How about a little humanity in the questions surrounding Biden?

Dementia is sad and hard on families. We don't know Joe Biden's condition, but if he is in decline there should be no delight in seeing the uncontrollable.

Bess Truman, asked in 1953 what she’d miss most about the White House, answered: “All the help.”

That came to mind when reports surfaced last week that First Lady Jill Biden wanted her husband to stay in the presidential race because she, Mrs. Biden, was so enamored of the perks that come with White House life. But maybe it’s because she’s simply someone protective of a beloved spouse. With the questions surrounding the president, how about a little empathy and humanity, regardless of your views on President Joe Biden’s politics and policies?

I recall that during the final phase of Richard Nixon’s eventful presidency, many news people outside of opinion and editorial sections decided to go ahead and take sides. They mostly called for his resignation. Here they go again.

Now we have an upcoming presidential election that seems unreal to many: A man convicted of felony charges running against a man many believe is in mental decline and are urging to drop out of the race.

I’m not going to express an opinion here, neither on whether Trump is good or bad, nor whether Biden should or should not get out. We don’t take political positions here, and anyway, you’ve got a thousand other places to go for that sort of material.

But I did want to comment on dealing with mental decline and dementia. If you’d ever been close to someone who has dementia coming on, you soon realize it’s a one way street. A cruel one at that. Once, when visiting my parents when they were still living the retired-in-Florida life, my wife and I exchanged silent stares when we observed my mother preparing dinner. A meticulous and skilled cook, my mother dropped three frozen lamb chops into a hot skillet, trying to prepare dinner for four.

Suddenly a lot of behaviors came into focus. We witnessed the advent of dementia that would, over the next several years, rob her of her personality and eventually render her mute. During the early years, she functioned well because the episodes only occurred occasionally. But the end — why, no one with an ounce of empathy would wish that on anyone.

Dementia has great efficiency in wiping out a person’s functionality and their life savings at the same time. Eventually, it plucks away their dignity in the absence of compassion by those nearby. Luckily, my parents were prudent and my mother didn’t outlive their money. My dad had passed a few years earlier and left mom reasonably well, financially. I feel he was fortunate not to stick around for the slow, then fast, mental and functional meltdown of his spouse of 64 years. The images and experiences of dealing with a loved one’s dementia, though, never leave you.

Which brings me to Joe Biden. People saw what they saw during the debate. It’s produced a new twist on the election chatter. Someone medically qualified can and should determine whether the President is able to keep working. Maybe he just needs more rest. Maybe he’s mostly out of it. Maybe this, maybe that.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that Biden has entered the decline from dementia. My position is this: Regardless of your views on the man, no one should take pleasure or delight in witnessing a misfortune befalling someone else, a fate that person absolutely can’t control. Whatever his condition, let’s hope people actually qualified to assess him do so, and let decisions on his future depend on the medical science.

For sure, the questions need rapid resolution by qualified people, given the consequences. But in the meantime — sorry if I sound preachy — can we all remember there’s nothing amusing in another’s declining mental or physical condition? As the great sages wrote, don’t insult the deaf nor cause the blind to stumble.

Even presidents deserve dignity.

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