Biden To Release Medical Records, but Even Obama's Doc Has Said He Looked 'Frail'


Well, at least you can’t gaffe on medical records.

In a back-and-forth with a reporter the day after the Democratic debate in Houston on Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden said he would release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses, according to CNN.

The question came after the 76-year-old Biden had arguably his best performance in the three debates. That’s a telling statement, however, since it was still a solecism-fest from the putative frontrunner.

The defining moment didn’t even come from Biden (although he managed to come close by suggesting kids could overcome racism by listening to the “record player”). Instead, Julían Castro questioned his memory during a portion of the debate, asking Biden: “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?”

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This was disingenuous for reasons that don’t deserve going into in much depth here (Biden’s plan does include automatic enrollment for those at 138 percent under the poverty line), but the point is that the issue has been breached: Biden is looking a bit like a poster septuagenerian for diminishing returns, at least on the stump.

Biden, still in Houston Friday, was asked by a reporter whether or not he would be releasing his medical records to dispel concerns.

“Yes,” Biden said. “What health concerns, man? You want to wrestle?”

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Apparently unfazed by the former vice president’s lapse into his Onion caricature, the reporter followed up on the timing of the medical records release. Biden said it would come “when I get the next physical” and “before there’s the first vote,” which would be Iowa.

“I mean, there’s no reason for me not to release my medical records,” he also told reporters.

That’ll be a much-watched document when you consider the fact that Biden’s gaffes and debate performances have become enough of a problem that even Barack Obama’s physician in the 22 years before he became president sounded an alarm earlier in the summer.

“Biden made me nervous,” Dr. David Scheiner said after the Democrats’ debate in Miami in July, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Harris started attacking him and he looked frail to me. I sort of got the feeling he wasn’t very strong. It was similar to the feeling I got when Republicans started attacking [special counsel Robert] Mueller so fiercely.”

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It’s worth noting that Scheiner expressed graver concerns about President Trump. “He garbles. That is a really critical issue. This is not trivial,” Scheiner said, calling the president “incredibly dangerous.”

“Seth Myers jokes about it but it’s not a joke. The guy just can’t find the words. He’s having difficulty.”

However, when even Barack Obama’s former physician is saying there are issues with Biden at his advanced age (he’s three years older than Trump, although the energy gap seems to be a significant one), there are issues — issues that showed up like whoa at Thursday’s debate.

He referred to Bernie Sanders as the president. He called himself the vice president. There was the “record player” remark. He also said that all non-violent offenders shouldn’t receive jail sentences, something that had Bernie Madoff no doubt doing laps around his cell in the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina.

That’s one debate. Yes, it was a three-hour affair, an experience that had even political junkies like myself yearning to swim in the warmer waters of Netflix or a book or even a full-body wax at an all-night salon.

That’s still an awful lot of gaffes for three hours of tedium — and remember, this was probably his best performance.

He showed some energy at times and was willing to throw some shots at the other front-runners. That’s why he was able to clear a profoundly low bar while still prattling on about how the gramophone can fight institutional segregation (or whatever).

And yes, Biden has always gaffed, but it doesn’t seem like the gaffes have come in clusters as they have this election cycle. Is it because of the fact that social media amplifies the gaffes to an extent it didn’t during his first two runs in 1988 and 2008? Does it matter?

If that’s the case, he’s the wrong candidate for 2020. In a race where so much will depend on 20-second clips retweeted interminably, it helps to be Kamala Harris destroying another candidate rather than the candidate being destroyed. It also helps to remember you’re not still vice president and Bernie Sanders has never been president.

That brings us to the unfortunate possibility that there is some sort of organic cause behind these faux pas. This is a man whose medical history includes two brain aneurysms, after all.

The neurosurgeon who performed surgery on Biden in 1988 after his first aneurysm told Politico earlier this year that the vice president was perfectly fine.

“He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago. I haven’t seen any change,” Dr. Neal Kassell said.

“I can tell you with absolute certainty that he had no brain damage, either from the hemorrhage or from the operations that he had. There was no damage whatsoever.”

Either way, Democrat voters will have to choose whether they want to gamble on a candidate who sells himself on electability but constantly makes himself seem dangerously unelectable through his words.

America isn’t going to care whether Biden’s medical records show a hale and hearty individual when nuggets like “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” continue dropping out of his mouth.

And if the records show something amiss, that would likely be a campaign-stopper when so many little things keep adding up.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture