Suggestion for Presidential Candidates: Turn Cognitive Impairment Lemons Into Campaign Event Lemonade

Mattson M. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Mattson M. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

“What’s crazy,” Jon Stewart noted in his February 12 return to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, “is thinking that we’re the ones as voters who must silence concerns and criticisms. It is the candidate’s job to assuage concerns, not the voter’s job not to mention them.”

The concerns in question revolve around the two major parties’ likely 2024 presidential nominees’ public and obvious displays of seemingly severe cognitive impairments.

The parties, the candidates’ public relations flacks, and their media co-partisans dismiss those concerns and refer to off-camera medical opinions and exams as “proof” that there’s no there there, screaming “ageism!” and “fake news!” respectively in hope of making the matter go away.

Not gonna happen. When presidents and presidential candidates can’t seem to hang on to important thoughts or remember key names and dates well enough to deliver their messages in complete and coherent sentences, voters WILL notice.

The candidates have two choices: Address it, or accept that not addressing it will cost them votes.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump — and any other presidential candidate who wants to establish his or her mental fitness as a matter of public record — can set it all to rest quickly, cheaply, and easily, if the public perception is unjustified.

Each of them should agree to undergo the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Live. Streamed to and/or archived for America and the world via any and all Internet platforms that support live/recorded video.

The MoCA tests short-term memory, visuospatial ability, executive function, attention, concentration, working memory, language, abstract reasoning, and orientation to time and place … and it does so in about 10 minutes. A bit of a stretch for TikTok, but well within most platforms’ video length guidelines.

It’s a 30-point test. Score 26 or more and you’re golden, even if you’re in your golden years. Less than that, maybe you’ve got some issues that bear on your ability to do things like evaluating legislation for signature or veto, launching nuclear strikes, etc.

What say you, candidates? When the news cycle hands you cognitive impairment lemons, why not make campaign event lemonade?

Collect donation pledges per point, or conditional on making the 26-point cutoff, or for a perfect score of 30.

Line up potential endorsers to talk you up after — if — you ace the thing.

Schedule a “Full Ginsburg” round of the Sunday morning news shows to show off your clock-drawing chops and ability to remember the hosts’ names.

Maybe you can even get Stephen Colbert to bring you on The Late Show (if that’s not past your bedtime) and give you a list of five naughty nouns to remember.

Or you can deny, minimize, and evade the whole thing. Maybe you won’t even remember how that worked out for you.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Foreign Military Aid: $95.3 Billion Sounds Like a Lot of Money. So Does Your Cut.

On February 13, the US Senate passed a bill including $95.3 billion in taxpayer handouts the Ukrainian, Israeli, and Taiwanese regimes.

Inter-, intra-, and bi-partisan wrangling  in the Senate,  House, and Biden administration will likely change the exact size and composition of those handouts right up to the moment of final passage and presidential signature, but let’s accept that $95.3 billion as a starting point for how it’s going to get marketed to you and how much it’s going to lighten your wallet.

The answer to the latter question is: About $287 per American. Keep that in mind, because we’ll be coming back to it.

The marketing points will include items like “only 1.5% of what the federal government spent last year!” and “only 11.6% of last year’s US military spending!”

And, of course, the old perennial: “We’re not just giving them the money — they have to spend it in the US, creating jobs by buying weapons and ammunition from American military contractors! It’s like we’re giving it to ourselves!”

No, it’s not like we’re giving it to ourselves — it’s like politicians are giving it to politically connected corporations, minus an “administrative” rake-off for the various involved regimes, at our expense.

What could you do with $287 — or, if your family is average size (3.13 persons), what could you do with about $900?

How about a brand new set of four high-quality tires for your Toyota RAV4 (I’m assuming you own the most popular SUV in America), and a 75″ ultra-high-definition TV for your living room, with enough left over to take the family out for a very nice dinner and a movie on an even bigger screen?

How about a month or two in gas, grocery and utility costs for your household?

Or something in between?

I’m guessing that $287 per person, $900 per family, represents a reasonably big chunk of money, not chump change, to you.

Having it means a better life than not having it.

And it would go further if those “defense” contractors were competing to make things YOU want instead of to make things the Ukrainian, Israeli, and Taiwanese regimes want.

If you want those regimes to have your money, you should be allowed to give it to them. That should be your choice, not Joe Biden’s or Mitch McConnell’s or Mike Johnson’s.

Don’t let them dazzle you with political marketing. They’re just taking your money and giving it to their friends, and that’s all they’re doing.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


State of the Presidency: 46+25 = 47?

Joe Biden holding an ice cream cone, kneeling and shaking hands with a little girl

According to  a report issued by Special Counsel Robert K. Hur on February 8, his investigation found “evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

While the report also mentions “innocent explanations for the documents that we cannot refute,” the argument against charging and prosecuting him largely comes down to an expectation that “Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” whom those jurors would doubt capable of “a mental state of willfulness.”

If the report accurately characterizes the interview, Biden’s memory is … fuzzy … on topics such as when he served as vice president and when his son died. As further evidence of Biden’s mental deficiencies, the report notes that the documents in question were found  “in a badly damaged box in the garage, near a collapsed dog crate, a dog bed, a Zappos box, an empty bucket, a broken lamp wrapped with duct tape, potting soil, and synthetic firewood.”

If Biden can’t remember basic facts or even be trusted to not throw important documents on the “donate to Goodwill” pile in his garage, is he competent to remain, let alone be re-elected as, president?

As a matter of even-handedness, let me acknowledge that Donald Trump, likely Republican presidential nominee, also possesses, so far as I can tell, the mental acuity of a turnip.  But he’s not president again, at least yet, so we can kick that can down the road a bit.

And as a cautionary note, let me acknowledge that there’s no visible metric on which current vice-president Kamala Harris seems likely to do a better job than the admittedly terrible job Biden — or whoever’s using Biden as a compliant meat puppet  — is doing.


“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

That’s the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, and it’s clearly applicable here.

While sending Joe Biden to the elder care facility he so obviously and desperately requires the services of might not improve government policy, it would at least provide more transparency as to who’s actually in charge, and allow the Democratic Party to consider more capable (if not morally superior) candidates for its 2024 presidential nomination.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.