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Jill Biden attacks Nikki Haley over competency test idea

By Francis Walshe
|
March 6, 2023

In an apparent dig at President Joe Biden, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley recently suggested that politicians over the age of 75 should have to take a mental competency test, and First Lady Jill Biden is having none of it, reported The Hill.

The First Lady Claps Back at Haley

In a CNN interview, Dr. Biden said the proposal was "ridiculous" and stated she and her husband "would never even discuss something like that."

The first lady made the point that the president stays on top of a hectic travel schedule despite his age. "How many 30-year-olds could travel to Poland, get on the train? Go nine more hours, go to Ukraine, meet with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky?"

Though the Biden camp has yet to confirm the president's intention to run again, Mrs. Biden appeared to state she was in favor of the idea. "We support whatever he wants to do. If he’s in, we’re there. If he wants to do something else, we’re there too."

Since the beginning of his time in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden has faced questions over his mental acuity due to his advanced age and his proneness to gaffes.

During his election battle with former President Donald Trump, Trump gave him the nickname "Sleepy Joe," which has since stuck among the current president's conservative critics.

Haley's Proposition

The former South Carolina Governor’s proposed rule, which she announced as part of her campaign strategy, would see any elected representative older than 75 undergo a mental competency test, reported the Washington Examiner.

Though details of the proposed scheme are scant at this time, Haley has reportedly mentioned the possibility of using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA). This test looks at potential cognitive deficits caused by diseases like dementia and Parkinson's.

Of course, Joe Biden isn't the only Washington veteran who might be affected by a rule like this.

Other notable sitting politicians who are older than 75 include former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-11) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The average age of sitting politicians has been on the rise in recent years. According to a study by NBC News, the current Congress is the third oldest since 1789, and has been creeping up since the 1980s.

The Examiner report also noted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) disagreement with the proposal.

Sanders, who turned 81 this past September said voters should "Trust people. Look at people, and say, you know, this person is competent. This person is not competent," adding "There are a lot of 40-year-olds out there who ain't particularly competent. Older people, you know, you look at the individual, I don't think you make a blanket statement."

The report also noted issues raised by experts on psychiatry and aging.

Psychiatrist Karen Reimers said the MOCA test "doesn’t tell you things that might be really pertinent for somebody’s ability to function... as a politician, you know, things like age-associated experience or wisdom can be very important."

Bennett Blum, an expert in elder law and mental capacity, also expressed doubts about Haley's idea.

"I’ve encountered individuals in their 80s, 90s, or hundreds who are much more mentally flexible and aware of current world events and the interaction of such things than are some of the 20- and 30- and 40-year-olds that I’ve worked with," Blum reportedly said.