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Biden Botches 9/11 Memory

Yesterday, of course, was the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. For the past 20 years, the sitting president has commemorated the occasion by visiting one of the three main 9/11 memorials (Washington, the Pentagon, New York City). But Biden was in Alaska yesterday, and gave a speech commemorating 9/11 there.

On the whole, the speech was actually pretty good. Biden is no Barack Obama or Jack Kennedy, but he's no George W. Bush or Lyndon B. Johnson, either. That said, all the coverage was of the lie/misstatement (depending on who you read) that he uttered during the speech: "Ground Zero in New York, I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. I felt like I was looking through the gates of Hell, it looked so devastating." In truth, he was not there on September 12, as the Senate was in emergency session. Biden actually first visited Ground Zero on September 19.

We pass this along because it was pretty big news. Those folks who want you to believe that Biden is an inveterate liar pounced, and called it the worst lie he's ever told. Those folks who want you to believe that Biden has dementia said that it's still more proof that the cheese is sliding off the cracker.

If it's a lie, then we are struggling to figure out what purpose it would serve. We suppose being there the day after is a bit more heroic than being there the week after, but only very slightly so, and since Biden knows his every word is put under a microscope, it's unlikely that he would think he could get away with fudging the truth. Alternatively, if this is a sign of dementia, it's certainly not a typical one. Those in neurological decline don't slightly misremember details; they forget whole incidents or think they are in the past instead of the present (for example, thinking that their adult child is actually their high school best friend).

Our sense, then, is that Biden was exhibiting the normal deficiencies of human memory, wherein it's common to recall events slightly inaccurately and yet to be convinced that the memory is correct. This happens because the brain actually re-assembles past memories whenever they are recalled, allowing for errors to creep in. Biden has had several other semi-false memories like this, where the timeline got garbled. We are not neurologists, of course, but one of us is a historian, and can vouch that these kinds of memory errors creep into the historical record all the time. We bet our lawyer readers have plenty of experience with this, too. And someone who is a 50-year senator, VP and president sees and experiences a lot of things in their lifetime. (Z)

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