his son died.

Hur recommends that Biden not be prosecuted: “It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him — by then a former president well into his eighties — of a serious felony that requires a mental state of wilfulness."

Ouch. As the super PAC supporting Trump declared: “If you're too senile to stand trial, then you're too senile to be president."

Democrats defend Biden with great zeal and accuse Hur of wearing a MAGA hat, but the damage is done.

One would think the Democrats have enough younger talent to consider as a presidential candidate; like the governor of California, Gavin Newsom (56), or Biden's transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg (42).

Now it's actually too late. Introducing a new challenger in the field could harm the Democrats' chances of beating Trump. The Democratic leadership's obsession with stopping Trump was what drove their support for Biden.

But what will happen if Biden withdraws or becomes medically unfit before the election?

The New York Times: “If he withdrew early in the primary season, voters would be limited to the other options already in the race. It is highly unlikely that ballot access deadlines, which are set by individual states and not by national party officials, would be reopened.

“If he withdrew later in the primary season — after he had won enough delegates in early primaries that no candidate could surpass him — the nomination would be decided on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in August, where delegates have the final say in choosing a nominee. That would also be the case if he withdrew between the primaries and the convention."

The Winde out of the ANC’s sails

The highlight of the debate on the State of the Nation Address in parliament was the speech by Western Cape premier Alan Winde. He blew President Cyril Ramaphosa's fairy tale of the symbolic Tintswalo, “the child of democracy", out of the water and convincingly sank the ANC's desperate attempts to cast suspicion on the DA's successful governance in Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Fixfokol in Moscow

Israel's bloodthirstiness in Gaza — and its arrogance in continuing the slaughter even after the international court demanded that the lives of civilians be spared — are turning international sentiment against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, even in Washington, London and Paris.

It has helped take some of the sting out of Western anger towards South Africa after it brought the genocide case before the court.

The Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, and a high-level delegation are nevertheless going to Washington next month to try to strengthen relations. According to the director-general of her department, Zane Dangor, the message will be: “Tell us where we erred when invoking the Genocide Convention against Israel?"

There is a new initiative in the US Congress, supported by Republicans and Democrats, to investigate America's ties with South Africa and South Africa's role in the international arena.

And there goes the dear ANC, shooting itself — and our country — in the foot by sending its secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, to Moscow to attend a Kremlin-backed conference on “modern neocolonialism". Read: Western colonialism.

A grade 1 child could explain that Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine is nothing but a blatant form of colonialism. Ditto for the now-disbanded Wagner Group's adventures in Africa — Moscow plans to replace the group with an “Africa Legion" of 50,000 soldiers. It will initially operate in the Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad.

The ANC's cosying up to Putin undermines South Africa as a serious, ethical international player genuinely seeking peace and respect for human rights.

♦ VWB ♦

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