Mika and NBC Doc Double-Team Zeke Emanuel on Biden Acuity

July 10th, 2024 9:52 PM

Zeke Emanuel Mika Brzezinski Vin Gupta MSNBC Morning Joe 7-10-24  "I think Joe Biden is quite robust relative to what we see normal aging at 81 . . . He's actually quite high-functioning as an octogenarian." -- Dr. Vin Gupta, NBC News medical contributor, on Wednesday's Morning Joe.

If Biden is "relatively robust" and "quite high-functioning" compared to other octogenarians, we'd hate to see an average one!

Mika Brzezinski brought Gupta on to add a pro-Biden counter to what her guest Dr. Zeke Emanuel has written and would be saying. Zeke is a former Obama medical adviser, brother to Rahm, and a devoted Democrat who said that despite everything, he would definitely vote for Biden.

But Emanuel has written an article in The Atlantic entitled, "There Are Exceptionally Sharp Octogenarians. Biden Isn’t One." In it, he wrote:

"The problem isn't President Biden's age; it's his ability to function. From Ben Franklin to Warren Buffett and Nancy Pelosi, people have performed extraordinarily into their 80s. Biden has shown he is not one of them . . . Many talented Democratic leaders from swing states could beat Trump. One of them should take the baton from Biden."

Mika began her counter-attack by suggesting that if Emanuel were right, we would have seen more examples of his waning mental acuity in recent times. Was she joking? There are countless such examples, as chronicled by, among others, The Free Beacon in its "Joe Biden's Senior Moment of Week," now up to Volume 101! It's just that Biden lackeys like Mika and Joe Scarborough, and others in the liberal media, have tried to bury or explain them away.

Mika then read from a visible laundry list [helpfully supplied by the Biden campaign?] of Biden's recent activities. She challenged Emanuel, skeptically asking: "so this is aging?"

Mika then tried to switch the focus away from Biden, and get Emanuel to opine on Trump's "brain." Emanuel conceded that Trump also shows some signs of aging.

Gupta then entered the conversation, and made the statements seen above, adding that exactly to Mika's point, "We don't talk enough about" Trump.

Not surprising that at the end of the segment, Mika said she would "love" Gupta to come back to train his sights on Trump. Funny, no invitation from Mika to have Emanuel return!

Questions: What are Mika's motivations in making the case for Biden to stay in the race? Does she sincerely believe he is mentally fit to serve as president not just today, but for four-and-a-half more years? Does she think he has the best chance of any Democrat of beating Trump? Or is it more a matter of staying in the good graces of the Biden people, preserving the access that she and Scarborough enjoy, witness Biden's recent phone-in to the show that our Curtis Houck has chronicled, and Scarborough's boasting about the many hours he's spent speaking with Biden?

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe
6:56 am EDT

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: As questions continue to swirl around President Biden's neurological health stemming from that debate performance two weeks ago, one doctor is saying age is not the issue. Former Obama White House adviser for health policy, vice provost for health initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Zeke Emanuel has a new article for of The Atlantic, "There are exceptionally sharp octogenarians. Biden isn't one."

He writes in part, quote, the White House and Biden campaign have suggested that the president's problems at the debate stemmed from an exhausting travel schedule and a cold. Such explanations do not inspire confidence. Yes, it's common for elderly people to bounce back more slowly from stressors. But even if jet lag and illness exacerbated normal cognitive limitations, said limitations remain, ready to surface again. And who knows when the next life-and-death decision will be need to be made? Crises don't wait patiently for presidents to be fully prepared. Someone whose cognitive competencies can be compromised as badly as Biden's were by travel and a mere cold may be able to live a normal life, but they'd be hard-pressed to endure the rigors of negotiating with Congress or a foreign leader, much less making multiple rapid decisions when some future domestic or global disaster emerges. 

MIK: And I should point out that President Biden is right now at the NATO summit, hosting it. And Zeke joins us now along with NBC News medical contributor Dr. Vin Gupta.

