Biden Starts to Comment on What He Was Diagnosed With, But Stops Mid-Sentence: 'Well, Anyway...'


Is there a type of neurosurgery that allows doctors to insert a filter between the part of the brain that forms thoughts and the mouth that expresses them? Asking for a president.

On Monday, Joe Biden addressed the International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference in Washington. There was a gaffe, because of course there was; this was a day ending in “y,” after all — the ones where the putative leader of the free world will invariably say something regrettable.

What made Monday special was that it was a meta-gaffe. It was Biden giving us a window into a potential “why” for the slurred words, bizarre lies and non-sequiturs that have marked his rhetoric as president — and, going into the 2024 campaign cycle, that presents serious trouble.

The moment came when Biden was in the midst of full-on Uncle Joe anecdote mode: “As a kid in Claymont, Delaware — we moved down from Scranton. It used to be a steel town; there’s no steel anymore. There used to be Worth Steel. And I lived in an apartment complex when we moved down. And up the street was a little Catholic high sch- — grade school I went to called Holy Rosary,” Biden said.

“And right across the street was the Claymont Fire Hall, and that was a place where you got buried, you got married, you got — it was — it was the center of the town, for real, not a joke. And a lot of my buddies, we all either became firefighters, cops, or priests. And here I am. I wasn’t qualified for any of them.”

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Leaving aside the fact that when Biden says something is “for real, not a joke,” it is definitely not either of those things. It’s a kind of aural Unisom that lulls reporters into thinking nothing’s going to happen. But then, like a cobra with gaffe-filled fangs, he strikes and sinks his teeth into the flesh of the corpus of inadvisable remarks:

“But, folks, it’s been part of my career my whole life,” Biden said. “And I’m not going to go through it all, but you literally — my fire company at home saved my life. I came back from a trip, after being away for a couple of days, and — I had these terrible headaches. I was diagnosed with having a — well, anyway. They had to take the top of my head off a couple times, see if I had a brain.

“But I — all kidding aside, what happened was, there was a snowstorm. And I had a cranial aneurysm. And it had to be operated on immediately. And the doc who was going to do it was the best doc that was around — it was down at Walter Reed — because he had operated on so many folks,” he continued.

Does Biden need to take a mental competency exam?

“And I couldn’t get down. The president — the Republican president offered me to — Marine One to get down, but it couldn’t fly because of the weather. So my fire company got me down in the middle of a snowstorm for a nine-hour operation and saved my life.”

And yes, you can guess how this went down for Biden critics on Twitter:

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So, yes, there is a very-serious, not-funny part to all of this: In 1988, after what could be described as the most pressure-packed several-month period of then-Sen. Joe Biden’s career (the Robert Bork Supreme Court hearings, in which he played a central, disgraceful role, and the disintegration of his presidential campaign over numerous plagiarism allegations), Biden suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms.

“In his 2007 book ‘Promises to Keep,’ he describes passing out in a hotel room in Rochester in February 1988, where earlier that night he had given a speech at the University of Rochester. He recalls a ‘lightning flashing inside my head, a powerful electrical surge — and then a rip of pain like I’d never felt before.’ He was unconscious for five hours,” The Delaware News Journal reported in a 2019 piece about Biden’s health history.

“Biden flew back to Wilmington the next morning, despite feeling weak and sick. Shortly after returning to his home, he was rushed to Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington. The results of a spinal tap showed blood in his spinal fluid, meaning an artery in his brain was likely leaking, Biden wrote.”

He underwent a successful microsurgical craniotomy — and luck was on his side, given the fact the odds were reportedly only 50-50 at best. Biden wrote that one of his biggest fears wasn’t dying, however, but living with severe mental deficits after the surgery.

At least at the time, there didn’t seem to be any noticeable diminishing of the future president’s mental or rhetorical skills. (This, I will grant, is a low bar — but he did clear it.)

Flash-forward 35 years and Biden is now the president. While it’s unclear what role, if any, his prior aneurysms are playing in his mental condition, please let’s not pretend there isn’t a noticeable and worrying decline. Joe Biden was never fleet of mental foot, but if politics were boxing, what we’ve witnessed since the 2020 campaign started is something akin to the final years of Muhammad Ali, where a once-great fighter was being pounded into hamburger by mid-level opponents.

Joe Biden was a once-passable senator who is now in an office where he is being pummeled by reality on a daily basis.

Did the aneurysms play a role in hastening the decline? Is there something else going on? There are no answers to these questions coming from the White House, but Americans deserve to know the answers.

Yes, all kidding aside, Joe Biden has a brain. How much of it is left is the question.

His handlers can keep on trying to “circle back” on that one, but the evidence is right in front of our eyes. If America looks, Biden’s chances are doomed.

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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