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Washington Times: Biden under pressure to take cognitive test amid dementia concerns

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Biden under pressure to take cognitive test amid dementia concerns

The cry grows louder: Is Joe still with it?  The Washington Times reports:

“President Biden’s memory lapses, confusion, stumbles and halting gait have ramped up calls that he undergo a cognitive test during his annual physical exam.

Mr. Biden, 81, is set to undergo his physical as early as this month. White House aides said the exam, like last year’s, would not include a cognitive test required for many Americans older than 65.

A growing number of lawmakers insist that Mr. Biden undergo tests to determine whether he is capable of running the country or is suffering from dementia. Dozens of House Republicans signed a letter calling on Mr. Biden to take a cognitive test or else be subjected to removal from office under the 25th Amendment.

The lawmakers were responding to special counsel Robert K. Hur’s report on Mr. Biden’s retention of classified documents. Mr. Hur documented the president’s inability to recall critical information, including when his son Beau died. He said the president’s memory lapses were so significant that prosecuting him for improperly handling classified documents would be impossible.

The letter cited instances in which Mr. Biden suffered memory lapses.

He mistakenly identified Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as the president of Mexico’ while addressing reporters and inexplicably froze at the microphone at the White House in an address attacking his Republican rival, former President Donald Trump. 

Polls show as many as 86% of Americans think Mr. Biden is too old to serve a second term.

‘If you are too mentally impaired to stand trial, as your own Department of Justice claims, then we are concerned that your mental state is not at a competent level to serve as the leader of the free world,’ a group of 84 House Republicans wrote to Mr. Biden.

Dr. Angel Boev, a neurosurgeon in upstate New York who has not examined Mr. Biden, said the president is suffering from the ‘double whammy’ of an aging brain and the aftermath of two brain operations in 1988 to resolve aneurysms.

He said the two operations involved removing small parts of the frontal lobe on both sides of the brain, which can impact cognitive functioning.

‘It’s inevitable he’s progressed to where he is,’ Dr. Boev told The Washington Times. ‘Those two operations started a downward spiral, which has led to what we’re seeing now as the end result.’

Mr. Biden’s political rivals and Republican lawmakers say the president should not remain on the job if he is cognitively impaired, regardless of the cause.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said last week, amid Mr. Biden’s memory lapses and stumbles, that the president ‘should come out and debate and to show the American public that he has the cognitive capacity to do this very, very difficult job.’

White House aides and many Democrats insist Mr. Biden is sharp and able to lead the country.

‘The president proves every day how he operates and how he thinks, by dealing with world leaders, by making difficult decisions on behalf of the American people — whether it’s domestic or it’s national security,’ said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Ms. Jean-Pierre said she was quoting White House physician Kevin O’Connor’s assessment of Mr. Biden after his February 2023 physical examination.

A Feb. 16, 2023, memorandum from Dr. O’Connor did not include a cognitive test but determined that Mr. Biden was “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”

The memo blamed Mr. Biden’s halting gait on moderate to severe degenerative osteoarthritic changes in his back.

The physical included “an extremely detailed neurologic exam” and found no indication of any brain or central neurological disorder such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

It did not include any tests of Mr. Biden’s cognitive functioning or memory, which are routine for many older Americans.

In 2011, the Affordable Care Act added an annual ‘wellness visit’ for all Medicare beneficiaries requiring ‘cognitive assessments’ for those 65 and older.

A White House spokesman did not answer questions about the date of Mr. Biden’s upcoming physical exam.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Charan Ranganath, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the University of California, Davis, said Mr. Biden’s memory issues are ‘relevant’ but may be less important than ‘knowledge of the relevant facts and emotion regulation — both of which are relatively preserved and might even improve with age.’

Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, has promoted his own cognitive agility despite displaying a few mental lapses.

At Mr. Trump’s request, he was administered the Montreal Cognitive Assessment during the second year of his presidency at age 71 and achieved a perfect score.

Now 77, Mr. Trump has made some blunders, such as confusing Republican rival Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a New Hampshire campaign rally. He later said it was deliberate.

University of British Columbia political science professor Paul Quirk said Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden are beyond the ideal age for a president but added that the effects of age and cognitive decline are less important than cognitive style.

‘You have one man who said ‘Mexico’ when he meant Egypt and another who claims falsely to have won the 2020 presidential election,’ Dr. Quirk said.

Polls show voters are far more concerned with Mr. Biden’s age as a factor in their thoughts of who should serve as president.

The White House physician who conducted Mr. Trump’s physicals while he was president, retired Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, is now a Republican House lawmaker representing Texas’ 13th Congressional District. Mr. Jackson signed the letter calling for Mr. Biden to take the same cognitive test he administered to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Jackson said he believes Mr. Biden is too impaired to run the White House and others are making decisions for him, including the recent move to halt some exports of liquefied natural gas.

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‘If there was ever, ever a time that we need a cognitive test for a sitting president of the United States, it’s right now,’ Mr. Jackson said.

Dr. Boev said his patients suffering from brain pathologies undergo cognitive tests and even driving tests before they get back behind the wheel. Mr. Biden should also take a cognitive test, he said.

‘We are talking about running the United States of America,’ Dr. Boev said. ‘It’s quite obvious from afar that it’s only reasonable to pursue one because I think that it would show an objective measure of the challenges that the president is dealing with.’”

Clearly, this issue is not going away. And neither is Biden’s problem. Stay tuned.