Zeke, wouldn't we have seen more, for what you were saying, more issues, wouldn't they have come out in the past? Some people are saying that maybe There was some hiding going on.

ZEKE EMANUEL: Yeah. I think that's been suggested. Joe Biden's had fewer spontaneous interactions than other presidents, much fewer. There's -- you know, you talk to people who've been around the president, and for several months if not for a year, there has been a noticeable shift from the mental agility, the acuity, the good give-and-take and the perceptive questions, to after the summer of 2023, where that's declined. And we should say, this is normal aging, and there's -- it doesn't have to be any disease here. This is what happens as people age and their fluid intelligence, their ability to problem solve, their verbal fluency declines.

MIKA: So, let's talk about normal aging for Joe Biden, Zeke, and Ben, I'm going to get to you. Stand by.

Over the past six months, he attended the G-7 summit in Italy. He traveled to Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of D-day, had a rousing speech there. He delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College in Georgia. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. He also traveled to Israel for a war cabinet meeting, October 7. He visited Baltimore to survey the damage of the collapsed Francis Scott Key bridge. He visited the site of the East Palestine train derailment. He went to the southern border to push for a bipartisan border deal, which the Republicans turned down,a ctually Trump did. He had a deal that they never would have had an opportunity to get, but he put it out there, which was politically smart o fhim. Just yesterday he hosted NATO. Of course, we know he's taking the press conference tomorrow. He's made stops in 21 states for both presidential duties and campaign events. 

So, I mean, this is aging [laughs]?

EMANUEL: Those -- those -- those are the rigors of a normal presidency in the 21st century.

. . . 

MIKA: But Zeke, I want to put this in context. Those are the things Joe Biden is doing while he's aging, and so, too, Donald Trump is aging, is he not? Look at his age. 

So, let me ask you. What do you think Donald Trump's sort of -- would you consider him to be mentally fit to be president? Can I have your opinion on his brain?

EMANUEL: Well, I'm not judging the brains, but I do Trump has many of the problems of aging. He has an inability to concentrate. He meanders when he talks. He doesn't problem solve. He goes back to the same things over and over again. And his problem is, he lies over and over blatantly, and that's even worse.

This is a critical election, the most critical election in American history since the Civil War. And I think, if you ask me now, I'm voting for Joe Biden! There's no question. The policies of Donald Trump are terrible. But this is also not the best options that the American public has. We're a country of 330 million people, and we have a lot of really talented people in the country.

MIKA: Dr. Vin Gupta, what's your take on what has become really the story, the only story of the day it seems, and that is Joe Biden's mental acuity? What do you make of the debate, and what do you make of his recovery from it?

VIN GUPTA: Well, Mika, I think you laid it out there very nicely. Which is to say, I care for many octogenarians. And I would say from a cardiovascular standpoint, and what we've seen from a mental acuity standpoint. Take last night, you mentioned the NATO summit, there's going to be days that are better. There're going to be days that are not as good. Cardiovascularly,  he's in excellent shape. I'm a pulmonologist. I see this all the time in octogenarians. 

I think he's actually quite high-functioning as an octogenarian and keeping up that schedule. And so, just from, this is a subjective conversation. Zeke is offering his opinion. I can tell you what I see in my own clinic. And what I see clinically, I think Joe Biden is actually quite robust relative to what we see normal aging at 81. 

More broadly, what I would say is, exactly to your point. We don't talk enough about his opponent. There are signs of forgotfulness. Judgment issues. We saw that last night in the speech he gave in Florida. The exact same things we're talking about and scrutinizing the president about, certainly we're seeing symptomatic in President Trump.

. . . 

MIKA: Dr. Zeke Emanuel, thank you very much, and Vin Gupta, I'd love to have you back to focus on the moments of concern medically that you have about Donald Trump, just to bring some balance to this. But breaking news, both candidates are old, and I appreciate both of your insights very much. Thank you, doctors.