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This Is Joe Biden's Emails Problem

Is Joe Biden mentally unsound?

Biden has been notoriously gaffe-prone for his entire career. (Photo: Marc Nozell/cc/flickr)

Biden has been notoriously gaffe-prone for his entire career. (Photo: Marc Nozell/cc/flickr)

Joe Biden got in a spot of hot water last week over a heroic war story he has been telling on the campaign trail. An extensive Washington Post investigation found the following: "it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened." Biden denied doing anything wrong, telling the Post and Courier that "the central point is it was absolutely accurate what I said."

But the facts of what happened in Afghanistan are in one important sense beside the point. They raise a question: Is Joe Biden mentally unsound? He certainly gives a strong impression of having lost a step or three over the years—and a narrative that his mind is in trouble has already taken shape. If Biden is nominated, his possibly-failing brain will be the Hillary Clinton emails story of 2016 all over again.

Let's just examine two pieces of evidence. Here is Biden seven years ago in 2012, where he easily put away Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate:

Here is Biden from a few days ago, speaking about his disagreements with Bernie Sanders on health care policy. Watch from about 40 seconds in:

To be fair, this isn't entirely an age thing. Biden has been notoriously gaffe-prone for his entire career. He is also notorious for making up dramatic stories, or exaggerating real ones, especially when they inflate his resume. When he ran for president in 1987 he repeatedly lied about marching for civil rights, even after his aides tried to get him to stop. He's a guy who loves to talk, and doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

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Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.

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