Biden fears being perceived as ‘stupid’ – biographer
More than three decades on from the plagiarism scandal that torpedoed his first campaign for the White House, Joe Biden remains insecure about how people perceive his intelligence, the author of a new biography on the US president has claimed.
“One of the things that’s so interesting about Joe Biden is that he has these insecurities that govern a lot of the ways in which he moves through the world,” author Franklin Foer said on Sunday in an NBC News interview. “And so, one of his primary insecurities is that he doesn’t want to be perceived as stupid because he had this plagiarism scandal back in the 1980s.”
As a result, Foer said, Biden insists on thorough preparation before interviews and press conferences so he can have “mastery” of the topics that he will be discussing. “His prep sessions can go on for long periods of time.”
Biden became a laughingstock when he got caught plagiarizing the speeches of other politicians while campaigning for president in 1987. Media outlets also reported that he lied about his academic record and his involvement in the 1960s civil rights movement.
In one infamous encounter with voters, Biden insulted the intelligence of a man who questioned his credentials. He also bragged that he had gone to law school on a full academic scholarship, earned three degrees, finished in the top half of his class, and was named outstanding student in political science. All of those statements were false. As president, he has continued to make false claims about his background, including civil rights activism in the 1960s.
Foer’s book, ‘The Last Politician’, details Biden’s first two years in the White House. He wrote that the 80-year-old Biden’s mental sharpness has been hindered by his advanced age, “depriving him of the energy to cast a robust public presence or the ability to easily conjure a name.” He added that the president’s public image “reflected physical decline and time’s dulling of mental faculties that no pull or exercise regime can resist. In private, he would occasionally admit to friends that he felt tired.”
Both before and after being elected president, Biden has suffered frequent mental gaffes during public appearances. He bristled when White House staffers tried to walk back his March 2022 statement at an event in Warsaw suggesting that his administration aimed to achieve regime change in Russia, forcing President Vladimir Putin from office.
Biden “resented his aides for creating the impression that they had cleaned up his mess,” Foer wrote. “Rather than owning his failure, he fumed to friends about how he was treated like a toddler. Was John Kennedy ever babied like that?”
The author said Biden has also seethed over his low public approval ratings, Foer said, largely blaming the media for failing to show all the ways his administration has been superior to that of his predecessor, Donald Trump. “It was also a failure of his own White House to effectively communicate,” according to the book. “He complained that there weren’t enough surrogates on television defending him.”
Foer said he wouldn’t be greatly surprised if the president ends his 2024 re-election bid later this year. “It wouldn’t be a total shock,” he told NBC host Chuck Todd. “When he talks about his life, he uses this word ‘fate’ constantly. Joe Biden is a very religious guy, and fate is a word loaded with religious meaning, and he always talks about, ‘He can’t say where fate goes.’ And so I always, when I hear that, to me, it’s the ellipses in the sentence when he’s talking about his own future.”