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TGIF: Mother Russia, Father Time

Tucker goes to Moscow and has a blast. Biden’s mental faculties draw suspicion and defenses. Plus: Jon Stewart, Donald Trump, Rachel Dolezal, Huma Abedin, Cori Bush, and more.

Welcome back. Have you ever wanted a t-shirt with my face on it? Are you either of my parents? Well, either way, TGIF swag just dropped. Now, to my Catholic readers, may you all have a blessed and reflective Lent. To the rest of us, onward in sin. 

→ Biden is forever young: This week, the Biden administration and its surrogates went into overdrive defending against attacks that Joe Biden, 81, is old. How dare you question that? As this crowd loves to do, they announced that only certified brain-aging age experts can assess the situation (the situation being the universal human condition of our bodies and minds eventually, always, failing). Yes, we are in the second week of fallout from the Department of Justice Special Counsel assessment that exposed Biden’s cognitive decline. But are you a certified gerontologist? I didn’t think so. On MSNBC, for example, commenter Molly Jong-Fast asked if Special Counsel Robert K. Hur had the ability to judge an aging mind: “He’s not a neurologist, right?” Touché.

NBC News says: “Forgetting the names of acquaintances or having difficulty remembering dates from the past doesn’t affect decision-making or judgment, brain experts say.” (Credit where it’s due: these highlights were pulled together by Drew Holden in the Free Beacon.) 

The Associated Press says: “Health experts caution that neither verbal gaffes nor a lawyer’s opinions can reveal whether someone is having cognitive trouble. That takes medical testing.”

And The New York Times adds: “Memory Loss Requires Careful Diagnosis, Scientists Say.” You see, forgetting things constantly has nothing to do with it. (Reminder, here was The New York Times during the Trump administration: “Trump Is Mentally Unfit, No Exam Needed.”)

So okay, we need experts, tests, panels. Maybe Biden could take the same cognitive test that his predecessor did? A full 86 percent of Americans worry Biden is too old to serve a second term, so this should be easy to fix. Well, Biden this week declined to take the cognitive test that Trump took during his time as president, when similar worries about age rightly swirled. Trump passing the basic cognitive test has always been dismissed as silly. Here’s The Washington Post on that test: “ ‘It’s a very, very low bar for somebody who carries the nuclear launch codes in their pocket to pass and certainly nothing to brag about,’ said Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist and professor of medicine and surgery at the George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences.” Okay, nothing to brag about! No big deal! I happen to agree. Both these men are so obviously old and fading, it’s inappropriate for the office (I don’t like looking at anyone over 50 on TV; it’s alarming and frankly offensive). But my question: If that test is such a low bar, if Trump passing can be derided as so absurd, why can’t Biden just. . . take it? The answer is obvious: his team is scared he will fail. And that is genuinely scary. 

→ Tucker, Russia’s useful idiot: Former Fox News anchor and current independent media star Tucker Carlson is now in Moscow saying it’s far superior than any American city. Here’s Tucker: “The city of Moscow. . . . It is so much nicer than any city in my country. . . . It is so much cleaner and safer and prettier, aesthetically, its architecture, its food, its service, than any city in the United States.” Then he goes to a grocery store and films himself shopping, filling his cart with food, checking out, and wow, it’s only $104 worth of groceries in USD! He speaks to the camera (bootlegged video here; paywalled official version here): “That’s when you start to realize that ideology maybe doesn’t matter as much as you thought. If you take people’s standard of living and you tank it through filth and crime and inflation and they literally can’t buy the groceries they want, at that point maybe it matters less what you say or whether you’re a good person or a bad person—you’re wrecking people’s lives in their country and that’s what our leaders have done to us. And coming to a Russian grocery store, ‘the heart of evil,’ and seeing what things cost and how people live? It will radicalize you against our leaders. That’s how I feel, anyway. Radicalized.”

First of all, an American going abroad and realizing that the U.S. dollar is strong is something that usually happens earlier in life. You go to a grocery store in Tijuana and your dollar goes far! Want a nanny in Thailand? You can hire five! That’s a reflection of American strength. American power. It’s a measure of that other country’s weakness. These are such basic concepts, I can’t believe I have to say this. Do you need stats on how poor Russians are? About 20 percent of Russians don’t have indoor plumbing, for example. And groceries, well—Russians spend 40 percent of their disposable income on food; Americans spend about 11 percent. 

And Putin, who really is very clever, is now on a media tour laughing about how soft Tucker’s questions of him were. Putin says he “didn’t get complete satisfaction” from the interview “because I honestly thought he would be aggressive and ask so-called sharp questions. And I wasn’t just ready for that, I wanted it, because it would have given me the opportunity to respond sharply in kind. . . . But he chose a different tactic.” That’s called “getting owned.” (Don’t miss Kevin Williamson’s savage take on Tucker’s trip: The Full Duranty).

→ Jon Stewart is back and fabulous: Jon Stewart is back hosting The Daily Show, and he’s so good. I don’t know what Apple TV did to my beloved Jon, but they made him into a sort of activist automaton, the dullest kind of middle-aged woke white good guy who would have only non-automaton guests on to try and humiliate them—and I’m going to pretend it never happened. Because Jon Stewart at his height was one of the best voices for liberal America, and this country needs him. Did I peak in 2007? Why do you ask? Reader, call me basic, a millennial rube, I don’t care. Pumpkin spice and Jon Stewart. Live Laugh Love and Jon Stewart. Meatless Mondays and Jon Stewart.

In his triumphant return, he skewered both Biden and Trump’s ages, and it was perfect. He trounced his successor/predecessor Trevor Noah’s ratings. I felt joy from my Warby Parker sunglasses all the way down to my Uggs. Rolling Stone magazine was pissed. How dare he make jokes about Trump and Biden: “The comedy vet makes his return to the desk he left in 2015 this evening, but his ‘both sides are equally bad’ approach may not translate to 2024.” Reader, it translated crystal clear to me. 

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